As Oscar Wilde once said, "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about," and indeed, sometimes the ban hammer has the desired effect and obliterates its quarry from the public conscious. Lucky for the reader, we're here to open up old wounds and maybe add a dash of salt in the process. Never forget!
kogals with loose socks to Shibuya gyaru with fearsome fake nails and blinged-out rhinestone cell phones, high school girls have always been the front runners of obnoxious fashion trends. The post-war generation was no exception and jumped out of the gates in 1960 with Kinobori Winky, an inflatable vinyl doll that hung on you arm and winked at passersby with its lenticular eyes.
Lovingly christened by the media as Dakko-Chan (something akin to "Little Huggums"), this innocent tar baby rode the arms of schoolgirls across the nation to define a generation. The hottest thing to hit that summer, it was an overnight success and demand far outstripped supply. Storefronts were hammered by waves of customers waiting to buy redemption tickets, which gave them the privilege to line up again later for a chance to buy the actual doll. Nearly 2.5 million units were moved in just six months—everyone was in love with Dakko-Chan.
Well, nearly everyone. Detractors criticized the hugging mechanism as undermining the moral fiber of society, and the winking gimmick as downright poppycock. Not to mention attacks from human rights groups who, in the 1988 anime and manga reforms, called out the toy’s black skin, swollen lips, and bushman skirt as racially insensitive.
This was all directed at a country who doesn’t know a golliwog from Mister Popo or Pokemon's Jynx. The maker Takara Tomi caved in and eventually released variant colors sans the outrageous lips, setting the stage for Bobby Ologun to take his rightful place as the average citizen’s first exposure to an African stereotype. Ironically, with all the effort put into making Dakko-Chan politically correct, nothing has been done to subdue the spread of Japanese hip-hop and reggae, something truly offensive to persons of good conscious the world over.
|Proof positive that ignorance is bliss.|
Reasoning follows that the character was cycled out due to a lack of popularity, but it’s easy to connect the dots leading to a sinister, though equally rational conclusion—mouth breathing space case Ta-Bo was seen as an offensive caricature of mentally handicapped children and was pushed off the market by irate parent groups. Ta-Bo’s profile is still up on the official Sanrio site, leading the author to believe that they’ve made his disappearance a public secret to avoid further inquiry. Hang in there, baby!
The pre-Meiji system was one of rigid castes determined at birth with little hope for upward mobility. The upper crust composed of rich samurai and aristocrats sailed by on the sweaty backs of the peasants who tended their fields. But below even the proletariat was another group who took on the tasks deemed uncleanly by Buddhist scriptures—most notably butchering livestock and tanning their hides. Damned by the Gods and shunned by their fellow man, the Buraku class were exiled to ghettos on the outskirts of the village.
Though the Meiji administration banned the caste system in 1869, it was difficult for ex-Buraku to wash away their social stigma, especially when their outcast roots could be easily traced back to the hamlet of their birth. There was even a secret gesture to call people out inconspicuously: Tuck in your thumb and show a palm of four fingers, representing the four-legged animals that Buraku tended to.
|You can bet the special interest groups were not pleased with the original incarnation of Dragon Ball’s King Piccolo.|
For more information about Buraku and Japan's meat industry, check out our visit to the Shinagawa Central Wholesale Meat Market.