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Turning Japanime- or Koreanime… or something. - Page One
May 2002

Despite my fondness for some of the more obvious girly-girly things (Barbies, pink sparkles, teen romance novels), I've never been into Sanrio crap. You know... Hello Kitty? Yeah. When it first hit my elementary school, back in the seventies, all the Popular Girls were sporting pink-and-red Hello Kitty pencils and cases and erasers that smelled like bubble gum. I turned up my nose. Partially it was because I had a perverse desire to disparage everything the Popular Girls, who tormented me mercilessly, liked. A smaller part was because I couldn't afford all the Hello Kitty accouterments in order to take part in such pre-teen obsessions. But mostly, it just plain didn't appeal to me. Even though I wore ruffly dresses and sponge-curled my hair into Nellie Oleson ringlets every day, Hello Kitty was just too, too cutesy-poo.

Some fifteen years later, Riot Grrls everywhere were sporting the Sanrio stuff… and not just Hello Kitty. I had friends who dug Pekkle, friends who gooned over Chococat, friends who filled office cubes with Batz Maru stuff. Eh, whatever floats their boats, y'know? Even when those funny, bug-eyed, too-cute cartoons went from being "You know, those kinda weird looking cartoons, like old Speed Racer and stuff?" to the more dignified (and mainstream) "Japanime," I still didn't get the fuss.

Not until last weekend. Not until my trip to LA's Chinatown with one of my Dorky Duranie Friends.

Parlance and I made the trek to Broadway and College just the weekend before, when I had the Slumber Party From Hell with assorted Duranies and Mediaramans. We all had a jolly time, scooping up silk change purses and Happy Lucky Cats and bedroom slippers and other such touristy fare. In fact, we had so much fun that Par and I decided to come back the following weekend for Dim Sum.

Perhaps appropriately, our lunch conversation centered on Asian-English language barriers, everything from problems my Asian English 100 students have with a language that makes NO sense at all to Par's Adventures in Translating on the TV show she works on. After stuffing ourselves on pork rolls and shrimp things (and after our conversation had degenerating from Real Language Issues to "bite the wax tadpole!") we wandered into a little store next to the restaurant.

At first glance, it looked like Just Another Japanime store. The usual Hello Kitty fare. Chococat. Some dog-creature called AfroKen. Hmm. Okay.

PUCCA PUCCAFor some reason, as we browsed, I was taken by a grinning, slitty-eyed little doll named Pucca, and, in my ever-reaching quest for Stuffed Racial Stereotypes, I picked her up. Something about her greatly amused me. Maybe her hair. Maybe her boyfriend. But what really clinched it was the tag line, to wit:  "A Funny lovestory of the tomboy Pucca and her eternal love, Garu." Oh, that tickled me! I grabbed not only the little stuffed doll Pucca, but a package of Pucca pencils as well. And to my delight… on the back of the box… detailed instructions on how to use the pencil! Me and Par giggled our tushies off. Subversion? Bad language translations? Socio-racial commentary? Raw stupidity? Sheer brilliance? All of the above!

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