We’ve all seen and melted at these adorable creatures and their irresistible kawaii-ness but are clueless as to what and why they’re there. Created by Tokyo’s Dentsu advertising agency, Mameshiba adds a slightly bizarre but refreshing spice to the Japanese culture. Really, whoever would have thought of combining dogs and beans together?
Cute and quirky, Mameshiba “豆しば” is a family of dog-and-beanie characters designed and created to entertain the public via 30-second interstitials of Japanese TV programs, internet and mobile phones. The name “mameshiba” comes from the kanji for bean “mame” (豆) and the dog breed “Shiba” (柴), hence their part-dog part-bean appearance.
While I personally prefer their commercials, particularly of the recently introduced Babyshiba as shown on Ao no Exorcist and other anime series aired by TV Tokyo, Mameshiba appear in “everyday one trivia la la la” mini-episodes of sort. They randomly pop up in mundane yet odd situations (and by odd, I mean these dog-and-beanie characters emerging from peanuts, fruit stashes etc.) in an innocent, childlike voice, only to turn their finders off with distasteful trivia befitting their lovely moment.
As with any other popular imagery, Mameshiba later made way for merchandise and the Mameshiba brand. Their products include stationary, toys, mobile phone strays, books, DVDs, kitchen utensils (chopsticks!) and biscuits even – the typical for-the-fans stuff. According to Wikipedia, the Mameshiba brand has been thriving since its release, with sales in 2008 and 2009 totalling over 7.5 billion yen in Japan alone – that’s the equivalent of 85 million US dollars!
And it’s not just Japan who loves these adorable characters – the Mameshiba popularity is growing at an international rate as Bioworld Merchandising produces Mameshiba merchandise for USA and Canada, and VIZ Media making Mameshiba books.
But it’s only understandable. I mean, whoever can resist their charm? I, for one, can’t. And that catchy tune of theirs from their Babyshiba CM isn’t helping either.