Japanese Name: すみっコぐらし
Literal Translation: Corner Living
Released: September 2012
Original Japanese: WWW
Japanese people love corners. They want to secure the corner seats when they ride trains and when they go to surrounding cafes. Somehow corners calm them down. The Sumikkogurashi character appears with this feeling as a theme. The always cold Shirokuma, confidence lacking Pengin?, leftover food(?!) Tonkatsu, and other characters appear as a wee bit negative but with great individual personalities.
日本人は、すみっコが大好き。 電車にのればすみっこの席から埋まりカフェに行ってもできるだけすみっこの席を確保したい。 なぜかすみっこが落ち着く。 そんな気持ちをテーマにしたキャラクター『すみっコぐらし』が登場。 さむがりやの“しろくま”や、自信がない“ぺんぎん？”、食べ残し(?!)の“とんかつ” など、ちょっぴりネガティブだけど個性豊かな性格のキャラクター達が登場します。
Just released by San-X, Sumikkogurashi is a new character and touches upon how shy Japanese people can be. It's a little negative and points out that Japanese people like to hide in corners since they are usually extremely shy... Sitting in the corner of a cafe or on the train makes them feel relaxed. So all of our new character friends all have some issue in their personality which makes them like hiding in the corner.
In particular, Pengin? seems to be having an identity crisis and he even puts a "?" after his name since he's not even sure if he's a penguin! He used to go around with a plate on his head which made him look like a kappa and not a penguin and thus presumably caused the question of identity.
Kappa (河童, "river-child") are legendary creatures; a type of water sprite found in Japanese folklore. Some descriptions say they look like tortoises and pictures usually show kappa with thick shells and scaly skin that ranges in color from green to yellow or blue. Kappa are usually seen as mischievous troublemakers. Kappa are also said to be afraid of fire, and some villages hold fireworks festivals each year to scare the spirits away. They may befriend human beings in exchange for gifts and offerings, especially cucumbers, the only food kappa are known to enjoy more than human children. Japanese parents sometimes write the names of their children (or themselves) on cucumbers and toss them into kappa-infested waters in order to mollify the creatures and allow the family to bathe. There is even a kind of cucumber-filled sushi roll named for the kappa, the kappamaki. Wikipedia: Kappa
Kappa seem to turn up a lot in Japanese folklore and characters and two other San-X characters have kappa themes: Chokotto Iikoto! and Sabokappa.
1. Tonkatsu (豚カツ, とんかつ, or トンカツ), is a Japanese pork cutlet. It consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet one to two centimeters thick and sliced into bite-sized pieces, generally served with shredded cabbage and/or miso soup. Wikipedia: Tonkatsu
The Tonkatsu character of Sumikkogurashi comes from the crumbs leftover from the tonkatsu meal and only his pink nose is the 1% meat.
2. Furoshiki (風呂敷) are a type of traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that were frequently used to transport clothes, gifts, or other goods. These days Japanese people might use furoshiki to wrap up their bento box lunch. Wikiepdia: Furoshiki
Shirokuma uses a furoshiki to tie up his belongings when he ran away from the north.
a. Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava plants. These days we see tapioca balls in bubble tea, a popular Taiwanese tea drink that originated from tea shops in Taichung, Taiwan during the 1980s. Wikipedia: Bubble Tea