Alibi

I really wish I could be posting more, I really do. I also wish I could be playing Magic more, but lately I just haven’t had the time. Work continues to be hectic. I’m working 7am-8pm most days now (including travel), and that leaves no time for casual MTG and very little time for blogging. I don’t have much info on the current metagame here in Nagoya this month and I apologize. I have been following the SCG Opens and Grand Prix around the world though, and I’ve been trying to absorb all the results and decklists. Recently I had moved away from Abzan Planeswalkers/midrange and tried out a number of other decks. RW Aggro, BUG control, and last week a Naya Control deck. While I thought the deck was strong, it still ran into some problems in testing and I didn’t put up good results after 3 or so tournaments. This brings me to last weekend. I had Saturday off and was planning to attend an afternoon tournament in Nagoya, but errands, sleeping in late due to exhaustion from the previous week, and having an unfinished deck list turned those plans upside down. By the time I sleeved up the new deck I had been working on, I had about 15 minutes to make a 20-25 minute trip across town by subway in the rain. Sad to say, but that tournament “wasn’t in the cards”.

 

 

A Different Type of Grand Prix

 

 

I usually play on Sundays as well, but last weekend my wife had a rare day off and wanted to attend the Yurukyara Grand Prix being held at Chubu International Airport just a 30 minute train ride from Nagoya. What is this Yurukyara thing? For starters, take a look at this website – http://www.yurugp.jp/

Yurukyara (ゆるキャラ) has come to mean something like a cute, clutzy sort of mascot in Japanese, and the Grand Prix is all about these balls of fluff (and other materials) struggling to waddle around in giant character outfits in order to get the event goers to vote for them. Prior to the Grand Prix, there is online voting where you can vote for your favorite mascot. Once that is finished, they hold a final event and people can vote in person for their favorite mascot. The voting is weighted a little bit differently than it is online, so it’s a good way to make up any type of gap from the first round. Well, enough information. Let me share the cuteness and strange looks of Yurukyara.

Yep, That's a Paper Bag of Groceries

Yep, That’s a Paper Bag of Groceries

Our gallery starts with Sogo from Nagoya. I’m guessing it’s a supermarket mascot or something.

 

A Mountain/Goat?

A Mountain/Goat?

Next we have this guy who seems to be a goat that wears a mountain on his head. I wonder what they were trying to promote when they made this.

 

Character Stage

Character Stage

 

There were multiple stages around the event where cities and organizations could promote their character. This was the mascot from Kasugai city in Aichi prefecture. This guy was supposed to be a cactus of sorts, but looks like it is wearing a condom . . . . ooook. O_O

 

Is that you Grumpy Cat?

Is that you Grumpy Cat?

Some of the Yuru characters were original, but I really can’t help but see the striking resemblance to Grumpy Cat. This character’s name is Baranyan.

 

Shippei, the popular shiba-inu from Iwata

Shippei, the popular shiba-inu from Iwata

 

This little guy is Shippei and is the mascot for the town in Iwata, Shizuoka where my wife is from. Her mom loves the character and his support seems to be growing. This year Shippei finished in 10th place our of hundreds of characters, so there is still hope for him next year.

 

Pack Hunters

Pack Hunters

The lesser known characters tended to group together to boost their profile and make for some interesting photo opportunities. I have no idea about these characters though.

 

Cows that cook themselves

Cows that cook themselves

These cows from Toyama prefecture seemed to be gaining popularity this year too. Their burning horns make them easily recognizable.

 

What the hell is this?

What the hell is this?

I really have no idea what this character’s designer was thinking when they made this. Maybe they were a fan of Dungeon’s and Dragons? It does seem like a Beholder somewhat. Or maybe it’s like a mini  Cthluhu? My best guess is that it’s supposed to be promoting these little white fish that people like to eat on their rice because they are high in calcium. *shrugs*

 

Again, WTF were they thinking?

Again, WTF were they thinking?

This guy is from Hokkaido I believe. It’s like the Phantom of the Opera was involved in a gruesome meat grinder accident. As far as what he promotes, your guess is as good as mine.

Fukuchan, with negi (long onion) ears on the left

Fukuchan, with negi (long onion) antlers on the left

This year’s second place finisher was Fukuchan, this white bear looking thing with leeks as antlers. For those of you that have never visited Japan, long onions (Negi) are pretty popular and are used in a variety of dishes. They are grown all over the country, so I guess it’s only natural that some characters have them incorporated into their design.

 

Ieyasu-kun and friends

Ieyasu-kun and friends

The Samurai guy in the middle is Ieyasu-kun from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. He’s modeled after Ieyasu Tokugawa of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled Japan before the Meiji Era began in the 1800s. He came in 2nd place last year and can no longer run in the Grand Prix, but has gained enough notoriety to be featured on snacks and other items around Japan now. On his right is the ninja from Iga city in Mei (where Ninja’s were supposedly trained long long ago), and on his right is Shizunabi from Shizuoka. As you can see, lots of people wanted his picture, but that was nothing compared to . . .

 

Kumamon, god of Yurukara

Kumamon, god of Yurukara

If you live in Japan or have visited it recently, then no doubt you’ve seen this character’s face over everything from snacks to toys to clothes. This is what all characters of this event strive to be. He makes bank every year due to his endorsements and brings billions of yen to his home prefecture of Kumamoto as well. He is the Michael Jackson of cute characters in Japan, and was swarmed by fans during this event.

 

Back to Magic

 

Next time I’ll be returning to talking about the metagame here in Japan, MTG stores, as well as share deck ideas with you and would like to thank you for humoring me with this little tangent about a part of Japan’s culture. Work will finally be slowing down for me come next week so I should have no problem getting back on my schedule of posting 2-3 articles a week. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

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