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Kumamon is a cartoon character of a rosy-cheeked brown bear designated as the official mascot of the Kumamoto prefecture in Japan. Since its debut in early 2011 as part of a tourism promotion campaign, Kumamon has become a popular character nationwide and even inspired a reaction image featuring the mascot with a mischievous grin reminiscent of the Disaster Girl on the English-speaking web.
Kumamon was designed by the Kumamoto government and unveiled to the public on March 12th, 2010 in an effort to promote tourism in the region. As part of the campaign, the local government launched a personal website, blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts for the mascot, whose official description says he is a public employee in the prefecture.
In November 2011, Kumamon was voted the most popular mascot in Japan with more than 287,000 votes in an online poll for the annual Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix. By January 2012, Kumamon had developed a fictitious personality described as “potentially violent” but also “irresistibly adorable.” During the first half of 2012, Kumamon merchandise and other branded promotions generated more than ¥11.8 billion in revenue, reaching more than ¥29.36 billion by the end of the year. Starting in December 2012, the sensational popularity of the character was picked up by several English-language news outlets and blogs, including The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Tofugu, Tokyoite, Japan Realtime and Brand Channel. As of September 2013, Kumamon’s Facebook and Twitter accounts have gained more than 139,000 likes and 284,000 followers respectively.
Why? For The Glory of Satan Of Course!
On December 24th, 2011, FunnyJunk user gedmpbass submitted a two-panel comic of Kumamon standing in front of a bonfire and the caption “Why? For the Glory of Satan of course!” In January 2012, the same image was reposted to Tumblr and eBaum’s World, although they didn’t receive much attention until it was submitted to the /r/WTFsubreddit on February 13th, 2012. Prior to being archived, the Reddit post accrued 13,639 upvotes, 927 points overall and 283 comments.
The same day, the image was reposted to 9gag and We Know Memes where it was shared an additional 7,000 times combined. On March 23rd, 2012, the first Facebook fan page for the phrase “Why? For The Glory Of Satan Of Course” was created, followed by a second fan page titled “For the Glory of Satan Bear” in August. In September that year, the photo was uploaded to deviantART, where it has been downloaded more than 30,000 times. By October 2012, a number of other images and GIFs of Kumamon had become associated with the phrase, including a GIF of the bear flailing next to a chef with a flaming pan. (shown below) In November 2012, a third Facebook fan page was created. Additional photos of Kumamon using the phrase have appeared on MemeCenter, Tumblr and Reddit.
Japan Realtime – The Branding of Kumamon: The Bear That Stole Japan’s Heart
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