Sanrio, home of the fun-loving cartoon gang of the Hello Kitty lore, has a cartoon that seems like a complete departure from its original characters’ usual positive vibe.
Introduced in 2013, Gudetama, the “misanthropic egg” suffering from “crippling depression,” has become another massive hit for the studio, according to PRI. His name is a play on “gude gude”, a term used for someone who has no energy or strength, and “tama” from tamago, or egg.
In his bio, Gudetama is described as “hard to motivate and has a negative, defeatist attitude.” On his official Twitter account, he says that tweeting is troublesome but he only does it because “great people” told him to. Despite his negativity, the cracked egg yolk who spews cold one-liners that reflect the dark realities of life is becoming more and more popular in Japan.
Japanese pop culture expert and co-founder of AltJapan, Matt Alt, said that Japan has had a long history of “personifying and anthropomorphizing inanimate objects.” While Western mascots and cartoons have traditionally been geared toward cheering people up, Japanese characters have been known to deviate from such constructs, not shying away from “uncomfortable” emotions, such as Gudetama’s dark and sad thoughts.
The depressed egg’s popularity in Japan may also be seen as reflective of its younger generation’s diminishing self-esteem and growing unhappiness. Described as the “withdrawn” generation, today’s Japanese youth have been observed to show a general lack of interest and unwillingness to take risks.
At least they can identify with a character like Gudetama.
Check a sample of a Gudetama clip and see if you can also relate: