What A Strange Chocolate: A Domo-kun sort of FAQ.
Revised 2005nov25. Do not forget to look at the Domo-kun updates page.
Who/What is Domo-kun?
Domo-kun (どーもくん) is a small brown open-mouthed monster hatched from an egg who lives with a wise old rabbit underground. He really, really likes TV and also enjoys rocking out to Guitar Wolf. Domo-kun is the mascot of NHK's BS2 (a satellite channel; he also appears on BS1). NHK has been producing a series of Domo-kun stop-motion vignettes that exude personal charm and warmth. There is also a wide variety of Domo-kun-related merchandise available, some of which is difficult/impossible to find in the US.
"Domo" in this case appears to mean more of something (usually to stress "thank you," "excuse me," etc), implying increased politeness. "kun" is used as "Mr." or "Ms." for "younger people or colleagues." He acquired his name in the second episode, when Usajii turns on the TV for him and an announcer says "Domo konnichiwa" ("very much hello").
I've received email from a member of the US Air Force who is stationed in Japan and this person indicates that "Domo" is used "everywhere" in Japan as "thanks." I've also read someone's opinion that "Domo" in this case means "ferocious," but the Random House Japanese/English dictionary doesn't support this at all (the "domo" meaning "ferocious" has two long "o"s, the "domo" in Domokun only has one).
According to NHK, Domo-kun is recognized by 90% of Japanese schoolchildren.
The egg probably originates from the egg-shaped rings of the NHK logo (made eggy in 1995).
The following are the character descriptions as they appear at Domomode.
DOMO is a strange creature born from an egg. One day he fell into Usajii's house, the old rabbit likes TV. After that he began to love watching TV. He is gentle and strong. When he is in a bad mood, he breaks wind.
A newer profile: "a strange creature that hatched from an egg. His body is stout but his heart is pure. Loves TV. Often causes trouble by daydreaming and not paying attention to things. Lets out explosive farts when upset. Favorite food: Japanese-style meat and potato stew. Least favorite food: Apples (a big mystery that's in his DNA)."
I am guessing that "bad mood" is really something like "distressed/nervous," as evidenced by the episode in which he accidentally meets up with Ta-chan, sweats a little, and lets fly.
Usajii has been living in a cave for 70 years. He loves TV and astringent tea. When he was young, he often traveled with his sweet heart, but now he is completely retired. Favorite food: Kinds of carrot
Disliked food: A trivial thing
Favorite talent: Hijiri Kojima
"Usagi" (rabbit) + "Oyaji" (older man) ~= Usajii!
A newer profile indicates he's now "Mr. Usaji" and "has lived in a cave for some decades. A retired old rabbit who loves strong green tea and good humor. Not into new things: doesn't even have a phone. In fashion, focuses on materials more than shapes. Favorite food: Carrots. Least favorite things: Anything meaningless."
Shinobu is a strong-minded mother. Morio is a mischievous child. They are hanger-on of Usajii's cave. Favorite food: The thing of a season (Shinibu)
Spaghetti Neapolitan (Morio)
Disliked food: Alcohol (Shinibu - She drinks alcohol in large amounts in fact.)
Favorite talent: Brad Pitt (Shinibu)
"Shinobu" means "endure."
Ta-chan is a weasel girl. She is seventeen years old. She moved near Usajii's cave this spring. She dreams to be a stylist or model in Tokyo. She always tries to get information from a mobile phone, TV, or magazine. She is overly friendly, but is lonely somehow. She always adds "chi" to the end of a conversation, but she doesn't know it. She doesn't like the country-side.
A more recent profile indicates her name is now Tashanna and gives this as a description: "A young weasel-girl who hasn't had a boyfriend in ten years. Her dream is to become a fashion stylist or model in Toyko. Has a weaselly accent ending every sentence with "y". Little bit lonely, but absolutely friendly. Passionate about auctions, but always gives up on her bids in the end. Favorite food: apricot and mint tarts. Least favorite food: sea urchin."
BS Online (japan)
Domo-kun video compilation + more
Translation of video
Domo-kun video compilation, etc
Domo-kun lover + merchandise
Amusing stuffed Domo-kun photo-tours
amusing secret diary of Domo
Domo something or other
L'il Japanese article about Domo (Part of this larger series)
Build your own Domo-kun costume
Where can I buy Domo-kun merchandise?
Here is a list of U.S. and Japan-based stores and online concerns. Items are sometimes sold out, the store no longer carries a certain product, etc etc.
One of the odder pieces of merchandise I can't seem to find available anywhere except Japan is a large stuffed Domo-kun alarm clock that swings its arms in time to a small bit of sampled Guitar Wolf. You could have Domo beat on you! Also, for the insane completist, there's a ~15-foot tall Domo-kun going for a little over 900 US dollars. Shipping charges to the US: you don't want to think about it. Make your own!
There is a Domo-kun VHS video cassette (recently transferred to DVD, don't know if there are any extras) tape available. It is only twenty minutes long, features only about five of the episodes plus a long sequence about the origin of Domo-kun (which is not 3D stop motion, it's 2D nearly no motion - like a slideshow; in a sparse line art style). Definitely something only for Domo-kun fanatics, considering the price. Wizzywig used to sell it, don't know where it's available now.
NHK Character Workshop: The domo-releavant area of this site will throw you into Domomode. There are several Character Workshops throughout Japan. I've visited three (you can see some of the products from one NHK Character Workshop store here). They don't have everything from the NHK inventory, and what they have is basically the same as the other stores.
Hakuhinkan Toy Park
NHK compilation video w/Domo
NHK compilation DVD w/Domo
NHK compilation DVD w/Domo
NHK compilation video w/Domo
NHK domo video
NHK freakishly-long stuffed Domo
NHK Domo CDROM
Who is Guitar Wolf?
Guitar Wolf is a frenetic Japanese garage rock band. The song that Domo-kun and Usajii are rocking out to in one of the earlier episodes [this was what was originally used for the episode, but on the Domo-kun VHS tape it's a different song/band] is "Kaminari One." There is a 7" of the song and "Kaminari One (Jet Version)" appears on the album Jet Generation which was released by Matador in 1999. "Kaminari" means "thunder" or "lightning."
Who is MAX?
MAX is a popular four-woman Japanese pop band which of course stands for "Maximum Active Experience." I'll stick with Guitar Wolf, thanks.
Who is Hijiri Kojima?
A young Japanese model/actress. She appeared (among other things) in the 1999 movie The Perfect Education described thusly: "A middle-aged man kidnaps a high-school girl in order to train her for 'perfect love.'" Her blood type is A and her Body Mass Index is 16.14. When she is in a bad mood, she eats seasoned beef with kinds of carrot. It is a trivial thing.
What about those poor kittens?
This is a reference to a rather popular computer image, as seen below.
This was created by a contributor to Fark.com. It appears to be a variant of this:
This is a "jpg" file a friend sent to me, sometime before April 4th, 2000. It was scanned from a poster taken from Fantasy Video of Portland, Oregon. I haven't seen any other earlier references ... wait, hold the press ...
2005nov10: "Hi - the image of Stop the Slaughter (everytime you masturbate, God kills a kitten) originated in BarFly, a Portland bar-goers magazine, perhaps 6 or 7 years ago. Miss Jen Lane would be able to tell you more, but I clearly remember seeing that "ad" and laughing so very hard. And, she is so very fond of fontdiner sparkly. Thanks much, vj
What's that sad song playing during the rain sequence?
Special thanks to Max (who is MAX, if you follow me here), VJ, Mike V & Agent 13!