Cheburashka set to topple Kitty-chan?

December 1st, 2009 by Felicity Hughes

Doutor Cheburashka original coffee set

Doutor Cheburashka original coffee set

From Dec. 3 visitors to Doutor coffee shop can get their mitts on limited-edition Cheburashka items unavailable elsewhere. Each week the free gift changes: in the first week free stickers are available, from Dec. 10 you can receive a clear A5 file and from the Dec. 17 customers get two free postcards. Stocks are limited so visitors to the store best get there early.

In addition you can buy a Cheburashka mug for ¥630, a Cheburashka original coffee set including mug, bag of drip coffee and tote bag for ¥1,800 and a 200-gram bag of premium mild blend coffee for ¥850.

It should be no surprise that despite being a Russian character, Cheburashka has connected with the Japanese and in early last month, a Japanese anime version of Cheburashka debuted on Japanese TV. Small childlike  (chibi) characters with large heads such as Rilakkuma or Hello Kitty are extremely popular in Japan, so diminutive Cheburashka with his cute voice and giant bonce ticks all the right boxes for entry into Japan’s kawaii (cute) hall of fame.

Originally a character in a Russian storybook, Cheburashka became a popular Russian stop-motion animation in in the late ’60s. The furry homunculus has a number of comical friends such as Gena, a kind of gentleman crocodile, and an enemy called old lady Shapoklyak who plays pranks on him.

The original stop-motion animation first aired on Japanese television in 2006, and the ensuing popularity soon turned the original Russian Cheburashka products into must-have collectibles. This toy is now on sale on Yahoo Auctions for a hefty buy-it-now price of ¥55,000. As the Dotour campaign attests, the merchandising of Cheburashka is no doubt generating a mountains of rubles.

The copyright to the character has been fiercely debated in court between Eduard Uspenskiy, the writer of the original books, and Leonid Shvartsman, the art director of the animated films. Uspenskiy won a recent ruling in 2007. Given the proven money-making record of Hello Kitty, Shvartsman is no doubt feeling extremely put out right now.

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2 Responses

  1. Bonus points for “the furry homunculous”, which make me snort my tea down the front of my shirt.

  2. Do you know where I can find a child’s size Cheburashka costume??

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