Monday, October 30th, 2006
How my Daughter Fell in Love with Domo-kun
When my Little Miss turned a year old, I bought her a Domo-kun doll. It is freakishly weird in an endearing sort of way. My daughter
disagreed about its endearing qualities, opting instead to ignore my gift.
The plush doll pictured in the photo is the mascot of the Japanese NHK TV station. He appears in 30 second stop-animation commercials.
Depending on what web site you believe, Domo means “hello” or “thank you” and the kun suffix means “mister” or “young person.”
Domo is a boxy brown creature with stubby legs, long flappy arms, black beady eyes and a huge mouth permanently stuck open to show off sharp uniform teeth. If he were to speak, I imagine him emitting a pathetic, but earnest growl like a barking wiener dog.
He rose to popularity in America a few years ago as an Internet meme when several plush Domo-kun dolls were added to an amusing kitten photo for a Photoshopping contest (see this large image gallery.)
Flash forward now 16 months, to the day last week when I was wearing my Modo-kun T-shirt. It’s a brown shirt with a giant Domo-kun face, but it isn’t called Domo-kun because Modo-kun is a parody T-shirt. (wink wink, pay no royalties).
So here I am wearing my monster shirt and my daughter says she doesn’t want her teeth brushed. In the past I’ve handled this situation by pretending to be a robot, creating a new personality as a child management tool.
This time, however, I decided to become Domo-kun, or at least a version of him that my daughter would like. Domo-kun is very kind, but not very intelligent. He speaks
like an exasperated Cookie Monster, except he eats brains, not cookies.
My daughter seamlessly accepted me as Domo-kun and allowed me to brush her teeth, going so far as to point out which teeth I should brush. (She points to various parts of her mouth and says, “Here and here and here and here and here.” So I ask, “What about over here and here and up here and down here? Yes? OK.”)
Domo-kun is also adept at ending tantrums, but his brain eating does get in the way. I bend over so that the mouth on the Modo-kun shirt touches her head and “eats” her brain. She responds by grabbing at the air and pretending to put her brains back inside her head, shouting, “Don’t eat my brains!”
By the way, she knows her brain is inside her skull and her skull is under her skin. My wife has been reading her a children’s anatomy book from the library. When we walked past a Halloween skeleton in a store window that had a rose sticking out, my Little Miss said, “That man has a flower in his ribs.” It’s freaky how a toddler brain soaks up everything it perceives.
The same day that I was Domo-kun, Little Miss began carrying her Domo-kun doll around the house and even invited him to a tea party. For naptime she chose Domo-kun as the one stuffed animal she was allowed to bring to bed.
It may sound bizarre or kind of sad, but I was proud to see Domo-kun has found a place in her heart.
For more information:
- Domo-kun Wikipedia page
- Modo-kun T-shirt at ThinkGeek.com
- Domo-kun merchandise at J-List.com [Caution: J-List also imports NSFW adult Japanese products. The doll shown in the photo above is 6" x 4" (or 6"x12" with arms stretched). J-List's "medium" 8"x10" doll (arms stretched) seems to be the closest match.]