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Super Tarako Fun Happy Time
Thursday, 30th November

It's the song that's warmed hearts across the pachinko parlours of Japan, and it's taught the world how to love again. I'm talking of course about Tarako Tarako Tarako, by newcomers Kigurumi.
It tells the tale of two girls and their fantastical encounters with the bouncing, cherubic mascot of their favourite pasta sauce.

But before I go on, I feel some background information is necessary.

Kewpie is a famous Japanese food company, with it's signature product being their delightfully creamy mayonnaise. Their mascot is a chubby cheeked, apparently naked little boy, promising a hug. More of him here: http://www.kewpie.co.jp.

TARAKO:
Salted Alaska pollock roe. As a sauce, this pink, salty mixture is delcious atop a plate of freshly boiled spaghetti. It is usually served with shaved seaweed.
Sometime in early 2006 (perhaps late 2005), Kewpie comissioned and aired a commercial for their new 'Tarako' pasta sauce. It featured a young girl of European decent (notable in a Japanese commercial), about to help herself to a plate of pasta, when she is bombarded by an army of bobbing kewpies, replete in red, cocoon-type things. For some logic I can't fathom, the company doesn't want their commercials being seen as often as possible, and is doing their best to remove infringing copies from Youtube.


If this doesn't work, look for it here.

More commercials followed.
Spurned on by the catchiness of the song, the marketing gurus urged musical geniuses Kouji Ueno and Ryouichi Katou to come up with more music and lyrics (respectively).
They delivered.
Oh boy, did they deliver...

BEHOLD!


Clearer version available directly on youtube, here.

Not content to squander such a melody on mere television, Kewpie Corporation and Victor Entertainment let loose Tarako Tarako Tarako onto the unsuspecting populace of Japan, on September 6, 2006. On a day that may well overtake the Emperor's Birthday in terms of cultural significance, Japan was awoken by two singing, dancing, shoeless angels, Rena and Haruka, and once agained remembered the magic of being a child. Drunken old men, convinced they could never again love or be loved, took to the streets in joyous groups, soaking themselves in that magic that is Tarako Tarako Tarako.
Chart success soon followed, with Kigurumi being the youngest ever duo to appear in the top ten national singles chart.

Here is my revised version of the lyrics, originally appearing on my Myspace page.
Again, anyone familiar with Japanese is welcome to add corrections.
The asterix denotes uncertainty.

When my stomach is rumbling - they come to me
They bring all their friends - they come to me
Under the tarako hat, there is a face
Switch, switch
It comes out!
If I suddenly get the urge when I'm outside the window
When I suddenly get the urge, I get in the house

CHORUS:
Tarako, tarako
Lots and lots of tarako
Tarako, tarako, gritty and lumpy
The tarako come to me
(etc)

When I boil the pasta - they come to me
In a nice, straight line - they come to me
Always smiling
A wonderful, smiling face
Chokapoko chokaranda
Charming.

If I get the urge they are on my shoulder*
When I get the urge they are on my plate

CHORUS

Year in and year out - they come to me
In matching red - they come to me
Poonyo poonyo koonyo koonyo
Tarako rinko
Gritty, gritty, pop! Pop!
Tarako rinko

If I get the urge, they are in my mouth
When I get the urge, they are in my dreams

CHORUS repeat ad naseum.

Japan-wide success followed. As a matter of course, they had a spot on everyone's favourite TV show, "Super Music Power Time With That Creepy Old Guy With Sunglasses Happy Fun TV Why Not?" (actual title: 'Music Station')
Again, smoother version here.

With the world forever changed by their heart-warming innocence and funny red hats, the girls (or at least their record company) weren't happy to leave it at that.
Just as sure as winter follows autumn, smash hit successes earlier in the year are soon repackaged with a Christmas theme as a cheap ploy to squeeze some extra money out of a dying fad. Tarako Tarako Tarako is exceptional, in that this X-mas knock-off is no cheap, barely-thought out production. No, this is a completely unique and not at all obvious grab at some Christmas cash.
I'll let you judge for yourself.


Youtube

Cynics may argue that it is merely a rehash of their previous success. What they fail to take into account is that it is bookended by a completely different piece of music, and there is a key change near the end which may or may not be the same vocal track pitched up an octave. And look, they're wearing cute little booties now, so all you haters just back off.

Some pertinent links:
Kigurumi offical site: -http://www.kigurumi777.com
CD Single site: http://www.jvcmusic.co.jp/tarako/ (Japanese, though contains links to purchase the CD single, and a link to Tarako: The game!

And with that, I'll leave you all with the prophetic words of Jesus Christ:
"Fuck me dead, Tarako saves Christmas!"

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Manga Mattch
Sunday, 5th November

We had an international festival at uni this weekend. I busted out the flannel and headed on down. I was supposed to help the Chinese students sell dumplings, but I um, didn't.
Lots of fun was had by all. I got to meet some pretty special people.

This is Hitomi, in a special dress.

She looks scared.

Mandatory girl in Yukata.

Genki da yo!

This is my friend Akihito (right) with one for all the ladies.

What's a festival without a giant animal for the kids to jump around in?

"Wun wun!" (woof woof)

I was also lucky enough to meet the ever so lovely Miss Donut.

His name is Masaki. He's cool. His mum is Tanzanian.

Every circle/club group contributed something to the festival, by way of selling food (90%) or doing something else. The art group (or something) lined up a group of people to draw caricatures. They only cost 200 yen! That works out to less than $2.50 Australian.
I asked to be drawn in manga style. Here is the result.

Here is me with the artist.

Her name is Mutsuki. I wanted to pay her more, but she would not allow it.

THE END

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Images (most of them anyway) and words Matthew Strain 2006.
Additional translation by Shitagi Dorobo