On Monday, I’m watching Star Wars — Episode III, and the earth-shaking THX spot comes on — preparing us all for finally seeing the movie we only dreamed about as children — when some awful, awful advert pops up featuring a bland-looking Japanese girl mysteriously crying a black tear, which falls on a reel of film and makes out a Jolly Roger skull — SAY NO TO PIRATED MOVIES! — in a tone of voice implying that every time you buy a bootleg DVD, you destroy the magic of film-making for hungry children in Africa. I get so annoyed with this industry self-pity that I almost put down my camcorder.
Now yesterday in Shibuya station, I pass a poster featuring the famous Namennayo Neko — cats dressed up in semi-Nationalist, yankii teenage-motorcycle-gang style. They were icons of the early ’80s, but now they’ve oddly become spokespersons against making/selling/buying counterfeit goods. I ignore the poster’s message, but I do write down the name of the cats’ webpage and cram the paper into my fake Gucci wallet.
Their site — nameneko.com — is highly informational, with a wealth of English exposition. All taken from the site, all [sic].
What does namennayo mean?
Children who turned their anxieties and frustrations toward the school and society found a way to release such tensions through “Namennayo” Cats’ slogan “Namennayo”, which roughly translates to “Don’t monkey around with me”.
Okay, but what’s the big deal about dressing up pets in costumes?
No other real cat characters around the world have ever enjoyed the same success as the “Namennayo” Cats. It is also said that the “Namen nayo” Cats brought on the idea of costumes for pets, a common idea today.
I see. But, I mean, these cats were “just a consumer boom,” right?
Even the government PR department used “Namennayo” Cats as their campaign mascot for the National Sound Upbringing of Youth Month, which received much press attention.
Oh, but who’s the kitten who was always meowing?
The kitten always meowing was named Nyanta.
What happened to the main cat, Matakichi?
This was covered in detail on the television show 20th Century Expedition (Nijuu Seiki Tankentai).
Okay, I’ll check that out.