In which we celebrate Tonkatsu and Ebi Furai no Shippo even more than usual around here.
I was browsing my old favorite CD Japan not long ago when I ran across this and wondered why I hadn’t gotten it earlier — the Sumikko Gurashi Fan Book: Tonkatsu and Ebi Furai no Shippo edition. I adore every single thing about it, so I hope you’re in the mood for a rave!
When it arrived (yet another perfect order on CD Japan’s end, but click here if you want to read about how obnoxious DHL was), I was surprised that it was more of a box than a book, with three major pieces of furoku. The book is only 32 pages, but every single one of them is literally as cute as a thing can be.
More on the book itself in a moment, but first, I’ve got no patience, so furoku it is!
First up, we’ve got a very nice large illustration on substantial cardstock of all the Sumikko celebrating Tonkatsu’s achievement by dressing up in a fried food theme. I’ll definitely put this up in a place of note — it’s extremely cute. Shirokuma dressed as Tonkatsu melts my heart. I wondered at first where Aji Furai no Shippo was, but then I remembered this book (about two years old) came before her.
Next, as you may have noticed from the large picture on the package front, there’s an exclusive Tonkatsu tenori plush! I think it goes without saying that he’s absolutely awesome, soft and generally great. Even his crown is soft and a little fuzzy.
As if there’s not enough already (did I mention this is only about thirteen dollars?!), there’s one last furoku — an extremely regal playing card to commemorate the occasion.
After an honor like this, Tonkatsu has every right to kick back and hit the sauce a little bit.
The book’s thin, but I was literally making little thrilled sounds every couple of pages. There’s so much here! It’s got a then-current design roundup for both Tonkatsu:
And Ebi Furai no Shippo:
And then it does the same for their plush:
I was especially thrilled by these early sketches, doubly so because — see the left page — apparently he’s always been a rapper.
With Tonkatsu’s royal powers come great responsibility, or something like that, but he’s happy to serve as a regional representative promoting local delicacies:
I’m guessing the pages near the end of the book are the same for all Sumikko, since I don’t see any specific Tonkatsu focus. They include information on how Sumikko plush are made; a list of then-recent merchandise, including a plush castle with Ebi Furai no Shippo for all the kingly plush to live in; and a foldable Sumikko Room.
I’m on the record about how much I love these two, so it’s no surprise I find myself simply gobsmacked throughout the whole thing. But if I had to pick a favorite part, it may well be the Q&A portion:
I’m sure someone has translated this somewhere, but there are a few I just have to fawn over a bit. Like that Tonkatsu’s favorite day of the week is Fry–er, Friday:
There are also things Tonkatsu has done to try and increase his appeal, including the use of hashtags, like for “Good Meat Day” on November 29th. Why 11/29, you ask? In Japanese, “good meat” can be written as いい肉, ii niku. So the 11 in 11/29 looks like ii, while one reading of 2 is ni and one for 9 is ku: ii niku!
Though, as Shirokuma explains his origins below, I can’t help but observe there’s just not a lot of meat on the guy in the first place:
Here, Ebi Furai no Shippo is asked what her favorite thing about Tonkatsu is, and she says it’s his gentleness/kindness. She was sad after knocking over the sauce, but he cheerfully walks through it to cheer her up.
Here Tonkatsu works on his appeal by trying mayomimi (mimi = ears):
Tonkatsu is willing to do anything to be eaten — well, almost anything. The thought of being pounded flat to be warajikatsu is a bit much…
Still, his mind is always open to new ideas, be they taking a comedic approach (on the left below; notice that Obake is absolutely cracking up — they say he’s afraid to open his mouth because he’d be scary, but he just seems even more affordable than usual to me). And not only is Tonkatsu willing to try a kawaii (cute) look as in the middle, but he’ll even go kowai (scary), as on the right!
I can’t possibly have wanted anything more from this little book. If Tonkatsu isn’t your favorite Sumikko, of course they have them for the others, so I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t recommend this. I’m just happy to see my favorites get a day or two in the sun!