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In Japan, where the market for character-based merchandise is intensely competitive, it’s not always easy to predict what’ll take off. Sure, it was easy to see Hello Kitty and Pikachu coming, since either one could serve as the accompanying illustration for the definition of “adorable” in the dictionary, but who’s going to be the next big star?

There’s a new dark horse entry to the character goods arena, with one company hoping Japanese consumers’ ravenous hunger for all things kawaii will lead them to embrace something so ugly it just might be cute, in the form of T-shirts, notebooks, and purses all featuring the humongous marine bug called the giant isopod.

While visiting the recent Tokyo Gift Show, we stopped by the booth for Run’a Town, the visionaries behind the giant isopod iPhone case. The quirky smartphone accessory garnered a lot of buzz, and there’ve been other developments showing the isopod is gaining a bit of a cult following in Japan.

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All the same, we’re not sure the country is quite ready for the massive flood of isopod merch Run’a Town is looking to unleash. The company has created no fewer than 48 different fictional isopod characters, and was pushing items featuring the creepy crawly menagerie during each day of the trade show.

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Some of these seem almost reasonable. For example, these isopod notebooks would actually be kind of cool for taking notes in biology class.

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These normally-shaped smartphone cases are also within most people’s bounds of acceptable quirkiness. They’re good for a chuckle when you pull it out, but generally unobtrusive since they spend most of their time in your pocket.

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This isopod Alice band, though, is a bit more in-your-face (or on-you-head).

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Also, remember how we said Run’a Town has come up with 48 isopod characters? We think maybe they should have stopped at a less ambitious number, as scraping the bottom of the barrel has given birth to such marginal creations as Feudal Japan Burglar Isopod

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Panties on Its Head Isopod

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Extreme Masochist and Sadist Isopods (although Mecha Isopod, on the far right, is sort of cool)…

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…and finally, Sexy Naked Anthropomorphic Isopod (Fondling Its Own Nipples Version)!

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Oddly enough, one of the few items on display we could actually see ourselves wanting to own was the giant isopod costume.

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▼ Heck, it’s arguably not even the weirdest thing RocketNews24 correspondent Mr. Sato has worn in the last 30 days.

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It’s surprisingly comfy, and would actually make for a pretty cool sleeping bag.

▼ Provided you can relax enough to fall asleep without fear of someone squashing you with a shoe or blasting you with bug spray before you wake up.

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Run’a Town hasn’t made the final decision to start production on any of these yet, as they’re still gauging consumer interest. We’re not saying there’s no one out there who would buy these things, but honestly, we’re not sure about the wisdom of putting all of your eggs in one basket, especially when that basket is crawling with isopods. Worryingly, though, the marine bugs were taking up half of the booth, and Run’a Town was only showcasing one other line of merchandise at this year’s Gift Show: figurines of dogs straining to drop a deuce.

▼ We’re assuming many of you just said, “You’ve got to be shitting me,” but that’s the dog’s endeavor, not ours.

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By comparison, the isopods are quite lovely.

▼ Note the elegant and total lack of hanging poo.

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Photos: RocketNews24
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