If you live in Japan and love movies, there’s a good chance that you’ve been to a Toho Cinema at some point. One of the largest cinema chains in Japan, they show all the domestic and international blockbuster films you could possibly want. They also allow you to reserve a seat when you buy your ticket, so you can be sure to have a perfect view of Captain America’s pert derrière when the next Avengers movie comes out.

In addition to picking your seat, you now also have the opportunity to help choose the theater chain’s new mascot. With lazy shellfish, neglected children, and the absolute cutest ninja you’ll ever see, it may take you a while to choose–so it’s a good thing you can vote online!


In case you haven’t been to a Toho Cinema recently, we should first probably explain that before every movie, the chain shows an animated video imploring the audience to have some common courtesy. You can watch one of their older videos on YouTube, though it doesn’t seem to have any English subtitles, unfortunately. The videos are produced by DLE, an animation studio that is most famous for their Eagle Talon property, a Flash anime created by the animator Frogman.


DLE is now in the process of helping Toho Cinema come up with a new mascot and they’re getting movie fans (and anyone with an Internet connection) involved. Three 45-second animated videos of (almost) entirely new characters have been created and are shown before each movie. They’re also available online so Japanese movie-goers (and the rest of us) can watch and vote for their favorites at home too. The videos will run for the next year, with the order the videos are shown in theaters changed to reflect their popularity every three months.

Even if your favorite video doesn’t win, you can still take heart knowing that any of the videos that amass enough popularity will be further developed by DLE. It’s a chance for everyone to win!

Now, without further ado, here are the Character Battle Club videos! (The first rule of Character Battle Club is…if it’s your first competition, you have to fight.)

The Shellfish Employees

The first video, 貝社員 The Shellfish Employees, is actually a pun. 会社員 (kaishain) is the Japanese word for a company employee, however you may have noticed that 会 has been replaced with 貝 (also pronounced “kai“), which is the Japanese word for shellfish. The video introduces two horrible shellfish employees, punning off of their names.

The first shellfish, an asari kai or manila clam, is apparently a terrible worker–and lacks perseverance. When his boss says, “You have no will to work! Quit that!” the shellfish replies, “Okay, I’ll quit,” and promptly leaves the company, muttering, “It turns out that I don’t fit in at this company after all.” As the shellfish leaves, the narrator says, “あっさり投げ出す Assari nagedasu,” punning “asari kai” with “assari,” which means to do something rashly or quickly–in this case “nagedasu,” which means to give up. The video then cuts to a scene of someone frying asari in butter–because…it’s delicious?

Our next “kaishain” is a mirugai or horse clam, which seems to be hard at work typing on the computer. When the boss notices, he praises the mirugai only to realize it’s “looking at” (the Japanese word for “look” is “miru“) Facebook. The mirukai responds to the boss’s anger by saying, “Oh! I’m sorry! I forgot to add you, didn’t I?” And then the video cuts to a scene of mirugai boiling in soy sauce.

The video closes with the lyrics “Aren’t these shellfish employees annoying?”

Dokan-kun Returns

The second video doesn’t actually feature new characters like the other two, though Dokan-kun (the earthenware pipe operated by the strange guy in the green shirt) isn’t one of DLE’s best-known properties. This video moves fairly quickly, so it would be impossible to translate all the dialogue, but we’ll give you a basic explanation of what’s happening!

Peter, the little boy in the red coat, is out at the park with his father and Dokan-kun, ostensibly to learn how to ride a bike. Getting his son’s name wrong, the father tells the kid that he’ll soon be able to ride the bicycle. After Peter corrects his father, Dokan-kun asks if it’s true that the boy has some bicycle-related trauma, to which the kid explains that for his birthday, instead of a bicycle, his father gave him the oldest son at the bike shop. If we haven’t lost you so far, congratulations! Things are going to get even weirder from here.

Perhaps feeling sympathetic, Dokan-kun says he’ll teach Peter how to ride a bike and asks if he should use signal flags. Peter, being the least insane one in the video, wants to be taught normally, and, after a short digression by his father, the boy explains that he just wants to be taught the important points of riding a bike–and not with signal flags. At this point, the robot pipe asks how he wants it to be explained, and Peter makes the unfortunate mistake of using the Japanese phrase “with your mouth,” which would normally mean to “say” something. However, his father’s mouth somehow turns into a bicycle shape, further annoying Peter. Dokan-kun, at his wit’s end, tells the boy to just get on the bike, picks the kid up, and plops him down. After a few moments of what looks like Peter riding a bicycle, the camera pulls out to reveal that he is, once again, on the back of the oldest son of the bike shop.


Phew! After those two language-intensive videos, wouldn’t it be nice to have something a bit easier to understand? Not to mention a few billion times cuter? Yes, it most certainly would! Thankfully, the third video from DLE features nothing less than a tiny, adorable alien “ninja.”

The video, as you can see, requires neither explanation nor introduction–and it may be one of our favorite 45-second clips on the Internet this week. It’s certainly one of the cutest things we’ve seen in recent memory! If you’re interested in learning more about Mininja and following the tiny alien’s rise to world domination, be sure to check out its brand new Facebook page or follow on Twitter.

Now it’s time to vote, so head to the Character Battle Club website, find the video you liked best and click the big red button that says 投票する (touhyou suru) on it! You can only vote once (though no registration is required), so choose carefully!

▼Just like in the picture below.


Be sure to tell us which video you liked best in the comments, and we might tell you which one we voted for. Here’s a hint.


Sources: Character Battle Club, Gigazine
Images: YouTubeCharacter Battle Club