NJ 3

While people in Japan don’t send Christmas cards to each other, it’s customary to send New Year’s cards to relatives, friends, and work associates. Called nengajo, these are delivered on New Year’s Day, and typically feature whatever the Chinese zodiac animal for the year is.

However, since the end of the year is a busy time for most people, it’s not hard to imagine that some of the artists, distributors, and even buyers of these cards are too busy to really stop and scrutinize them, which is how one nengajo ended up with a very unusual ram on it.

With the Year of the Sheep coming up, stores are selling are plenty of cute nengajo with illustrations of the fluffy creatures on them. On the other hand, you could hold that it’s the Year of the Ram, as rams and sheep aren’t commonly differentiated in the Japanese language, and go with a stronger, more masculine design.

The artist behind this nengajo seems to have been trying to split the difference. With a fluffy coat and impressive set of horns, ideally, this would have been the best of both worlds. The end result, though, inadvertently ended up closer to odd and disturbing than heartwarming and dignified. As a matter of fact, the problem was so big that the cards ended up having to be recalled.

See if you can spot the problem.

NJ 1

Well, the face looks fine. There’s no problem with the flowing script the greeting is written in, nor is there an issue with the background colors having some inauspicious associated image. Really, the card is almost perfect.

Except for this little sliver right here.

NJ 2

Generally, giving customers a little something extra is a good thing. No one was really asking for a five-legged ram, though.

What really makes this a shame is that aside from the extra appendage, it’s a pretty nice picture. The artist obviously put a lot of care into getting each leg to look just right. Maybe too much, actually, as stopping to take a step back and look at the big picture might have been helpful in catching the mistake.

Still, online commenters seemed to sympathize.

“You really don’t notice these kind of things when you’re in the middle of drawing.”
“It actually took me a pretty long time to realize what was wrong.”

But “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and the manufacturer has issued a recall of the nengajo. It seems like a few packs did get sold first, though, and if you’re digging this mutant ram, there’s still a chance you might receive one in the mail, so keep your fingers crossed–all five of them.

Source, images: Livedoor