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There aren’t many foods I hate more than mushrooms. I’ve got issues with both their taste and texture, and, to my eyes, they just look kind of gross, no matter which variety we’re talking about.

But while I don’t think I’ll ever completely come around on the idea of eating fungi, it’s nice to at least have a different visual image for them, thanks to a new smartphone game that’s turned a half-dozen types of mushrooms into cute anime girls.

Even though the subgenre of video games staring cute and/or scantily clad 2-D girls has been around for quite some time in Japan, the industry is in the middle of an anthropomorphic renaissance. Following in the wake of mega-hit Kantai Collection, which stars World War II warships turned into attractive young ladies, we’ve seen cars get the same treatment with Shanago Collection, and now it’s mushrooms’ turn with Kinoko Collection: The Hundred Years’ War of the Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots.

The soon-to-be-released social game’s official website was set up last July, and has been slowly doling out bits of information since. Although nothing has been revealed regarding the title’s genre or gameplay mechanics, the story speaks of a mountain village inhabited by mushroom girls, which is one day invaded by an army of bamboo shoot girls.

It may seem like the designers are scraping the bottom of the barrel in an attempt to find a field that hasn’t already been turned into cute girls in Japan (admittedly no easy task), but there’s actually a bit of–of course–pun-based logic behind the choice. In Japanese, mushrooms and bamboo shoots are called kinoko and takenoko, respectively. That last syllable, ko, can also mean “girl,” which seems to have supplied the creative spark behind the characters who’ve been revealed so far.

Bunashimeji (brown beech mushroom), who asks to be rewarded with sweets should she distinguish herself in the conflict

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Enokitake (enoki mushroom), a skilled archer who’s also a little bit afraid of the dark

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▼ Yes, the mushroom Nameko is named after is slimy, but having her say, “I’ll get slimy if you touch me…but it’s OK as long as it’s only sometimes” seems more like suggestive fan service than straight-faced mushroom trivia.

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▼ Dauntless Eringi (king trumpet mushroom) says she’s ready to lead the vanguard.

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▼ Since the inspiration for Fukurotake (paddy straw mushroom) is indigenous to southern China, of course the character has to speak in stilted Japanese, although her cheongsam is quite fetching.

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Maitake literally means “dancing mushroom” in Japanese, which explains why Maitake here is dressed as a dancing girl.

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Despite her clothes, Maitake is clearly supposed to be a Westerner, as her quotes are peppered with the speech patterns anime loves to use for such characters. Instead of making any sort of mistake a native-English speaker actually would in Japanese, her dialogue is littered with the sort of broken English that strongly suggests the scriptwriters flunked out of junior high English, as she says things like “Let’s dancing!” and can’t properly differentiate between the English pronouns “me” and “I.”

▼ Let’s remembering that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, OK?

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Maitake’s and Fukurotake’s “accents” become all the more puzzling when you stop to consider that the game doesn’t seem to be set in Japan. Out of the four characters who speak proper Japanese, none of them are dressed in indigenous Japanese outfits.

▼ How is the girl on the left any more Japanese than the one on the right?

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Maybe the rationale will become clear when Kinoko Collection is released this coming February. In the meantime, we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that it ends up as a strategy or puzzle title, and not a language-learning game, given the designers’ tenuous grasp on linguistics.

Related: Kinoko Collection Official Website
Source: IT Media
Top image: Goo, Kinoko Collection (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Kinoko Collection