Meet the bear that’s making women say: “I wanna fall prey to him!”

Until today, I’d never really understood the concept of a “man-crush,” but this promotional character for the prefecture of Kagoshima pretty much embodies everything I aspire to be: he’s a snappy dresser and he’s an evil bear. Yes, I have very simple goals.

But apparently I’m not alone, as Twitter has lit up with comments of praise for this stylish bear dubbing him “Ikébear” which is a play on the word “ikemen” (hot guy). He’s quite a departure from other regional mascots or “yuru-kyara” as their called in Japanese known for the gigantic heads and floppy cloth bodies.

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So where did this sexy beast come from?

To answer that we first have to introduce you to Greboo. Not to be confused with that guy Han Solo murdered in the cantina, Greboo (gree-bu) is that leafy green pig seen behind in Ikébear in the above photos. He was the original mascot for Kagoshima Prefecture.

He is also the star of Tales of Greboo, a revolutionary and gritty drama that takes us behind the scenes of a yuru-kyara‘s life. In the 10-episode series we follow Greboo as he works as a young upstart at the Kagoshima tourism department when a new transfer, Sakura, arrives hoping to win his heart.

The following is the pilot episode. It sets up the characters well and has English subtitles, but its hardly the series’ strongest one. So, I’ve also included another show.

Anyone who’s endured regular Japanese melodramas should get a kick out of this.

Tales of Greboo was very well received by critics and fans thanks to its raw look at the yuru-kyara culture with heated love triangles, risqué bedroom scenes, and cameos by 83 actual mascots from around Japan. And recently they announced that a second season will begin next January.

***SPOILER ALERT: You may want to watch the first season of Tales of Greboo before continuing if you don’t know what happens. Don’t worry, it only takes about 30 minutes to watch the whole thing.***

This time the format of the series switches from a youth oriented workplace romance to a sentimental family drama called Tales of the Greboo Family. The story fast-forwards into the future with Greboo and Sakura married with children. However, Greboo becomes so engrossed with his work at the tourism department that his children begin to resent him and the entire family begins to fall apart at the seams.

Those Greboos have been pretty busy during the hiatus.

Making his debut at the antagonist in Tales of the Greboo Family is Ikébear. However, in an interview with the website Grape, a producer revealed that the character’s name is actually Black Bear and was created because bears tend to hold a great deal of appeal amongst Japanese people.

Ikébear/Black Bear is already generating some fan art:

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In a sense he is likely a representation of how other yuru-kyara view Kumamon, the first Yuru-kyara Gran Prix winner and arguably the most successful mascot in the country’s history. Here’s Kumamon trying to ride a bicycle.

To see how Black Bear fits into Greboo’s life, we will have to wait until the series airs at 8:00pm on 9 January on KKB (Kagoshima Broadcasting Corporation). Those of us outside of the prefecture will have to wait until they post the episodes on YouTube a few weeks later, or until the series is aired on Tokyo MX at an unspecified time.

Be sure to tune in, because having watched a fair bit of prime-time Japanese television I think its safe to say that this will be the greatest show ever.

Source: Greboo official website, Twitter/@88887so, Grape (Japanese)
Videos: YouTube/【公式】薩摩剣士隼人, YouTube/Yamaguchi Kazutoshi