Enlightening clips show just how hard it is to do the simplest things when you’re a mascot.

Thanks largely to the crossover success of Funassyi half a decade ago, there have been great strides in Japanese mascot (yuru-kyara) culture. Eager for a piece of that Kumamon cash, mascots with amazing talents from metal-drumming to slick dancing have emerged.

However, one mascot has the potential to be the next Funassyi without any special ability whatsoever. Her name is Chiitan and she has been gaining a following online for doing mundane things like running down the street.

A four-second video of her kicking a ball has garnered well over two million views, 100 of which were mine because I cannot stop watching it.

And then there’s the most suspensful tweet of all: Chiitan attempting to ride a bike.

Chiitan is no mere mascot either. She’s an actual otter – an Asian small-clawed otter (amblonyx cinereus) to be exact. Only about a year-old and the size of a slice of bread, she has already overachieved well beyond her peers.

For example, she is the host of a weekly regional affairs television program for Chiba Prefecture. In the following episode she and her hockey-mask-wearing idol field reporters tackle the difficult issue of fraudulent Ministry of Justice postcards. It’s an issue that, quite frankly, I appreciate being explained to me by otters and idols.

As you can see from the video, it must be lonely working behind the scenes as a tiny otter. So when she feels like interacting with humanity, Chiitan transforms into her larger mascot form so that she can play with kids and tell people not to smoke.

However, as we’ve seen from the above videos, being a huge-headed mascot can make doing the simplest things very difficult. Usually, Japanese mascots are accompanied by regular people so they don’t fall down stairs or accidentally whack little children with their gigantic jowls and reduced visibility.

For this purpose, Chiitan has teamed up with Shinjo-kun, a fellow otter and the official mascot for Susaki City, Chiba Prefecture. However, while two heads are better than one, it’s only marginally better when both heads are a meter in diameter and attached to fingerless hands.

So even when working together, everyday tasks like using a vending machine or going to a playground can be a chore.

It’s a great premise with a lot of potential. I’d love to see Chiitan try to get on a bus or use one of those elevators with a door that closes too quickly after opening. That being said, there is a concern that her collaboration with Shinjo-kun might be holding her back.

She didn’t seem quite as daring in those videos as in her solo tweets. They were funny, but Chiitan’s edge seemed diminished by Shinjo-kun’s more conventional mascot ways.

It shows in the numbers too, as Chiitan is currently enjoying over 93,000 followers on Twitter but the Chiitan-Shinjo YouTube channel has only  around 700 subscribers and change so far.

It’s still early in this young otter’s life though, and with her potential and the right guidance she could be a star as bright as Funassy ever was.

Source: Twitter/@love2chiitan, Instagram/@chiitan7407, YouTube/Kawaun Chiitan
Featured image: Twitter/@love2chiitan
[ Read in Japanese ]