Beloved regional mascot admits he’s been a bad, bad bear.

In the vast ecosystem of costumed mascots in Japan, the Kumamoto Prefectural character Kumamon probably stands at the top of the food chain. His empire has been estimated well into the billions of yen annually and he has even gained a following in China.

While the money and fame is great, there is also a cost to reaching the top. As the de facto representative of all mascots – the mascots’ mascot if you will – there is a heavy responsibility to act with the grace and dignity becoming of the post.

Unfortunately for a brief but tragic moment, Kumamon forgot this and decided to get a little naughty during a 5 April broadcast of Eitaro No Kataranne filmed on location in Minamiaso, Kumamoto.

In the video, show correspondent Hiroki Ota and Kumamon visited a roadside service station to try some of the regional specialty Tonkatsu Soba. After placing the meal on the table, Kumamon suddenly grabbed Ota’s chair and pulled it out from under him.

Ota fell flat on his buttocks while some of the piping hot soup splashed onto him. After writhing in pain on the ground for about half a minute, Ota got up and said he would try the food a little later. At the time of the fall it appeared as if Ota might have landed on the microphone battery clipped around his waist as well.

Shortly after broadcasting the clip went viral online drawing both praise and criticism:

“That was hilarious!”
“I like this new side to Kumamon. He’s kind of edgy.”
“Good for him. Bears don’t need to adhere to our human morality.”
“Was there an elementary school student in that costume?”
“Is that guy okay? He looked really hurt.”
“You shouldn’t play around hot food like that.”
“That could injure someone’s spine. Not cool Kumamon.”
“There were little kids watching too. What if they imitate that?”

Although unable to speak or show any facial expression other than happy, Kumamon tried his best to express remorse immediately following the incident, as this behind the scenes footage shows.

Some comments also pointed out that it didn’t really look like a prank, rather it seemed as if Kumamon was just pulling the chair out for Ota to sit down. With the highly limited visibility of mascot costumes he simply didn’t quite get it right.

However, J-Cast News also spoke with a representative for Kumamoto Prefecture who confirmed that the incident was indeed a prank conceived at the spur of the moment by the person inside Kumamon and was not pre-planned by the show.

They also said that they had received numerous complaints over the prank and issued a strict warning to the person inside the bear suit. Kumamon’s inner human said that they were “extremely regretful” over the incident claiming that they thought it might be funny at the time and had no idea it would blow up like this.

Officials also said they contacted Ota who confirmed he was not seriously hurt by the fall and harbored no ill-will towards the big squishy bear. In the end, it’s all about putting out memorable TV segments for him.

With the public at large, however, Kumamon will have to do some work to earn back the same level of goodwill he once enjoyed. This may be a good time for us to bring back our alternative version, Hard Ku**mon.

Rather than pull the chair out from under people, this bear will stand behind you, just out of sight but always there, offering support and the hauntingly soothing sound of crinkling vinyl.

Source: J-Cast News, My Game News Flash, YouTube/Taro Yamada
Top image: YouTube/Monga
Insert image: SoraNews24