Something about this toy seems more than a little bit fishy.

On September 30, after 40 years in business, Tokyo Tower Aquarium closed its doors for the last time. After bringing her family to the spot that they had frequented one last time, Japanese Twitter user @kilariya and her husband finally caved to their daughter’s pleas to buy a souvenir on their way out. She selected a toy shell which, when soaked in water, was supposed to reveal a “pretty mermaid”–at least, that’s what was advertised on the toy’s packaging.

What they got instead turned into a traumatizing affair for the little girl:

“The other day at the Tokyo Tower Aquarium my daughter begged my husband to buy her a toy shell that when soaked in water for three days would turn into a beautiful mermaid. She waited anxiously and asked every day, ‘Isn’t it ready yet?’ The eventual mermaid was so different from the picture on the packaging that she went into shock and even said, ‘I don’t want to go to school.’ Here are the package illustrations and the real thing.” 

Yikes! That’s definitely a case of false advertising if we ever saw one! Here’s @kilariya’s first follow-up tweet:

“I tried talking it over with her by saying, ‘The people who drew the mermaids on the package, as well as the people who designed the toy, and your father who bought it for you, all wanted to make you happy. It’s no one’s fault,’ but she wouldn’t agree (of course, lol). ‘In the meantime, go to school and we’ll soak it for a little bit longer.’ Sorry, I’m hoping there are no more changes…”

And the second:

“Since the aquarium that we’ve visited many times together as a family was closing, we wanted to create memories there one last time. Instead we were left with a rather unforgettable parting gift. At least, that’s what it feels like. Even though the toy did get a little bigger after soaking in water longer, as I’d feared, it looks just as shocking as ever…”

Net users were sympathetic towards the little girl, posting comments such as:

“I hope your daughter’s heart heals!”
“Rather than a mermaid, that thing definitely looks like a half-fish person.”
“I’ve also experienced that with a similar toy. It was really ugly at first, but after letting it soak to the max and then drying it out, I made it better by coloring it with markers. It took a little time because it seemed to deflate when exposed to heat.”

One commenter share their own photo of traumatic disappointment with a similar soaking toy.

“My chick was like this.”

And yet another even dug up what looks to be the exact same toy as marketed in the UK:

“It seems that it’s a toy also sold in the UK, so the importers changed the packaging to appeal to a Japanese crowd.”

We don’t know exactly how old the little girl in question is, but we sure hope that she’ll be able to move past this scarring experience and resume her normal happy school life. Let’s just pray that she never sees these taxidermy mermaid mummies or reads manga author Rumiko Takahashi’s horror-filled Mermaid Saga in the future.

Source: Twitter/@kilariya via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: Twitter/@kilariya