Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You GLOOMY?

(I must apologise to my secret admirers for the lack of blog activity this month because I am in such a holiday mood and my social schedule is packed. Also, one must blame the Samurai for hogging my laptop playing his make-believe Nobunaga's Ambition game - yep it's school holidays.)

By some strange alignment of the stars last week, I was roped (forced, begged, whatever) by an old friend to help out at his company's convention - the Singapore Toys, Games and Comics Convention 2010. As a volunteer (i.e. almost free labour), I was supposed to be a liaison officer to one of its overseas guests invited to attend the convention. As my friend knew about my deep abiding love for Japan, he tagged me to a Japanese graphic designer, Mori Chack.

Those in the know would of course be raving about how lucky I was and how famous the man is. Unfortunately, although like most women who love all things kawaii, I have zero inkling who he was. According to the bio I was given prior to his arrival, he was the inventor of a man-eating grizzly bear character known as GLOOMY BEAR, from his own Chax product line (www.chax.cc). Visiting his website is an eye-opener, as Mori-san considers himself a comic satirist, commenting on social ills and human's penchance for animal cruelty. At first glance, GLOOMY looks like an adorable pink bear, much like those cute teddies that saturate today's market. Look closer and you will discover that GLOOMY often had bloody nails, and blood drooling down his mouth. GLOOMY is often seen ripping up his long-suffering boy-owner known as PITY. Little wonder all his toys are rated 15+ and above. Children will probably not understand the concept of a killer bear, and the reasoning behind fashioning such a bear.

GLOOMY plushies. Don't they look cute? Until you notice the blood coming out of the mouth and staining its claws. 

More GLOOMY merchandise. By the end of the convention I was a converted fan.

The man behind such a violent character is surprisingly soft spoken and gentle. In fact, he looks totally different from his picture on his website. I was expecting a golden haired, surly grunge rocker, and he turned up looking like a curly black long haired, gentle but cool rocker. Almost disastrously, the man spoke no English, and since my Japanese was NOWHERE near fluent, we were like chicken and duck trying to communicate. Thankfully, a translator later appeared to our mutual relief. Whether it was a result of the language barrier, or his innate personality, Mori-san was the epitome of Japanese politeness and a most soft-spoken man. I only heard him breaking out into loud guffaws once, during his recorded interview with ANIMAX. For someone who had crazed fans rushing to line up for his signature everyday during the convention, he seems remarkably unaffected, and obliged fan requests for pictures, etc. (Although his minders limited the number of items to be signed - which makes it all the more valuable?!)

At one of the STGCC signing sessions. His translator, Kumi-san by his side. 

Drawing a sketch of GLOOMY for a fan. An absolute eye-opener. Master in action! 

A light-hearted moment during his interview with ANIMAX.

Initially, I bought a 10th Anniversary GLOOMY-TOFU OYAKO (from DevilRobots) toy as a sort of keepsake to remember my stint with Mori Chack. However, the more I got to see him in action (from following him around the convention for 2 full days), and the more I looked at GLOOMY, the more intrigued I became. In the end, besides the anniversary toy (SGD22!), I got myself GLOOMY plastic files and GLOOMY phone accessories, gathered my courage up to ask Mori-san privately for a photo and also to sign on my GLOOMY toy. I vow to support all his products in the future. I was eyeing the GLOOMY T-shirts he was wearing during the convention but unfortunately those were not on sale there.

GLOOMY Ichiban!

The 10th Anniversary GLOOMY-TOFU OYAKO toy I bought. 

Check out his signature - a GLOOMY drawing on the tummy! 

Once in a lifetime collectible. GLOOMY wins the bloody battle!


Gloomy Bear In The Box Women's Blue T-Shirt (Small)

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