File this one under “adorable.”
Believe it: this plush toy, which went viral earlier this week thanks to blogs like Boing Boing, is, indeed, a plush but reasonably realistic version of a giant isopod (bathynomus giganteus, to be exact).
According to the manufacturer, Hamee Corp, giant isopods are “passionately loved by some people now in Japan.” I’ve been living in Japan for a while now and have seen no evidence of this, but hey, I don’t really hang around in aquariums or anything.
Hamee offers several variations on the giant isopod toy, including smaller and more kawaii versions, but the reason this particular model has such “Japan is weird!” virality is precisely because it’s modeled so accurately. There’s a weird disconnect seeing Hamee’s cute model happily taking a nap on a giant sea creature from the Gulf of Mexico (nicknamed Gusoku-tan, by the way).
By the way, last year several news sources like NPR and Kyodo reported on a giant isopod at Toba Aquarium in Mie that hadn’t eaten anything in four years. As of last February, the isopod, named “No. 1,” had remained in relatively good health despite his 1,500+ day fast. The mysterious No. 1 no doubt raised the profile of isopods, leading Hamee to plushie production and viral success.
Sources: Boing Boing,