YES, NOW THE JAPANESE EVEN PUT CUTE CARTOON CHARACTERS ON THEIR MONEY.There's a lot going on in the world, how an attempted second wave of attempted terror attacks on London transit was botched by Al Qaeda's most incompetent terrorists, Sudanese security officers roughing up members of Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice's entourage and an NBC reporter, and Lance Armstrong's victory in his final Tour de France. But I think the thing that people are talking about the most are the new
From the Japan Times:
Japan Mint to issue Doraemon coins
OSAKA (Kyodo) The Japan Mint has started to accept mail orders for two sets of coins designed to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the popular "Doraemon" cartoon series.
One set contains a silver medal bearing a colored image of Doraemon along with six proofs of the 1, yen 5, yen 10, yen 50, yen 100 yen and 500 yen coins.
The Japan Mint, an independent administrative body, will sell 60,000 sets for 13,000 yen each.
The other set showcases the six coins in a special "Doraemon" case that plays the cartoon series' melody when opened. The mint will offer 200,000 of the sets for 2,300 yen each.
All orders must be made by Aug. 10.
Doraemon, a cat-type robot from the 22nd century that helps children with its futuristic tools, started as a magazine series 35 years ago and became extremely popular both at home and abroad, especially in Asia.
Doraemon was a Japanese comic strip (4-koma, literally "four squares") created by the late Hiroshi Fujimoto about a blue robot cat that is adopted by a typical Japanese family, and, in 1970, Doraemon was made into a long-running anime series. I believe in terms of total number of individual shorts, Doraemon is the world's most prolific cartoon character, though Sazae-san has more half-hours (around 2000 by now). As a merchandising phenomenon, Doraemon, in Japan and many other parts of the world, is as ubiquitous as Mickey Mouse and Garfield (and... umm... Hello Kitty), though the character has never been formally introduced to North American audiences. (ShoPro, now Viz Media, announced a couple of years back, when Pokémon was still fresh on everyone's minds, that they'd begin merchandising the franchise in the North American market, but nothing ever came of that.) For more information, here's a Time (Asia) article about the Doraemon phenomenon, and here's another overview, the Wikipedia entry, and an English-language Doraemon fan site.
Garrett Albright points out something rather sinister:
"500 + 100 + 50 + 10 + 5 + 1 = 666. That proves it: Doraemon is indeed evil."
In the same thread, F*ckin' Otaku forum member jfrog links us to a (tongue-in-cheek) article warning us about the dangerous things Doraemon teaches our children (warning, one image absolutely not safe for work).
Anyway, I was thinking, this would be a perfect birthday present for Late Night with Conan O'Brien graphic designer Pierre Bernard, since we know the guy loves anime, but he also evidently loves commemorative coins, since he's the guy who designs all of the fake coins for the regular recurring "New Commemorative State Quarters" (or, occasionally, "New Commemorative Euros") desk bit. In fact, the genesis of "Pierre Bernard's Recliner of Rage" was because he found out that a novelty coin company had copied a fake Arkansas commemorative quarter he did for the show, featuring Bill Clinton getting a "Lewinski" behind a tree, and was selling them on eBay (making that a counterfeit of a counterfeit, I guess), so Pierre complained about it on air, and they made his complaints a recurring bit.
I'd buy it for him myself, but I don't know when Pierre Bernard's birthday is, and the English portion of the Japan Mint website doesn't have information about how to order these coins. And, 13 000 yen currently converts to about $142 Canadian, so I doubt I could afford it, even if I wanted to.
Sorry, Pierre. :(