The Cartoons, Comics and Mascots of Japan


Looky at the cartoons/cute stuff everywhere!

What’s up, cartoon lovers? You see our look the Studio Ghibli Museum? Huh… well since I can’t hear you I’m just going to embed it below. Plus, it emphasizes a greater point regarding today’s dorky, needlessly incensed look at Japan.

When it comes to traveling to Japan, there’s one question I’ve getting more than anything: How much Japanese do you need to know before you go? Well… none. While I won’t say it’s the best way to experience the culture, as long as you have some international data available on your smartphone, you don’t have to speak to anyone, really.

No language skills necessary

See that? Did you understand exactly what that said? Me too! You don’t need have learned any Japanese whatsoever to understand that this sign is begging to your dormant sense of human empathy: Please let the elderly, injured, and preggers sit down before you. Perfect! Almost every advisory/advertisement/sign in Japan reads like a comics strip, and you’d be hard pressed to look in any direction without spotting something cartoony. Kinda like my room with more Hiragana.

Translation: Fuck around at this air hockey table and get whacked in the face

If I’m not making myself clear here, first of all, Japan has an undying affection for older cartoon characters. Betty Boop, Donald Duck, Snoopy. This alone will forever bond us. Furthermore, not only does damn near every product, public service announcement, and even entire towns have an adorable mascot, 2D toons are far and away the preferred art form. For comparison, here’s an animated abomination currently haunting my neighborhood:

Is this intentionally unappealing? 

Ugh… Okay, I could probably rail all day on America’s mascotery, or lack thereof, but almost all of it is the realm of “kids stuff” anyway, so it’s hard for an adult to complain (although I’m gonna anyway!) However, shit like the monstrosity above and The General? Maybe it’s the prevalence in my area, or my personal love of 2D characters, but I consider them absolute eyesores. Why even have a fucking mascot at all?! Even if there is some invisible mandate that states every corporate cartoon in the US has to be 3D CGI now, can they at least be designed by a someone better than pre-9/11 Dreamworks intern? Fuck this piss, watch Japan do it a zillion times better. 2D 4LIFE!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Laser Japan Time updates, yo! More of this stupidity to come…

15 thoughts on “The Cartoons, Comics and Mascots of Japan

  1. Ahh, even the signage is more awesome, adorable, and understandable!

    “…you don’t appreciate it, so another culture gets it; fuck you, America!”
    Too true, Chris. Too true.

  2. I really do wish we could get more mascots for things in America. It doesn’t seem like that crazy of an idea I wonder why more companies haven’t tried it here.

  3. These videos are so damn good guys! Glad to see a little more of Brett, Carolyn, and Henry in these recent ones! Keep up the Japanese goodness!

  4. the music in the mascot video is fantastic, really enjoy these videos, i really want to go japan now
    i love lasertime

  5. Well um…my dad’s company did the design for Ug the Ugly cave man. They did the original commercial spot, then the company took the design and hired an infinitely cheaper competitor, going from clay to CG. Sad state of animation these days.


  6. Love the Japan series. I know you were expressing frustration at the lack of interest/viewership of these, but they’re truly fantastic. You go beyond the “OMG WEIRD TOKYO LOOK TENTACLES” treatment that everyone else gives it, and get into the guts of the culture a bit. Good work, Smells Like Pizza.

  7. This video is awesome and now I feel bad for having listened to most of lazertime & the rest without checking out these videos.

    Chris, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the podcast efforts and these videos, keep up the good work. Listening to you guys makes me miss hanging out with my friends from the other side of the country.

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