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Platinum Gundam Making The Rounds

A promotional photo of the Platinum Gundam.

An outrageously expensive solid-platinum Gundam model that was in the news a few months back has hit TBS News (J) again. It’s begun a tour of Ginza Tanaka jewelry stores around Japan—not the sort of place you’d usually expect to see such a classic symbol of Geekdom, the scale Gundam model.

For those who missed it, Bandai decided to have what is likely the most expensive Gundam model in the world made—the “Gundam Fix Platinum.” Solid platinum and studded with a 0.15 carat diamond, the model is composed of 189 pieces, stands 12.5 cm (just shy of 5 inches) tall and weighs in at an amazing 1.4 kg (over 3 pounds)—platinum is dense stuff.

The project was dreamed up by Gundam franchise owner Bandai and produced by Tanaka Kikinzoku Jewelry, and took two years to craft. According to TBS News, it is valued at 30 million yen (US$260,000), although it’s not for sale. Probably a good thing, to protect Gundam nuts with too much money from themselves.

It also gets credit for what may be the world’s most expensive bad pun; the Japanese abbreviation for “plastic model” is “pura-moderu,” which could also be shorthand for what it is, a “purachina-moderu.”

It is currently on display in Fukuoka, and will be traveling to five of Ginza Tanaka’s other stores around the country.

Bottom Biting Bug Mania

The Bottom Biting Bug may have a rather unappealing name, but his mission is to improve society, and according to a Sankei Shimbun article (J) it seems to be working.

NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, first aired the unassuming anime character on “Minna no Uta” (“Song for Everybody”), a long-running 5-minute program showcasing a variety of songs. The show’s general audience is children, though people of all ages do watch it.

The husband-and-wife team “UrumaDerubi” dreamed up the helpful little critter and produced his entire debut song and dance number on their own—design of the Bottom Biting Bug, animation, songwriting, and singing. The idea was simple, if a little unusual: They feel that people in Japan these days just aren’t nosy enough, and wanted to do something about it.

In their opinion, people keep to themselves so much that nobody butts into the business of others anymore. They feel that encouraging people to be more nosy—and thus more connected to those around them—will do the world some good.

Because of this, the Bottom Biting Bug was born. The character is “kimo-kawaii” (icky-cute), the melody is simple and horribly catchy, and the plan seems to be working. As soon as it first aired in June, the song spread like wildfire among kindergarden and young elementary school students. Then their moms started noticing, and before long it was everywhere.

According to NHK, the cell phone ringtone has racked up over 11,000 downloads, more than anything else on the site. July 27th saw the release of a CD and DVD, picture books are in the works, and there’s talk of producing character goods.

For those wondering about the bug’s background, here’s the story: The Bug Biting Bug is a sort of fairy who is 18th in a long line of butt biters. The family line began in ancient Assyria (Iraq). In The Age of Geographical Discovery Bottom Biting Bug’s parents traveled to The Golden Country Zipang to bite gold butts. He speaks in a Kansai dialect because that’s where his parents were when he was born.

As for how his bites bring people together, apparently when he bites someone they feel the same sort of excitement as when they strike up a conversation with someone they don’t know. By reminding folks of the fun of spontaneously butting into others’ business, the Bottom Biting Bug does his part to help people connect.

We supplied some subtitles to the rather nonsensical lyrics (note that the lines that really don’t make sense are Japanese puns), so you can have a look yourself. Be warned, though: It’s maddeningly catchy, so it may be stuck in your head for quite a while.