Have you heard of the popular Japanese Internet celebrity “Miss Cupenko”? Or maybe you’ve seen her on social networks or even in real life — and you’ve got an impression of her. The “Japanese OL (Japanese OL (Office Lady Professional Woman)” who always wears a work uniform, combs a double ponytail, and tries her best to lie on the wall or rim of the cup is the cup rim.
“Cup Enko” is an exclusive gacha toy image designed by Japanese toy factory Kitan Club in 2012 by Japanese cartoonist Katsumi Tanaka. In 2006, Furuya Daiki founded the Kitan Club, which had worked for many years for Yujin, a large toy company that represented Disney toy production, but before coming up with the idea of cup edges, the Kitan Club once relied on OEM production of hand toys to support the company’s livelihood. It wasn’t until 2010 that the Kitan Club saved up some money and began to develop toys on its own. Despite its fame today, the company has kept its size to around 10 people in order to maintain communication efficiency.
It is no exaggeration to say that the cup edge is the most successful product of the Kitan Club to date: 100,000 gacha with cup edges were all sold out in the first week of launch; Six months later, the sales figure of the cup edge gacha has been updated to 1 million; By the end of 2015, the club had earned more than 3 billion yen (180 million yuan) just by launching generations of cups — who wore uniforms of different colors and sometimes more postures.
“To be honest, I didn’t know how much it would sell when I saw the samples of the cups,” Daikaki Furuya, founder of the Kitan Club, mentioned in interviews with multiple media outlets, “At first, I just thought that since so many Japanese OLs like to take pictures on social networks before a person eats, maybe they also like to put an interesting prop in the picture.” ”
This is also why the cup edge will be such a soft OL image. Sometimes you’ll see her gracefully sitting on the edge of the bowl with her legs crossed, sometimes she’ll lie enchantingly in a pile of sushi, she’ll split on sashimi, and occasionally you’ll see her hanging upside down a gold hook from a drink cup.
This is the usual way for Kitan Club to come up with ideas. In general, their ideas are based on the details of daily life and then extended with interesting as a keyword. Just like they also launched the hot spring version of the “Apple Watch” made of an electronic screen on the locker key, there are also panty-style non-slip cup sleeves and so on.
However, compared with watches and cup sleeves, the functionality of the cup rim is not so strong. In addition, all toys of the Kitan Club will basically be sold through the gacha machine, and a gacha machine often has dozens or even hundreds of rival machines placed together, so the cup edge needs to strengthen the attractiveness in order to make their gacha machine stand out and achieve good sales results.
Having said that, it is important to note that in Japan, it has become a cultural phenomenon to buy random style anime toy figures through gacha machines. This is not only liked by children, but even adults will be immersed in this game that is unknowable about the future, and often spend money repeatedly to try gacha because they can’t get the toy style they want, just like buying a lottery ticket. Therefore, Furuya Daiki chose gacha as a sales channel to promote product sales.
Obviously, just making interesting photo props will not be very popular, and it will not last long, because it is no different from most gacha toys. Daitaka Furuya, who has many years of experience in the toy industry, knows this all too well. So he asked Katsumi Tanaka to set up a personality for the cup rim – “the angel who descended on the rim of the cup” so that she could form an emotional connection with most people. To put it more in Japanese terms, the Kitan Club wanted to create a “healing system” virtual partner to find differentiation in the market.
“You can think of her as a modern version of Thumbelina who can accompany you to dinner.” Furuya added.
It’s a very novel idea. Before this, there were dolls who could accompany the meal, and there were stars who talked to themselves in the video, but there was no such small hand companion doll. This is in line with the psychology of human curiosity.
What’s even more rare is that the audience is wider than expected, and she can spark the desire to share – another creative focus of the Kitan Club.
The otaku group goes without saying. They saw their new girlfriend, wife, and goddess in the skirt corners of the cup due to various difficult movements. This makes perfect sense in Japan. After all, you should have heard about the news that there are Japanese men and inflatable dolls registered for marriage.
There are also a large number of office workers who have also become loyal fans of the cup.
“Do you see how hard Miss Enko works?” A Japanese office worker shouted from his Facebook page.
“I think Enko is really my friend because she is as serious about life as I am! Let’s work together! Here’s another netizen’s statement.
It seems that in the hard climbing of the cup edge, they saw the shadow of their own struggle alone in society and found resonance. Therefore, even if they never have the habit of collecting hand companions, they can accept having such a “partner”.
At this time, the popularity of the cup edge is no longer as simple as achieving a popular product with good sales results and topicality. The Qitan Club not only made its products popular this time, but also opened up a new toy segment – lonely urbanites need a resonant meal partner. This can be confirmed by its subsequent launch of “Cliffside Office Worker”, “Osaka Obasan”, “Politician Apology” and other series of cup toys that can make some urban people empathize and all of them have achieved great sales.
And the story is not over. Cups are becoming a new urban fashion. Instagram, Twitter and other social networking sites have launched cup edge photo contests, in addition to meals, netizens have also begun to take cup edges to flowers, pets, and even tourist attraction landmarks. There are even hot topics like “#フチ子病 (cup-rim disease)” on these sites.
Behind this is the credit of other toy manufacturers who subsequently joined the market battle. When they start making cup-rim toys around a wider audience of IPs such as Sailor Moon, Sadako, Gaco, Namie Amuro, etc., it will be easier to promote the cup in mainstream Japanese culture, Asia, and even the world.
The Kitan Club itself has done some promotion work. For example, they also launched more mainstream image cup toys such as Crayon Shin, Pikachu, Lucky Cat, and domestic cats. In addition, they have held retrospectives in several cities in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Local audiences can learn about the entire creative background and creative process of Cup Rimzi through the exhibition.
By the way, when Cup Enko became a new trend in Japan, she also became the inspiration for Japanese variety shows. The newly disbanded Japanese boy group SMAP once sent member Kusanagi Gang to cosplay many of her difficult cup movements in the variety show “SMAP ×SMAP”. With SMAP’s popularity in Japan and Asia, her presence has been brushed up on a large scale.
“I only learned about the existence of this toy doll after watching Kusanagi’s variety show, so when I went to Japan last time, I specially bought one on the gacha machine to catch up with fashion.” Xiaoyan, who is still in graduate school, told Interface News. A photo of her taking of Cup and Shin Ramen can be found in her circle of friends. In the photo, Cup Edge sits very reservedly at the edge of the instant noodle cup. Xiaoyan captioned the photo: “Help, I’m going to fall.” ”
“But I think I will only take pictures of it, follow it, and be friends with it to make it feel like something that only otaku do.”