WHAT IS DOMO?
Domo, also known as Domo-kun, was originally created as a mascot for the Japanese broadcast network , the NHK. He would appear in multiple short commercials for the network, sometimes joined by side characters such as Mr. Usaji, an old but wise gray rabbit, Maya and Mario, a pair of bats, and many other characters. He is, quite clearly, depicted as a fuzzy, square-shaped, brown monster with a wide open mouth. Do not be fooled by his appearance, he is very polite!
While his origins lie in Japan, Domo found a lot of success worldwide, so much so that most don't even know he was originally made for a television broadcast! During the year of 2006, Nickelodean would announce that they had partnered with the NHK to co-produce a show dedicated to Domo and his friends, which would eventually lead to his sudden claim to fame in Western media. Not long after would hundreds upon hundreds of merchandise surrounding Domo soon follow, with things such as plushies or toys suddenly popping up in stores across the West. There was even a partnership with Taco Bell to include special Domo toys for children's meals! Even moreso, there was also a game on the DSi handheld console, which I personally loved as a kid.
Now, originally, Domo's first spotlight appearance outside of Japan was an internet meme depicting Domo chasing a kitten with some random caption paired with it. From then on, I believe Domo would spread around not only through the Internet, but in the real world as well!
WHY DO YOU LIKE HIM?Now, I will explain my personal experience with Domo, and why I've dedicated an entire shrine to this lovable little Japanese mascot. Though my memories from my childhood can be a bit fuzzy, I do remember discovering Domo through the merchandise that seemed to flourish around the early 2010's. Instantly I was obsessed with him. Suddenly, all I spent my time as a 9 year old was drawing pictures of Domo's signature face, making my Mom buy me shirts with Domo paired with some witty phrase like "Hug Me!" on it, and seeking out more content with him in it. The internet also helped me discover more about Domo as a character, I even remembered a website ,which is now unfortunately defunct, that hosted loads of Domo related content. I'll link an archived version somewhere below!
I remember the exact moment I got one of those aforementioned Taco Bell Special Domo toys, mine being a "media holder". It was shaped really funnily but I treated it like it was just a normal plush of Domo, and I took that thing with me everywhere. Embarrassingly enough, I would bring it with me to school constantly, as late as 5th grade, and everyone knew me for being the girl obsessed with Domo. I didn't mind though, while other kids were obsessed with characters like Hello Kitty or Winnie the Pooh, I chose my designated childhood favorite character to be this square-shaped monster.
To say I was obsessed is quite an understatement, only those that knew me from childhood can attest to this. I even had a Domo themed birthday party when I was in 5th grade, that's how much I loved this character! But unfortunately, the Domo craze of the 2000's-2010's would soon come to an all but slow halt, with less and less merchandise and media being made around him. Soon, his main source of fame would circulate once again back to Japan, as the West would slowly leave Domo and his presence in the past. Even as I grew older, I would try to leave Domo behind as an act I thought was "maturity". Besides, if everyone else forgot about Domo and saw him as outdated, I couldn't be the outcast! Well, now that I've actually grown up and matured in my own way, I realize now how silly it was of me to treat Domo as an embarrassing stain on my childhood. I was a kid and when you're young, you'll latch onto any character and make it your whole personality. Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of a resurgence with Domo in the U.S, let alone anywhere else that isn't Japan. I know that he'll probably never reemerge into Western stardom again in the way he did all those years ago, but I hope others will still find him and cherish him, kind of like how people treat the "Old Web" aesthetic.
Even today I still have some pieces of Domo merchandise, though I don't think any original items from my childhood are still with me. It makes me sad, I wish I had been able to keep something from then, but so goes the saying "of out with the old and in with the new."
If you'd like to visit the Domo website I mentioned, here's a link to it! I used to spend too much time watching videos of Domo on this website...