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Japan: Crazy for a Bug

A catchy tune about a funny-looking bug that bites people's bums and makes them happy is catching on like crazy across Japan. “Oshiri Kajiri Mushi“, a short clip featured as regular filler between programs on the national broadcaster NHK as part of the children's show “Everybody's Song” [Ja], has crossed the age barrier and is rapidly becoming a hit among adults as well. With all its popularity, CDs of the song, released on July 27, sold out earlier this month, and NHK has meanwhile decided to extend regular airing of the clip on TV through August and September.

According to news reports [Ja] and Wikipedia [Ja], the main character in the song, the Oshiri Kajiri Mushi or “Bum-biting Bug”, is 8 years old, 25 cm high, weights 2kg, is from Osaka, and is a fan of Quincy Jones. His backup singers, the Kajiri Gals, were apparently born in Los Angeles to Shuzuoka-born parents and take their cue from the Candies, a Japanese idol group from the 1970s.

The creators of the clip, a duo husband and wife team (UrumaDelvi), have previously worked on animations such as Ugougo Ruuga [Ja] on Fuji Television and The Capsule Samurai. According to Uruma (the husband half of UrumaDelvi), the Oshiri Kajiri Mushi animation was created using Flash software [Ja].

NHK explains the show as follows (quoted from here):

日本の「お尻」が何故か近頃元気がない。
複雑化する現代社会で、「距離」や「遠慮」が高じて生まれた漠然とした疎外感が
原因ではなかろうか?
そこで立ち上がったのが「おしりかじり虫」と称するやんちゃな妖精。底抜けに明るく
世話好きな性格で、人々を瞬時に笑顔にしてしまいます。かつて日本にあった筈の
「暖かな無遠慮=お節介」によって人と人をつなぐ使命を負った珍虫の難行苦行を
痛快に歌います。昨年、経済産業省より「スーパークリエータ」の称号を得た実力派
ユニット、うるまでるびが詩・曲・映像を手がけます。

Japanese “bums” are for some reason not doing so well these days.
In this modern society with all complexity, with the [sense of] “distance” and “restraint” having increased in intensity, maybe it is the vague feeling of alienation that is the cause?
It is in this situation that the fairy named the “Bottom-biting Bug” [oshiri kajiri mushi] decided to do something.
Endlessly cheery and always eager to help people, it only takes an instant for [the Botom-biting bug] to bring smiles to people's faces.
This is a song about the hardships of an unusual bug who took on a mission to connect people with [a culture] that once existed in Japan, a “warmth and lack of hesitation” or “nosey help”.
The unit of Uruma/Derubi, who last year were awarded for their skill with the title of “Super Creators” by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, created the lyrics, music, and images.

Blogger nafuken writes:

おしりかじり虫におしりをかじられると元気になるんだそうです。
日本を元気にするためにはるばるアッシリアからおしりかじり虫のご先祖様が日本へやってこられて、今のおしりかじり虫は18世、
大阪生まれなんだそうです。
NHKみんなのうたでほうそうされていたこの歌、子供たちのあいだで人気に。
一度聴いたら忘れない歌詞で次第におとなのあいだにも・・・。
おしりかじり虫〜、おしりかじり虫〜。
聞いていてついつい笑ってしまいます。

Apparently getting bitten by the Bum-biting Bug makes you feel better.
I heard that the ancestors of the Bum-Biting Bug came to Japan from Assyria to help Japanese feel better, and apparently this Bum-Biting Bug is the 18th generation [in a long line of bum-biting bugs] and was born in Osaka.
The song was played on the NHK show “Everybody's Song”, and became very popular among kids.
You hear the lyrics once and you can't forget them, and so gradually they [have became popular] among adults as well…
Oshiri kajiri mushi, oshiri kajiri mushi.
I hear it and I just have to laugh.

Blogger Doctor Tora no Maki writes about the middle section of the song, in which the bum-biting bug gets sick:

人のおしりをかじって幸せにするという、かわいい虫です。
あるとき、おしりかじり虫は、都会へ出ます。都会の人のおしりはとっても苦く、とうとうおしりかじり虫は病気になって寝込んでしまいます。
おとーさーん、おかーさーん・・・
でも、最後には元気になって、みんな一緒に、にこにこ。

NHKみんなのうたで、ちょっとしたブームになっている歌です。
夏休みをいただいて、初めて知りました。
小さなお子様をお持ちのお母様方はご存知でしょう。
聴いてみると、大人でも結構はまりますよ。
私にとっては、リズムや音程がけっこう難しいのですが、子供たちは聞いただけですぐコピーしますね。
感心します。

Do you know about “Oshiri kajiri mushi” [Bum-biting bug]?
It's a cute bug that bites people's bums and makes them happy.
At one point, the Bum-biting Bug goes to the city. City people's bums are really bitter, and the Bum-biting Bug eventually ends up sick in bed.
Daaaad, mom…
But in the end, the Bum-biting bug gets better, and everybody is together smiling.

On NHK “Everybody's Song”, this song is having a sort of boom.
I started my summer vacation and then I found out about it for the first time.
Parents who have little kids must all know about it.
Just listening to it, even adults get hooked.
For me, the rhythm and pitch are pretty difficult, but kids just listen to it and right away copy it. I'm pretty impressed.

Blogger Shinobi writes about the show's special charm:

おしりをかじる・・・しかも虫が・・・という意外性がうけているということなのでしょうか?
聴いていると単純な歌詞とメロディーなのについ聞き入って笑ってしまうおかしさあります。

Biting bums… and on top of that, a bug… this seems to be [the show's] quality of unexpectedness, no?
Just listening to it, even though the words and the melody are really simple, it is so funny that you have to laugh when you hear it.

Finally, earlier this month, one of the creators of the show, Uruma, expressed his surprise at the show's popularity in his blog:

こんにちは、うるま(仮)です。
なんだか人気らしいです。おしりかじり虫。
CD・DVDが、売れすぎて在庫切れになっちゃったって。
今、レコード屋さんに行ってもないらしいですよ。

Hello, this is Uruma.
It's somehow become pretty popular. The Bum-biting Bug.
So many CDs and DVDs have been sold that they have gone out of stock.
Apparently even if you go to the record store right now, they have none left.

それから、みんなのうたで8、9月も延長が決まったんですが、
延長になるだけも珍しいのに、それとは別に、
「みんなのうたPR番組・おしりかじり虫スペシャル」という
テレマップみたいなやつを作って、
番組と番組の間、随所に挟むそうですよ。
やるなあ、NHK。

Also, they have decided to extend [its period] on “Everybody's Song” [a kid's show on NHK, Japan's public broadcaster] through August and September. The extension itself is unusual, but there is more: NHK also made a short clip, something like Telemap [short clips featured on NHK], called “Everybody's Song PR Program: Bum-biting Bug Special”, and this has been spliced in between other TV programs.
They're really going with this, NHK.

ほかにも人気の証明みたいな話は聞きますが、
わしら的には、町で「おしりかじり虫さんですよね?」と
声をかけられることもないので、
実感が全然ありません。

I've heard other talk that demonstrates the show's popularity,
but still, from our point of view, we don't get asked on the street: “You're the Bum-biting Bug people, right?”,
so we don't have a real sense [of its popularity] at all.

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