Neococoneco,* cat and kitten characters from the Japanese cartoon Asumanga Daioh, bear an uncanny resemblance to "Baby-ko Tiny," notes blogfriend Brian of A Map of the Cat. The banner atop his blog features Neococoneco, so it was a eureka moment when he saw our foreshortened picture of Baby appearing to be a kitten-sized head atop Tiny's normal-sized head. (Necoconeco copyright Kiyohiko Azuma, Mediaworks, Azumangadaioh Committee)
Asumanga Daioh, available in four-panel comic strips and animated shorts in both Japanese and English, is wildly popular on both sides of the Pacific, spawning message boards and blog entries like the one below:
"It is a comedy based on a group of girls and their adventures in high school. The humor they use ranges from Japanese puns to slap stick," says the proprietor of Gonadin's Randomness.
We don't know whether this particular cartoon is available in the People's Republic of China, but if it is, it may not be for long, as "China is weighing a ban on foreign cartoons in prime time, a rule that could hamstring multinational media companies striving to sell their lucrative programs and characters in the world's biggest TV market by number of viewers," reports the WSJ this afternoon (subscribers only):
Beijing has been on a cartoon-development crusade since 2000, when it mandated that at least 60% of cartoons aired on Chinese TV must come from domestic sources. Most broadcasters -- other than the national China Central Television -- found that level difficult to meet, so last year the government announced plans to create 13 animation centers and offer tax incentives to local cartoon-production companies. Notice of the proposed prime-time ban came during a cartoon-industry summit in Hangzhou.
Forget about Lenin's "commanding heights" -- segments and industries in an economy that effectively control and support the others, such as oil, railroads, banking and steel. And don't laugh, because it's no longer all about oil: It's all about cartoons. On a related front, "In a bid to control the flow of information online, China's government will require all Web sites and online diaries ("blogs") to register by the end of the month or be shut down, reports the Journal:
Commercial sites failing to register could face penalties of up to $120,000. According to various estimates, China has some 87 million Internet users and about 700,000 blogs. Beijing, which controls traditional media, but has been slower to clamp down on the Internet, said it had technology that would let it search the Web for unregistered sites. The rule could force some online content providers to move operations overseas, making their sites inaccessible to many Chinese Internet users stuck with government censorship filters.
*Neko = Cat and Koneko = Kitten. NecoConeco = Misspelled on purpose for the novelty, 'cause NecoConeco is an icon, sorta like Hello Kitty, in the world of Azu" according to The Psychomatic Poet at an online Azumanga Daioh forum.