As a Tokyo-based writer, I will introduce you to various aspects of pop culture such as manga, anime, movies and music. I want to spread the joy of Japanese pop culture around the world.
Hi, otaku writers of MANGA.TOKYO. I’m Mokugyo and I like music, manga, and anime. In this article, I want to focus on the singer/songwriter Piko-Taro, who is currently popular with his pen-pineapple-apple-pen song, more commonly known as PPAP! Let’s discover the relationship between Piko-Taro and Japanese anime!
‘PPAP’ Official video
Piko-Taro is the stage name of a Japanese singer/songwriter and comedian. A while ago he shared on YouTube an 1-minute-long song called PPAP. It was only when Justin Bieber tweeted it that made it a viral hit all over the globe! It was the world’s most viewed YouTube clip for three weeks in October. Piko-Taro was also named as the 2nd most popular artist of the year following Adele. PPAP turned Piko-Taro into a world-famous Japanese person overnight. He was the first Japanese comedian or musician who suddenly became famous this way. Piko-Taro is very popular on Japanese TV, and he appears on various shows and events held overseas, like in Taiwan, South Korea, and France.
Piko-Taro is the alias of the 43-year-old comedian Daimaou Kosaka. Daimaou Kosaka describes himself as ‘Piko-Taro’s Producer’. Their relationship is similar to how Johnny Depp treats Jack Sparrow. Daimaou Kosaka strongly says that he and Piko-Taro are not one and the same. They even have separate Twitter accounts! Currently, he shows up on all sorts of TV programs as Piko-Taro, but you can occasionally see Daimaou Kosaka as a music program host on TV. He just performs as Piko-Taro in that golden costume.
It’s obvious that Piko-Taro has an unforgettable appearance. He wears glasses and has short hair. He dresses in a suit with a python pattern accompanied by a leopard (panther) print scarf. Amazingly, he coordinates his outfit with P, just like his song! Some people say that this reminds them of Japanese yakuza. Normally, yakuza wear a black suit, which is not as colorful or loud as Piko-Taro’s. However, Piko-Taro does this intentionally to be pictured as ‘a bit naughty like yakuza or a hooligan’. Young Japanese people describe such style as ‘choi waru’ or ‘a bit bad but cool’.
Daimaou Kosaka / Solo Live Best Selection ‘Annoying Man’
Piko-Taro’s ‘choi waru’ style was created through trial and error. You can get a glance of Piko-Taro back in 2012 in a trailer for Daimaou Kosaka’s DVD (somewhere between 0:24 and 2:00). Piko-Taro was wearing a white track suit back then. This kind of outfit is more likely to be worn by low-ranking yakuza and it’d be too realistic. So, he added softness by wearing the scarf, and also changed it to a gaudy suit instead.
The official PPAP video reached 100 million views. By contrast, the DVD trailer has about 70000 views as of January 2017. As these figures show, Daimaou Kosaka was not very well-known in Japan until recently. During his 25-year career, he has made appearances on TV shows as a member of a comedy trio and released CDs. However, he never got a break into stardom. Thanks to Piko-Taro’s smashing hit, we can expect that Daimaou Kosaka will be pulled into the limelight from now on.
People often mention how Piko-Taro looks similar to Kizaru from One Piece. However, If you look carefully, you can see the details which show that it is mere coincidence. Let me briefly introduce Kizaru from One Piece to those who are not familiar with the character. One Piece is a very popular anime in Japan and overseas. Kizaru is a Navy admiral and one of the the main antagonists. You can see below that the resemblance is evident. But the truth is that Kizaru is designed after a very famous Japanese actor, Kunie Tanaka. He played Borsalino 2 in the movie Truck Yaro: Bakuso Ichiban Boshi.
HERE'S HOW THE ONE PIECE CREW GON BEAT KIZARU I'M CALLING IT RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/BxH76sTDNI
— 🚫🚫🚫 (@LocalGoblin) February 2, 2017
^ Truck Yaro: Bakuso Ichiban Boshi (Trailer)
At around 1:03 in that trailer, you can see Borsalino 2 just for a second. He definitely looks like Kizaru, doesn’t he? The One Piece creator, Eiichiro Oda loves old movies like this. He brought in a character like Borsalino 2 in the role of the Navy admiral, a top member of a police-like organization in the world of One Piece, to create the gap. Another admiral of the Navy, Akainu, is created based on Bunta Sugawara, who is an actor that appears in the yakuza movie Jingi Naki Tatakai.
Some people also point out that Piko-Taro is similar to the principal (Encho) in Crayon Shin-chan. Crayon Shin-chan is not as big as One Piece overseas, but it is a very popular anime in Japan. It’s been on TV since 1992, and it’s so popular that new movies come out every year. A rude, inappropriate, and not very smart preschooler named Shin-chan goes out of control, making adults crazy. People talked about how similar Piko-Taro looked to the principal of Shin-chan’s kindergarten. This is just another coincidence.
You know the 🖊🍍🍎🖊(PPAP) song? Now I know why Piko Taro-san looks familiar. His outfit reminds me of the Principal in Crayon Shinchan. 似てる~☺️ pic.twitter.com/uvN5y9hJha
— ALEXANDER 알렉산더♔ (@alexander_0729) September 26, 2016
Surely, the principal also wears sunglasses and has a yellow suit. He is very nice person, but his appearance often seems intimidating to other people. It is funny when he is shocked when he is misunderstood by people. Due to his appearance reminding people of a head of yakuza family, Shin-chan calls the principal ‘Kumicho’ (yakuza head) instead of ‘Encho’ (principal). So, ‘I’m not Kumicho!’ is one of the recurring jokes of the anime.
Here is the website Piko-Taro is assumed to have purchased his costume from.
Birth Japan Official website: http://www.rakuten.ne.jp/gold/auc-birthjapan/
The website is in Japanese, but it’s definitely worth checking out. When you move the cursor, a yakuza-looking character follows it shooting his gun. This site sells not only ‘choi waru’ style clothing, but also a number of evil-looking clothing.
On this website, you can see a list of movies and TV programs that used their clothing in the past. They are all live-action versions of Japanese manga and games, such as Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), Yamikin Ushijima-kun (Ushijima the Loan Shark), Himeanole, and Ryu ga Gotoku. When a characters is in these clothes, there is no doubt who the villain is. That’s why the clothing on this website is often used for roles of yakuza or hooligans. Piko-Taro’s outfit is shown there, as well. (It’s sold-out and currently out of stock.)
At the bottom of the page, you can read about the owner, also an actor, and what his acting career involves. He has appeared in a music video of Kenichi Suzumura, the super popular voice actor who played Sougo Okita in Gintama and Atsushi Murasakibara from Kuroko no Basuke (Kuroko’s Basketball).
There are so many questions as to why Piko-Taro has become a global sensation. The reasons may vary, from the length of the music and his funny dance to the easy and catchy lyrics. I believe that his appearance in the ‘choi waru’ style is one of the keys to his success. In the end, Piko-Taro with this anime-like character wouldn’t have been created if he weren’t in Japan.