Japan has a complex relationship with marine wildlife. While their most notable foray into marine “science,” the government-supported Institute of Cetacean Research, kills whales and then sells their meat(!), this little combo of seals plus science is super-adorable: a therapeutic robot in the form of a white, fuzzy baby seal designed to comfort the elderly. Don’t diss—if you were whacked out on painkillers and consumed by fear of death, you’d totally be distracted by a little robo seal, too.
This seal is catching on in facilities around the world, which is good news! Because 1) it reminds the entire world that Japan is a very funny country! And 2) it takes the place of real live comfort animals! While imagining kittens and puppies helping your grandma to relearn juggling after her massive stroke is cute and all, let’s face it: institutions like hospitals might not make the best homes for real animals. Besides medical leeches and maggots–-living in a hospital and eating humans must be heaven for those mofos!
If you want more Japanoroboseal, check out this commercial, which plays on the popularity of robotic seals among old folks. Apparently, robots + seals + grandmas is like a recognizable cultural touchstone nowadays.
And FINALLY, if you are STILL jonesing for more of that special blend of Japanese + marine life + cute, well then, you very well might be one of those creepy white dudes with an Asian fetish. If so, get off the internet and go get help! We do not want you here! If not, go check out the movie Ponyo, by director Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, who brought you Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. Ponyo follows the platonic (sort of?) love story between a Japanese boy and a sassy, adorable fish creature named Ponyo who washes up on shore one day. Ponyo digs this kid so much, she transforms into a girl his age so that she can chillax with him all human-like. If it sounds like the plot of The Little Mermaid, well, it kinda is, but shut up! This has awesome old-school animation, the most adorable fish creature you’ve ever seen, and cool stuff like ancient dinosaur fish!