NHK English Characters Worse than Nara Mascot?

We were all highly critical of the “freaky looking deer-horned Buddha” mascot that was chosen to represent the Nara Heijo-kyo anniversary, and rightly so, but I fear that even he was more appealing than the two characters that front NHK’s “Eigo de Asobo” children’s TV show.

Meet Kebo and Motch

Let me introduce these ambassadors of the English language…

Kebo and Motch

This picture from the cover of an NHK CD actually shows the two characters in good light. I usually find Kebo on the left, far more frightening than he appears here.

Goodness me! What are those things?

I’m not an expert on children’s shows, and have only recently started watching them regularly while on babysitting duty, but I did find an explanation in English on a post by Japanese blogger gyutaku:

There are two main charactors on this program.

The one is “Kebo” whose name comes from a Japanese word 「毛ぼこり (ball of dust)」.
He looks like a dirty hairy monster for you.
But you will get used to and not mind.
He can speak english appropriately for his age (6 years old).

I’m not so sure I’ll get used to him, but please continue…

The other is “Motch” whose name comes from 「もち (rice cake)」.
He has white smooth skin.
All people will say “How cute it toddling is!”
Because “Motch” is only 3 years old, he speaks only easy and short sentences.

They play together every day.
Motch likes every funny or yummy stuff.

Kebo is good at everything like ガチャピン.
And, he is so gentle that he isn’t angry at Motch’s mischief.

I don’t know what “Gachapin” is, but I found a really bizarre video when searching that word.

Some people like Kebo and Motch, but…

If the original Nara mascot cost over 500 million yen, I can’t help but feel NHK should have splashed a little more cash on these guys. I mean, look at them… a ball of dust and a piece of old rice cake? I blame those of you who don’t pay your TV license fees! Cheapskates! Think of all the poor children who have to suffer Kebo and Motch because you won’t pay your bills!

Now Jenny on the other hand…

Jenny on NHKLittle Rikuto loves Jenny, the native English speaking guest/presenter on the show. Whenever she does her pronunciation practice and we see a close up of her face that fills my 37″ telly, Rikuto, who isn’t even one year old yet, let’s out a little snigger of appreciation and starts drooling. It’s possible he’s trying to practice his English, but I suspect he’s truly happy to see Jenny after watching Kebo and Motch for so long…

If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!

20 thoughts on “NHK English Characters Worse than Nara Mascot?

  1. Kebo looks like something my dog thows up after eating too much grass!! Motch does not look too bad and to be expected in Japan. Facial expressions very limited, no nose, ears, eyebrows and a gumby smile haa haa haa!
    Is Kebo going for the Cyndi Lauper look?????

  2. Yeah Kebo looks like a hairball with yesterday’s garbage sprinkled on top. The other one isn’t bad but who is coming up with these terrible mascots!

  3. If one wanted to really analyse them, one might see the clean white English speaker and the dirty black English speaker.

    I seriously think the pitch from management started as “Okay, we need a dirty black mascot and a clean white one. Go for it.” The dust and rice cake seem to be an afterthought.

    Maybe I’m just over analysing it though…

  4. Usually Japan’s movie always play in my local tv broadcast and became favorite character, such as Doraemon…Maybe Kebo and Motch will be soon. Anyway, Rikuto seems has shown his nice sense even he just one year yet 🙂

  5. Well, what did we get for the Aichi Expo, Bush and Shrub. I don’t even want to know how much was spent to bring those mascots out. And they are still milking them even though the Expo has been over for what now three years. Oh Japan, the land of the undying mascots.

  6. I know they start eyeing up the girls young theses days, but this is crazy, Rikuto. But I bet she’ll get you to learn more English than your dad can.

  7. Those two characters remind me of Rikuto before and after playing football with Dad and then being popped in the bath only to spill his dinner down his bib again. What a vicious circle. As an uncle I am very proud that my nephew has a good eye for the girls and as he gets older let’s hope he doesn’t fall for an older woman.

  8. I’ve been scouring the internet and this is the first lead I’ve found to what I’m looking for…

    In March of this year, my daughter shot a “Jenny’s World Report” spot. One of the people we booked the job through told me that it would be put online in April and I’d be able to see it — but I can not find it for the life of me.

    You seem like you’re more familiar than I am with navigating the “Japanese Kid Show” area of cyber-space. Could you possibly point me in the right direction? If nothing else, it might be an interesting diversion if you find yourself bored and at the keyboard. :o)

    This is a photo I took, so you can see which clip I’m talking about.

  9. Well, shoot…it took out the photo.

    They were riding the teacup ride at an amusement park, and my daughter is wearing a white hoodie with big, blue polka dots all over it.


    1. Hi Reece, I had a look but I can’t find a single video clip from Eigo de Asobo, let alone from Jenny’s World Report. I guess it doesn’t attract the kind of viewer who records and uploads these things to the net! 🙁

      Even the official NHK page for Eigo de Asobo is nothing more than a flier for the show. I thought it might be easier to find Jenny herself online. How hard can it be to find a foreign celebrity in Japan on the net? Very hard it seems. She’s like a ghost and I wonder if Jenny is even her real name!

      Sorry I couldn’t help more. It might be easier to just contact NHK directly. 😕

  10. Nick,

    Keebo and Motch were actually designed/created by Kashiwa Sato who is a fairly famous graphic designer (did many of the early SMAP albums). The characters are a bit strange, but not really in the context of Japan. You should watch the crew on the Pokemon show on Saturdays … Actually, Goo-Chocolantan’s characters are scarier than Keebo and Motch I think.

    While the english description of the characters on the NHK website leaves much to be desired, the show has been gradually growing over the last 4 years although I miss the girl that was on before Jenny . . . it’s interesting to see the content change as each bangumi gets more budget.

    BTW – Eric has been largely relagated to a sing-a-long taishou (excercise) skit stuck in the middle or end of Eigo-de-asobo. Miss the silly songs . . .

    We also lost “Hiroshi and Davie” and “Simon” … ah well.

  11. Vince, thanks for your comments. All, I can say is that Kashiwa must have had an off-day, because there’s nothing about Keebo and Motch that look like the work of a famous graphic designer.

    I much prefer the Chocolantan characters. They actually look like they had some money spent on them! For anyone who isn’t familiar with Spoo and friends, take a look for yourself.

  12. OMG! What a swear the NHK people are on shrooms. When I first came to Japan my friend had a “Mr. Poo” giant stuffed animal. I was like what is this Giant Poo looking guy with big teeth that looks like it will eat children. “Oh, thats the NHK’s mascot, Domokun!” huh!

Comments are closed.