Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tokyo Police (But Not the Tokyo Police Club)

If you look closely, you’ll notice some key differences between Japan and the United States. Different sizes, for example. Different average heights of their human inhabitants. Japan has Godzilla, while the U.S. has King Kong. The most important difference between the two nations, however, would probably have to be the presence of Pipo.

I’m guessing you do not know of Pipo. If that’s the case, you probably don’t live in Japan.

This is what Pipo looks like:

Pipo, or Pipo-kun, is the mascot of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. I don’t actually understand what he does, though I suspect he functions sort of like McGruff, explaining crime and policing to children in a way that might encourage them to report their parents for any illegal activity they may be doing. I also don’t know what Pipo is, though flying mouse-sprite-thingamabob would seem to hit the mark close enough. I suppose having a flying mouse-sprite-thingamabob explain crime to children makes about as much sense as having a bipedal dog who dresses like a flasher telling children to “take a bite out of crime.” According to sources, Pipo’s name either comes from a combination of the words “police” and “people” — which seems odd in that it would come from English words but also awesome in that it could mean that the Japanese call them “police people” instead of “police officers” — or from an onomatopoetic representation of the noise of a police siren. (“Peeee-poh-peeee-poh.” It could work.)

Pipo also has a diminutive female counterpart, who appears in the below image, in which Pipo seems to be saying, “Psst! Hey! Police people! Those pot-smoking teenagers are over this way!”

He also seems to delight in making vague demands.

Pipo also appears more often that you might expect, such as on this police station:

And even in disturbing plastic statue form.

photo by flickr user e/qual

The one thing Pipo can and probably does have that McGruff doesn’t is a rousing theme song, which is available in an angelic MIDI format on Pipo’s personal homepage as well as in a full, vocal version that kind of sounds like a national anthem… until the baby voiced-woman chimes in, possibly speaking for Pipo. Really, you must listen to it. Your life will be more complete as a result.

So, in short, if you’re reading this now and don’t know what country you’re in, go to the police station and ask about Pipo. Or at least ask the lady at the desk if she can sing Pipo’s theme song. If you don’t see Pipo or hear high-spirited songs telling of his exploits, you’re probably not in Japan. Now you know.

1 comment:

  1. Actually I think what Pipo is saying in that image is こども110番, ie "kids, the emergency number for police is 110".