Characters 3: Cony and Brown

Continuing the characters theme:

Back on the 15th, in “Background foods and food discoveries”, I dwelt for a bit on Coney Island hot dogs, or simply Coneys, and digressed to look (in the text and in a comment) at the items coney/cony. Summary:

coney/cony for ‘rabbit’ and ‘rabbit fur’ has a long history, and is still current. Meanwhile, the coarse slang coney/cony or cunny,  strong in the 16th century, apparently dropped out of use by the late 19th, then apparently was revived in the second half of the 20th (with the spelling coney in 1960 and 2009, with the spelling cunny in 1973 and 2003).

My search on cony led to the Japanese company Line and its (female) rabbit character Cony (who is thoroughly cute rather than coarse). You never know where things are going to go.

From The Verge site on 8/7/14 by Sam Byford, “Line’s bears and bunnies are coming for America: How this Japanese chat sensation plans to win the West”:

(#1) Left to right: Brown, Line COO Takeshi Idezawa, Cony

Everyone in Japan knows Brown, the laid-back bear, and Cony, the bunny whose wild enthusiasm makes Brown seem even more chilled. They make a good pair — they’re dating, you see — and they also make a lot of money for their owners. They’re virtual stickers inside Line, a messaging app that now dominates Japan.

The cute characters in Line’s stickers — next-level emoji, basically — are hugely popular outside the app itself, with ubiquitous merchandising that’s impossible to ignore.

… And now Line is gunning for Americans.

Some details from Wikipedia:

Line (styled as LINE) is a freeware app for instant communications on electronic devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, and personal computers. Line users exchange texts, images, video and audio, and conduct free VoIP conversations and video conferences. The service is operated by Line Corporation, a Japanese subsidiary of the South Korean internet search giant Naver Corporation.

… Line features a Sticker Shop where users are able to purchase virtual stickers depicting original and well-known characters. The stickers are used during chat sessions between users and act as large sized emoji. Users can purchase stickers as gifts, with many stickers available as free downloads, depending on country availability. Purchased stickers are attached to an account and can be used on other platforms. New sticker sets are released weekly. Line’s message stickers feature original characters as well as a number of popular manga, anime and gaming characters, movie tie-ins, and characters from Disney properties such as Pixar

… The original default characters and stickers, known as the LINE Friends, were created by Kang Byeongmok, also known as “Mogi”, in 2011…. They include Brown, Cony, Sally, James, Moon, Boss, Jessica, Edward, Leonard, Choco, Pangyo and Rangers. Two anime series, LINE OFFLINE and LINE TOWN, were produced in 2013, picturing the Line Friends as employees for the fictional Line Corporation.

… There are physical stores in Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, U.S. and a Korean online store to purchase LINE Friends merchandise.

LINE is another in a series of companies whose business is characters, appearing on pieces of merchandise and diffused through manga, anime, games, videos, and longer movies.

The Cony and Brown LINE Friends videos are available in several languages, including English; you can watch “Valentine’s Day” here (“The Real Reason My Boyfriend Likes Me?!”). The characters’ faces are emoji, which change with their shifting emotions. A still showing Brown and Cony:


The business of characters. Two famous predecessors to LINE; both have appeared on this blog in earlier postings. Sanrio and San-X.

From Wikipedia on the first:

Sanrio Co., Ltd. is a Japanese company that designs, licenses and produces products focusing on the kawaii(cute) segment of Japanese popular culture. Their products include stationery, school supplies, gifts and accessories that are sold worldwide and at specialty brand retail stores in Japan. Sanrio’s best-known character is Hello Kitty, a little anthropomorphic cat girl, one of the most successful marketing brands in the world.

Besides selling character goods, Sanrio takes part in movie production and publishing. They own the rights to both the Peanuts and Mr. Men characters in Japan. Their animatronics branch, called Kokoro Company, Ltd. (“Kokoro” being Japanese for “heart”), is best known for the Actroid android. They participate in the fast food industry, running a franchise of KFC in Saitama.

And on the second:

San-X is a Japanese stationery company known for creating and marketing cute characters such as Tarepanda, Rilakkuma, Sumikko Gurashi, and Kogepan. The characters are usually anthropomorphic representations of animals or inanimate objects.

…San-X characters can be found on stationery sets and pencils, as small figurines, keychains, and stuffed toys. They are sold as blind boxes, gashapon and in UFO catchers and other prize machines in Japan’s arcades. There are also anime series, video games and children’s books featuring the characters.

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