Featured image credit by 井口病院 (Ikuchi Osutega) via Pixiv
Western animation studios often find a wide degree of freedom whenever they design new characters for a new story. Imagination and inspiration is definitely part of the process. But most of the charm also goes to just how wide and varied the avenues are for animated storytelling in general.
See, being free from the shackles of reality while still being fairly grounded is one heck of a perk for these films In fact, depending on the effort, making too much connections and reference to real world things kind of takes away the awe and magic of the experience.
So naturally, when these works are adapted for their respective media products, there is a sort of pressure to keep this whimsical atmosphere. I mean, at least of introducing product in such a manner is there. Not sure about how they fared in kigurumi. But we can definitely showcase some of them so that you can judge yourself whether its simply more of fan collection item, or something you could dedicatedly develop a theme with.
Starting with the absolute classic, Toy Story was definitely one of those movies that is already infused with family-level enjoyment even as the very first old trailers were being shown on TV. Please let's not reminisce on the ending of Toy Story 4 here, okay?
It's strange, because you'd normally that the main characters would be given the obligatory product representation. I mean, a Buzz Lightyear kigurumi is pretty much already out there since it's a body suit, after all. You simply need to transform the right portions so that it could be worn as a kigurumi.
However, when you search for "Toy Story kigurumi" in Google, the first thing that you will always find, and probably the only thing that would fill the initial space of your entire screen, is the Little Green Mean.
Wait, how does that work? I understand that action figure characters such as Woody and the Davis family might feel unsettling as kigurumi. But like, surely there's a way to design a Mr. Potato head kigurum—
*searches Mr. Potato Head kigurumi*
... okay, nevermind.
So we can suppose that the most neutral character in the series would be aliens? And humanoid aliens at that. Perfect.
But hey, no complaints about the proportions being right where they are. It really does seem like more of a costume for the character rather than a comfywear inspired by their design. The three-eyed green head is there. Blue suit checks out. All the extra details like the Pizza Planet logo and the belt is also accounted for. And somehow, because of the proportions of the onesie, it definitely still is the type of kigurumi that we know and love.
Ah finally, something more straightforward. Designing kigurumi for smaller creatures is not a new thing. We got like, hamster kigurumi for fluffiness sake. But designing them for much smaller aquatic creatures essentially means that a greater emphasis must be placed on vibrant color combinations. Caricatured fish designs tend to be well, kind of generalized, with specific proportions deliberately blown up for easy differentiation.
Because trust me, if the body segments are the same, and the colors not given enough distinction, we almost definitely mistake the theme for some other mimicry specialist abomination under the sea.
As expected, a Finding Nemo kigurumi has plenty of unique points that lets people kind of immediately realize that its theme represents a specific character, and not just some type of fish (though it also doubles with that function). I mean, pretty much everyone knows how the hood (head part) could easily identify a specific character. But other aspects of the design, such as the sleeves representing film-aesthetic fins, also add to how people instantly identify the iconic design.
Even more convincing, is that one Google search of the animals the represent the characters actually results in at least half the entries being themselves! Though, I have to say I did not expect a few umm... anatomical liberties to the other results that appeared in the search.
Pop quiz! What do you think is the result of combining almost mascot like monster characters to the concept of a kigurumi? Would the resulting design like, turn into a type-1 kigurumi?
Surprisingly enough, it doesn't. In fact, the onesie kigurumi that we are familiar with is the first thing that people usually think of, even in Japan! To be fair though, our real world examples are extremely limited. But conceptually, almost all, if not every character in the film could have a kigurumi theme inspired from them.
Again, as we like to repeat endlessly in this blog, this all boils down to the convenience of matching appendages. A good majority of them were pretty humanoid-ish in structure by default, and those that aren't still have the movement and gait that is typically associated with human mannerisms and motion dexterity. Just put the hood with the head, match the appendage designs, slap in the entire color theme for the torso, and voila, one fine and dandy Sully kigurumi right for the taking!
It is unfortunate though that the number of options has never been expanded upon to this very day. Almost all of the available ones for official purchase (including in ours) is a Sully variant one way or another. There are those weird Mike variants that's kinda out there as an alternative I guess. But there's a specific reason why we never really had any of those. (hint: can't, not didn't)
Image credit by ちゃまじ via Twitter
Remember, always look for the unique logo on our Authentic Original Designs for these franchises, as well as the SAZAC seal whenever we have a brand new licensed series lineup to feature!