Shiro Kuma Kun

A polar bear in Tokyo

Image: subtitles

In 2012, the Tokyo Comedy Store was approached by a marketing consulting agency that was developing some sort of promotional campaign about environmental sustainability for a major electronics brand. They felt that just putting out information about how a company is trying to do stuff that's better for the environment would be kind of boring, so they wanted something more fun. They came to us and gave us a small budget to experiment, and the goal was simply to make amusing videos that had at least some connection to environmental issues.

We did two videos, and this was the one that I took charge of. The idea was to be somewhat documentary style, and if it went anywhere, we'd follow the daily life of a polar bear who had immigrated to Tokyo. The underlying implication was that he had to look for work in new places because his home was melting, but we didn't want to get too heavy on that. This first video we did has a very overt environmental message to it, but had we continued, we had ideas that were more just slice of life moments for a polar bear.

Unfortunately, the project didn't go any further than the test pilot stage. The consultants we were dealing with seemed to like the video, but apparently their client, the big electronics company, decided to go a different way. I still have the polar bear suit, which I sourced from China, and I still sometimes think about filming the other scripts that we came up with.

The dialogue was largely improvised under an outline that I developed, and I directed, filmed, and I guess you'd also say I was the producer. The voice of Shiro Kuma Kun is Vinay Murthy, while inside the suit is Cyrus Sethna. Cyrus also did the video editing. The part of the regular Japanese guy is played by Ken Suzuki, basically just being himself. Filmed at Spring Day's place, and Spring also helped with filming. Cleve Lendon was also on hand to help with filming.

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