It’s hard to tell at a glance, but Gudetama is an egg yolk with a butt crack. It’s a fictional character of sorts, one with limbs but no fingers or toes. It has a mouth but no obvious teeth. It has thighs but no visible joints, a head but no neck. Its eyes look like sesame seeds. It has no gender.
To the naked eye, it could easily be mistaken for a golden bean, a kernel of corn, or an unappealing drop of honey. But Gudetama isn’t any of those — because that would make too much sense for a success story that, on its surface, shouldn’t make any sense at all.
Gudetama is a relatively recent addition to the Sanrio universe — which, until recent memory, revolved around the tiny-eyed, red-hair-bow-wearing being known as Hello Kitty. It’s also the company’s most popular character in recent memory, even though its blob-like appearance is the antithesis of Sanrio’s historical emphasis on cuteness.
Gudetama looks like a character someone gave up on, and yet people cannot get enough of it. But Gudetama’s looks are just a fraction of its appeal. Its main attraction is its apathetic personality.
Gudetama can talk (in short sentences), move (more like wiggle), emote (only pain), and breathe (particularly when it sleeps). Though it can do these things and has the potential for more, it would rather not. Each new day is one more chance for Gudetama to experience life on the lowest setting, and its ultimate pleasure is in doing nothing.
Gudetama is Melville’s Bartleby in unfertilized yolk form.
It may seem weird that an idle egg could inspire such widespread affection. But the response stems from a combination of the character’s relatability, its need to be cared for, and the way it challenges us to rethink what we find cute. Gudetama and its popularity are part of a more expansive cultural movement —