CoroCoro's 40th Anniversary Celebrates New Generation of Pokémon, Doraemon, and More

posted on by Kim Morrissy

If you've ever been a kid in Japan, you've probably heard of CoroCoro Comic, the biggest manga magazine aimed at elementary schoolboys. It currently serializes the manga versions of Pokémon, Beyblade, and Yo-Kai Watch, among other popular children's franchises, and each issue is often packaged with toys, games, and other exclusives. For example, the original Pokémon Blue version was initially available only to people who bought the CoroCoro magazine and filled in a mail-order form for a limited time.

CoroCoro's biggest claim to fame, however, is that it's the flagship magazine for Doraemon. Although the manga was first published in 1969 in multiple different magazines, it became so popular that it necessitated its own monthly magazine. Monthly CoroCoro Comic was established in 1977 primarily to showcase Doraemon, and although the magazine has since hosted other big mainstay series, Doraemon's iconic first cover is still remembered today.

Like many of the other big manga magazines of its vintage, CoroCoro reached its peak circulation in the 90s, but it's still a highly influential and beloved publication to this day. The magazine has been announcing various events and projects over the past few months to celebrate its 40th year anniversary (including an original web anime airing this month). Things were particularly lively at the Tokyo Skytree Town, which has recently opened a café last May dedicated to all things CoroCoro.

The CoroCoro Comic Legend Café doubles as an eatery and a merch store. You can buy shirts, character goods, gatchas, and even play some arcade games if you have some loose change. CoroCoro has recently launched a collaboration with Sanrio, the leading expert of all things cute and cuddly, so you can get some especially cute keychains and badges at the café.

But the biggest attraction of the café is the food itself, and the menu does not disappoint. There's even more care than usual put into the character-themed food items, which are not only designed creatively but also make clever references to the stories they're inspired from. For example, the Yo-Kai Watch chocolate banana smoothie features Jibanyan's face and is a reference to how much he loves eating choco-bars in the anime.

I ate the “Pikachu, I choose you! Pokeball Burger,” which, as you might expect, is a burger made to look like a Pokeball. The bun is split into two parts and dyed red and white respectively, and the black part is seaweed. Also, Pikachu's ears are nachos!

For dessert, I had the “Beybattle Mille-feuille Stadium.” It's basically Mille-feuille and ice cream but with Beyblade tops and characters pasted on them. You can pick which characters to feature out of Takao, Kai, Rei, and Max, so I picked Takao and Kai because of their iconic rivalry in the show. The result is pretty nifty, as if the pastries are duking it out on your plate, although the ice cream does melt pretty quickly so it's only really cool just when you receive it.

By the way, CoroCoro might be a children's magazine, but this event is by no means just for children. At the Sky Arena, which is located on the fourth floor of the Tokyo Skytree Town, there's a beer garden with a CoroCoro-themed menu. Apparently, they even give you your own special CoroCoro beer cup. I don't drink alcohol, but the beer garden is open until the start of September for anyone interested.

Instead I had some karaage at a snack vendor just outside the Skytree tower and received this commemorative box that looks just like a copy of the CoroCoro magazine. It's a dead ringer for what the magazine used to look like back in its heyday, when it was thicker with manga content.

There was also a CoroCoro-themed wish tree outside the Skytree Town for people to celebrate the Tanabata festival. This custom involves writing wishes on a small piece of paper and hanging the paper on bamboo. Although the characters featured in the magazine tend to dream big, the wishes people wrote were fairly humble, like hoping for everybody to stay healthy.

The point of this event isn't just to celebrate CoroCoro's legacy or to get people to come inside the CoroCoro Comic Legend Café. It's a great excuse to get people looking around the Skytree Town in general. The café is currently holding a stamp rally, and the way it works is pretty simple. You get a stamp sheet at the café, go around to various places in the Skytree Town, find a place to stamp your sheet with a picture of a CoroCoro character, and then come back to the café and get a free sticker set for your trouble. Predictably, one of the checkpoints turned out to be the Pokémon Center, a very popular tourist spot in its own right. It's a testament of just how thoroughly some franchises featured in CoroCoro have penetrated the mainstream culture here.

I've talked a lot in this article about Pokémon, Beyblade, and Yo-Kai Watch—properties that Western audiences should be readily familiar with. But CoroCoro Comic publishes a more diverse range of comics than just the big exported titles, and some of them are just plain weird and fun, like Kazutoshi Soyama's Dangerous Jii-san or Yuji Nagai's 100% Pascal-sensei. These series may not get much traction in the English-speaking world, but they're some of the most popular titles in the CoroCoro magazine.

In addition, the poster for the 40th Anniversary event features many popular characters from the history of the magazine, even from its early days. You'll see characters like Arashi Ishino (from Game Center Arashi, a manga which ran between 1978 and 1984) featured prominently in promo materials, and they're also well-represented in the merchandise booth.

It's nice to see that neither CoroCoro nor its readers have forgotten the magazine's roots, even as it embraces shiny new video game franchises like The Snack World and Puzzles & Dragons. An entire generation grew up with CoroCoro, and now their children are into manga. CoroCoro's 40th Anniversary event celebrates the young and old alike as the magazine settles into its ripe, middle-aged years.

Photo credit: Callum May

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