One summer’s evening last year; I was minding my own business, scrolling through the dark depths of the internet, trying to fill the endless void that was inside of me. I had turned to Tumblr, the fun place where everybody gets along and nothing is weird. I had stumbled across a fan page of a show in Japan. It seemed harmless; it is about a nuclear family from America starting their new life in the Land of the Rising Sun. When I looked closer at some images, something seemed really odd about it. They all maintained the same expression and pose in every picture. That’s when I discovered that they were all creepy mannequins.
This is when I discovered… The Fuccons. Now you might be asking yourself, what is a Fuccon? Well you sweet innocent soul, let me educate you. They are the characters that star in a family sitcom in Japan, portrayed by your standard run of the mill scary clothing models, dubbed with dialogue. It started out on a show called ‘Vermilion Pleasure Night’ in the year 2000 and nothing screams pleasure quite like disturbing plastic figures with no emotion or movement whatsoever. They were actually the most popular segment on the show – I don’t know what that says about the human actors on the cast.
The main family consists of Mikey Fuccon, the family child who is the main protagonist. Mikey is a very happy child, loyal, and occasionally acts without thinking but overall he has a kind heart. Then we have James and Barbara (or if you would prefer to call them by my celebrity couple name, ‘Jarbara’) are parents to Mikey. They have a rocky and strained relationship, and they tend to give Mikey contradicting life advice – oh those two maniacs! They make up the main cast, with other characters popping up here and there (and you will find out more about them later). They are an all American family moving east because James is transferred to the Japan branch of an undisclosed firm. As you can see from the pictures, they are scary as all of hell and I wouldn’t be shocked if they came alive at night when the production crew go home.
The sketches on VPN are wild to say the list. The first sketch is about their move, and builds the core cast of loveable creepy characters. The second sketch is about their visit to an amusement park. How fun! But then, when everything seems well in Fucconland, the third sketch focuses on… wait for it… Mikey’s kidnapping?! This intense thrilling adventure is wild from start to finish. The drama then gets a little bit sexual, as did many of VPN’s sketches. The following two segments featured Jarbara’s marriage issues, including the reveal of James’ affair. My favourite of them all has to be ‘Mikey’s Exorcism’. When you watch clips, Mikey is probably the one who needs holy water the least… maybe start with Barbara.
When VPN’s ratings declined, with the show ending in the same year it began, everyone’s favourite plastic family (yes everyone, don’t fact check me on that) was given its own Sunday night-time slot. The show gets a complete reboot. The characters are the same, but the events are reset, and it begins with the Fuccon family moving to Japan again. However, there are similarities. With the sketches and TV show both having a story where Mikey has ‘peeping tendencies’ (a story so fine, they told it twice). With the launch of the new show, they were able to introduce new characters, to this already epic and wide universe.
These included Laura, Mikey’s cousin. Emily, Mikey’s girlfriend. Tony and Charles, two twins from England who are so detestable, even Mikey wants nothing to do with her. ‘Time Boy’, who is obsessed with scheduling and organisation. Tracy, Mikey’s tutor who is described as ‘sexy’ (she’s plastic).
These characters freshen things up instead of having things just be about Jarbara and that kid who has his name in the title… oh yeah, Mikey. You must be thinking the show is pretty light, but actually, as the show progresses, things take dark turns.
For example, we have Laura. She’s a nightmare and wants to mould Emily in her own image. Laura makes life for the Fuccon’s painful and threatens to leave Japan and go back to America. There’s also the Kawakitas, a family who used to be big in the restaurant business, things didn’t work out leaving them quite poor. The father abuses alcohol and they forget their son’s birthday. Like the exorcism storyline, it appears that the writers had no fear in delving into dark places. No matter how dark things get, the episode ALWAYS ends in laughter. It doesn’t help with the whole no expression thing.
In the final sketch of the initial run, someone on the production team thought “screw it, we’re going out, so we’re going out big”. The final sketch involves Mikey getting engaged to Princess Isabella of the Blueberry Kingdom (brother to Blueberry King who appeared in the episode prior) after she pays the Parents of the Year, James and Barbara, to adopt him. Then series just ends.
The show found enough success to leave Japan, but not for a continuation of the series. English dubbed episodes were made by the American company, ADV Films. In late 2008 they were made into a DVD collection called ‘The Fuccons: The Whole Fuccon Show’, nice. Real nice. These all include the VPN sketches other features. In 2007, ‘Oh Mikey Fever’ was released featuring unseen sketches, like Mikey dancing at a disco. G4 would air episodes during the Late Night Peepshow programming block, and they also appeared on the Anime Network in the US. It never found much success outside of Japan.
There was also a rumoured Fuccon restaurant, though this was false. The sketches are easily found online, and there are DVDs out there on eBay. I’m sure there’s an underground community who love them, it’s the internet after all. The fact that it found success is surprising. I thought it would be fun to bring to light. Let me know what you think!