The Eighth Day of Christmas – Pin the Tail on the Usagi
On the eighth day of (Sailor Moon) Christmas, we move a little away from Christmas and closer to New Years, with a game that should be familiar to most Japanese children – Fukuwarai (福笑い)!1 This was included together as a set with a simple Sailor Moon board game (more like a paper mat, but who’s counting?) starring the inner Sailor Soldier team. Judging by Sailor Moon’s design and the game itself, we can definitely say that this dates back to the time of Sailor Moon S. These were released by SEIKA Co., Ltd., a member of the Bandai/Namco group company and manufacturer of stationary supplies and various character-themed products for children. So, first off, let’s talk about this mysterious Fukuwarai game, shall we?
Fukuwarai is a game akin to Pin the Tail on the Donkey in America, with the exception that it’s played on a table and involves multiple pieces. The game was typically played by children over the New Years holidays (where families traditionally all came together), though its popularity has been dwindling over the past few decades.
As for how you play, typically each person will take a turn being blindfolded and will each have a chance to place the various parts of a face on the mat on which the outline of a person’s head is drawn, and then will take off the mask and can see how well they were able to guess where things go. Everyone has a good laugh at how Picasso-esque the face ended up, and then the next person will give it a go.
As you can see here, the game is much harder than it sounds. Or I’m just really bad at gauging depth with a blindfold on. On the front of this set there’s the picture of Sailor Moon as you can see here (and even a nice outline of where the pieces are supposed to go… I guess to help you know how badly you missed?) and on the back is the traditional round face and an additional set of pieces for that face, in case you want to play the normal version of the game.
Not satisfied with being called a one-trick pony, this set also comes with a simple Sailor Moon board game, where you and up to four friends (all five of the inner Sailor Team are represented) can try your luck with the dice and race to the finish. This is a popular type of board game in Japan referred to generally as sugoroku 2, a game akin to “Snakes and Ladders” in the West, though there is no relation between the two. You roll the dice (or spin the spinner) and follow the directions of the space you land on, which may delay you for a turn, move you forward or backward, or otherwise affect the gameplay.
Sailor Moon is front-and-center in this game here, though I wish they found a way to fit it into the gameplay a little more. I understand that it’s obviously difficult considering the type of game this is and its simplicity (something like trying to make an actual gameplay change to solitaire to make it more than a superficial Sailor Moon skin on top), but something like trying to make the board to look like an actual battleground with pictures of the Death Busters and the Sailor Soldiers fighting would’ve been nice. This is probably just me nitpicking, though!
As for this set itself, I’d say it would definitely be a great addition to a child’s birthday party or some other event where a lot of children were gather together. The Sailor Moon theme on top of two much older and more traditional games breathes a bit of a breath of fresh air into them, and could probably hold your attention longer than a more generic version, for sure. In the worst-case scenario, at least you could make your own custom Sailor Moon poster and hang it up on the wall, right?