Super-buff golden cat seemingly signals dark times ahead for our unlucky reporter.
Beckoning catsgold maneki-neko, as they’re called in Japanese, are supposed to usher good fortune into your life (that’s why they’ve got one paw raised, mimicking the gesture people in Japan use to mean “come here”). The idea is that you put a beckoning cat statue near the entryway to your home or business, and it brings good people into your life or profitable customers into your shop, restaurant, or company.
▼ Beckoning cats at Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo
Since they’re popular good luck charms, Amazon Japan has more than 40,000 maneki neko listings. The very worst is one called (deep breath): Startist Giant Cat Ornament Muscle Giant Arm Feng Shui Fortune Sculpture Waving Arm Fortune Wealth Welcome Store Opening Decoration Collection Left Robbery.
Priced at 1,570 yen (US$13), the SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR is what came up when our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma sorted his maneki neko search results by average review score and looked at the bottom of the list. Masanuki still had hope for it, though. Currently the SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR has only one review, and it’s from an unsatisfied customer who says that when it arrived the arm was broken. That might have happened during shipping, as opposed to indicating any fundamental problem with the item itself.
Masanuki was sort of concerned about buying something with “robbery” in its name, but he figured the “Left Robbery” part was just a clunky translation trying to describe how the figure, shown on its product page with its left arm raised, would be using that arm to powerfully draw in good luck for its owner.
So Masanuki, fresh off being pleasantly surprised by the quality of Amazon Japan’s lowest-rated portable bathtub, took the plunge and placed his order. A few days later, his package arrived…
…and things got off to an ominous start, with a large chunk broken out of the inner styrofoam protective packaging.
Thankfully, the beckoning cat itself was intact and unharmed, and unlike the Amazon reviewer’s, Masanuki’s cat’s arm was in perfect condition…and yet, there was something very, very wrong with it.
The problem isn’t the rippling musculature. That matches what was shown in the photos on the Amazon product page, so Masanuki knew to expect a cat that was buff, not cute or realistic. No, the problem is that despite being called the “Left Robbery” and having its left arm raised in the Amazon photos, the SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR that had been shipped to Masanuki…
…has its right arm raised!
This might not seem like a big deal, since in Japan you’ll see both maneki neko with their left arm up and others with their right. However, many people believe that maneki neko provide different types of good luck depending on which paw is raised. A raised left paw is supposed to bring good personal relationships into your life, while a raised right arm is said to provide wealth and economic success.
Now, skeptics might dismiss all that as silly superstition. Skeptics aren’t the people buying good luck charms, though, so this seemed like a pretty grievous mistake to Masanuki, and it wasn’t the only problem with his SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR. According to its description on Amazon, “The figure’s arm sways back and forth, symbolizing wealth happiness, and happiness,” (yes, they mention “happiness” twice), but the SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR’s arm is fixed solidly in place, with no articulation points whatsoever.
▼ Maybe, like a lot of extreme bodybuilders, it lost flexibility as it added muscle mass?
Issue #3: Despite being called “Giant Cat,” the SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR is pretty tiny.
▼ No, Mananuki does not have giant-sized hands.
Masanuki couldn’t help feeling disappointed. He’d wanted a giant maneki neko with a moving left arm to bring him good luck in his personal life, but now he had a small one with his right paw locked in place above his head. Still, some extra luck with money is never a bad thing, so he decided to set it out on a ledge in his entryway and let it do its thing. If he woke up in the morning and discovered he’d become a millionaire overnight, all would be forgiven.
When his alarm went off, though, Masanuki’s bank account was the same as it had been the night before. What had changed, though, was his SGCOMGAFSFSWAFWWSODCLR.
Sometime during the night, the part of the figure shaped like a golden coin had broken completely off.
At this point, we’re pretty sure the thing is cursed, and so for as long as Masanuki has it on display in his house, we think we’re going to give the guy a wide berth in the office.