Meet Nyango Star: The Heavy Metal Cat Mascot Saving A Japanese Farm (HBO)

Nyango Star is one of Japan’s most popular mascots, but you might know him best as a meme.

He’s an apple that’s been inhabited by the spirit of a dead cat, and he absolutely shreds on the drums. Very cute but also very metal.

Nyango Star is what’s known in Japan as a yuru-chara — which translates loosely to “chill mascot.”

Japanese yuru-chara can represent everything from police departments to restaurants to government initiatives.

Nyango Star represents Kuroishi City — a farming community in Japan’s northern prefecture of Aomori — where the population is declining and aging. But Kuroishi’s mayor is hoping Nyango Star’s viral success will help the shrinking town maintain economic viability.

VICE News went to Japan to meet with Nyango Star and his management team and get an inside look at yuru-chara culture in Japan.

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