Picture It – Sudohbucks for all!

Whether it be those infamously fabulous Somy televisions or weird bright yellow letters that almost look like McDonalds but not quite, parodies of brands have been a mainstay of anime (and Western media!) since probably the beginning. Perhaps owing to their explosive growth in Asia and the instantly recognisable green circle and bold white letters, Starbucks seems to be one of the current favourites for parody, thanks to some very high profile inclusions!

Howard Shultz, the CEO of Starbucks, argues that his stores are a third place that aren’t home or work (aka: offices, universities and school), and that people can go to them to unwind and relax without having to worry about other things. I think its true of coffee shops in general; but I’m an unabashed fan of Starbucks and don’t care if you’re judging me for being so. Shaddup.

Coffee shops are increasingly favoured location for writers to place their characters. Their setting allows writers to present characters discussing events and ideas in a relaxed setting, and because they’re the third place between school and home, they can still be wearing their cute sailor fuku or other uniform which certain people watch anime specifically for (cough), and relieves designers of the chore of coming up with extra outfits. I’m grasping for straws here. Heh, Frappacino straws.

ANYWAY! What does this have to do with Picture It? I’m horrified you have to ask! As I eluded to in the introduction, Starbucks is ripe for parody because of the instantly recognisable logo that’s simple to modify for comedic effect. Spotting that art style in an anime has always been a delight for me, and here are my two favourite examples!


Perhaps the best example of the Starbucks parody. When Toradora hit our screens in 2009, I watched with a broad grin on my face when the Taiga and Ryuuji went to their local coffee shop haunt. This was the parody to end all parodies; it was brilliantly executed and hilarious!

  1. The whimsical monochrome siren in the centre of the circle was replaced with a guy sporting shades and a fabulous moustache, it didn’t even try to maintain the old style!
  2. The title of the shop was Sudoh-bucks, which appealed to my UNIX sensibilities as well as implying the shop was a “fake”
  3. To top it off, Ryuuji broke the forth wall and even asked himself how “they” weren’t being sued!

This appearance spawned an entire line of third party merchandise at the time, ranging from Sudohbucks clothing and hats to thermoses to put your real coffee in!

Your writer for today even went as far as to rename his first anime blog Sudohbucks for a time, and proudly walked around Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with one of the thermoses for years. Starbucks and The Coffee Bean would often give discounts if you provided your own beverage containment devices, and the baristas would often do a double take when they saw mine!

Sudohbucks: how is this place not getting sued?

Mawaru Penguindrum

So we come to Penguindrum. This was a series that took parodies to an entirely different level, something which I may have to break down and discuss in more detail here in the future! One of the running jokes of the series was the slightly evil looking penguin face appearing everywhere, from hospital walls to currency to apples.

One place it appeared — naturally — was on a coffee cup. Save for the familiar brown paper sleeve and different colours, but the design was otherwise identical, right down to the typeface, positioning of the letters and the face in the middle!

Aside from a neverending supply of hugs, I’d have given Himari coffee. That’s what would have restored her energy, guarenteed! :)

In art

The simple, flexible design of a green circle with white lettering and a monochrome image has lent itself to interpretation in a staggering amount of anime fandom art as well! After far too long looking around, these were my favourites.

Some Sukimacks coffee for you? Oh Touhou, what haven’t you got? And before you ask, yes, I would go there regularly!

And then we have this classic vector job by Tama-Neko on AnimePaper.net:

Anyway, that’s a wrap. I hope to see far more of this iconic brand, its range of delightful beverages and its logo in more things. I’m surprised they haven’t pulled a Pizza Hut at this point and got some sponsorship!