save mona

A couple of years back I wrote about the ASCII characters that inhabit 2-Channel, the Japanese bulletin board often considered to be the World’s largest.

It got plenty of favourable reaction from Japan, including some press coverage. Then all went quiet, until the last couple of days, when I’ve been inundated with mail from 2-Channelers.

MonaIt seems that the most prominent of the ASCII characters, Mona (you’ll be familiar with this figure if you’ve ever seen any of the hundreds of flash animations made by the 2-Channel community), has been ‘appropriated’ by Japanese record company Avex, who are using a likeness of Mona to sell records by Moldavian band O-Zone.

The label are apparently claiming ownership of the copyright, and are even selling merchandise featuring Mona (renamed ‘Noma’).

The 2-Channel community don’t seem to be happy about this. Several pages explaining the situation in English have been set up:

One of my corespondents writes:

One music company in Japan had started to sale this ASCII Art originated characters product. They are trying to get an exclusive right of this ASCII Art originated characters. The name of the company is called AVEX.

This company is now planing to get exclusive rights to sell ASCII Art related items, and sell them to World Wide market. ASCII Art have been developed in General users of the Internet around the World. Of course, it is our, all internet users property. There is no national boundaries.

This AVEX\’s project will blaspheme the rights of general users in the internet. If it became a bad precedent, this terrible idea will spread to worldwide markets.

We really want you to join this project. Let\’s unite and protest AVEX related projects.

If you interested in, please check this website (sorry, right now English language is not available).

If you agree with us, please use this message for your Blog or any other purposes. We need your help.

Sorry for poor English language.

Well, I’m not sure what blogjam can do, but I certainly support the cause. Mona, Giko and the other ASCII figures who inhabit 2-Channel should be protected from commercial exploitation, and those who originally developed the character (the community) be allowed to continue doing so.

I did think this story might be suitable for the wonderful BoingBoing, but my submission didn’t seem to pass master. Let’s hope some others pick up the thread.


  1. Just linked your Save Mona article from my Blog.

    Damn those record companies, trying to take something pure and wholesome and exploit it!

    End so ends tonights episode of Melodrama From Milady.

  2. do you have any karma on slashdot? this is exactly the kind of stupid copyright, geek underdog fight they’ll go nuts over.

  3. Thanks Milady. Ha. I always wanted to say that.

    Rich – I’m afraid I don’t visit /.

    All those geeks fighting amongst themselves scare me.

  4. *blank stare*

    Eh? Wot? Two channels, you say? So France is further away than we thought?

  5. Hi Mr.Lewry.
    Thank you for paying attention to this subject.
    Following advices from inhabitants of EJwriter’s home BBS
    I started another weblog page.
    Contents are basically the same but the url should look more
    friendly to click to those who live in outside Japan.

    Let’s get Mona back!!
    Muchos saludos a toda la gente que quiere MONA!!!

  6. > Thanks Milady. Ha. I always wanted to say that.

    You’re most welcome, Sir.

    You can run your blowtorch over my beef anytime ;o)

    Cordial regards,

  7. Let’s save MONA!!
    Thank you for joining.

  8. hellow,Fraser.I wrote this comment from Japan.
    It is very delightful for me that you showed interest to this problem and
    post this report.
    I hope this problem to be spreads to the countries in the world.

    sorry,my English is realy poor.
    but I think should write coment,because you love MONA.
    I love MONA too.

    thank you and see you.from your japanease friend.

  9. I’m writing this comment from Japan.
    I’m very happy for some foreign Internet users think about this problem.
    We are sending e-mail to AVEX, calling, and so on. But AVEX is strong, so we can’t persuade them. And in Japan, many non-Internet users don’t know it. So we must spread it in Japanese society.

    Foreign web pages like this will really encourage Japanese users.
    Thank you.

    Sorry for my poor English…

  10. I’m so surprised to find “English” blog about Noma.
    Thank you for joining us.

    2-channelers love foreigners’ blogs which talk about Mona, because they are not goot at English.

    I linked your blog from my blog.
    Unfortunately, my blog is written in Japanese.

  11. Hello,
    I’m a 2-channeler who lives in California.
    Thanks so much for your support.
    We love Mona and Mona is for everyone!
    Not for Avex…

  12. Whoa, the avex thingy just swiched the letters… mona to noma. crazy company, i’d say… when was this crazy company build?

  13. Why, i am asking why all this happens

  14. Girls, have fun, not boys

  15. Love is all around, lets all around the world to play

  16. How can i become a saint?

  17. Hi


  18. I just wanted to write and tell you that I think the bbs is WONDERFUL! I am loving it