The Mystery of the American Box Bug

The “American Box Bug” (アメリカハコムシ, America hakomushi) is a staff joke referenced in the preview for episode 17 of Digimon Adventure 02 (“Odaiba Memorial”) and the drama CD “Armor Evolution to the Unknown“. It otherwise has little relevance to Digimon, but Adventure 02 director Hiroyuki Kakudou described the backstory behind the joke on his website, so I took the liberty of translating it here.

After the live shows at the Shinjuku Loft Plus One about Tales of Terror1 ended,
we would often meet up at a coffee shop to let off steam,
and people would often tell their own tales of terror.
Today (August 22, 1999) is the story of a mysterious creature encountered by C-Oka-kun2, assistant director for Digimon Adventure.

He spoke of the mountains in Hiroshima, painting a picture of the land just after the rain,
like a small box hanging from a spool of thread, flowing from the water pipe,
and straaaaaangely…sticking to the outer wall of the house.

He could find no sensory body parts such as eyes, mouths, legs, or tentacles,
its color grey like blackboard chalk, its sensation like firm rubber to the touch.
But, even more characteristically, it had a square silhouette, and hard corners.

To the young C-Oka-kun, a young child at the time, it was as if a slug had been increasing in size,
and he thought,

Cuboid creatures exist…!!

Perhaps it was from the same family as slime molds?
But no matter how much we thought about it, we couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
For the time being, we have decided to name it the “American Box Bug,”
but if you happen to know anything about it, please let us know.

Incidentally, we consulted two different Hiroshima natives after that,
but, of course, they hadn’t seen or heard of anything like that…

March 28, 2000 addendum

Thank you for waiting, Box Bug fans! Ever since we opened this page in August of last year, there’s been all sorts of quiet hubbub about this (?) American Box Bug. I’ll write about the information we’ve gathered so far…Although we haven’t gotten anything from anyone actually from Hiroshima (^^;). Let’s start with this piece of info from a Kawabata, sent to us in October of last year.

“I don’t know if calling it a square or cube would be accurate, but I remember seeing this kind of firm rubber-like creature in Okinawa.
In the mountain fields of Okinawa, all of the slugs emerge in the middle of the night.
Because it looked like some kind of block of lump of sand, I didn’t realize it was a slug at first.
It felt quite unpleasant to the touch. However, it should have only been in Okinawa, and taking wildlife out of Okinawa is strictly prohibited.
If you could post a photo, I might be able to confirm.”

O-Oh no (-.-;) The truth is, Kakudou here is really bad with slugs. Now I don’t want to go to Okinawa…
In any case, I unfortunately can’t take any pictures of the Box Bug, and the only witness, C-Oka-kun,
doesn’t have anything to show us.
Thank you, Kawabata.

Next, an email received from a Sim3 last week.

“Someone else might have suggested it already, but perhaps it’s a slime mold?

They’re related to mold and mushrooms, and other weird things…

It’s both a plant and a fungus, and it has a tendency to appear right after the rain.

Here are some websites that can explain it better, so please do take a look.

I’m not sure if any of them could be a perfect square, though;

But regardless, it’s pretty weird and interesting.”

And they sent me some links, like here and here and here.

This is a pretty likely theory, but unfortunately we can’t find a slime mold that feels like “oh, this is exactly it!”, so we’ll have to narrow it down a bit further. We’re also not aware of whether enough knowledge about slime molds exists to find out, but the important part is figuring out if it can show up in a cubic form. Thank you, Sim.

We look forward to any other info anyone else has about this Box Bug.

By the way, I should add that C-Oka-kun was the basis for the guy wearing a bandana, one of Yamato’s dad’s subordinates during the Tokyo arc in Digimon. Surprisingly, we’re also planning to have him show up in 02 (haha)

March 10, 2002 addendum

Afterwards, we had C-Oka-kun appear in Digimon 02 episodes 17 and 38.
He’s also appeared in the drama CD “Armor Evolution to the Unknown”.

It’s not supposed to be the exact real-life person, though, he’s just the subordinate of Yamato’s dad.

He made his actual directorial debut in episode 48 of Digimon Tamers.
You can read more about it here.

March 10, 2002 addendum

We received information about sightings and valuable photos from a Bara-san.

Please check the drawing canvas board4 of Tatsuhiko Ida-san, who was the one who named the American Box Bug.

C-Oka-kun was yelling, “Aaaaah! This is pretty close!”

The American Box Bug! So it really exists!?

Thank you, Bara-san.

Translator's notes
  1. Tales of Terror (新耳袋, Shin Mimibukuro) was a series of modern ghost story books written in classical Japanese ghost-story style, running from 1990 to 2007. Similar to, say, a Japanese classical rendition of Goosebumps. []
  2. “C-Oka” refers to Masatoshi Chioka, an assistant director on Adventure and Adventure 02 who would eventually go on to direct episodes for Tamers, Frontier, and Savers, serve as a storyboarder on Appmon, and ultimately serve as a series director for Ghost Game. []
  3. I retained the links from the website, but of course, they’re all dead. This is a site from 1999, after all. []
  4. All of the links are dead, so that means the actual photo found at the end has unfortunately been lost to history. []

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