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Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

You might think that middle-aged is synonymous with uncool, but middle-aged men in Japan, or oji-san, are currently something of a hot item.

Young Japanese women find a certain type of dorky oji-san to be “totes adorbs, yo” and are driving a boom in oji-san-related goods, including quite a number of apps featuring cutely crotchety oji-sans. Here are a few we’ve recently discovered.

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

  • Ossan Tamago

Ossan is a more casual form of oji-san, so the name of this game translates roughly to Middle-Aged Man Eggs (a pun on onsen tamago ), though the developers wisely chose to go with Boiling Ossan Eggs for the English version.

As you might guess from the name, this game involves boiling eggs. And not much else, really. Once the egg has boiled, you peel the shell to reveal the funny little man inside. You can collect the various faces, upgrade to nicer pots, buy salt for the water, but you are still just boiling eggs.

Howdy!

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

According to the developer, however, there is a much deeper meaning: “This app demonstrates the irony of the modern-day world, by showing a little egg (a baby) being thrown into the hot boiling water (the society), results in each unique boiled OSSAN egg.”

Riiiiight.

Well, they’ve hit on something though, because the game has loads of downloads and 5-star reviews. Says one Japanese reviewer, “Waiting for the egg to boil and then peeling it has become one of the fun things I look forward to every day!”

If eggs aren’t your thing, the developer has just added a new game to the series called Ossan Train Stuffing , where you can enjoy the chaos that is a Tokyo train at rush hour.

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

  • Setsuden! Boku, sumaho-oji-san sodatete denchi nagamochi

With what must be one of the longest app names in history, this translates to “Saving electricity! I’m the smartphone middle-aged man. Take care of me and your battery will last longer.” Let’s just call it “Setsuden,” shall we?

The little old man illustrated above is the personification of your phone, and much like the old Tamagotchi pets, he needs to be taken care of. However, if you treat him well, you’ll not only have a happy oji-san, but also a faster, uncluttered phone with longer battery life!

Applications that you don’t use or that suck battery life make your smartphone oji-san fat. By uninstalling them or turning off the function that allows them to boot up as soon as the phone is turned on, you force your oji-san to diet and exercise. In other words, Setsuden helps you get rid of the apps you aren’t using to make sure your phone, and your oji-san, are a trim and speedy as possible.

“When your phone’s condition is bad, oji-san’s condition is bad too!”

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

Some users report getting up to two more hours of battery life by using this app, so cute characters aside, it seems like a pretty handy app to have.

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

  • Fairy Oji-san Collection

According to legend, nabbing one of these funny little fairy oji-sans will bring you luck. Happily for you, like stray cats, they are attracted to canned food left unattended, so all you have to do is leave out a snack, then close the Japanese sliding doors for a moment. When you return, they’ll be scurrying about and you can snap them up with a tap of your finger.

According to the app , different types of fairy oji-sans will bring you different types of happiness, so you’ll have to keep collecting them to get everything you want in life. And you’ll want to play this one with the sound on, since each type makes a unique and funny noise when he’s caught.

Quick, grab the cat food and run!

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

Oh, and if anyone is a fan of Yumiko Shaku , an animated version of her guides you through the game.

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

  • Little Oji-san

There’s definitely a trend toward the diminutive when it comes to oji-sans. In this app , you have to look after a well-mannered little guy and his strange companion who are accidentally delivered to you house in a package.

It would be hard to refuse, given how politely the oji-san asks for your assistance. “I’m so sorry to trouble you,” he says, “But I can’t seem to return to my former size. I’m ashamed to even ask, but would it be OK if I stayed here for a while?”

Before you know it, you are feeding, cleaning up after, exercising and even bathing the little runt. In exchange, his mysterious friend gives you entertaining puzzles to solve and invites over various fairy acquaintances to grant wishes.

The friend is the weird white blobby thing with the nostrils and buck-tooth. The rest are fairies.

Playing with middle-aged men: What’s with the new rash of “oji-san” smartphone apps?

There’s just something so cute about the drawings… and kind of gross, which about sums up the kimokawaii (cute and a little disgusting) appeal of oji-sans as well.

To be honest, after spending an afternoon playing with these apps, I’m kind of seeing the charm of the dorky oji-san. Just don’t tell my husband.

Images: Boiling OSSAN Eggs , Setsuden , Fairy Oji-san Collection , Little Oji-san

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