Shoot. It’s been done.

That army of undead cyborg squid-human hybrids idea? It looks like it might be old hat. Owlmirror found an old and rather cryptic
Japanese print of armored warrior cephalopods…and there’s a much, much higher resolution image of the same at that link. I can’t quite make out what they’re fighting, though…an army of dumplings? Meatballs? Who reads Japanese out there?



  1. Rocky says

    Well PZ, that beats the hell out of “Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles” for sure! You may be on to the newest toy craze.

  2. Monimonika says

    I can’t read most of the stuff that’s written (or rather, I can, but there’s too many gaps between the characters that I can read). But I immediately recognized the top-most character that’s on the flag (top-left hand corner of the right page). It’s the kanji for “potato” (the second kanji down is too “cursive” for me, and the final “ya” hiragana at the end there can mean anything in old Japanese for all I know).

    The soldier under the guy holding the flag is instantly recognizable as a sweet potato.

  3. FishyFred says

    Well PZ, that beats the hell out of “Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles” for sure! You may be on to the newest toy craze.

    Aw, shucks. And I was all geared up with my old TMNT toys for next year’s CGI TMNT movie.

  4. Eric Paulsen says

    So, this is an illustrated story about the origin of the very first squid and sweet potato dinner?!?

  5. Bob O'H says

    I can’t quite make out what they’re fighting, though…an army of dumplings? Meatballs?

    Must be the maniacal followers of the FSM.


  6. says

    The big 1st Word on the right side should be a kind of plant with kanji in Kusa-hen form; don’t know if it’s really potato (cos i know the cursive is different) or it might just be an old kanji for potato; or it might be a ‘yam’ (if there’s a potato wine, there’s a possibility for a ‘yam wine’. The 2nd Kanji is “Sake” for WINE, and the third is hiragana word “ya” for Store or Shop. This is actually a scene inside an O-sakeya or Japanese Wine Bar. Fried Seafoods goes well with O-sake or Japanese wine. I don’t have my dictionaries with me (just from mere recollection), so i am not so sure with the first word. Hope somebody does!:-)

  7. Sophist says

    If it’s any consolation, those are octopi, and none of them appear to be human or cyborg to any visible degree. Sure, your squid army won’t be totally without precident, but what is?

  8. Monimonika says


    Try looking up the (top) kanji with Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC:

    You can even do the multi-radical search method (six strokes with the kusa-hen on top, narrows the choices pretty quick) to see that the kanji is, indeed, “imo” (that’s “potato” (or “taro”, “tuber”)).

    Not sure if Western people would consider the same plants as “potatoes”, but yams also get the “imo” kanji within their longer names.

    And that second kanji is “sake”? I can’t tell, since I don’t know calligraphy (nor do I drink alcohol, so I don’t have much exposure to any labeled sake bottles).

  9. Ken C. says

    The weapons on the right are agricultural implements, I think, and at least some of the weapons on the left are used in fishing. So maybe the yam, and other foods of the land, are fighting the foods of the sea. I suppose the absence of actual fish argues against that, but still.

  10. Dr. Steve says

    Where’s Gamara?

    Dammit, if I’m watching a cool battle between armored octopi and kick-ass yams, there better be a giant damn flying turtle nearby.

    And why is that octopus spitting in on the yams? Is that just to piss them off? The mark of Cephalozorro or something?

  11. Dunc says

    Hey, just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing! ;)

  12. Alexander Whiteside says

    Puts a whole new spin on the term “food fight”.



  13. KevinC says

    One of my roommates thinks that the plant on the right is probably ginger since it is often used when cooking octopus in Japan.

  14. says

    While the fish n chips arguement is pretty good, it does miss the katana and rifle held by the cephalopods in the front. And while all the weapons used by the millitant veggies are associated with farming, some are also associated with peasant weapons. This isn’t exact, as the rifle-pus appears to be using a kama (a sickle-like peasant weapon). The clothing further seperates the two groups. Could it be an ad with a hidden social meaning? Samurai vs peasant? While my Japanese art history knowledge is rather poor, the rifle does suggest that this is from the Meiji era, which was a time of massive social upheaval.

  15. NJOsprey says

    Peasant: Sire, the cephalopods are revolting!

    King: Yes, yes. They are slimy and unpleasant to look at.

    Peasant: Yes my lord, but now they are rebelling!!

  16. says

    That isn’t a katana, it’s a kendo stick, basically a wooden stick you hit someone with. The rifle doesn’t mean Meiji era, guns were in use since the 1600s in Japan, just not a lot. I’ve emailed it to my Japanese friend, so I’ll get back to you once he answers (it’s the middle of the night here, might take a while).

  17. NelC says

    I emailed my Japanese sensei about the pic, and she confirms that it’s Edo period (as the caption says above the picture) but couldn’t read the cursive or understand enough of the archaic Japanese to give a context. Apparently there’s some kind of pun in the picture on Imaimashii (They are annoying) and Imoimoshii (They are sweet-potato-y). Rib-tickling.

  18. STLinTYO says

    There are various kinds of Mr Potato Heads shown…taro, sweet potato, yama-imo (mountain potato), konyaku-imo. Japanese guys in my office can’t read the dialogues but think the top ones are some kind of chant. The big kanji definitely means potato alcohol shop–imo-sakeya. Certainly seems to be a gag and the pun suggestion is highly probable, that being a favored form of Japanese humor. So maybe it is just something about the incompatibility of food from the ground and food from the sea — it would have been made to be hung in a sakeya. I am also wondering if it is an allegory for the two sides of the Boshin war, with the potato-heads being supporters of the old feudal order and the octopus the leaders of the rebellion. Pro’ly not.

  19. NelC says

    I think the Boshin war is probably too late for this, being the event that ended the Edo period and brought in the Meiji Restoration. More probably a reference to the end of the Warring States period, I’d imagine, or the succession struggle before Tokugawa became Shogun.

  20. David Harmon says

    I’m imagining some drunken artist drowsing in his sakeya, while his friends argue about bar snacks….