It all started with the TV ads below:
One thing is big, loud, and clear: Ha! Ka! Ta! no! Shio!
To put things in context, Hakata no Shio (伯方の塩) is a brand of salt from the town of Hakata in Ehime prefecture. In otaku lingo, the town is on an island in Seto Inland Sea, the origin of Seto no Hanayome. The salt is used to make Hakata Salt Ramen, a local delicacy, and, to my surprise, there’s even Hakata no Shio soft cream. (I sincerely want to try it out!)
But all the above information would all fall under my radar hadn’t it been for the CM. It’s simple. It’s catchy. It’s over the top. And it doesn’t have any specular meaning whatsoever. But, before I knew it, there were already a swarm of MADs featuring this particular phrase. If I recall correctly, my first encounter with Hakata no Shio was the Hakata no Shio ranking movie below in late January, but the Nico Nico denizens had been having fun with it for more than half a year. Watch it to get an idea about what this salty business is all about.
The irrelevance of the catchphrase and the fact that it just appears everywhere cracked me up countless times already. To share the joy, let me introduce you to some MADs I particularly like.
This one puts Ha! Ka! Ta! no! Shio! at the end of some famous songs.
The one that got me was the Evangelion OP: Sangoku na Tenshi no SHIO!
Nico Nico Douga Ryuuseigun fully pickled.
I love the Mikku Miku ni Shiteageru part:
Hakka haka ni shita shita no~
Hakata no shio oishii dakara
Hakata ni shitan da-o~
Shikashi hakata no shito wa oishii-o~
This one piggybacks on the wildly successful “Cirno-chan no Perfect Sansuu Kyoushitsu”.
The remix and the arrangement are well-done and laugh-inducing.
Ha~ka, ha~ka, ha~ka, ha~ka.
Actually, the thing that got me really interested in Hakata no Shio was that it has been anthropomorphized. The character’s name is Hakata-san or Hakata Shio, pictured below:
Hakata-sans’s first appearance: “Actually, I’m made in Mexico.”
The explanation for her Mexican-like attire and what she said above is that the maker of Hakata no Shio imports crystalized sea salt from Mexico, dissolves it with Seto Inland Sea’s water, and recrystalize the mixed brine again. (See the Japanese Wiki page about the company.)
As you can see, her first picture doesn’t show what she wears below or underneath the sarape cape. It would seem that Nico Nico denizens have come to a consensus that she wears nothing.
She was then put to dance to a song while the HA!KA!TA! dude shouts how unladylike she is. It’s quite addictive and similar to the Caramelldansen dance.
And, seeing that Kagamine Ren seemed to fall in love with her at first sight:
Like Yowane Haku, Kasase Teto, and other fan-made characters, Hakata-san is actively and collaboratively developed. Check this thread at Nico Nico Encyclopedia for more pictures and updates. Her Mexican family, arch-nemesis, and mecha have been worked out already!