Protestors turn to Japanese anime in anti-government protest

Over 1000 young people participated in a “Let’s run, Hamtaro” protest on 26 July, during which they marched around the Democracy Monument singing a modified version of the theme song from Hamtaro, a Japanese animated cartoon about a band of hamsters, and called for the government to step down.

Protestors marching around the Democracy Monument, clapping and singing along to the song.

The organisers, who are mostly netizens and members of the New Life Network (Nawachiwin), adapted the lyrics of the song to make it about oppression and opposition to the military coup and government corruption.

The original line “the most delicious food is sunflower seeds” was changed to “the most delicious food is taxpayers’ money,” which the protestors sang loudly. They also shouted “dissolve parliament” while marching around the Democracy Monument.

Protestors gathering at the starting point in front of McDonald's next to the Democracy Monument

Protestors holding their placards. The one in front said "I want a democracy that's not just for show" while the one in the back said "is taxpayers' money delicious?"

Other than placards calling for democracy and for the government to resign, protestors also showed up with stuffed hamster dolls. One protestor was seen dressed up as Gintoki Sakata, a character from the Japanese animation and manga series Gin Tama, while another was wearing an inflatable T-rex costume.

A protestor was seen wearing an inflatable t-rex costume, while the person dressing up as the Gin Tama character is behind him, leading the rest of the march.

Protestors' placards contain pictures of the animated hamster. The one on the right says "uncle please resign, I'm begging you."

Besides the young people, adults and red shirt supporters also participated in the event to show their political stand since the red shirt protest and to support the power of the young. Writer and political activist Bundit Aneeya also attended the protest, even though he said he didn’t know what Hamtaro is. He also said that he hopes the people will help care for the youth movement. 

Bundit Aneeya selling his tote bags at the event

The protestors also sang the national anthem while raising their arms with three fingers extended in the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute, a symbol of resistance to the military coup now well-recognised in Thailand.

One of the protestors carrying a stuffed hamster doll during the march

Democracy activists Sombat Boonngamanong (left) and Waranchai Chokchana (right) observing the event. Waranchai is holding a piece of paper saying "time's up for dictatorship."

The organisers gave a speech afterwards, reiterating the three demands made by the Free Youth Movement at the mass protest on 18 July which are now echoed by protestors across the country.  

One of the protest organizers said “We are all mice in a cage. Today the power structure is pressing down on our cage to breaking point, so we have to come out and run. Thank you, everyone, for coming out and doing your duty, and we hope that one day we will have a life in which we have rights, freedoms, and equality.”

Protestors with their placards saying "Hamtaro, you're so good at eating" (left), "the most delicious food is taxpayers' money" (middle), and "louder, louder, louder" (right).

Phumwat Raengkasiwit, the New Life Network representative who is now on hunger strike, said that to show one’s political stand, one does not require violence or being hot-headed all the time. In his opinion, protesters can use other emotions such as happiness, peacefulness, or a friendly tone to show their political stand.