A Poop-Based Game Released In Japan To Save Lives

Illustration for article titled A Poop-Based Game Released In Japan To Save Lives
Image: 日本うんこ学会
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There is a game called Unkore, and it features anthropomorphized anime-style versions of intestinal bacteria. While this might seem rather silly, it’s not. The goal is to help others, which is driven home with the game’s tagline: “There is a life that can save in the shit.”

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Unkore sounds like it could be a riff on KanColle (aka Kantai Collection), which features anthropomorphisms of World War II naval warships. Here, though, “Un” is short for unko or “poop” in Japanese, and “kore” is “collection.” But this is a free game that doesn’t aim to get players to drop money. Rather, it’s interested in other types of droppings...

Livedoor News reports that in Unkore, set in the kingdom of Untopia, players talk to anime girls and battle enemies. They also report the color and shape of their bowel movements, which if they sound healthy get the seal of approval from said anime girls.

The free app is a way to track digestive health, and the project was spearheaded by Yousuke Ishii, a gastrointestinal surgeon, and president of the Japan Unko Society. As The Japan Times previously reported, Ishii decided to use the word “unko” after learning that it, along with oppai (“boobs” in Japanese), was one of the most used words on Japanese social media. The ensuing game has been developed by volunteers, hoping to raise awareness.

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(Full disclosure: I am a columnist at The Japan Times.)

Screenings for colon cancer are much lower in Japan than in the US and UK. Ishii himself was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease as a teenager is acutely aware that poop can be an indication of health. “Colon cancer, if detected in early stages, is pretty much curable, but most patients who come to hospitals are in advanced stages,” Ishii told The Japan Times back in 2015. “That’s because there are virtually no symptoms in early-stage colon cancer, and that’s why screenings are vital in detecting it.”

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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DISCUSSION

I actually despise that screenings, particularly in the US, are not recommended until people turn ~50 and wish that would change. When I was 35 I had to had a colonoscopy (and an endo) for an issue with my health and a benign tumor was discovered and removed. I was very lucky, as if I had waited until the recommended 50 years of age I would have probably had colon cancer.

I was probably lucky in that my doctor was a pretty young guy who himself said he wishes people would have colonoscopies performed way earlier, and especially if you’re a US minority and thus carry a higher risk. He didn’t say that people should be getting screens yearly obviously, but people realistically should get colonoscopies around 30-35 and have them performed every five years.