We’ve all got that friend who loves anime just a little bit too much. Some manga on the shelf and a Crunchyroll subscription is one thing, but once they start sleeping with one of those body pillows, things have gone a little bit too far. Unless, of course, your friend is a little Otaku Penguin who loves anime and manga, in which case the obsession just becomes endearing, adorable, and a sensation that sweeps the internet… until tragedy strikes.
Grape-Kun was 20 years old, and he found a large cut-out of a character, that was placed inside of his enclosure by staff members at the Tobu Zoo in Japan. He would spend his days just staring at it, and admiring it. His lover, another penguin named Midori, left him for a younger bird and then he just kind of stopped being as social with the other penguins, and become more obsessed with the anime in his cage. This story might be sounding more and more like that friend of yours who is obsessed with anime. Grape-Kun’s social skills suffered, it was almost like he became depressed, but the cut-out of a character named Hululu gave him something to look forward to each day.
Here he is, proudly standing in front of his new friend, who actually kind of looks like a penguin:
— 東武動物公園【公式】リュウくん (@tobuzoo7) October 13, 2017
Things really started to heat up when zookeepers observed him starting to perform different mating rituals for Hululu. Say what you want, but our boy Grape-Kun’s still got game.
During a very bad storm, Hululu was temporarily removed, and zookeepers observed that Grape-Kun had actually become sad and distraught at the loss of his new friend, yet another loss of ‘someone’ he really cared about. It’s a tragic story for the poor fella, but it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. The good news? Staff members quickly returned the cutout, and he was back to his chipper self.
Some artists have even made tributes, like this one, by MLeth on DeviantArt:
After this love story went viral online, the zoo kept fans updated about Grape-Kun and Hululu. People loved seeing updates posted about them on social media, and everybody was rooting for ‘ol Grapey. You can online imagine he’d stand in front of that cutout proudly, just waiting for his ex-penguin wife to walk by with her new younger lover, just thinking to himself “How do you like me now?”
People liked following along with them as if they were a real couple, seeing what the pair got up to, even if one of them was a penguin and one of them was a piece of cardboard.
Well, we wish this story had a happy ending, but here’s a more recent update sent out from the zoo staff:
“The Humboldt penguin Grape-kun passed away yesterday. Sincere thanks to everyone for supporting him until now. Thank you also to Hululu, who watched over him until the very end. And thank you, Grape-Kun, for all this time. Rest peacefully in heaven.”
He was never able to fly up to her little perch, because he’s a penguin, which might be for the best, since this is a family-friendly zoo after all. After he passed away, and his soul rose up to heaven, we like to think he had a moment to give her a little penguin smooth on the lips on his way, but chances are it was much more graphic than that.