The Mysterious Fish: Nazo no Sakana

The funky fishy mascot for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Nippon Professional Baseball, known as Nazo no Sakana (Mysterious Fish), has become quite famous both at home and abroad for its continually evolving and creepy looking forms. The third form, in particular, seems to have grossed out more than one fan, and was the butt of a few jokes, even prompting rival team mascots to chase after it during a memorable half-time performance last year. While some wondered if the third would be the last form, the mysterious fish continued its eerie evolution with a fourth form which had a very obvious hint that a fifth form was hidden underneath.

Finally, on June 26th, 2018, after the bottom of the fifth inning in a game between the Lotte Marines and the Rakuten Eagles, the mysterious fish revealed its fifth and final form to the bemusement of fans on both sides of the aisle.

Now that the final form has been revealed, and for the benefit of those who haven't been following the mascot's antics from the beginning, here is an overview of his evolution from beginning to end:

Original Form

The Lotte Marines first hinted at the new mascot on the giant screen, showing a colorful fish "from the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Makuhari" with some of the features of an angler, decorated with the Marines uniform stripes and Marines logo on its belly and the tip of its "fishing rod" displaying the initial M.

Second Form

On May 28th, 2017, the Nazo no Sakana mascot made his official appearance on the ball field, appearing as a relatively straightforward costumed character version of the image previously seen on the screen, with the glaring and comical exception of having human feet sticking out underneath it.

Third Form

With its third form, things got creepy with Nazo no Sakana, as it seemed that the mascot was suddenly revealing its insides, discarding its rotund angler fish body to emerge with an upper half looking very much like a fish skeleton. As many fans remarked, the upper half also shared an uncanny resemblance to a Shocker Combatman from the Kamen Rider series. Perhaps aided by its creepy emergence and unconventional design, the third form of Nazo no Sakana was also arguably the most popular, delighting audiences with its humorous and energetic performances on and off the field.

In fact, the third form was so popular that it was even invited to collaborate with Hawaiian Airlines and take a trip to Hawaii.

Fourth Form

In its fourth form, Nazo no Sakana surprised audiences once again by emerging much larger, with a body resembling the head of the third form. As an obvious hint that there may be yet another form waiting inside, the body had a giant zipper running down the length of its back.

Fifth Form

On June 26th, Nazo no Sakana unzipped its giant zipper and emerged once again in a slimmer shape, this time looking like an anthropomorphic fish with a blue head and colorful fins on its back.

While Nazo no Sakana may have revealed all the mysteries of its quirky evolution, there's no mystery at the Chiba Lotte Marines gift shop. The marketing team behind the mascot hit a home run with the idea of a continuously evolving mascot, since it created a bounty of Nazo no Sakana goods to sell to eager fans.

By - Ben K.