Taiwanese know the name of Bugcat Capoo well. A blue cat-bug hybrid that literally puts the “cat” in “caterpillar”, Capoo’s cuteness radiates online and across Taiwan.
Taiwanese artist Yara created Bugcat Capoo as the main character of his webcomic on Bahamut, a popular Taiwanese website which hosts ACG (animation, comics and games) content.
The webcomic went on to win first place in the short comic category in the 2015 Line Webtoon Competition, and was subsequently serialised on Line Webtoon until March 2020.
Within that five-year span, virtual sticker packs featuring Bugcat Capoo enjoyed widespread popularity on Facebook and Line.
It also found success on YouTube as an animated series, and with the help of the quirky YouTube algorithm, gained fans from overseas.
In the real world, a Bugcat Capoo souvenir store was established in Taichung in January last year.
Its merchandise had a designated stand in the annual ACG convention in Nangang, Taipei. And the Kaohsiung Metro saw fit to collaborate with the lovable Bugcat to bring extra life and traffic to its stations until 2021.
To properly experience Bugcat Capoo though, Taichung City is the best stop.
The Capoo Cafe opened in January 2020, to complement the souvenir store, and business has been thriving since.
You know you have arrived at the Capoo Cafe when you see a huge Bugcat wave hello from the second storey balcony of a white building.
Another Bugcat in a coffee cup greets you at the entrance. (A bit of trivia: apparently, this particular Capoo was born when a ghost possessed a cup of foamed milk. It also single-handedly opened the cafe.)
To get a seat, a minimum of one drink must be ordered. A buzzer will alert you when the order is ready.
The menu offers a range of coffees and teas one would expect to see in an ordinary cafe. Food-wise, there are cakes, mousse and waffles to sink your teeth into. The tiramisu cake stands out with a creamy Capoo popping out of the cup. The chocolate buttons and thick cream that make up this cat will give your taste buds a sweet kick.
Dining tables are on the second and third floors.
While the tables on the second floor are laid out in typical fashion, the third floor consists of a single giant table surrounded by chairs. The design is apparently intended for larger gatherings, and smaller groups might feel awkward with strangers seated close around them.
The floors also function as an exhibition space; Bugcat-themed artwork hangs from the walls of each floor, so each floor is worth viewing.
Lively chatter breaks through the ambient jazz from the floors below, while the third floor has a more subdued air to it. It is a common sight to see customers walking from painting to painting, admiring the art.
With only around 90 minutes to partake in dessert (due to visitor timing restrictions), you can take your time but do not take a nap here! After the cafe, it is time to visit the Capoo House.
Finding the Capoo House is easy. It sits just around the corner from the Capoo Cafe. The surroundings are eye candy.
A cartoon cafe storefront and bus stop with the distinctive characters is usually surrounded by groups of people hoping to take a pic.
Originally, the Capoo House was both the cafe and the souvenir shop before the Capoo Cafe took over its coffee-making responsibilities. Now the shop focuses solely on selling Capoo merchandise.
Inside this ryokan(Japanese inn)-style house, hundreds of Bugcat Capoo merchandise are begging to be bought.
Cup slings, postcards, posters, keychains, plush dolls and more decorate every nook and cranny.
There should be a short comic of wallets coming to life and dollar bills flying into the cash drawer while their owners scoop up armfuls of merchandise. It certainly seems that way with some visitors overwhelmed by the cuteness of Capoo.
Without a doubt, cuteness is power.
It is the reason why human beings instinctively show care and attention towards children and babies, as well as cats and dogs.
Cute things sell well too.
Hello Kitty and Pusheen are excellent examples, and like those ‘kawaii’ creations, Bugcat Capoo is here to entertain and endear too.
Location: No. 26-4, Lane 217, Minquan Road, West District, Taichung City, 403
Location: No. 23, Lane 8, Mofan Street, West District, Taichung City, 403
11 a.m. — 7 p.m. Closed on Mondays. (For both places)
All images supplied by the author