It’s certainly not without its charm.
A great stock image site needs to have all their bases covered. If a blogger or news agency needs a picture of Santa Claus robbing a bank or, say, a guy holding a block of konjac corm jelly as if it were a smartphone, then these specific images need to be ready at a moment’s notice.
One of the leading royalty-free stock image websites in Japan is Irasutoya. The site has a distinctive style of simplistic illustrations similar to what you might find in a children’s book, but covers a wide range of situations such as panic-buying toilet paper.
However, one new stock illustration that they cooked up recently has really captured the imagination of Twitter users in Japan, gaining tens of thousands of likes, retweets, and comments in a day of it’s posting. This enchanting scene is a puffer fish spewing water out of its mouth.
いらすとや (@irasutoya) March 14, 2019
Whether it’s voluntarily spitting out water or vomiting is up to the eye of the beholder, but that’s just the tip of the interrogative iceberg that this image raises. For instance, why would a fish that lives in the water be spitting water out… And if it’s spitting out water, then where is it, and why does it look so tranquil?
Other Twitter users were equally baffled, but in a nice way.
“Thank you! That’s just what I needed.”
“I think they’re running out of ideas.”
“I would like to make this into an icon for something.”
“It’s like something from Adventure Time.”
“Thank you…for this.”
“I think they’re working too hard.”
Stock image companies usually scour headlines to anticipate what writers may need and this peculiar pufferfish is no different. It’s based on a Tokyo Shimbun article about a hotel in Akita Prefecture that serves a type of “tiger puffer” that possesses no poison. It is said that such fish, when farmed in hot springs, are entirely safe to eat.
The photo for this article is…you guessed it!
ホテルを運営する秋田県の会社が、岩手県雫石町で温泉水を使って #トラフグ を育てています。さし身やちり鍋にして宿泊客に出し、好評です。フグの毒は海で食べる貝や海藻がもとになるとされ、温泉水育ちのフグは毒がなくて、安心といいます。… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
親子で学ぶぅ（東京新聞） (@oyakode_manaboo) March 10, 2019
Other Twitter users who are more familiar with these fish noted that they really do exhale large amounts of water when deflating.
イーヴルスピリット (@Evil_Spirit___) March 14, 2019
osaki-matsuda (@grafty2000) May 22, 2018
Even in real life, it’s a strangely enjoyable scene, and now, thanks to Irasutoya, there’s a free image ready for any pufferfish-throwing-up-water-related goods and services in Japan. We should at least expect it to be used as a yurukyara regional mascot and for it to have its own pop-up cafe in the near future.