Bizarre Japanese digital pet coming to the US

Punirunes, a finger-controlled digital pet from Japan, will hit stores in the US and Canada in late summer 2024.

Children’s toy and entertainment company Spin Master will introduce the Tamagotchi-like digital pet in August of 2024. While many digital toys have tried replicating the success of 90s digital pets, Punirunes caught user attention with its oddly specific controlling mechanism.

Punirunes’ owners interact with the toy by sticking their finger inside the device. Inside, they can feel a soft and squishy digital blob, with one Reddit user comparing the sensation to touching a “sticky silicone gummy.”

“It's like a D-stick on a game controller but with a piece of mochi as the covering. It feels so delicate,” Redditor tarojelly shared.

The device is equipped with a full-color LCD screen, which displays the digital pet. Placing a finger in what Spin Master calls a “mysterious hole” on the device allows users to interact with the squishy dome and see how digital pets react to the touch on the screen.

“Punirunes is not your average toy, it adds an irresistible tactile element and physical connection to the digital pet in a fun and quirky way,” Doug Wadleigh, Spin Master's President of Toys, said.

When users place their finger inside the hole, a digital representation of it appears on the screen, somewhat blurring the line between the digital world and real life. Touching the digital pet enables users to pet, feed, play games, clean, customize, and nurture it.

Punirunes, which roughly translates to squishy, first appeared in Japan in 2021 and has since shipped 700,000 units. The toy’s popularity quickly prompted an anime series to be released in 2022. According to Spin Master, the toy will cost American buyers $40 apiece.