A video of Toco's first "walk," posted on the YouTube channel "I want to be an animal," garnered more than 4 million views in less than two weeks.
A Japanese man is living a double life, but not in any of the ways you might think of. The man, known online only as Toco, spent more than two million yen — which equates to $14,076.90 — on a lifelike costume to live out his lifelong fantasy of becoming an animal.
Toco said he’s afraid to confide in friends and family about his secret hobby.
“I rarely tell my friends because I am afraid they will think I am weird,” Toco told The Mirror. “My friends and family seemed very surprised to learn I became an animal.”
Toco runs a YouTube channel called “I want to be an animal,” where he posts video updates for nearly 40,000 subscribers chronicling his journey and adventures in the uncanny collie costume.
“Since childhood, I have had this unspecific fantasy of becoming an animal,” Toco said. “I wonder whether it was a desire for transformation.”
Toco explained that he gets the most joy out of “doing things that only dogs do,” as these activities make him feel the most like an animal. His videos show him doing dog-like activities such as rolling over for belly rubs, sitting on command, drinking from dog bowls, and now, going on his first walk.
In fact, the video of Toco’s first dog walk was his most viral to date, amassing more than 4 million views since it was uploaded to his channel. It was also the first time Toco stepped out into public in his collie costume. He described feeling “nervous” and “scared” before the trip outside.
The video shows him in costume being led on a leash, performing tricks on the street, and interacting with other dogs as various groups of people observe with mixed reactions.
But not everyone has reacted kindly to his lifestyle.
As The New York Post reported, countless critics have taken to social media to make comments about Toco.
“Men will literally spend $20,000 to transform into a border collie instead of going to therapy,” one user wrote.
“A Japanese man spent over $20K for this border collie costume,” said another. “You cannot convince me this isn’t some weird sex thing.”
Toco, though, says dressing as and behaving like a collie isn’t a fetish. He described it as a “hobby” and said, “It makes me happy and other people happy, too.”
The choice of dressing as a collie was two-fold. Firstly, Toco said collies are his favorite breed of dog. Secondly, the extra-long fur can, as Toco described, “mislead the human figure.”
The craft behind Toco’s hyper-realistic fur suit comes from Zeppet, a company that usually creates costumes for television commercials and films. The final product took multiple revisions and 40 days to develop, but in April 2022, Toco’s dream of living as an animal finally started to take shape.
Speaking with The Mirror, a Zeppet employee detailed how their team discovered a way to replicate the skeletal structure of a dog, adding, “In addition, we collect photographs to be taken from various angles so that the beautiful coat of the collie can be reproduced and devised so that the coat will flow naturally.”
And while Toco may be receiving criticism from online users, there are swaths of people flocking to his YouTube videos with messages of support.
“If you’re happy and not making bad things, I think it’s cool!” one commenter wrote. “Don’t bother about mean people, they’re meaningless.”
“The costume is incredibly well done! And I find your videos very inspirational. Always follow your dreams,” wrote another. “You really can achieve them. Keep following your dream, and never let anyone discourage you from it. You’re an inspiration.”
At the end of the day, Toco’s hobby appears to be harmless. He’s seemingly just a man who has found a unique way of expressing himself and of fulfilling a childhood dream. And while many have found it easy to send disparaging messages to someone they find strange, it’s just as easy for others to send messages of positivity and well-wishing.
Perhaps, through Toco’s unique example, we may all become a bit more understanding.
After reading about this YouTube sensation, read about the YouTuber who admitted to crashing his plane for views. Or, learn all about Sherry Shriner’s odd YouTube cult.