Goldfish Scooping Game

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A carnival-style booth game usually found at festivals in Japan. It consists of a large tank of goldfish and a number of scooping "nets" made of thin paper or fragile gauze. The player tries to catch a goldfish before the "net" breaks or falls apart from the soaking it receives. If they succeed, they get to keep the goldfish. If not, that'll be another 500 yen to try again. This and other maddeningly-difficult (if not outright rigged) carnival games are referred to as kodomo-damashi, or "cheating the kids", for obvious reasons. To avoid tears and accusations, operators will often give single goldfish as a consolation prize after multiple unsuccessful attempts.

There's also a similar game involving "fishing" for yo-yos floating in a tank of water, using a paper string; the yo-yo must be removed from the tank before the string breaks. Another variant has the player fishing for baby turtles instead of goldfish.

Examples of Goldfish Scooping Game include:

Anime and Manga

  • The goldfish game can be seen in the Festival Episodes of the following series:
    • Azumanga Daioh - Before they go to the festival, Tomo says she'll catch them all and release them to the sea.[1] At the festival, the turtle variant is considered by Osaka and Chiyo.
    • Dennou Coil
    • Elfen Lied
    • Generator Gawl: Gawl and the magician-generator compete by catching an insane number of goldfish before continuing on with their battle.
    • Hand Maid May
    • Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl
    • Konjiki no Gash Bell
    • Love Hina
    • Lucky Star - Kagami overfeeds the goldfish, and it grows to an unusual size. During flower-viewing, she happens to be facing a goldfish-scooping booth while considering putting him on a diet, leading Konata to wonder if she's planning on replacing him.
    • Mahoraba
    • Maison Ikkoku (manga only)
    • My-HiME
    • Nyoron Churuya San
    • Ranma ½ - when Ranma succeeds in catching all of the fish after discovering it doubles as speed training, the enraged owner made him scoop piranhas with his hands if he wanted to keep them all. He succeeds.
    • Sailor Moon
    • Tenshi na Konamaiki
    • At least two versions of Tenchi Muyo!. The creatures in Ryoko's booth were most definitely not goldfish.
    • Great Teacher Onizuka: And when Noboru expresses sympathy for the goldfish (as they obviously don't live very long compared to pet store fish), this wins major points in the eyes of his Tsundere Love Interest Anko.
      • Played for for laughs when Minako (who is helping at the stall) deliberately weakens the nets after being mistaken for older than she actually is by the children who visit the stall.
    • Haruhi Suzumiya: Especially shown because it was "a rare request from Mikuru", in Haruhi's own words.
    • Haruhi Suzumiya
    • Haruhi Suzumiya
    • Haruhi Suzumiya ... you get the idea. There's a reason that particular arc is called "Endless Eight".
  • The Festival Episode of Keroro Gunsou involves a climactic showdown between Natsumi and Keroro in the turtle-fishing game. Keroro threatens to send Natsumi to a space festival's Earthling-scooping game if she loses.
  • Similarly, the Festival Episode of Ichigo Mashimaro has one of these. The goldfish are actually shown in later episodes of the anime, remarked upon as getting bigger.
  • Happens in Nyoron Churuya-san. She fails, nyoro~n...
  • In Pani Poni Dash!, Rokugou attempts to keep a diary about a goldfish caught during a festival, to replace the died-in-one-day coloured chick she had previously attempted to keep a diary on. Rei comments that she should find something that lives longer.
  • In the second episode of Seto no Hanayome Nagasumi plays several festival games rigged by San's Yakuza father, who'd like nothing better than for Natsume to suffer an "accident". This leads to Nagasumi playing a goldfish game containing a Great White Shark. Which he then suplexes when it attacks him.
  • The game itself is not directly seen in Weiss Kreuz, but flashbacks to Fujimiya Ran's Start of Darkness show him and his little sister Aya attending a festival, and include a shot (poignant or Anvilicious depending on your perspective) of a goldfish caught in such a game flopping helplessly on the ground after Aya-chan is run down by a car.
  • In Yotsuba&!, during the town fireworks festival, Yotsuba Koiwai goes both goldfish scooping and yo-yo fishing, the latter successfully with Jumbo's coaching. When she's offered a consolation fish after the former, her response is "Don't pity me!"
  • Natsume and the fox-kid play this in an episode of Natsume Yuujinchou.
  • In Naruto, the titular character is visiting a festival and, frustrated by his inability to catch them, decides to apply some ninja magic. The proprietor grabs his hands and points at a 'no jutsu allowed' sign.
  • In the Full Metal Panic!! Overload! manga, Kaname and Sousuke attend a festival and try their hands at the Goldfish Scooping Game. Kaname's efforts are completely fruitless, but when Sousuke's turn comes, he drops a grenade into the tank: "The shockwave from the explosion stuns the fish. That's an efficient method of fishing."
      • We're talking about a man who detonated his school's entry hall with a plastic explosive because his shoe locker may have been opened. If he didn't respond to everyday situations with gratuitous overkill, it wouldn't be Sousuke.
  • In the sixth movie of One Piece, the main characters participate in one as their first challenge in order to stay on a resort island. Of course, it comes with some sort of catch - in this case, their opponent owns the goldfish, the goldfish is the size of a whale, and the tiny paper nets that they are equipped with aren't required to be used. They win anyhow.
  • This game makes a cameo in Ranma ½, during Mousse's return. Mousse, armed with waterballoon's filled with Junsenkyo water, chases Ranma through a festival, intent on splashing him with water from the Spring of Drowned Duck. When Ranma is forced to hurdle over a goldfish-catching game in order to escape, he quickly pulls some kids out of hte line of fire- though that doesn't stop Mousse from turning the stand into a duck-catching game...
  • In the Kimagure Orange Road OVA I was a Cat I was a Fish Kyosuke has his mind shifted into a goldfish and attempts to get caught by his two love interests, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Shows up often in Mahou Sensei Negima.
  • In Potemayo's Festival Episode, Potemayo uses part of her allowance to go yo-yo fishing and succeeds. Then, given that she's only about a foot tall, she proceeds to get the crap beaten out of her by her own yo-yo.
  • Damekko Doubutsu's Festival Episode shows us just what happens when you let Catgirls run one of these.
  • In the festival chapter of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Honoka manages to scoop a yo-yo, but is not so successful with goldfish and enviously watches Chikage successfully scooping them.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi and Mei[Haruhi's dad's coworker's daughter] are playing the goldfish game, when Kasanoda steps in to chide them for hogging the scoops, as part of the Host Club's plan for getting Mei and her father closer together.
  • In the Pokémon episode Historical Mystery Tour!, Team Rocket runs a Goldeen version (with giant scoopers) of these during the Twinleaf Festival. It's not rigged (despite accusations), and James proves himself to be a bonafide master at it. An oddly sane subplot, considering the rest of the episode.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, a booth operator calls on them to try it, but Yuno turns him down, as once, the fish she caught at a booth died the next day. She had named it Toyama Kin-chan.
  • Miu of Ichigo Mashimaro is scarily good at this game, but she believes in catch-and-release, so the money spent on it was purely for the experience of doing so.
  • Acchi Kocchi takes it to another level. Sakaki actually lifts the fishes into the air, and he spins them. Io on the other hand the fishes willingly jump into his bowl.


  • In the fifth Haruhi Suzumiya novel, Mikuru suggests doing this for the O-Bon festival. She doesn't catch any goldfish, but Haruhi gives her one.[2]

Video Games (including Visual Novels)

  • In the second Naruto Xbox 360 game, this is one of the minigames available at the festival. Naruto has to play this game to win the water balloons required for his training.
  • One seasonal special event in Final Fantasy XI includes a goldfish scooping minigame.
  • Occurs during the festival in Kana: Little Sister
  • At the Cyrum Bazaar in Grandia II.
  • This a recurring mini-game in the Tokimeki Memorial series, occuring during the Summer Festival.

Web Original

  • Goldfish in plastic bags were part of a Japanese item set on Gaia Online.