Move over Tamagotchi - this new anime-inspired digital pet has a quirky new feature and here's why we think kids will love it

If your child loves anime, we think they'll adore this brand new digital pet that's all the rage in Japan

(Image credit: Spin Master Toys)

When it comes to digital pets, you might be more familiar with the iconic Tamagotchi. But there's a new anime-inspired digital pet that is all the rage in Japan, and it's due to be released in the UK in the coming weeks.

Punirune, a new digital pet toy, has captivated fans of Japanese anime culture, with more than 700,000 sold since 2021 across Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. And it's soon be released in the UK. For those who are unsure, anime is a style of animation that originated in Japan - you might find that your child is already a fan of these anime shows - and features fantastical themes and messages about resilience, self discovery, and fighting for what's right. While anime might have started in Japan, it has fans of all ages all over the world. And the Punirunes anime series, which premiered in October 2022, is the major inspiration behind a new interactive pet.

Many regard the Tamagotchi as one of the best toys of the 90s, and they are still hugely popular today. Bitzee is also hugely popular - an Amazon bestseller in fact - that is designed to react to touch. There are also other screen-free options, such as the in-demand Furby, and the adorable Let's Go Gecko. But the Punirune takes the classic digital pet into a whole new direction - by incorporating a fun sensory play feature into the design.

What is a Punirune?

A Punirune is an interactive digital pet that combines looking after the pet, with tactile squishy play. On the outside, there is a full colour backlit LCD screen, when you will see your Punirune pet displayed - with more than 50 characters to collect. But where the Punirune takes interaction to a new level, is via a hole on the toy. When you place your finger in this hole, you can press the squishy button and watch on the screen as your digital pet reacts to your touch. For an immersive experience, your finger is also displayed on the screen, mirroring your actions as if you are actually interacting with the pet. We can see kids loving this feature as they let their imaginations run wild.

Doug Wadleigh, President of Toys at Spin Master, who will distribute Punirunes, says: “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. With proven international success and the surge in popularity for anime-inspired toys we think Punirunes will be a hit with kids and kidults around the world.”

Punirunes will be available from August 2024.

Why will kids like Punirune?

Interactive pets make great toys for kids, helping them learn emotional intelligence, as well as empathy and responsibility. If you find you're being nagged for a real life pet, it's a good idea to let your child have an interactive pet first to help them understand what a commitment it is. Toys like this are also great for imaginative play, which is one of the eight types of play your child needs for their development.

When it comes to Punirunes, the interactive characters, that need playing with, feeding and nurturing will be super engaging to kids. Plus being able to see their digital pet react to their touch adds a sense of realism to pretend play. Plus being able to see their finger appear on the screen, as if they are somehow straddling the line between reality and the digital world will be hugely exciting. Kids also love sensory play, so they'll love the sensory element of the Punirunes.

For more toy inspiration, check our the best kids toys 2024 - as chosen by industry experts.

Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor - which means she writes about everything from this year's top toys and the newest toy releases, to discounts on days out and childcare costs. Sarah is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on the right toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.