Blood-Spattered Innocents: The Cachet of the ‘Grotesque Cute’

by Gregory Ranzini

Uh, ouch?

Introduction: Attack of the Cake-Demon

At 11:56, on January 20, 2011, the popular Western imageboard 4chan’s (link not safe for work/life/anything) anime and manga board, /a/, was watching live Japanese TV. This was not, in itself, unusual- although not as (in)famous as its sister board /b/, /a/ too boasts a very active community of Internet addicts more than willing to while away a few hours in the middle of the day (or night) with scabrous chatter and streaming video. Nor was their choice of show particularly surprising: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica,, a mahou shoujo (‘magical girl’) program from the reliably competent SHAFT Animation that had been getting muted, but positive, buzz. It was not shaping up to be overly original, of course, but that was beside the point. Madoka was being marketed as a genre piece; therefore, as with many such codified forms, its appeal was one of familiarity: an ‘ordinary’ middle-school girl is offered supernatural powers, accessed through a talismanic gem and associated with a change in costume, that she might fight for her ideals and to protect others. [Read more…]

Gregory Ranzini

Gregory Ranzini

As a child, I largely missed out on the prominent expressions of Japanese soft power around me- rather than memorizing Pokemon or watching Dragonball Z, I spent the bulk of my time reading and absorbed in the invention of progressively more ill-advised rubber-band guns. When I was eleven my (normally pacifistic) mother, apparently in the throes of a temporary bout of insanity, [Read more…]