In the past several decades, Japanese popular culture has become inundated with a “cute” or kawaii aesthetic that is unique to the country. This imagery is present in media, advertising, and merchandise, and its appeal has expanded to overseas markets—the worldwide popularity of Hello Kitty being one of the best examples of this phenomenon. But when the bright colors, cartoon characters and whimsical subject matter began appearing in high art, it prompted a discussion as to why cuteness had developed such appeal and become so omnipresent. Japanese artists of the Superflat movement use the language of this pop culture iconography to explore what kawaii says about the Japanese people and their history. Takashi Murakami, founding member of the Superflat movement and author of its manifesto, views the development of kawaii as Japan’s response to World War II and the atomic bomb. [Read more…]
Rachel is an English major, but wishes she could minor in the Internet. In terms of Japanese cultural export, she especially likes San-X characters (Afro Ken, anyone?), the films of Miyazaki and Ozu, Boris, and Boredoms. She loves the absurdities of pop culture from every country, but thinks the Japanese have a unique aesthetic sensibility and an often superior imagination. Her fascination with Japanese pop culture and all things kawaii began when she started working at a toy store her freshman year of high school. With an entire section devoted to Sanrio and San-X, she soon found herself the owner of Hello Kitty stationery made to look like toast, several plush incarnations of San-X characters, an army of metal wind-up robots, and an inconceivable amount of stickers. She once saw someone else carrying the same Hello Kitty handbag she had, but that person was a five year-old girl.
She would also like to share these two links:
Like Kogepan, Rachel is usually disgruntled.