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Kawaii emerged in the 1970s when young girls started to draw cute hearts and stars in a more ideographic form,

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Presentation on theme: "Kawaii emerged in the 1970s when young girls started to draw cute hearts and stars in a more ideographic form,"— Presentation transcript:


2 Kawaii emerged in the 1970s when young girls started to draw cute hearts and stars in a more ideographic form, and was written laterally (rather than in traditional vertical kanji). This was banned in schools eventually but got picked up in the 80s. It may mean cuteness, adorable, loveable, innocent, pretty, lovely – its kanji stem is literally ‘can love’.

3 Scientists studying the evolution of visual signaling have apparently identified ‘cute cues’ -- ever expanding range of features and behaviours associated with cute. Cute is: Rounded not sculptured Soft over refined Clumsy over quick Affectionate and a lap Signifiers of childhood and Youth, high voice vulnerability, helplessness harmlessness and need colours Cute features include, bright, forward facing eyes, big round face, big round ears, floppy limbs, side to side teeter totter gait. “Cute things cannot do anything for themselves -- ”


5 Hello Kitty as an interesting hybrid, global fantasy. Name: Kitty White Birthday: November 1, 1974 Age: 36 (as of January 2011) Blood type: A Place of birth: London, England “When Hello Kitty was created, many girls in Japan had read Alice in Wonderland and adored Britain. Also, there were other characters [created by my company Sanrio] who were supposed to have been born and raised in the U.S., so Kitty was born in London as a way of differentiating her.” Yuko Tamaguchi, Designer 2008 for Hello Kitty Readmore:,9171,1834451,00.html#ixzz1Fq7CyT2W,9171,1834451,00.html#ixzz1Fq7CyT2W Favorite food: Apple Pie (baked by Grandma) Favorite word: "Friendship" Description: A bright and kind-hearted girl, good at baking cookies and loves Mama's apple pie. Very close to her twin sister Mimmy. Height: 5 Apples Tall (The above is straight from Wikipedia and the site actually has many good references)

6 Hello Kitty is more than just a character, it has become major Corporate logo. The major figure of Sanrio corporation, Hello Kitty’s popularity is inexplicable, adorning all objects from hairclips to sex toys, from telephones to machine guns, credit cards and vehicles. First appeared in 1974, Hello Kitty is the brain child of Yuko Shimizu. The character has literally become the ambassador for Japan of Tourism, a UNICEF logo, as well as a character ambassador for Breast Cancer. Still a global phenomenom, it is losing popularity in Japan and apparently in 2002, was third (in sales) behind characters like Ampanman and Pokeman.


8 Creator: Mori Chack ( 2006. Height: a little over 6 feet tall Weight: around 2000 Pomegranates Created as alternative to Hello Kitty. Gloomy Bear’s craze is a bit controversial as not everyone has taken to this bear. Difficult to find products in the West at the moment.

9 Natsume Sōseki, 1867 - 1916 Wagahai wa neko de aru, 1905 (?) A satire seen through a cat’s eyes, commentary on the ‘westernization’ of Meiji Japan

10 The uses of enchantment: My Neighbour Totoro (1988). Set in a nostalgic 1958, the movie tells of a university professor and his daughters moving to the country while their mother recuperates in the hospital. The girls lives are transformed when they meet the creatures of the forests who help them cope with the displacement and their mother’s sickness. Totoro and the Cat Bus are central figures.


12 Post-WW2 Japan and Global Cuteness: Making Nuclear Power Adorable “Atoms for Peace” Speech delivered by Dwight D Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York, December 8, 1953 (as part of Operation Candor, Offers comfort to a world post Hiroshima and Nagasaki) I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new – one which I, who have spent so much of my life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use. That new language is the language of atomic warfare. Against the dark background of the atomic bomb, The United States does not wish merely to present strength, but also the desire and hope for peace. The United States pledges before you--and therefore before the world--its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma--to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. See transcript of speech Also: See consequences, results after 60 years of Atoms for Peace.


14 Pokemon was created as a video game by Tajiri Satoshi in 1996, the name is actually a contraction of pocket monsters – or poketta monsutā. Based on the idea of ‘collection’ – the ninetendo game has sold over 200 million games/consoles. There are 14 movies and counting, and the franchise continues to churn them out In all forms. Pikachu is an electric mouse – Pika, as we remember, is the flash, and Pika (light) –don (sound) is the name given over to describing the bomb dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. How ‘pika’ has changed, transformed and globalized – gotta catch em all.

15 Post-Godzilla production Party, 1953?1954? (1 st Godzilla/Gojira movie)


17 November 3, 1954, Godzilla, or Gojira the first major ‘daikaijū’ movie or kaijū eiga (monster/strange beast movie. Gojira is a combination of two words: gorira (gorilla) and kujira (whale): Gojira March 1, 1954 detonation codenamed Castle Bravo was the first Hydrogen Bomb test and was the largest nuclear explosion ever set off by the United States in Bikini Atoll It created widespread, severe contamination. Among those contaminated were the 23 crewmembers of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryū Maru and prompted scandalous anti American/anti-nuclear outrage in Japan esp. when contaminated Tuna entered the market. This was ‘another attack’ on Japan. The 1954 film in which “a nuclear test” (the fishermen see a flash of light, pika) awakens and mutates the monster, who attacks Japan is inspired by the incident. Height: 50-100 metres Weight: 20,000 – 60,000 tons Atomic Ray, super regenerative powers, Godzilla Montage 50 years tribute! US Version, 1956


19 (2009) Astroboy 1982 Astroboy 2003 or English if it gets any stranger, here’s Sean Lennon, singing Astro Boy Astroboy Episode 1 Astroboy or Tetsuwan Atomu was first broadcasted in 1963 (US as Astroboy)– and in Japan in 1959 in Japan. It was originally a manga series by the great Osamu Tezuka (debuted in 1951)

20 Takashi Murakami and the Superflat

21 The superflat style is an aesthetic space of two-dimensionality which combines traditional Japanese print with the manga/anime style. Whereas traditional print influences manga (lecture 4 & 5), the superflat is influenced as both, and the lines between art/pop culture manga are very blurred. It is also, according to Takashi Murakami (it’s creator) an art that is “devoid of perspective and devoid of hierarchy, all existing equally and simultaneously.” *It is depthless – it describes the presentness of ‘textuality of everyday life’ in Japan. *It refuses the differences between surfaces and depths, and makes no claims to ideological transcendence. It is the aesthetic culture of a fully mediated postmodern Japan. interview here I want all these things to be bound together and flattened, so they're all the same. Takashi Murakami

22 “Japan doesn't have high culture, only subculture. Or rather, the high culture we do have is floating on a cloud, as invisible as the emperor. Apart from that there is just subculture, from Beat Takeshi to erotic mangas, and then the outgroup of the otaku, or hobbyists. I think we won't need art and artists some day. That's why Japan is the future, don't you think so? We don't have any religion, we just need the big power of entertainment. ”

23 The cute obsession is a complicated problem, but I think that it’s a pleasant and not-so-intimidating aesthetic ideal, so that is why it’s very popular. It’s good for people who are introverted, which many Japanese are. Cute is so fetishized in Japan that it’s actually also sexualized. It’s just like how Americans have a fetish with steroid body builders and breast implants. Personally, I think that’s creepy.

24 But Kawaii in fact cannot stand alone in the Japanese culture. When kawaii (cute), hetere (loser), and yurui (loose or lethargy) characters smile wanly or stare vacantly, people round the world should recognise a gradually fusing happy heart. For Takashi Murakami, the entire culture of cute cannot simply rest upon Disneyesque figures and wide-eyed innocence. It is in fact very much intertwined with Japan’s atomic past. According to Murakami, the Japanese psyche still embody the ‘little Boy’ – a childhood taunt, with references to the atomic bomb.

25 Too Young to Die, 2001, Ashtray Yoshitomo Nara (1959) is likely the vanguard of the Superflat movement – he does not spend time theorizing what he does but Nara is likely the most internationally known without any high fashion collaboration. Nara takes the child, plays with the ‘wideeyed innocence’ and turns ‘her’ into the monstrous child – the juxtaposition of cute edginess and a potential for destruction. His latest works play with scared stones.

26 )

27 Maromi


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