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30 March 2004 @ 03:57 pm
Cute Culture vs. Anti Cute Culture in Japan  
Japan is a nation of keychain mascots, erasers, UFO catcher plushie dolls, figurines, notebooks, stickers, postcards and scads more toy items most Westerners over 18 wouldn't give second thought to.

However, in Japan "cute culture" runs this nation's economy as well as its heart. It is Hello Kittys, Domo-kuns, and Blythe dolls that are the building blocks for whole shopping districts of towering neon and glass. Iconic toys that inspire "girls" of all ages to clasp their hands to their breast, and squeal "Kawai~~~i!!!" from the depths of their souls. Eyes aglimmer and pocketbooks at the ready, they purchase these cutesy items and add them to the hordes of other pastel colored goodies in their already cramped yet tastefully arranged rabbit-hutch rooms at the heart of their parents' humble abode. Fluff smorgasbord. A mind-dessert that would leave the average Western adult in a sugar-induced coma.

"Anti cute culture" is by definition the opposite; Gloomy Bear, Junko Mizuno, Harajuku gothic lolitas. A collection of themes, ideas and goods that embody sickened stomachs rebelling against the Sanrios of this island nation. They have bloodied claws, fangs, act anti-social and otherwise dream sweetly at night of Domo-kun in a blender. They normally ignore outsiders, but have no compunction of connecting knee to forehead of the lollipop-landers or wide-eyed bystanders alike. Toleration is not an option.

Or is it? This country is, at its very core, homogenized; it prides itself on it. Assimilation is not an option, it is an eventuality. Japan's fixation with "cute" is hardwired into its cultural DNA. Therefore, it is impossible for the Japanese not to want to make something "kawaii", thus all the doom, gloom, frowning painted faces and frilly cuffs become "cute" in spite of themselves. Thus there can be no such thing as anti cute culture in Japan. It may come kicking and screaming into this world such, but it cannot survive thus. As it is, the Japanese will always first eyeball something new with suspicion, however, nothing, not even the ugliest of characters -- the Nova Rabbit (Nova Usagi) being the epitome of lunch-hurling inspiration to date -- can hope to survive the riotous hordes of teen-aged fans who will eventually smoother it with affection.

"I will love him and squeeze him and call him 'George'",
Made in DNA

vs.
 
 
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
the auroran sunsettithonus on March 30th, 2004 12:33 am (UTC)
かわいいいい! :-)
i have to say this whole cute thing is one the things i most like about japan. what it is to live in a country where people aren't ashamed to be happy and smile!

where can i get those two?
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC)
good point.

those two dolls? I have Gloomy bears if you are interested. But no HKs. They are evil.
the auroran sunsettithonus on March 31st, 2004 11:17 pm (UTC)
ah, i just assumed they were both attempts to make something cute into something not cute, although the bear is the cuter of the two in those pictures.. guess i must have misunderstood.
how much are gloomy bears? [he doesn't look gloomy too me, maybe a bit sweeet, but... ;-)]
Coffee Injectedkitty_minako on March 30th, 2004 12:41 am (UTC)
Funny
I was just thinking about asking the cell phone companies here if they'd be able to special order some Hello Kitty/Sanrio phones that are out there.
Peterpetermarcus on March 30th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC)
Cool post :)

(that text message did get to me eventually -- definitely not a thing to use if you're suddenly buried under a pile of blended domo-kun.)
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC)
;)
Terri Senfttsenft on March 30th, 2004 06:44 am (UTC)
Is there a Japanese term for anti-kawaii?
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 05:59 pm (UTC)
not to my knowledge. they would just call something not cute "kimoi" (short for "kimochi warui" or "something that makes you ill"), or "guroi" -- guro for grotesque, and "i" to make it an adjective.
Mad Mod Rabbit Goddrfardook on March 30th, 2004 07:41 am (UTC)
When did kawaii culture start?

Was this something mcarthur brought over on the boat as some horrible form of psychological warfare to punish the japanese people for bombing us? The first prototype hello kitty doll kept in a steel box to keep it away from american women lest its malicious influence eliminate the sultry female meme from western civilization within a generation before being released to an unsuspecting pre-adolescent that had been lured into the foul clutches of psy-ops by a hershey bar.

Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 06:00 pm (UTC)
good question. I have no idea.

HAHAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!! I'll have a look at the photo archives of McArthur landing in Japan... see if he's got anything in his luggage. ;)
It is hard / to be goodecho_off on March 30th, 2004 08:37 am (UTC)
Heh, and I'd been wondering if that was just a huge stereotype that I'd picked up from watching a tiny subsection of Japanese live TV and anime. Guess not!

I forgot to say that the phone messages came through just fine last week. Nobody ever msgs me, so I didn't even notice I'd gotten them until the weekend!
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 06:00 pm (UTC)
=)

Cool. was just wondering if those things worked. =)
SavageCrowsavagecrow on March 30th, 2004 01:06 pm (UTC)
*GASP*
I WANT THAT BARE!!!!!! *Cuddles it* C'nai come live with you?? *bats her big green eyes* I love you long time! ^_~

Hey, I havn't had a chance to talk to you in a LONNNNNGGGGG time.. You know, what with you living on the other side of the world than I lol.. My 6am is your 9pm or something like that LOL.. *hugs* I hope everything is going well for you. I just thought I'd let you know I've registered my web site and in a week am about to start the love hate relationship that is making clothes and selling them lol. ^_^ I still have no ideas on how to advertise to people in japan... Have any ideas?

*hugs* hope things are going well for you, take care ^_^

/Terri
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC)
Re: *GASP*
HAAHAHHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA!!! Well, I still have some of the non-bloodied kind.

Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sounds great. I look forward to linking with you soon!!!!!!!!!!! My site is just about ready too.
打って付けの麻薬: 芸者 Lenoretheempathogen on March 30th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC)
kawaii_noir.

That's all I have to say about that. Hee hee.

I've been meaning to pick up Hello Kitty vibrators and guns for quite some time now.
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 06:03 pm (UTC)
=)

Would you be kind enough to send me that icon in its original scanned form? I'm a big "Lil' Lenora" fan. BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG fan, and they don't have it here. =( Been wanting some graphic novels if there are any.

Been get a HK vibrator soon. We are LOW on them!
打って付けの麻薬: 芸者 Lenoretheempathogen on March 31st, 2004 06:53 pm (UTC)
I was hasty with my picture here... I need to redo it and others.

Heh, I'll send you the scan of the whole page. ^_^ No Lenore in Japan... not shocking, but sad. After all, she's very much in that category. There are two Lenore graphic novels. Each are $12.

Eh... crap.
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC)
Depends. Check http://www.jlist.com . We sell lots of the 4" Blythes for about $22. We currently have 4 up and are putting up 2 or 3 more tomorrow.
Your Pain Sustainedeisenfaust on March 30th, 2004 03:14 pm (UTC)
Domo-Kun is still my favorite... though a fair number of people I know think he's scary and/or hideous... I th ink he's great. -_-

Did you ever get the email I sent you? I fear I may have sent it to the wrong address. -_-

About Nova Usagi though... and the bloody-clawed bear... how can they *not* expect something with such 'cute' proportions and charachterization to fail as an 'anti-cute' symbol?
Made in DNAmopedronin on March 31st, 2004 06:05 pm (UTC)
yes, I did! and I will take care of it soon. Mostly it's just a list of colors.

ahahahahah, good question. no idea.
Your Pain Sustainedeisenfaust on March 31st, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC)
I was mostly wondering about the first block of text, if it has any more specific instructions... it *seems* like it would indicate an 80/20 ratio of orange to yellow, but then theres a mention of paint color 102, i think, which is a clear/transparent orange... but the amount of text leads me to belive that there are some special instructions. If it were just hirigana/katakana I'd translate it myself, but I'm horrible at using a kanji dictionary. -_-

Im just wondering if its anything more than a list of colors.. IE, an order of application or some such. :)

And BTW, thanks.. I appreciate you taking the time to help :)
Made in DNAmopedronin on April 4th, 2004 11:12 pm (UTC)
btw, I'm really sorry, but I haven't been able to get on my computer. it crashed. tonight I'm seeking out my Windows disc to reinstall. I think I should have it up soon.
Primal Convoyprimalprime on March 31st, 2004 07:42 pm (UTC)
In the west, we have our own versions of the above.

1/ "Were-Bears". A lot more claws n' paws than Gloomy will ever be.
2/ "Happy Tree Friends". Puts Gloomy and Gang to shame (indeed, one of my students, a hard-core Gloomy Fan, said that Happy Tree Friends, when she saw a pic, was "grotesque". Proof that Gloomy is now officially "kawai".
3/ Pikachu. Sounds odd, but the makers of Pokemon were told by Western experts that Pokemon wouldnt sell in America becasue it was too cute. Pikachu, possibly the most obnoxious of the whole Pokemon swarm, was an instant hit with some girls, but MAINLY BOYS!
4/ Britain, at least, has done something to stem the tide of the Kawai Craze by inventing "Fungus the Bogey Man". The same chap that gave us "The Snowman" cartoon/comic invented the most disgusting anti-hero for kids to love. The whole comic was described as "pornography for kids" by a critic at the time. Let's see the japanese make HIM kawaii!

And let's not forget that its also BOYS and MEN that succumb in Japan to the Kawai Craze. It's not rare to see lads from 14 to their 20s sporting "Thomas the Tank Engine", "Hello Kitty" or even "Ampanman" keyrings, stickers or badges.

I would show you pictures, but "Were-bear" has been taken up by every sodding geeky "D&D" nerd in the whole of cyberspace, plus some prick at Gunma Controll has switched the "internet-f`ck-up" switch on.
kevcykeichan on April 1st, 2004 02:16 am (UTC)
A lot of the boys here in the "Computer Club" (aka "Internet Flash Movie Club") constantly are watching the Happy Tree Friends shorts. So somebody here likes them! :)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )