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Friday, November 11, 2011

Kawaii, The Japanese Obsession of "Cuteness"


It's always the hallmark of being Japanese by showing the epitome of being beautiful yet refined. However, there is this kawaii syndrome that swept the nation and eventually fall into the social norms of the current generation of teenagers who embraced the cute and neat aesthetic characteristics of this kawaii subculture.

All the thanks to Soichi Masubuchi for creating the typical kawaii personality complex wherein girls go gaga at the idea of having cute childish outfits. Unfortunately, a forceful acts like squealing giggles and high-pitched voice may sound like some being a burikko. Usually, society favors the natural roles of a masculine man and a feminine woman but what about the idea of men shaving their hairy legs and cross-dressing as lolitas while women revert back to childish little girls? Being cute in most societies may sound weird but Japanese society find them cool to a certain degree.


Kawaii may perhaps rooted from the classic literary masterpiece of Lady Murasaki - The Tale of Genji. Years and centuries passed, kawaii has influenced Japanese handwriting and it helped the development of the so-called Anomalous Female Teenage Handwriting that includes the marui ji (round), koneko ji (kitten), manga ji (comic), and the burikko ji (fake-child) writing techniques. Even in fashion, kawaii played a big part in promoting Cool Japan. Companies like Sanrio capitalized on the rising kawaii culture by turning Hello Kitty into a global icon for cuteness. The obsession of cute even went higher than ever with the emergence of kawaii aidoru (idols) with the likes of Seiko Matsuda and gurabia aidoru like Yoko Matsugane, Eiko Koike, and Rio Natsume.



The obsession helped fueled the growth of Pokemon and Domokun that the Japanese Airlines and the police department adopted these cute characters as their own. Ever imagine seeing a commercial airliner with Pikachu painted all over it? The cute characters on cartoons, manga comics, and video games have transcended into us and people now try to become cartoon characters. Fashion sense is now attuned to something we wear, we eat, we experience, and live with. Don't be surprised when Doraemon is on the Shinkansen trains, Mameshiba on cereal boxes, or Hamtaru on soda cans.

Don't be surprised just live with it. That is how Japanese make themselves the coolest people on Earth, unless if you live on Mars.
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