Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kimo Kawaii desu ne? [きも かわいい です ね?]

What is Kimo Kawaii?

'Kimo' (キモ) short for"Kimochi warui"(キモチ わるい) which it's direct translation means  
Feelings-bad but it's English equivalent is
“disgusting” or “gross.”

And of course we all know what 'Kawaii' means "Cute or Pretty" which has been around for centuries. The 1950s-1970s Rune Naito set the foundation for it and was popularized with Sanio's character Hello Kitty. Sanrio also came out recently with some uniquely new characters
Kirimi-chan, which literally means a slice of ham, Rosu-chan meaning pork cutlet, Tai-kun a red seabream, and Kamaboko-chan, who is fish paste.

Kimo Kawaii?

Think of it like this, a baby who has just thrown up, the baby may be cute but what the baby did was disgusting. 

(Disgustingly Cute) 

This is Japanese slang for something that is both cute or pretty and weird or even grotesque also know as Guro-Kawaii. These attributes may apply to their appearance or even their behavior.

Kawaii Noir or Gothic Kawaii

[Junko Mizuno]

American Surrealist

[Jeff Soto, Sylvia Ji, and Mike Bell]

Kawaii Noir, or "dark kawaii" is a variation that describes things that are cute but have a slightly sinister quality to them. Some examples of "kawaii noir" include the art by illustrator/artist Junko Mizuno, she does themes of sweet, pretty girls and plenty of gore. In addition she has done comics, designs T-shirts, calendars, postcards, and other collectibles. Some of Junko Mizuno's designs were used in the documentary series Japanorama, which aired on BBC(you can find it on YouTube). Here in America it would be considered lowbrow or pop surrealism. Her art has a decidedly pop-art and psychedelic flair, and a sizable proportion of her published work is colored, rather than the black and white format typical of most Japanese comics.

 Other Kawaii Noir includes Mori Chack's character Gloomy Bear, a cute, pink bear with sharp claws that actually maims and kills the boy who befriends him. The design is an antithesis to the excessively cute products produced by Disney, Sanrio's Hello Kitty, and other companies. Mori Chack believes that humans and animals are incompatible, and an animal is wild by nature. This is expressed most profoundly by the Gloomy Bear, which is often shown blood stained and attacking humans. Mori Chack also created other characters in a similar style, as for example Podolly, a sheep in a wolf skin, reversing the common phrase of a wolf in a sheep skin, and Kumakikai, a robo-gloomy with rockets for feet and a soft silver vinyl body. Often, his graphics also carry a political message, as for example the drawing of the Statue of Liberty, except the figure is holding a molotov cocktail and a sign with the question "Free?".

Kawaii has become very popular over the past 2-3 years because of certain Kawaii Girl, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the "Kawaii Harajuku Ambassador" of Shibuya, Tokyo. She wants to give kawaii a new side and that's "Kimo Kawaii". In a interview earlier this year she explains her fashion sense in which she says, "I always like wearing colorful clothes. As for accessories, I like to wear strange, sometimes grotesqueun-cute” things. I also follow overseas fashion on promotional videos. I especially like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani who all have influenced me. Of course I like their music and the way their unusual fashion fuses with their music – it gives me inspiration. I also like western movies which have a touch of horror, like Beetlejuice (1988) and Alien vs, Predator (2004). Beetlejuice is my special favorite." We will continue to see large eye balls, the undead, monsters, and aliens with a new a fashion flare of cuteness, she taking something scary or gross and turn it Kawaii.

From other post I've read on this topic have not talked about Italian artist Simone Legno and his business partners Pooneh Mohajer and Ivan Arnold, Japanese-inspired lifestyle brand Tokidoki (sometimes). They are also  the co-founder of cosmetics company Hard Candy. Characters include
The Cactus Friends, The Moofia, Til Death Do Us Part include Adios the Grim Reaper, his girlfriend Ciao Ciao and their cats Skeletrino & Skeletrina.  Cocommando includes Captain Coco, Cocotrina and Grenadina Captain Coco is a monkey who formed the Cocommando to patrol the jungle. Cocotrina & Grenadina are the 2 friends Captain Coco teamed up with. Donutella includes Dountella and twelve other donut characters. Wild Boys is a group of 4 colored tigers each with different personality traits. Unicorno includes Stellina, Bellina, Dolce, Metallo, Mooka, Peperino, Pogo, Ritmo, Prima Donna and Fumo. The Royal Pride Lion Pappa's Gang of twelve street tough characters. Lastly Punk Star.

I just realize, popular Namco character Pacman and Ms. Pacman sort of Kimo Kawaii (Japanese to make a sound slang phrase paku-paku taberu which means munch munch eat). Formally during the development of creating the character which was suppose to be monument which end up crashing to floor literally then after the dust settled the character was pacman was born. Others of his accounts say the character's shape was inspired by a pizza missing a slice, but he admitted in a 1986 interview that this was a half-truth and the character design also came from simplifying and rounding out the Japanese character for mouth, kuchi (). The enemies in the game are "ghosts" or "monsters" and Pacman is able to eat them a soon as he can eat pellets circle and they turn blue for certain amount of time.

Other Japanese characters or I should say 'Yuru-kyara' - mascots that embody Kimo Kawaii are:

Domo-kun, the official mascot of NHK TV station. The name "Domo" was acquired during the second episode of his show, in which a TV announcer said "dōmo, konnichiwa" (どうも、こんにちは), which is a greeting that can be translated as "Well, hello there!", but which can also be interpreted as "Hello, Domo", and thus is a convenient pun.
Teletama the mascot for Television Saitama ('tele' transmission over a distance and 'tama' mean ball or soul.)

Nishiko-kun, the unofficial mascot for Nishi Kokubunji, Tokyo. ( Nishi means 'west', the 'Ko' maybe used to symbolize that it's a girl but older meaning is 'righteous child' also 'kun' used here which popularly used towards older males (senpai type). Kokubuji  means 'Temple of the Country's Province' or 'provincial temple')

Kobitodukan and 20 different plant kobito characters by the Japanese illustrator Toshitaka Nabata, which include Benikinokobito (dwarf mushrooms): ("kobito" means dwarfs and "dukan" means encyclopedia.) 

Nameko saibai or Funghi, a series of super-quirky smartphone games that center on cute mushroom characters (nameko is a special mushroom, while saibai means cultivation).

Manbe-kun,  something like a mix of a crab, clam, starfish, and soulless, unblinking eyes.
Manbe-kun is the mascot of a town called Oshamanbe in Hokkaido. Manbe-kun is surprisingly popular, and even has his own website and Twitter account.

Funashi is not an a character that is official or officially recognised by the local area council of Funabashi, Chiba; rather Funasshii acts as an individual. Funashi has been awarded first prize in a “Regional Mascot General Election” held in Tokyo today. Supposedly a “pear fairy”, Funashi has been one of Japan’s most controversial “yuru-kyara” mascots, since first appearing in 2011, due to the fact that the character was not endorsed by the city of Funabashi, nor any tourism organisations.

Seto-kun is a child who has deer antlers, as deer are thought to be Nara’s messengers from the gods. He creates new history with the visitors, while showing the charm of Nara. He also has an equally strange-looking grandfather, Rokuji. Eventually, Nara chose another mascot, Manto-kun,  a cuter, less bizarre mascot (you didn't think japan had standard huh)

Other types of Kawaii is Busa-Kawaii is the Japanese slang for something that is both cute and ugly in appearance.

Here in America shows and Pop Art can be very Kimo Kawaii which include  Busa Kawaii nickelodeon cartoon I watched when I was little called the Aaahh!!! Scary Monsters(1994),  which is a show focuses on three young monsters, Ickis, Oblina, and Krumm, who attend an institute for monsters under a city dump and learn to frighten humans. For some they aren't cute looking or do cute things but this show was a to the lead up to Monster Inc (2001) and Monster University(2013) which more Kimo Kawaii than Busa.

The graphic cartoon Happy Tree Friends is Kimo Kawaii  and of course, and much like Gloomy bear. The action and adventure comedy is drawn in simple appearance and combines cute forest animals with extreme graphic violence.Each episode revolves around the characters enduring accidental events of bloodshed, pain, dismemberment and/or death.

I wonder if Kowaii Kawaii or Scary Cute will ever become a popular saying. . . maybe that would little hard to say now that I think about it.

~Happy New Year

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