For Takashi Murakami, even the concept of kawaii, or the extreme cuteness in Japanese pop icons like Hello Kitty, Pikachu from Pokémon and the Tamagotchi virtual electronic pets, emanates from the wounds of World War II and the American occupation. Evolution teaches us that cuteness is a symptom of dependence, urging adults to care for infants, puppies and kittens who are, after all, entirely helpless. A Japan shaped by its reliance upon big brother/big daddy America would naturally perfect this form of expression. Murakami’s theory goes: Be cute, and Daddy might be good to you, however much you hate it – and him.
He also has a shorter piece there on the aesthetics of simplicity.
First posted: Tuesday, August 25th, 2009.