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February 21, 2007

If you want a picture of the future, imagine an adorable cartoon character stepping on a human face—forever
Posted by Patrick at 02:15 PM * 90 comments

From the Associated Press, in the Japan Times:

Perky cartoon character Prince Pickles — with saucer eyes, big dimples and tiny, booted feet — poses in front of tanks, rappels from helicopters and shakes hands with smiling Iraqis. […]

As Japan sheds its postwar pacifism and gears up to take a higher military profile in the world, it is enlisting cadres of cute characters and adorable mascots to put a gentle, harmless sheen to its Self-Defense Forces deployments.

“Prince Pickles is our image character because he’s very endearing, which is what Japan’s military stands for,” said Defense Ministry official Shotaro Yanagi. “He’s our mascot and appears in our pamphlets and stationery.”

Such characters have long been used in Japan to win hearts and minds and to soften the image of authority.

The Metropolitan Police Department tries to lighten its stern image with Peopo, which looks like a cross between a rabbit and a space trooper.

The government hopes the same tactic can work overseas.

More from Passport, the blog of Foreign Policy magazine:
Not surprisingly, the military’s efforts to adopt innocuous-looking symbols has raised suspicions that Japan is cloaking darker ambitions, but the government insists that such imaging serves to create cultural understanding and help Japan’s efforts in the military theater. In Japan’s Iraq mission (where it deployed 600 noncombatant troops in its first military mission since the Second World War), water trucks were decorated with Japan’s globally popular cartoon characters, and “everybody loved it,” according to Foreign Ministry official Aki Tsuda. Not a single truck was attacked in the two and half year mission, which Japanese officials attribute to the cartoons rather than the fact that the deployment area was largely free of violence.
(Via Rafe Colburn’s rc3.org.)
Comments on If you want a picture of the future, imagine an adorable cartoon character stepping on a human face--forever:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 02:45 PM:

Join the military, it's cute!

#2 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:01 PM:

You have to admire the way Japan is trying to turn a depressing situation into something hilariously depressing.

#3 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:05 PM:
If you want a picture of the future, imagine an adorable cartoon character stepping on a human face—forever
Funny...this has been my vision of the future ever since I realized that Pokemon had a non-zero number of rational-thought-capable fans...
#4 ::: asdf ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:15 PM:

#3, do you mean children? Yes, children are terribly irrational at times.

#5 ::: Miguel ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:15 PM:

Looks like the Xbox game Raze's Hell, where you have to fight an invading army of very cute Kewlett's from Kewtopia who claim that they are expanding their adorable empire so that everyone in the world can be just as cute, fun, and happy as them.

#6 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:17 PM:

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Japan's national obsession with Teh Cute extends to their military. Why don't they just go all the way and enlist Hello Kitty?

#7 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Can fruity oaty bars be far behind?

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:19 PM:

platedlizard, I think that's what they painted on their trucks. Although I think I'd be shooting at them, just to get rid of them.

#9 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:26 PM:

The Devilbunnies tried to warn everyone about this years ago. Cuteness is more dangerous than terror, because a populace will never notice how cuteness is harming and enslaving them.

#10 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:32 PM:

I wonder how al-Sadr's militia guys would react to a manga-zine carelessly dropped by one of the Japanese troopers. Cute and depraved in one big-eyed package!

#11 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:34 PM:

I am chillingly reminded of the way the torturers in Brazil wear happy-smiling doll face masks when they work.

#12 ::: Matt Stevens ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:38 PM:

Thank the Gods the JSDF isn't in a black African country, knowing how blacks are often portrayed in Japanese cartoons...

#13 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 03:48 PM:

That cartoon character has the eyes of a serial killer.

#14 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Alter Reiss @2: Until I read your comment I was flailing about with the sense that the world had finally gone irretrievably insane. That is a better interpretation, I have to say. If only I could completely accept it...

Now that I think about it, maybe this approach is exactly what the world needs. Al Queda? Invasion of the cute. Fundamentalist bigotry? Invasion of the cute. Profiteering multinational companies which think of nothing except profits in the next quarter, whatever it takes? Ply their shareholders with cutesiness! Global warming doubters? Cute icebergs, melting and begging! "Intelligent" "Design" "Scientist"? Look how cute these Darwin and drosophilia plushies are!

...or maybe not.

#15 ::: KristianB ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:09 PM:

Most likely you saw this the first time around:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJrIF7pHyO0

Seaman ship for love!

I thought it was longer though.

#16 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:13 PM:

It's increasingly difficult to distinguish the 'real' thing from something that is a satire, like when Mark Fiore came up with Snuggly, the Security Bear.

#17 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:15 PM:

I'm waiting to be told that Prince Planet was actually an evil invader from afar, while Kimba really represents an application of the Bush Doctrine.

(Yes, I spent my preschool days watching Japanimation. Channel 17 in Philadelphia. How could you tell?)

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Ken, where does Speed Racer fit in your view of the universe? And what about his bro Racer X?

#19 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:41 PM:

18: Wait... Racer X was Speed Racer's brother???!1!

#20 ::: linnen ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:41 PM:

Am I the only one thinking 'Hello Kitty' before reading the news clipping?

#21 ::: John Aspinall ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:47 PM:

Why is the logo as shown in English? Shouldn't it be in Arabic and/or Japanese?

Unless, of course, it comes in several different language editions, and we are just seeing the version intended for the most important consumers of cuteness.

#22 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:55 PM:

#8 Well, that gives the Iraqis something to aim at, anyways. Personally I think Japan should just call in The Major, rather then Hello Kitty. She would kick butt while at the same time exposing The Giant Conspiracy that lead us to war. Because she's awesome like that. Likely said conspiracy involves the evil American Empire launching a nuke while simultaneously having the CIA torture villagers just because.

Man, I love that show/movie/manga/franchise.

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Connie @ 19... Yes, he was.

#25 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Someone had to link to this, although if I'm not mistaken it was already featured in the sidebar here before.

#26 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 06:06 PM:

Serge@18, that's actually an interesting question.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 06:30 PM:

Malthus @ 26... consider the matter from a classic Western Goetic ontology, and assume the basic validity of the Speed Racer theme song.

And what is the symbolism behind his kid brother's pet monkey?

#28 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 07:09 PM:

Interesting though if we compare to the US military's promotions. The tough-guy coolness of "an army of one" and bold movie title style names for operations seem far stranger than this to me. Japan's role in Iraq and Afghanistan has been promoted as a humanitarian one - at least that is how Koizumi sold it to the Diet.
The Americans have tried to sell the war as pushing the torch of freedom in the world, but they have then adopted decades-old {cold-war era} graphics to promote that image.

The texture of Japan's cartoons illustrate an attempt to help and befriend Iraq, if the actual action doesn't live up to it that would be clear to see. If the US adopts a hollywood/tough guy texture to its operation and then lives up to it, that seems far worse to me.

#29 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 07:21 PM:

A pink tank in South London.

A rather more controversial pink tank in Prague.

The number of hits for pink camouflage suggests that the advance of cute to totalitarian world domination is already well underway.

Was there ever any real pinkish camo and for what topography was it intended (besides future warfare on Mars)?

#30 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 08:15 PM:

Yes, there was pink camo, and it was intended for desert country and for night-time waterborne use. It doesn't show up well under searchlights.

See, for example, the Pink Panther. Also Mountbatten Pink.

#31 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 09:14 PM:

Serge@23: Wow. You must have, like, known one of the writers or something to know that.

My God, so many of the plots make sense with that crucial bit of information factored in. If only there'd been some way for us to know that....

#32 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 09:19 PM:

And now, gentlemen and ladies, Hello Kitty will give us the executive level briefing of new MOAB system and then the latest in Thermobaric weapon design.

#33 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 09:41 PM:

If you have ever seen the red dirt country of the real Outback, you will know why the Australian Army has a desert camo pattern that includes patches of pink and dark red, with dull sage green and tan.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 10:05 PM:

Aconite @ 31... I simply remember at least one episode where Racer X himself was thinking it.

#35 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 10:08 PM:

I saw an article about this in the morning, and it's 10 PM now, so I'm guessing there's probably already some Prince Pickles slash fic out there.

#36 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 10:21 PM:

“Prince Pickles is our image character because he’s very endearing, which is what Japan’s military stands for,”

At long last, I can truly identify with Bill Murray's character in Lost in Translation.

What's next, Operation Tickle Me Elmo?

Also Mountbatten Pink.

My God, that explains so much.

#37 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 10:46 PM:

Aconite @ #31: I knew that too. I thought everybody knew that. (And when I was a kid I watched most of the episodes in Japanese, so I have no idea how I knew that!)

#38 ::: Andrew deBootist ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2007, 11:56 PM:

#24 Stephen G - I thought there was also madness and elder-gods?

#39 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 12:10 AM:

#21 John Aspinall: "Unless, of course, it comes in several different language editions, and we are just seeing the version intended for the most important consumers of cuteness."

Nothing Americo-centric about that.

#40 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 01:40 AM:

Kawaii forever!

#41 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Folks, trust me, there's no weird conspiracy here: EVERYTHING has a goddamn cartoon mascot, I swear, in Japan. Tokyo Metropolitan Police (the Nara Police Department, because of all the tame deer in their temples, has a cartoon deer wearing a Sam Brown belt), Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Fire Department, etc. This is just more of the same.

#42 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 05:29 AM:

Only-ever-so-slightly off-topic. A pastel pink & green sushi bar opened recently in my local shopping centre. They've called it "Hello Sushi."

#43 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 05:54 AM:

A long-wheelbase stripped-down Land Rover for (ahem) long-range desert operations is known as a "Pinkie", because of the colour.

And don't forget that, in some air forces, painting a picture of (say) Mickey Mouse on the side of your aircraft was quite normal. And that's pretty weird too when you think about it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Galland

#44 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 06:36 AM:

The classic pink Land Rover, used by the SAS, was known as the Pink Panther, but that was the desert colour, and many remained green. There's a Tamiya model kit, though that particular type is long out of service.

There have been earlier "Desert Patrol Vehicles", also painted pink, and the colour may well go back to the days of the LRDG, who pretty well wrote the book on desert patrolling.

#45 ::: Q ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 07:20 AM:

And over here you'll see one of our latest Hello Kitty Bunker Busters...

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 08:36 AM:

Hmm. Are deserts really pink? That would explain why they were called "the Red Lands" in ancient Egypt. The fertile country was "the Black Lands." This led to a custom of writing bad things in red in histories—a custom that persists to this day* in some accounting practices.

*No, I don't actually know for sure that this is continuously linked. I am speculating.

#47 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Clifton Royston@37: Since they announced it with a voiceover in every single episode, I'm pretty sure everyone knew, no matter what language they watched it in.

Only tangentally related, I was often late for school the year Star Blazers was broadcast in the mornings on our local station. Speed Racer was on weekends, so it didn't contribute to the delinquency of a minor. Not as immediately, anyway.

#48 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 09:27 AM:

Why am I now thinking of Waldrop's story "Heirs of the Perisphere"? (Well, yes, I just reread it in Things Will Never Be the Same. But it seems eerily appropriate, somehow.)

As for pink deserts -- around our high-desert/mixed ecosphere town of Prescott AZ, the PreCambrian rock formations known as "dells" are the pinkish hue of some mourning doves' breasts, and a highway cut through a slope by one highway reveals a stratum of light salmon (matched by the retaining wall just below it).

#49 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 10:13 AM:

And over here you'll see one of our latest Hello Kitty Bunker Busters...

It doesn't actually destroy the bunker, but all the troops evacuate it in horror.

#50 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 10:15 AM:

Calton in #41 hits it on the head. (I also find that as a matter of personal taste, I'll take chibi over Rambo, but that's me.)

#51 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 10:23 AM:

Calton and Randolph have it right, and the "stepping on a face" crew basically have it wrong - the Japanese have kawaii/chibi icons for pretty much everything - OS-Tans, governmental departments, military units (and not just in Japan - the Korean Army's mascot is an anthropomorphic tiger named hogugy, and food stuffs (except when they get even weirder, like Kikkoman Man).

And the little helicopter dude looks an awful lot like the one of JSDF mascots. I suspect this is just a matter of taking an existing icon and applying it to a related subject.

You can argue about whether or not the Japanese trend to chibify anything that stands still long enough to be dressed up in a Pokemon outfit is infantilization, culturally weird, or whatever - but arguing that it's some bit of sinister social engineering designed to make us all feel good about the war is, I think, a little over the top.

#52 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 10:43 AM:

Xopher: It depends on the desert. Australian deserts, of which there are lots, range between sandy-white with sun-blasted pebbles, to boringly brown, but the best of them are tiger-coloured, except that the dark stripes of the tiger become a sage green. The Nullabor is like that.

The Red Centre really, truly is red. Stark, staring, almost day-glo orange in the worst of the heat. But of course nobody in their right mind goes out to look at it when it's like that. I have actually had the experience of opening my eyes in wonder at the sight and feeling them dry out before I could close them again.

#53 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 11:01 AM:

Maybe they're working under the principle, "If you can't beat 'em, join em".

#54 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 12:44 PM:

I saw a documentary recently about politics of the water supply in various places. It showed a protest in Soweto over the new pre-paid water meter system. In the background in one shot there was a billboard of a cartoon-character mascot with a faucet for a face. It was defaced with graffiti.

#55 ::: RichM ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Re: Hello Kitty. In this context, perhaps it should in fact be Heil Kitty.

#56 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 01:11 PM:

Andrew @ 38: Oh my.

#57 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 01:23 PM:

But Scott (#51): that a society has chibi icons for everything is not at all telling about whether it will fulfill the 'cute boot' prediction. In fact, it increases the probability* that the prediction will be true, because we can now assume that all imposition of force by that society will be chibi-fied.

*Unless the probability of imposition of force is 0, which you did not argue for.

#58 ::: Karen Sideman ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 01:30 PM:

There's also this:

Maochan, an anime series in which 3 eight year old girls provide the main military defense against evil "cute little aliens" who are targeting Japan. In keeping with Japan's post-WWII goals, only defense is allowed (of course when their commander stands on a balcony with arm extended and cape flowing and yells "Now is the time to defend!" it looks a lot like Napoleon in the Alps...)

My three year old, her two teenage sisters and I are all sort of gaga over it (GREAT bubblegum theme song.)

"I Maochan, promise to defend the peace of Japan with high spirits! (giggle")

#59 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Just a quick comment - although cartoons are targetted at children and the whimsical in North America/Europe, they're cheerfully all ages through Japan. As a few other poster have said, this is SOP, not some sort of sinister plot.

#60 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 02:50 PM:

Did anybody (other than allegedly the Devilbunnies) actually say it was a sinister plot? This response seems like it's mostly projection.

As to the Devilbunnies, I think Devilbunnies have their own agenda and are not entirely a reliable source. Not that I want any trouble with Devilbunnies!

#61 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 03:12 PM:

As Dave says, the Red Centre of Australia was very red indeed when I saw it 20 years ago. The small bits of Egyptian desert I saw 17 years ago were nowehere near as red. I'd probably descibe them as mostly yellow or brown, but red was a definite minor theme. Dawn and dusk pick out the red a lot, and if you're not a tourist trying to see lots of amazing sights, dawn and dusk are the times to do things in deserts. Maybe that's why they were described as the red lands rather than the yellow-and-brown lands.

#62 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 04:16 PM:

Hello Kitty is my copilot.

Anyway, this seems like sensible use of your cultural product. MI5 uses the, um, mystique of James Bond to get cooperation where the US would have to offer bribes (don't ask me to find a source for that, "I read it somewhere"). Also, you'd have to hope that it had some effect on the Japanese soldiers too. The lighter touch of the British soldiers in Basra (along with a more stable local situation) is supposed to have helped a lot, and I think there's a distinctly less aggressive/confrontational culture in the British army than the US, where a more gung-ho attitude seems acceptable. (Possibly some real soldiers know more.) The international reputation of the US used to be pretty good & certainly I think the default was goodwill towards Americans. Not so great anymore, but that's okay, because our words are backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS!

(Bush's foreign policy resembles mine while playing Civilization. This is not an endorsement.)

#63 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 07:10 PM:

Faren Miller @48: You have the new Howard Waldrop??

Not for the first time, I'm insanely jealous.
OTOH, that means that it's finally available.

(Hmmph. Now I have to decide if I love Waldrop enough to spring for the hardcover....)

#64 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Jacob Davies at #62 Bush's foreign policy resembles mine while playing Civilization

However, I'm guessing you plan your Civ wars (and the targets thereof) more intelligently than Bush plans his real wars.

#65 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Re: Evil Cuteness

In one of Norman Spinrad's short stories (can't recall the title, but it was in the collection The Last Hurrah of the Golden Horde), the alien invaders looked like green-furred fluffy bunnies. This was A Big Secret, as they did not reveal themselves directly (trying to be scary alien overlords), and the citizens of earth would have been opposed to the Earth Defence Force killing bunnies.

#66 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 08:04 PM:

I can't believe you guys are mentioning pink military equipment and haven't talked about Operation Petticoat.

#67 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2007, 09:58 PM:

For an occupation like Iraq, where the goal is/was to hopefully create a lasting peace, the "cute cartoon" mentality seems eminently sensible. It's a visualization of what the job is, to treat Iraqis as equals (shaking hands), to be honest and open (the wide eyes), to be friendly (the smiles.)

I wouldn't be surprised if cartoons like that on their vehicles did help keep things peaceful. At the very least, it marked them clearly as Not US, as not being the ones who invaded, but being the ones who were invaded in the past, too, and want to help. The thought that "we've been through a US occupation, just like you, and we made it through in the end, so will you" is a lot more likely to win hearts and minds than "we bombed and invaded you, but it was for your own good."

#68 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 12:49 AM:

How did we get this far down the thread without anyone tittering at that helmet?

Ah, well, I suppose I can't complain about the amusing links and the cultural explication and the thoughtful discussions on occupations. :)

#69 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:08 AM:

North Korea uses cutesy cartoon animals for propaganda purposes!

It's like Brian Jaques Redwall gone creepily wrong.

#70 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:13 AM:

Brian Jaques' Redwall is "Wind in the Willows" gone creepily wrong.

#71 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:35 AM:

I'm with clew: Just because everything else is chibi-fied too doesn't mean that this instance of chibi-fication isn't sinister. In fact, if I were trying to resurrect militarism in Japan, that's exactly how I'd do it--it'd blend right into the background cuteness. On the other hand, it's also what I would do if I had no other goal than good PR for the JDSF. In the Japanese context, cuteness is so ubitiquitous it becomes meaningless.

#62 Jacob Davies: Oddly enough, when I play Civ I never go for nukes. I did it once just to see what it was like, and felt guilty afterwards. How well indoctrinated am I?

#72 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:03 AM:

North Korea uses cutesy cartoon animals for propaganda purposes!

Wow... that's getting a lot closer to the "adorable cartoon character stepping on a human face" for real. Except that I haven't heard of North Korean popular culture (such as it is) being generally overrun by cartoon cuteness -- would Kim Jong Il want to be represented in chibi fashion? (Granted that with that hair and sunglasses, he already looks slightly cartoonish in reality.)

Now I'm trying to decide whether the aesthetics of that video are better or worse than Socialist Realism.

#73 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Bob Oldendorf (#63): Well, I *am* a book reviewer! (Though this seems to be the thing itself, not an advance galley.) Be aware that it's a Reader, like part of a "best of" set, wonderful in itself but without a lot of new material -- I reviewed some of these works in collections dating all the way back to the 1980s. It only came in on Tuesday, so I have one story left to read (and then I can do the review), but I've certainly been enjoying myself.

[PS: in that earlier post, I botched the part about the pink layer in the hillside -- it's supposed to be where a highway cut through a hill.]

#74 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:57 AM:

#68: How did we get this far down the thread without anyone tittering at that helmet?

If you're saying what I think you're saying, maybe you should check out the mascot for Tokyo Tower.

#71 In the Japanese context, cuteness is so ubitiquitous it becomes meaningless.

Your first sentence implied otherwise: "Just because everything else is chibi-fied too doesn't mean that this instance of chibi-fication isn't sinister" -- or equally well, obsequious, clairvoyant, or purple. Any interpretation without actual evidence is pure projection.

#75 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 12:36 PM:

I'm in shock; no one has mentioned Halo Kitty!

#76 ::: Karen Sideman ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:07 PM:

It's also interesting that Japan is utilizing it's cutie character on location in an area that historically has felt a bit of discomfort with drawn representations of people a la "graven images."

Then again maybe 5-10 years from now Japanese art direction will be swamped by cute interpretations of mathematically complex mosiac patterns...

#77 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:39 PM:

Karen #76: cute interpretations of mathematically complex mosiac patterns

My brain boggles.

#78 ::: Wristle ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:20 PM:

Bob Oldendorf (63): As Faren says, there's not much that's new in Howard's new collection.

#79 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:04 PM:

You poor, misguided fools. Go ahead and chortle in your safe little suburban enclaves. You have no idea how terrifying cartoon characters are. I live in Boston. I know whereof I speak.


p.s. I had a total crush on Racer X

#80 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:11 PM:

#72: "would Kim Jong Il want to be represented in chibi fashion?"

There's a Kim-like character in there. About halfway through, some cowering mice (representing oppressed South Koreans) are watching a newscast (?) from the enlightened land of happy animals. It features a distinguished looking animaloid.

There's a great graphic novel out there ("Pyongyang" by Guy Delisle) by a French Canadian fellow who spent a few weeks in NK, overseeing a group of contract animators. He had good things to say about _some_ of the animators he worked with. The society as a whole he thought was an absurd nightmare.

#81 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 05:22 PM:

#76 Karen:

FRACTAGUCHI!

(Maybe just turn the ubiquitous Mandlebrot set picture on its side, so the spike looks like some hair sticking up?)

#82 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:10 AM:

Wristle @#78: yeah, thanks. (Yay, Howard!)

The trade pb is out now. The limited ed. hardcover is out in another month.

But now I have to decide if I love Howard Waldrop enough to spring for the hardcover....

#83 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:58 AM:

#74 Calton Bolick "Your first sentence implied otherwise: "Just because everything else is chibi-fied too doesn't mean that this instance of chibi-fication isn't sinister" -- or equally well, obsequious, clairvoyant, or purple. Any interpretation without actual evidence is pure projection."

You are misreading my first sentence. The meaninglessness of cute is exactly my point. I'm not saying it is sinister. I'm saying chibi-ness doesn't imply anything either way.

Analogy: "This book is made out of paper, and therefore cannot be fascist! After all, ALL books are made from paper." (See? The paper-ness of the book has no bearing on its content. Same with the cute-ness of this PR tactic. It's simply the way it is done.)

#84 ::: Calton Bolick ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 06:31 PM:

You are misreading my first sentence.

I don't think I am: "Just because there's no evidence against the man doesn't mean he's not guilty" would be a non-tortuous analogy that captures the flavor and context of that sentence. It's the "Just because" and its rhetorical implication which makes it so. As in "Just because the book is made out of paper doesn't mean it isn't fascist!"

#85 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:13 PM:

Clearly you are right, Calton. Because the first sentence could have two possible readings, I obviously intended the reading that doesn't make any sense. Clearly, what was really going on was that I was contradicting myself within a single paragraph. How very clever of you to notice that.

#86 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:35 PM:

All right, opposite corners, you two!

#87 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 10:41 AM:

I'd settle for arbitration.

Unless I lost, of course.

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#89 ::: Dave Harmon sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2018, 07:25 AM:

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#90 ::: Mary Aileen sees undeleted spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2018, 02:17 PM:

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