Back from ECAASU 2013!
What a blast! My workshop, a moderated discussion titled “Kawaii Iconography: the racial dynamics of cuteness”, was completely full! I was so honored to meet such active and engaging participants. I even got to bring out my Rilakkuma plushie for everyone to see hahaha.
We covered a ton of great topics, but here were a few awesome points:
- An overarching analysis of the kawaii character market: origins, meanings, and current manifestations. I got to introduce a lot of kawaii characters, highlighting my favorites, Rilakkuma and Sumikko Gurashi!
- Compared kawaii characters to each other, with intersectional race/gender analysis. Basically: Rilakkuma versus Hello Kitty – how do they differ in representations of gender? For example, how does Rilakkuma represent masculinity (or does he?) versus how Hello Kitty represents femininity?
- Contrasting these kawaii characters to characters originating from the US: Hello Kitty versus Barbie!
- Investigating the toy market: whats the target demographic of kawaii merchandise? How does it compared to American cultural attitudes?
I was so inspired by the discussion, and I hope to be able to present again at ECAASU 2014!
Whew! So after a 2 week hiatus, I was welcomed back with a flurry of Rilakkuma news! Lots of great new collabs that I’ll post about soon!