Kawaii War and Japanese Pop Art

There’s a war going on in Japan. Few of us have ever heard of it, fewer still would recognize it because it looks deceptively sweet. One might even say… very kawaii.

From the battlefront however, it’s a whole ‘nuther story. Allow me to introduce Mikati Slade, an incredibly talented Japanese pop artist and veteran of this strange cute war, who chose to share her tale via an amazing, 3D artistic explosion called Kuru Kuru World in Second Life.


“What does Japanese Pop look like? Like US!” – Mikati Slade, on left

You may not think of Hello Kitty t-shirts, kawaii bento boxes filled with smiling panda-faced food, layers of fluffy lace, pink bows, or cute accessories as weapons of war, but over in Japan, all of these items represent the pop art industry. And pop art is a serious battle.

As one of the foot soldiers in this battle, Mikati worked as a commercial graphic designer at a Japanese magazine, surrounded by some of Japan’s best creators. Their mission? To capture as many customers as possible with cuteness. Sound silly? In Japan, where cuteness has a huge value, the competition for the cutest kawaii or “pop” product is nothing short of fierce.

“Companies recruit the most elite creators who spend all of their energy creating products to get attention and customers,” explained Mikati. “Color, shape, concept, everything is strategically developed to beat competitors and take customers. This is the kawaii war. Pop products evolved on this battlefield.”

Leave it to a veteran of this war to know the best way to illustrate this story in Second Life…


Kuru Kuru World, by Veleda Lorakeet

“Welcome to KURU KURU WORLD! Gigantic crazy Japanese pop-art!” shouts Mikati as she greets new arrivals to her fantastically imaginative creation.

Mikati quickly recognized Second Life’s potential to raise awareness about Japanese pop art—both in terms of pop art’s serious side (the fiercely competitive battlefield that has arisen around all things kawaii) as well as its positive side (the impact on the Japanese art community at large).

Because in the end, the Kawaii War actually brought about something very positive: all the intensely creative energy focused on pop art became a catalyst to help Japanese artists begin to gain recognition on a global scale.

And so Mikati’s goal was clear: to exhibit the power of pop and its impact on art and culture through the experience of Kuru Kuru World.


Kuru Kuru World, by Veleda Lorakeet

One of the more esoteric descriptions of Kuru Kuru World (kuru kuru is a Japanese expression used to describe rotation) calls it a reflection of “the cyclical nature of human history and civilization,” with “different parts of this art exhibit describ(ing) the development, destruction, and rebirth of human life and societal systems.”

Mikati explained her inspiration a little differently: “The concept of ‘art’ tends to be focused on ‘western art,'” she typed out rapidly (in quite respectable English). “Even though Japan has a vibrant art history, it has been isolated from western art for centuries due to the Japanese government’s desire to avoid westernization. This made it difficult for Japanese artists to gain visibility in the western art world.”


Kuru Kuru World, by Veleda Lorakeet

Enter the pop art explosion: the UK and US’s growing appreciation for ‘pop art’ during the same time period that pop art was evolving so rapidly in Japan has caused a new recognition for Japanese artists, while raising the value of pop culture in western art.

“Fine art has already served its function in media, so you might say it’s getting close to death, because unlike pop art, it is not a medium that is easy for society to interact with.”

And interaction is definitely at the heart of every level of Kuru Kuru World. As is color, contrast, evolution, and a steady sense of vibrant, pulsing energy. “I want art to have more energy for people, and pop culture has big energy today, so I chose the pop method for my art,” summarized Mikati.

So what does she do when she’s not building in Second Life? “I don’t have any of my RL art on the internet at the moment, but hopefully I will in the future. For now, all of my work is in SL. My next project in a few months will be a full sim, donated for five months by a Linden-supported art group. I’m eager to spend all of my energy and time to make something new that you will all enjoy!”

Important Note:  Kuru Kuru World was only available for viewing in Second Life until January 18… but Mikati is working on a developing an entire sim next… stay tuned for details!

A Kuru Kuru Kawaii Nekomimi Outfit

| Hair | BC322 by Konmari Mai: Trick Candy in Silver2
| Hair Ribbon | BC322: POP-Eye Ribbon Pink
| Floppy Neko Ears | Snow White by Meico Latte: Scottish Bell (a cat breed) Ears in white
| Neko Eyes | TQ / Turquoise Unicorn: Cat Eyes in Aurora Borealis color (upon arrival at the landing point, click on the turquoise sign for this store to be teleported directly)
| Backpack | Ragdoll’s Cut by Ankh Boa: Wallaby Backpack with straps – Mr. Rose (cutest thing ever… complete with wriggling nose and moving eyes… see the photo below!)
| Necklace with Flowers | Liquid Candy / Skinzors by Allias Nightfire: Nympho, in light colors (unable to find store in SL)
| Necklace with Kimono Girl | Rebel-X by Rouge Darcy: Kokeshi – Black Clouds
| Shirt | A&M / Acid & Mala: Cupcake Dress – with White Lace Bra
| Belt + Skirt | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Moe Decora outfit (the belt and skirt are locked together; I wish the belt could be worn separately!)
| Neko Lunch Box | +PE+ / Panda Express by Kioko Kumaki: Neko Lunch Box (item not currently available at the store)
| Neko Tail | Snow White by Meico Latte: Neko Longtail white
| Left Upper Arm, Strap | BSP / BunnyStar Productions by Mhyja Questi: Crazy Bunny Nano Arm Band
| Left Forearm, Bracelets | BSP / BunnyStar: Crazy Bunny Candy Jewelry Combo (includes a cute bunny/neko necklace that I’ll have to wear on my *next* kawaii post!)
| Left Wrist | H+K / Honey Kitty: Cutie Ribbon Bracelet Gacha Gift #3 – vanilla mix
| Right Upper Arm, Strap | LolLiPopZ n Stuff by Draven Langset: Candy Bracelet (enlarged and attached up upper arm instead of my wrist. Be sure to check out all the neko tails, ears and other accessories sold by this store!)
| Right Forearm | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Moe Decora outfit
| Right Wrist | BroGear by Broder Kubrick (sadly, this store no longer exists in SL): BroGirl Cherries and cupcakes charm bracelet
| Hamburger Leg Strap, Left | AMH / Anna Maya House: Emergency Burger (meowz version) – it would not be a kawaii outfit without one of Anya Yalin’s amazing creations, in my not so humble opinion!
| Lace Garter Leg Strap, Right | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Moe Decora outfit
| Tights | Yomeshoujo by Youki Cioc: L2/3 Leggings (this adorable store is a *must* visit for any kawaii lover… here’s her blog for more.)
| Leg Warmers | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Ichigo Decora kawaii outfit, which contains an entire assortment of clothing and accessories.
| Shoes | Kandi:Fest Designs by Curtis Turas (SL Marketplace link): Rainbow GrungeStar Chucks in Purple


Stacia’s outfit, rear view + details

Mikati’s Outfit:

| Hat | “Mimi” by Mikati:  the FREE gift at the end of Mikati’s exhibit. “Mimi” is her trademark… Mikati uses this cute character even at serious fine art sims.  :-)
| Hair | Lo*momo: Muguet in dark brown
| Sunglasses | Deco: Swank Glasses Polka Dots in Cherry
| Necklace and Scarf | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Decora Chan outfit
| Vest | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Moe Decora outfit
| Shirt / Skirt | H+K / Honey Kitty: Fairy Ruffle Short (pink)
| Left Wrist | H+K / Honey Kitty: Cutie Ribbon Bracelet Gacha Gift #3 – vanilla mix
| Right Wrist | B@R / Bare Rose: from the Ichigo Decora outfit
| Leggings | H+K / Honey Kitty: Cutie Leggings 06 (Gacha item)
| Boots | DOCS by Gospel Voom: v2 8 hole F in Pink

About Mikati Slade:

Mikati began her career studying classical sculpture and drawing at art university. Her range of work experience has included illustration, 3D computer graphics, and graphic design for print media. Quite appropriately, her exhibit is built using 8-bit console game pixel graphics, representing the foundational symbols of today’s technology.

“I am deeply grateful to Musei in Comune that gave me the opportunity to mount this exhibit. Being a Japanese artist with a background in classical Western sculpture, I am thrilled to exhibit my work at a Western art institution as well as the virtual world of Second Life.” – Mikati

Read and Learn More about Mikati and Kuru Kuru World:
Blog story about Kuru Kuru World by Honour McMillan
Blog story about Mikati on SL Newser
Mikati’s blog
Mikati’s Flickr stream
– Mikati on Facebook
– Mikati’s email: mikati.slade@gmail.com
KuruKuru World Flickr stream
KuruKuru on YouTube by DJ Zelda and Geo Meek

With Kuru Kuru World Gone, Enjoy Another 8bit Inspired Sim Here:
Electrobit City by Kris Spade
Blogged here: http://pixierainsl.blogspot.com

Acknowledgements
Artist: Mikati Slade(Japan)
Special Thanks: Emily Lang (Greece)
MiC Art Director: Mexi Lane
Exhibit Advisor: Merlino Mayo
Exhibit Location: MiC: Musei in Comune Rome / Museums of Rome Capital
Musei Website: www.museiincomuneroma.it/
Musei Blog: museiincomuneroma.wordpress.com/

Except as otherwise credited, all the (late night, spontaneous, yet still beautiful) photos are by Bobby Yoshikawa <3***

© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life 2012
=^..^=

~ by Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko on January 8, 2012.

5 Responses to “Kawaii War and Japanese Pop Art”

  1. Absolutely fabulous post!! You and Bobby have really outdone yourselves this time!

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  4. so cool

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