Sunday, March 29, 2009
Lecture Nibbles: Western Characters vs. Japanese Characters
One of the things I will be discussing at my lecture "Kawaii Culture: Cuteness in Japan" is the difference in design between the majority of Western cartoon characters and the majority of Japanese cartoon characters.
As the chart above shows, while both sets of mascots are cute, Japanese characters tend to have more infantile characteristics (bigger heads, rounder bodies), as well as characteristics that make them appear more helpless (lack of mouths, stubby limbs, lack of fingers). Even Western characters geared towards young children tend to be more "adolescent" in their designs: articulated limbs, lots of movement, loud/verbose.
As noted above, this affects how the character interacts with its audience- Japanese characters tend to more about the viewer projecting their emotions and desires onto the character; it's the opposite with Western characters. The creators of Hello Kitty have said [similar comments] when asked about Hello Kitty's lack of a mouth: "Hello Kitty speaks from her heart."