2016-8-29 14:03



脸大如盆还没有嘴的Hello Kitty啦

Hello Kitty












Kumamon, a cartoon bear created to promote tourism in an overlooked part of Japan, has become a billion-dollar phenomenon. Now, a new academic field is trying to pinpoint what makes things cute – and why we can’t resist them



On 14 April 2016, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu, toppling buildings and sending residents rushing into the streets. Hundreds of aftershocks – one an even stronger 7.0 quake – continued for days, killing 49 people, injuring 1,500 and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.



News spread immediately around the globe on social media.

“Earthquake just happened,“ Margie Tam posted from Hong Kong.新闻很快在国际传媒间流传,然而,香港的Margie Tam 是这样发问的:

“R u ok kumamon?“



“Are Kumamon and his friends safe?“ wondered Eric Tang, a college student.

大学生Eric Tang 内心焦躁的不行:“熊本和他的朋友们肿么样了?!“(???)

“Pray for Kumamoto & Kumamon,“ wrote Ming Jang Lee from Thailand.

泰国的Ming Jang Lee :“为熊本熊祈福!“(?????)



On 12 March 2016, one month before the earthquake. Kumamon had bounded on to an outdoor stage at the opening event of his birthday party in KumamotoAbout 150 guests – mostly women – cheered, clapped and whistled. Kumamon waved and bowed. He is just under 5ft tall, with black glossy fur, circular red cheeks and wide, staring eyes.



One woman in the crowd held a Kumamon doll swaddled in a baby blanket. A number of fans had pasted red paper circles on their cheeks to mimic his.



“Actually, I have no idea why I love him so much,“ said Milkinikio Mew, who had flown from Hong Kong with her friends Lina Tong and Alsace Choi to attend the three-day-long festival – even though Hong Kong was holding its own birthday party for Kumamon.

“我跟你港,有受,爱情来得太快就像龙卷风!“香港的Milkinikio Mew绝对是熊本熊的头号迷妹。为了参加这个为期三天的生日会,她和两个闺密从香港飘洋过海来看熊!尽管香港也有熊本熊的生日会!


Kumamon is not exactly a cartoon character, though he does appear in a daily newspaper comic strip. He’s not a brand icon either, like Hello Kitty, though like her, his image certainly sells merchandise. He’s not sexy.

事实上,熊本熊并不算是一个严格意义上的卡通形象;也不是Hello Kitty这种品牌卡通。它一点也不性感(一个熊你能让它夺性感???)但是,我们就是这样爱上了它!!!


A birthday cake was rolled out, and the crowd sang Happy Birthday. Then presents. A representative from Honda, which has a motorbike factory nearby, gave him its Kumamon-themed scooter. An Italian bicycle maker unveiled a custom Kumamon racing bike. There was also a new exercise DVD, on which Kumamon leads the workout.



Kumamon is a “loose character“, one of the cuddly creatures in Japan. He has become more than a symbol for that region, more than merely a strategy to push its tourism and farm products. He is almost regarded as a living entity, a kind of fun ursine household god.



Kumamon is kawaii.People spend a lot on cute avatars – Kumamon earned $1 billion in 2015, Hello Kitty four or five times that. But what is cute? What is the basis of its appeal? Does appreciation for cuteness come naturally, or does it reveal something about our society? Is it broadly positive – or could cuteness harbour darker facets as well? These are some of the questions being addressed by a nascent academic field, cute studies.

熊本熊为什么这么火?有人说,“因为它卡哇伊内~“人们对萌物的热情和投入好像只会增加不会削弱。2015年,熊本熊让商家盈利了近10亿美元!Hello Kitty大概40、50亿美元吧(老司喵!)人们不禁疑问,所以所谓“可爱“到底是什么?这些萌物为什么会让人们情不自禁,把持不住?人们对于可爱的事物的欣赏、喜欢,究竟是自发的,还是这背后也有社会因素在加持(可爱就可爱咯想的好多地说....)?可爱的事物永远都是这样根正苗红正能量吗?它是不是也有自己的阴暗面呢?对此,研究人员呢开始对可爱进行研究了。





Soma Fugaki scanned the opening-night crowd at Blossom Blast, a feminist art show at theUltraSuperNew Gallery in Tokyo’ship Harajuku district. People were drinking and dancing. But Soma doesn’t dance, or even stand. He’s a baby. Just five months old, Soma squirmed in the arms of his father, Keigo, who gazed lovingly into his son’s face.“Everything about him is a reflection of myself,“ Keigo said, “a cartoon version … I stare at him all the time. He looks like me. It’s my features, but exaggerated: bigger cheeks, bigger eyes.“

Keigo 对这一理论做了个完美示范。彼时,在日本的一个狂欢艺术展上,人人都在畅饮、跳舞,而Keigo 则目不转睛的静静凝视儿子Soma Fugaki 的小脸蛋儿:“儿子就像另一个我,一个卡通缩小版-圆圆的脸颊,大大的眼睛,一个模子里刻出来。“

Babies are our model for cuteness. Those details – big cheeks, big eyes, a high forehead, a small nose and jaw, and stubby arms and legs that move in a clumsy fashion, strike people‘s hearts. Not just humans: puppies, baby ducks and other young animals are included .


For decades, scientists focused on what babies perceive, and how they think. But in the 21st century, attention turned to how babies themselves are perceived, as cuteness started becoming a cohesive realm of research. Experiments hooking up volunteers to magnetic resonance imaging scanners have shown how seeing cute creatures stimulates the brain to release dopamine. Society’s embrace of cuteness has led academics in gender studies to wonder whether cute culture trains women to be childlike, or whether it could be a means by which young women take control of their own sexuality.


More recent experiments have been carried out with the aim of identifying general aesthetic standards that can make an inanimate object cute. In a study at the University of Michigan in 2012, visual information expert Sookyung Cho asked subjects “to design a cute rectangle by adjusting the size, proportion, roundness, , and colour of the figure“.What she found supported the idea that “smallness, roundness, tiltedness, and lightness of colour can serve as determinants of perceived cuteness in artefact design.

越来越多人科学家开始做试验,试图研究人们所谓“对可爱的定义“。美国密歇根大学2012年对此进行了研究,视觉信息专家Sookyung Cho 让课题组去“设计一个可爱的矩形,调整它的大小,比例、圆度、颜色。“ 最终,研究表明,人们钟爱“浓缩的、圆嘟嘟的、有立体感的、颜色明亮“的事物,并称之为“可爱“。



Cuteness is so associated with Japan that the actual country can come as something of a surprise. On the Tokyo subway, jammed with businessmen in dark suits, women in paper masks, kids in plain school uniforms, examples of cuteness can be hard to spot. Still, there are pockets of cuteness to be found: tiny yuru-kyara charms dangling off backpacks.


In Kumamoto, during Kumamon’s birthday weekend in March, at the exit of the Shinkansen bullet train at Kumamoto station, I looked around for signs of cute fever. I was not disappointed: I caught sight of the enormous head of Kumamon on the lower floor, in a mock stationmaster’s office that had been specially built for him. The train station shop was filled with Kumamon items, from bottles of sake to stuffed animals. In the city, his face was spread across the sides of an office building.

熊本熊生日周时,笔者在熊本县车站新干线列车出口处探寻“可爱“,这个车站没有让我失望:且不说台阶上印的满满的熊头(The chubby bear is watching you !),就连站长的办公室都不乏熊本熊的身影。车站的小商店自不必说,杯子、毛绒玩具,熊本熊无处不在。在熊本县,你甚至可以在办公楼侧面看到熊本部长的脸!


Six years ago, Kumamoto wasn’t known for much. Kumamoto residents believed there was nothing in their city that anyone would want to visit. The region is largely agricultural, growing melons and strawberries.



But in 2010, Japan Railways was working to extend the Shinkansen bullet train to Kumamoto, and the city fathers were eager for tourists to use it. So they commissioned a logo to promote the area, hiring a designer who offered a stylised exclamation mark.


The designer, seeking to embellish it, and knowing the popularity of yuru-kyara, added a surprised black bear. Kuma is Japanese for bear. Mon is local slang for man.



A few Kumamoto officials resisted Kumamon – their concern was that he would scare off potential tourists, who would worry about encountering wild bears, of which there are none in the prefecture. But the Kumamoto governor was a fan, and cannily waived licensing fees for Kumamon.



The bullet train began service to Kumamoto on 12 March, so the date is now used as Kumamon’s official birthday. He was there to greet the first scheduled train, a moment recreated during his birthday festivities. Fans lined up at the station to hug him, reaching back for a lingering last touch as they were led off to make way for the next waiting fan.





Japan has uniquely embraced cuteness as a reflection of its national character, the way tea ceremonies or cherry blossoms were once held up as symbolic of Japanese nationhood.



In Japan, the fascination with cuteness is visible in girls’ handwriting. Around 1970, schoolgirls in Japan began to imitate the caption text in manga comics – what was called koneko-ji, or “kitten writing“. By 1985, half of the girls in Japan had adopted the style, and companies marketing pencils, notebooks and other inexpensive gift items, such as Sanrio, learned that these items sold better when festooned with a variety of characters, the queen of whom is Hello Kitty.

岛国妹子甚至把“萌“运用到写字上!20世纪70年代,日本的女学生开始模仿漫画片里的字幕字体,她们将这种字体称作koneko-ji ,也叫做“小猫字“。1985年,小猫字风靡日本,铅笔、笔记本和小礼品上随处可见这些字体。甚至是大名鼎鼎的三丽鸥公司(就是卖Hello Kitty那家!)都发现了其中的商机


Her full name is Kitty White, and she has a family and lives in London. The first Hello Kitty product, a vinyl coin purse, went on sale in 1974. Today, about $5bn worth of Hello Kitty merchandise is sold annually. In Asia, there are Hello Kitty amusement parks, restaurants and hotel suites. EVA Air, the Taiwanese airline, flies seven Hello Kitty-themed jets, which carry images of Hello Kitty and her friends not only on their hulls, but throughout their cabins, on the pillows .

Hello Kitty全名凯蒂·怀特(竟然还有全名....),和她的家人生活在伦敦(也是入戏好深...)。Hello Kitty首款问世的产品是一个零钱包,于1974年出售。现如今,Hello Kitty每年在全球的销量已经达到50亿了(小编能说小编也贡献了不少么....真的萌到无可救药...)。在亚洲,还开设了Hello Kitty主题乐园和旅店。台湾的长荣航空公司甚至有7架Hello Kitty主题飞机!机体、机舱遍布Kitty和她的盆友的身影,甚至枕头上都印着Kitty!




“If your target is young women, the market’s saturated,“ said Hiroshi Nittono, director of the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory at Osaka University, talking about the market for cute products in Japan. That is certainly true. In an effort to stand out, some yuru-kyara are now made intentionally crude or semi-frightening. Even Kumamon, beloved as he is, is still subject to a popular internet meme where his works are revealed to be done “for the glory of Satan“.

“如果你的目标是年轻女性,那么市场早就饱和了。“日本大阪大学认知心理生理实验室主管Hiroshi Nittono 如是说。的确。现在市场上充斥着太多这样那样的卡通形象了,想要突出重围,就必须与众不同。所以说,很多商家甚至会去专门做一些看起来粗鲁甚至恐怖的玩具。可爱如熊本熊,甚至都和撒旦有那么点联系(好怕怕!)




Nittono’s group is exploring how cuteness can be used as a device to draw people toward products without blatant branding.

日本的研究者Nittono 和他的团队,始终致力于研究“萌物“的特质。没有浮夸的外表和营销,为何“萌物“就能让人心甘情愿乖乖掏钱包。


“We use kawaii for such sentiment, feeling – kawaii things are not threatening, that is the most important part, small and not harmful,“ said Nittono. “A high-quality product is somewhat distant from the customers; it looks expensive. But if you put kawaii nuance on such products, maybe such items can be more approachable.“

“可爱,最重要的特质是,小且无害。高质量的产品呢,往往看起来特别昂贵,让人觉得有距离感。这时候,若你加以萌物来进行点缀,人们就会觉得产品特别接地气。“Nittono 如是说。

Hello Kitty

“If you have something cute, then you want to touch it, and then you see the quality of it.“


“It’s never bad,“ she added. “I never use kawaii in an ironic way. Kawaii is kind of the best compliment around Japanese people, especially girls and women. “




Joshua Paul Dale, a 50-year-old cultural studies scholar on the faculty of Tokyo Gakugei University, has been the driving force in cute studies. Part behavioural science, part cultural studies, part biology, the field is so new it hasn’t had a conference yet.

Joshua Paul Dale ,50岁,东京学艺大学文化研究学者,一直致力于对“可爱“的研究。“可爱“研究涉及的领域可真不少-行为科学,文化,甚至生物,这片新大陆至今还鲜有人涉足,甚至没有多少可以参考的资料。

Dale was the first to put together an online cute studies bibliography, a list now containing over 100 publications. They range in alphabetical order.


Cuteness has not yet emerged as an independent scientific field – Dale estimates that only a few dozen academics worldwide focus on the topic – but he is hopeful that it is in the process of happening.





Humanity has always embraced household gods: not the world-creating universal deity, but minor, more personal allies to soften what can be a harsh and lonely life. Not everyone has the friends they deserve or the baby they would cherish. Often people are alone in the world. Teddy bears exist because the night is dark and long and at some point your parents have to go to bed and leave you. There is real comfort in cuteness.



“Filling in an emotional need is exactly where kawaii plays a significant role,“ said Christine R Yano, a professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.“Even in America, journalist Nicholas Kristof has written of an ‘empathy gap’ in today’s society,“ said Yano. “He points to the place of objects that may be considered promoters of ‘happiness’, ‘solace’, ‘comfort’. When a society needs to heal, it seeks comfort in the familiar. And often the familiar may reside in ‘cute’. “

“萌物给人的是一种情感上的陪伴“。夏威夷大学人类学教授Christine R Yano 如是说。“美国记者Nicholas Kristof 曾经写道,当今社会,人与人之间存在所谓‘共情鸿沟’。萌物呢,个人一种‘幸福、安抚、舒适’的感觉。这个社会也满是创伤,也需要一些治愈。“