There’s no doubt there are an abundance of cute characters in Japan. Japanese people love cute things, and will buy mountains merchandise to show off in their homes, use as supplies, or hang them as keychains to dangle from their phones or bags. And because there are so many characters and fads that come in and out of style, one can pick their favorites to show off their interests and personality in an individuality-through-conformity based society like Japan’s.

You already know what I’m talking about: Hello Kitty, Pikachu, Rilakkuma, and Doraemon (to name a few). They are, after all, the characters that have made Japan the “Nation Of Cute.” While these characters are definitely “the mainstream” (so much so that even outside of Japan you probably will recognize them all), there is another group of “cute” characters out there that you probably have not heard of. Does Kobitodukan, Lerch-san, or Gloomy Bear ring any bells?

Kimochi Warui + Kawaii = KimoKawaii


When I was in Japan last summer, I noticed some really strange characters mixed in with the usual flurry of fluffy alpacas and Pokemon. These strange creatures had the outside skins of mushrooms, peaches, and plants, but on the inside they looked like old men in a perpetual state of shock. When I asked my friend about them, she replied that they were called Kobitodukan (こびとづかん) and were really popular, especially among high school girls who think that they’re cute

Cute? Cute?! How can something this strange be considered cute, I thought. “They’re supposed to be gross, and that’s what makes them cute. It’s called kimo-kawaii, or gross-cute,” my friend explained.


At first I was bewildered by the concept, but just as it took me three painful tries to go from hating the fermented soybean dish natto to loving it, the more that I saw Kobitodukan, the more I began to tolerate them. Before I knew it, I had a Kobitodukan pencil case, keychain, card game, guidebook, candy holder, and assorted stickers. Kimo-kawaii had won me over just like it had won over the rest of Japan.

Kobitodukan themselves were created by Toshitaka Nabata in his children’s picture book, Kobitodukan (which translates roughly to “dwarf encyclopedia”). These Kobito dwarves are explained in a poetic fashion, saying that:

“They are the ones who perform the actions that fill us with mystery. They are the ones that make the grass rustle when there is no wind and who fold the edges of toilet paper into triangles.”


But it’s not just the Kobitodukan that are considered kimo-kawaii. There’s a whole slurry of other characters out there that fall within this increasingly popular category.

Nameko – He’s A “Fun Guy!”


Have you ever heard of a mushroom acting as a detective’s assistant? Nameko (marketed in English as “Funghi”), a talking mushroom, started off in a video game and now embellishes many apps, keychains, and folders galore.
In fact, you can hardly walk a block in Japan without walking into a Nameko UFO catcher (most likely Viet will be cursing while putting in another 1000 yen into the machine… “last time… last time…” he’ll mutter under his breath).

Funghi’s official website says “His lovable expressions and unpredictable behavior make him super popular!” If a talking mushroom wasn’t kimochi warui enough, his skin is described as “slippery, soft, and shiny” and instead of talking, he can express emotions by saying “nnf nnf”

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He even has a whole music video about him! There’s nothing like watching a mushroom sing and dance to a catchy tune!

Kimo-Kawaii City Mascots


If you’re traveling in Japan, you’ll see plenty of mascots, and not just for sports teams. In Japan, many cities have their own own mascots, or yuru kyara. There are so many (over a thousand) that they cover a wide spectrum of cute.  A while back, Hashi wrote an article about his favorite mascots, which includes some that are kimo-kawaii (or maybe just kimoi) enough to be mentioned here.


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Manbe-kun is the mascot for the town of Oshamanbe located in Hokkaido. His physical mix of sea-creatures that make up his body and his silent disposition combine to make something that’s just plain weird.


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Funashi represents Funabashi city and vaguely resembles a pear. Although he doesn’t seem very gross standing by himself, when he jumps around (which is very often) you can understand why he might fit into this category.



Nara’s city mascot, Sento-kun represents his town through his Buddhist monk appearance, reindeer horns and “amiable disposition.” He has not been completely well-received throughout his life, but has continued to thrive due to that those who love him, really love him.



Lerch-san (pronounced reruhi-san) represents the snowy areas of Niigata prefecture, and is in fact based off of  real-life guy Theodor Edler von Lerch, who supposedly first brought skiing to Japan. I had the pleasure of meeting the mascot at a shopping center a few years ago. (Kimo-)Kawaii!

Blood and Guts- Grotesque Kawaii


Although kimo-kawaii has been a recent fad, Japan has always had a relationship with creating strange things. Similar to the kimo-kawaii is the grotesque-cute or “guro-kawaii”, which is a step more extreme. Those who know Gloomy Bear know guro-kawaii. Gloomy Bear, which has had a surge of popularity overseas, is a teddy bear character who brutally murders his child owner- but he’s so cute while he does it! Although more than a little disturbing, I can see why it would be popular with kids going through a goth-phase. Gloomy bear seems like just the thing embrace if you want to be edgy, but still cute.


Speaking of edgy, if you “look” around Harajuku (and the rest of Japan) you may “see” something called “eyeball decorations.” Japanese girls are ripping out the eyeballs of their friends and are sewing them on their bags and jackets (just kidding.) But eyeballs are embellishing many fashion accessories, and are considered cute by many. Accompanying the eyeballs can be bones or other blood-splattered body parts parts. Adorable!


While this sort of fashion can be seen in Japan it also exists overseas, even in America, in fact! A lot of times it seems like there’s some inspiration going on, one way or another.

Guro-Kawaii Outside Of Japan?


Take for example the American animation Happy Tree Friends, which if you do not know, is a cartoon where cute fluffy animals inflict horrifying levels of violence and gore upon each other. It’s not Japanese, but I have heard various Japanese high school girls tell me that they love the show. Why? I honestly do not know. Personally, I can’t watch a whole video without cringing and looking away. Seriously, watch at your own discretion. Meccha kawaii~!

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The idea of something being both aesthetically unpleasing yet cute at the same time is being accepted both in Japan and outside of it, whether it is for shock factor or for remembrance, and shows around the English-speaking world have also used bursts of gross and grotesque in the mainstream. (Spongebob or Ren and Stimpy, anyone?)

Guro and Kimo Kawaii in the flesh


If we’re going to talk about guro-kawaii, we have to talk about her. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, the supreme overlord of Harajuku, is responsible for earworms such as PONPONPON, Candy Candy, and Tsukematsukeru, definitely embraces the concepts of kimo-kawaii and guro-kawaii.

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Kyary is responsible for many strange (often kimo/guro-kawaii) fads, the perpetuation of eyeball fashions (“see” above), as well as a recent fashion idea of using makeup to emphasize the bags under your eyes to make them look bigger- which is strange to some and cute to others.

Kyary herself states that her image is one of the main focuses of her musical career. She said in an interview once that “I love grotesque things. My concept is scary things that become traumatic with their cuteness. There are so many “just cute” things in the world, so I add grotesque, scary and even shocking materials like eyeballs and brains to balance out the cuteness.”

Almost Zen like with that balance. Wash on… wash off… Ommmmm.

But… Why?


So why are Kobitodukan, eyeball accessories, and Kyary so popular? Is it  the Japanese love of the strange in a society where most are not strange? Are people getting bored of the traditional soft vanilla-type Sanrio cute? The strange is what initially shocks the consumer, and is more interesting than the plain cute. And once they get past the initial shock, they become more open to the idea of it being “cute”, especially when the media and their peers are also calling these things cute. Japanese society is what gives these things the names “kimo-kawaii” and “guro-kawaii”, and once a name is given, the concept comes along with it.

So go forth, Japanese schoolgirls! Bring more kimo-guro-kawaii into the world for the rest of us to enjoy! We will continue your legend by calling these things cute as well, though maybe it’ll take a little getting used to. Although guro-kawaii has been accepted more outside of Japan with things such as Happy Tree Friends, kimo-kawaii still has a ways to go, I think, as I am reminded almost daily when people see my Kobito keychain. “What the hell is that?” or “That’s kind of creepy,” are things I hear a lot. I’m sure the more that I tell people that my kakuremomojiri Kobitodukan keychain is cute, the more it will rub off on someone at some point.

So let’s see, did it work? Let me know how you’re feeling about all of this in the comments. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? (That is, unless said eye is on your handbag)

Time To Coloring Book!

For those of you who still love coloring books (or have kids) our (not) kimo-kawaii artist Aya made you a coloring book page out of the header. How fun is that? Just click the image below to get to a full size.


Also, if you want this image as your very own desktop background, you can do so by clicking below:

2560 x 1600

  • Brad Garrett

    Interesting post! On a side note, Lerch-san looks like Nigel Thornberry.


    I think people of all cultures can have a fascination with the cute-ugly, case(s) in point: Crocs, Uggs, VW Beetle, & Mini-Me.

  • kewlBeans

    I don’t have a lot to give on the subject matter, but I just wanted to say this article was written really really well! It’s a fantastic first post……… way better than koichi’s first XD. Good on you Tofugu for finding such a talented intern, can’t wait to see more from Rachel!

  • Creepstine

    I’m so happy I came across this article, I’ve ALWAYS loved “so disgusting yet cute” things, but never thought there would be a real name for it haha! Japan is where I need to be!–but I’d probably be broke from all the cute/weird things I’d buy. I agree with Brad, that’s exactly what I thought about Lerch-san LOL

  • koichi

    oh what! haha, well, I agree, anyways.

  • asdfghj

    very well-written and interesting!! i cant wait to hear more from you, rachel :)

  • Rachel

    Thank you so much!

  • Mescale

    “in an individuality-through-conformity based society like Japan’s.”

    Whoa nice Hypotrochian Transquaestiation there, its traditional to wait for at least the third paragraph before revealing your prejudices.

  • Viet

    Oh Mescale. It’s traditional to wait until at least the third blog post before you bare your troll fangs.

  • Kasma88

    Well, Funashi just obliterated my bad mood! Great post by the way, it was nice to see one on something really out of the ordinary and have a little depth to it! (‘:

  • Mike Hollihan

    Can’t believe you didn’t mention Garbage Pail Kids! They are definitely kimo-kawaii.

  • Rachel

    Thanks! I actually found out about funasshi when my friend couldn’t stop laughing from just thinking about him.

  • Rachel

    Good call! I’d forgotten about them!

  • Kyouko Dalton

    I loooove kimo-kawaii and guro-kawaii. It’s like the Japanese hipster movement xD

  • Mescale

    Oh Viet, I am never the traditionalist. Besides I’m serious.

    What is that line meant to mean? Is she baiting people, is it something she really believes?

    It just seems a bizarre thing to write it instead of stopping there, she’s added some kind of throw away social commentary in there, quickly moving on without explaining what thats all about, passing it off as something everyone is aware of.

    Well I want to talk about just what that line means, What is this individuality through conformity society? I don’t understand what it is. Is it real, or is it her misconception?

    Its a pretty powerful statement to make, and as a throwaway line its doesn’t sound like she’s saying anything good or nice about Japanese.

    It makes me think she has some serious misconceptions about the Japanese, some pretty weird ideas about society as a whole. A naive and xenophobic world view.

    In my view it entirely illegitimises anything written after it.

    If you are going to make some kind of statement about a country of people back it up with some information, don’t just randomly throw it out there.

    It sounds just like a classic ingroup/outgroup behaviour. A nice bit of out-group derogation. everyone likes a bit of that right, after all we’re all in the in-group, its the stupid Japanese who are the out-group here.

  • Phillip

    Ah, I love how Aya included all 4 Tofugu mascots in the header. I want to change my background wallpaper from the WaniKani family photo, but I also love it… I want both.

  • shiro

    I raised a brow at that one, too, Viet. Trolling’s got nothing to do with it.

  • shiro

    Pretty good first article, Rachel, but do watch it with broad, sweeping generalizations of Japanese people (i.e. “individuality-through-conformist society”). It was not necessary to the article and it makes a lot of people stop in their tracks and think, “Oh, really? What are your sources?”

    It might be true in your mind, but it’s better just to avoid that altogether imo – unless you are specifically writing an article about how Japanese culture is individual-through-conformity…

  • Flora

    I thought the eyeball thing was a part of the whole “pastel goth” movement? (Or did Kyary start that too?)

  • Viet

    Mescale and I have a friendly, joking relationship. Please don’t take my comments with him too seriously. And besides he is a well known friendly troll around these parts.

  • koko

    Oh yeah! Awesome post. Fuguyes!

  • Phillip

    Well there you go! Never borrow a person’s beans! That’s just rude.

  • koichi

    I think what she means, and this is based off my own experience as well as some readings I seem to remember having to do in school at one point, is the various ways that people show their individuality in Japan, which tend to be different from much of the other world, especially the Western one.

    While much of Japan is indeed about conformity (uniforms, group mentality, etc.) there are some things that you can do to make yourself an individual while still conforming. One such way is through phone straps. These can show what you like as an individual as well as show off your personality in a subtle way. For example, my phone straps involved a lot of Mariners stuff, which showed my <3 towards the Seattle Mariners (why can't they just win again???). Another example that's from my experience is in kendo. Everyone wears the same thing and looks the same (for the most part). But, everyone has a different tenugui (head towel) that they wear. You can see it showing on the back of everyone's head, and it makes everyone different even though everyone's conforming as well. There are plenty more examples like this, though I think the phone strap one is the most applicable.

    It would indeed be an interesting post, though. I'll talk to her about writing about it. I think she's correct in her statement, fwiw, though generalizations have many exceptions, which is why they're generalizations.

    Anyways, that's why I let that through – it made sense to me, but I can see how it could ruffle some feathers – at least it's an interesting idea for a post later.

  • Viet

    Now I know. Minecraft is serious business :(

  • koichi

    I responded to a similar question about this in another comment if you wanted to read that, but tl;dr I don’t think it’s a misconception. I agree it would be nice to hear more about it, though in its own post. This is a topic that could take up many words and deserves its own article, if anything.

  • shiro

    I live here and teach in Japan, so I know “what she means.” I just think it doesn’t have any place in this article, and my advice to her in future articles is to avoid such sweeping social commentary on the culture wherever it’s not necessary. Especially since any justification of “Japanese people show their individuality through conformity!” is more than likely going to be personal anecdote rather than legitimate social research. And fwiw, after many, many years in Japan, I actually *don’t* agree with that. Yes, I see where she is coming from, and yes, it’s obvious that Japanese are very group oriented. However, I would hesitate to say that “Japanese people,” as a whole, are inherently conformist. Of course, everything I have to say on the subject is also personal anecdote.

    It is also important to be aware, as a new Tofugu writer, than Japanese people DO read and translate these articles, and share them with other Japanese people. If you are writing something in your article that you would be hard-pressed to defend to an actual live Japanese person living their lives in Japan, you should think twice about whether or not it really belongs there.

    I’m not trying to bring the girl down or trash her writing, I thought the article was cute and interesting. I do think that the broader implications of her choice in words is something she should definitely think about as a new internet writer, though.

  • shiro

    I think making a whole article about it is an invitation for trolls and a set-up for a thorough trashing on 2ch, actually. :/ Please don’t make the poor girl do that.

  • koichi

    There’s a decent amount of research around this topic already – While it’d cause a good amount of controversy, here in the comments or somewhere else (like 2ch) I think an article like this can be done well. Would have to have lots of quotes and citations, but I think it could be good, and more importantly interesting / thought provoking.

    That being said, you might be right. If it turns out it can’t be done it can’t be done, but if it can, I think it would be a nice contribution to the blog. No way of figuring that out until some more research on the research has been done…

  • shiro

    There is a lot of research, but it’s very, very difficult topic for a non-professional to write on without inadvertently falling into an us vs. them mentality. Besides that, it will definitely invite a lot of criticism from people who have far more personal experience in Japan than the writer. I don’t think it’s a great setup for an intern, unless she’s got a very thick skin…

  • shiro

    Just to clarify, this is what I mean by word choice:

    “High school girls in Japan use these phone straps and pencil cases showcase their individuality, while still adhering to the strict uniform code of their schools.” factually correct, offensive to no-one, and gives the reader a clear example of why the girls can’t show their individuality in other ways.

    “High school girls can use phone straps and pencil cases to show their personality in an individuality-through-conformity society like Japan.” …er? what does that mean? please explain!

    So yeah. There are ways to say what I think both she and you want to say without the throw-away social commentary.

  • Chris Taran

    The classic kimo-kawaii from my American youth:

  • Senpai Magica

    Really good first post, there’s room for improvement of course, but you’re off to a great start ^^ I’ll keep rooting for you! Hopefully we’ll see more of you in the future.

    If you don’t like Nameko you’re wrong.

  • Kim

    But… Still… Why?

    I think it is one of those “koans.”
    I think you have to meditate about it for hours before you’ll be able to understand it. I’ll begin now.

  • alpacainspace

    Congratulations on the internship Rachel! Kimo-kawaii and busu-kawaii are both concepts that I like a lot, makes me want to see more of you. MAYBE SOME HENGAO!?

  • Mescale

    Its no different to how people show their individuality whilst still conforming in non-japan countries.

    There are schools outside of Japan which have uniforms you must wear, and children who wear them find ways to individualise themselves.

    There are offices and jobs where people have to wear the correct clothes and they find ways to individualise themselves.

    Non-japanese societies have their own rules to follow, you don’t notice them because you exist in that society, so you don’t think about those rules, because they are a part of you, but you find ways to act outside of those ways, whilst still conforming. Human psychology works to find the limits of any system, to push a little further, to find a way which is more to the liking of the human. Its not limited to Japanese or non-Japanese, its just how the human psyche works.

    Japan is an easy target because they have a history of a segmented society, strong traditions, understanding the culture is difficult to access due to the significant language barrier, and its not your society so you can point and look and see things which are transparent to you in your own society.

    The differences between Japan and your society are less than you think, if you knew your own society a lot better you’d see that there are many many more similarities, and many things you think are unique to Japan, are not.

    As writing tips.

    Generally, unless you are writing an opinion piece, its usually best to avoid your opinion, people will just get hung up on the opinion bit, and miss the rest of the article, which might have been good.

    Your writing should have a goal, a target, something you want the readers to experience. Review your writing and remove the bits that detract from the article’s goal.

  • Mescale


  • Cassandra

    This answers so many questions I had about Tingle from The Legend of Zelda…

  • Cassandra

    This answers so many questions I had about Tingle from The Legend of Zelda…

  • nonononono

    Mystery unraveled, I fall for her eye bags. Apparently the key to my heart is to look like a recovering drug addict.

  • nonononono

    Not that I can listen to more than 30 seconds of anything she produces, though! But I’ll force myself. Love hurts.

  • nonononono

    And I welcome the new author. Stellar first effort, Rachel.

  • Henro 88

    “passing it off as something everyone is aware of.” We all knew exactly what she meant. Only a troll like you who doesn’t understand what is-and-isn’t racism would bother pointing it out. Anyone who has lived in Japan and has the slightest understanding of Japanese culture has already encountered this phenomenon and knows exactly what it entails. You’ve proven repeatedly that you lack reading comprehension skills and are just generally trolling.

  • Hashi
  • Mescale

    You’re still just an angry gaijin, even if your words had any worth they still have no meaning.

    Instead of trying to gang up against the mean troll just come out and say you don’t like me. Your pathetic school ground techniques don’t impress me.

    You are still a big fat poopyhead.

  • Rachel

    Really? I love Kyary’s music! But there are only certain times of the day when I can listen to it though haha

  • Rachel
  • Hashi
  • Rachel
  • Henro 88

    Not ganging up on you, and I’m not an angry gaijin. See? You don’t listen, or read, or understand. I explained why you are wrong, and you responded with trolling. Ugh. No, I don’t like you because you are an ignorant troll.

  • Henro 88

    The only people who pop up in a conversation like this and say, “But you can’t generalize!” are ignorant people who know little to nothing about culture.

    Culture is itself a generalization. The phrase “Japanese culture” is in itself a generalization about an entire nation. There isn’t one, single overarching thing that “Japanese” people do to comprise “Japanese culture”. In fact, “Japanese” is in itself a generalization about a broadly diverse ethnolinguistic group of people. They aren’t homogenous, never have been; yet, there they are, “Japanese.” We use one word to describe the whole, vast, diverse group. Literally every word we use is a generalization. If we “can’t use generalizations” to talk about the “Japanese,” then we’d better stop using that word: “Japanese.” It’s too general. We’d better stop talking about “Japanese culture;” it’s too general. You’d better get more specific if you want to please people like Shiro and Mescale.

    In fact, the phrase, “You can’t make generalizations!” is IN ITSELF a generalization about generalizations. It’s a stupid and pointless argument to make, and it’s a waste of time to engage people who make it. You CAN make generalizations, because you absolutely MUST make generalizations in order to use human language. Anyone who wastes your time talking about generalizations is just splitting hairs and being purposefully obtuse. Or a troll like Mescale over there.

  • Henro

    You literally just don’t know anything about culture.

    The fact that EVERY culture to one degree or another has conformity does not mean that Japanese conformity is unique to Japan. Every culture has marriage, too, but guess what: it is different in almost each and every one. THAT’s how culture works, and the thing is that people who are actually educated and know the most basic fundamentals of culture and anthropology? We understand that YES, ALL cultures share these basic things – but THIS particular culture does it MORE or LESS than the others.

    In other words: anyone who isn’t a complete idiot understands that YES, we do this too. We conform in our societies, too. We have social problems, too. But JAPAN’s culture, and JAPAN’s social issues are the topic at hand, and they are different from others. They conform MORE than we do, and not in the same WAY that we do.

    It is seriously not that f-ing complicated, and all your BS about how anyone who critiques Japanese culture is having “in-group/out-group issues” is just idiotic trolling. The longer you rant, the more you reveal how LITTLE you know about culture. By the way – the word you want isn’t “in-group/out-group.” It’s “ethnocentrism” you ignorant troll. AND GUESS WHAT: it isn’t inherently ethnocentric to discuss another culture, nor to critique what you do-and-do-not like about it.

  • Henro

    F-ing typo: ” does not mean that Japanese conformity isN’T unique to Japan.”

    In other words: Japanese conformity not only is different than US conformity – it plays a DIFFERENT social role in Japanese culture and is viewed differently by Japanese people. The fact that we share a cultural concept doesn’t mean that we USE it the same way or that we VIEW it the same way, and if you knew the first basic f-ing thing about culture, you would know that.

  • Henro

    I like your article, but my gut response is that you are…off. Not wrong, exactly, but off. Funasshi, for example, is less kimo-kawaii and more a troll. My feelings towards him is that he is formally a yuru-kyara – he fulfills all the criteria of being one – but he is in no way a proper yuru-kyara. He is a post-modern parody of a yuru-kyara, and I think he is absolute genius.

    I think kimo-kawaii is linked to Japanese formalism. A lot of Japanese culture I encounter is that X=X regardless of context or circumstances. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is like this, I think: formalistically, she is a cute girl: she has the voice, the frills, the funny dance. But she sneaks that creepy stuff in, just like Funasshi. She’s technically cute – formally, she fulfills all the necessary criteria – but she’s playing with it.

    In fact, I think that may be EXACTLY what “individuality through conformity” means: Funasshi and Kyary are playing the system. They are fulfilling all the technical rules, but in practice, they are breaking all of them. A LOT of Japanese culture works this way. You follow the rules to the T, but then you sneak in this crazy thing that’s not IN the rules – you’ve got your school uniform, you’ve got your proper school bag, you’ve got the appropriate shoes – but there’s NO RULE that says you can’t put your necktie on your head – and you ARE still technically wearing it. Funasshi is a yuru-kyara in every technical way – but no one ever said a yuru-kyara had to be SANE. He’s still a yuru-kyara.

    Which isn’t to say this is a bad article, I just don’t think you fully considered the cultural context in which it exists.

  • Henro

    Oh, man, I have the same thing. I can literally just sit and giggle to myself thinking about Funasshi. He is the best thing I’ve seen in Japan in the past few years. Absolute. Best.

    Watch this video:

    He just doesn’t care!

  • Applesauce 21

    Wow, the comments on this article are so serious o_O I feel sorry for the intern! To cheer your guys up, here is a kobitodukan lolly pop :D

  • Lourdes

    I am new to the Tofugu/Textfugu world so I wanted to congratulate Rachel on a great article. It’s sad one can’t read (or write) anything on the Internet anymore without generating some of the responses below. Please continue to provide great content for those of us that wouldn’t have a way to find out about what’s going on in Japan otherwise!

  • Cassandra

    See also:

  • SamuraiAvenger

    “Who Killed Cock Robin?”

  • noisyninja


  • Jan Kowalewski

    I like Hello Kitty. That’s good for me. Keep your kimokawaii for yourself if you like it ;p

  • Dyna1


  • Mwani


  • CoffinUnicorn

    i have always had an interest in things like this, and well now i know that it has a name! I’ve always loved Kyary, her video for Fashion Monster kind of fits this trend! This is a fantastic first post though,good job.

  • ninjamitsuki

    Even though most people think he is horrifying, as intended, I always thought that Salad Fingers was cute in a dark, twisted way. After learning about kimo kawaii though, I actually looked up a Japanese subtitled upload of Salad Fingers on Nico Nico Douga and I saw a lot of comments about how “cute” he was. At least 15 comments said “かわいい”

    So I guess Salad Fingers would be an example.