Anikora refers to a growing trend in Japan (2009)—primarily among men; mainly a desire to see their favorite celebrities, pop or movie stars, in pin-up or nude poses with doll bodies, or highly sexualized bodies, as well as unrealistically idealized ones. Anikora originates as a hybrid between Japanese Anime, and idol collage referred to as aikora in Japanese.

Images above from Artist, Ryoko Suzuki 2009 exhibition. She transposes her face onto highly sexualized doll bodies to create a dialogue about this trend. Below is an excerpt from an interview I had with Ms. Suzuki on November 14, 2009.

I go to toy stores by myself and always pick the dolls that give me the strangest feelings. I photograph the dolls and myself separately. I wanted to understand what Anikora is for me. That is why I use my face with the doll’s body. It is easy to see how desires are reflected in these characters, but less so how this way of seeing women is expressed in Japan’s culture of ‘Kawaii’ [1] things. Being ‘Ka-wa-ii’ is the most important value for Japanese young women. But aren’t they losing themselves and their own identities and personalities by trying to become objects of masculine society’s desire for ‘cuteness’?

 [1]  Kawaii – (pronounced ka-wa-ee), is translated in English as being cute and is used for both animate an  inanimate objects.

In Japan, it is not uncommon to see middle age women dressed in a way that would be more common among young teenagers or college age women. Besides the image there is also the ‘kawaii talk’. This is when women use a very childlike inflection and tone when speaking with an emphasis on trying to be cute.

Suzuki says, I wondered why Japanese women in their 30’s and 40’s tried to keep the ‘kawaii’feeling for so long. When [Japanese] women try to be strong, men don’t like it. So instead they try to be cute and smiling. Their desire is to define and present themselves as kawaii, but aren’t they losing themselves, their own identities, by trying to become object of masculine society’s desire.

Seifuku [uniforms] is a very important part of Japanese culture and its relevance has both historical and political importance in all aspects of Japanese society. Historically, the uniform first signified hierarchical distinctions or clan associations, as well as, work roles such as artisans, militia, aristocracy, merchants, etc. Before the Meji Restoration, men commonly chose their brides based on the beauty of their kimonos, which also ties into the Japanese aesthetic of today. In modern day Japan, uniforms are a highly visible part of society, and people wear uniforms for many types of professions, even for simple part-time positions such as being servers in restaurants. In a society that is densely populated, highly structured regimes are helpful in the harmony of society. Because of the importance that uniforms have played in Japanese society, these characteristics would resonate in the aesthetics of popular culture too.

The above text is an excerpt from my PhD dissertation and publications. If you are interested in reading the full article or would like to use any part of my work, please contact me.