Cover Photo: An image of Licca-chan a mixed race doll that embodies Kawaii culture
Photograph courtesy of Megan Catherine Rose

The Mixed-Race Fantasy Behind Kawaii Aesthetics

Toward my “Japanese Barbie,” I felt mostly indifferent.


Licca-chan is half-Japanese and half-white.


Sailor Moon

linked to Japan’s defeat and disarmament

“born in the suburbs of London.”

She represented Japan’s dreams of postwar reconstruction

mukokusekiwhat the scholar Koichi Iwabuchi calls “cultural odor”

haafuThe Rose of Versailles

“a bit too much” for Japanese consumers

zannen haafu

Erica Kanesaka is a writer and scholar specializing in Asian American literature and culture, with a focus on the racial and sexual politics of kawaii and cuteness. Her work has appeared in Public Books, Avidly: Los Angeles Review of Books, and Ms. Magazine among other places. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Emory University.

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