Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Claire Farago

Second Advisor

Marilyn Brown

Third Advisor

Faye Kleeman


For the last decade, the artist Takashi Murakami has shaped the scholarship of contemporary Japanese art with his Superflat Manifesto, in which he claims that society, customs, art, and culture are all superflat (two-dimensional). In addition, Murakami maintains that the trauma of the Pacific War has reappeared in Japanese popular culture under the guise of kawaii (cuteness), serving as a mask for repressed feelings of anxiety and impotence caused by the United States occupation. His theories, however, ignore the female domain and the changing trends of otaku culture. Many recent depictions of cute young women serve as role models for their readers, empowering them to rebel against the societal norms of Japanese society. While the characters are still cute, they do not reflect feminine passivity or repressed postwar feelings of fear and anxiety. Instead, kawaii is presented as an aesthetic that artists choose to portray both male and female characters.