Tania sent me this great roundup of Japanese packaging characters from the now hiatused PingMag. Most of the examples on this site are sweet and charming, though we know Japanese character obsession can cross the line from cute to creepy. To Westerners, it can seem an odd intrusion — childlike cartoons on products made for adults, and hard to parse whether this is a joyful phenomenon or something darker. Having lived in Japan for a time and experienced the culture first hand, Tania offers this perspective: “Perhaps it has something to do with re-creating moments of child like wonder, innocence, creativity and freedom in a society that is otherwise highly controlled, regimented and driven by social hierarchy-based codes of behaviour.”
Personally, I happen to like the characters for just that reason. Never mind cultural hierarchies and codes of behavior; what about the rigid conventions of packaging design? Letting the inner child out to play is much more emotionally inspiring than subjecting us to even more overstyled, staid cookie photography. I’m also enchanted by the idea that a pink rabbit could appear on packaging for “Men’s” cookies! Maybe it makes it look like all the food in the world is candy, but hey, is that really so bad?
Thanks Tania for the tipAugust 21st, 2009