This image from a New Yorker article entitled “Japan’s Cute Army” features anime-style nose art on two helicopters belonging to the Japanese Self-Defence Force.
The article, by a Tokyo-based writer and translator named Matt Alt, notes how the endearing pop culture art style known as kawaiii reflects a deep-seated tension in Japanese culture over its present day military and its militaristic past. As Alt writes:
“In Japan, where indirect communication is highly valued, cute illustrations have long played the role of tension-breakers and mediators in situations of conflict. Thus kawaii mascots, whether miniskirted girls or bunny-rabbit decoy launchers, are both a reflection of pop-culture trends and a way to defuse the very touchy issues surrounding the military’s undeniable presence. Put another way, the time to get worried is when the branches of the Japanese military abandon their kawaii trappings, because that would signal that citizens and soldiers had made their peace with the subject.”
A fascinating article.