Facing one's villains

Aesthetic commonalities in the depiction of Japanese evils

  • Debra J Occhi


This paper discusses the ways in which qualia deriving from color, shape, and other features are used to indicate evil and social ills in Japan, often through anthropomorphized characterizations as villains. Contemporary depictions of such villains echo themes of religious and folkloric historical narratives. Some of these characterizations perpetuate moral panic regarding women. Examples of evil agents range from the biological, disease agents and radiation, to human perpetrators of scams and other illegal or dangerous activities. Depictions of all of these share features of iconic representation, particularly of the eyes, and often include the colors black, purple, and/or red. Other features bear similarity to those found in historical characters associated with evil, based on various aspects of Japanese common religion and folklore, including monsters. Qualia derived from the early examples influence the ongoing creation of new villain characters.

Image of kudamakin and zendamakin
Sep 21, 2019
How to Cite
OCCHI, Debra J. Facing one's villains. Semiotic Review, [S.l.], v. 7, sep. 2019. Available at: <https://www.semioticreview.com/ojs/index.php/sr/article/view/55>. Date accessed: 24 oct. 2019.