“What I see in Japan…is that behind all these notions of politeness, snobbism etc, the Japanese are well aware that something which may appear superficial and unnecessary has a much deeper structural function,” says the psychoanalytical philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Even though these child-like characters may seem like an odd joke to Westerners, they have historically played a serious role in the Japanese psyche and continue to do so today. “A totally ridiculous thing at a deeper level might play a stabilizing function we are not aware of,” Zizek continues. “Everybody laughs at the English monarchy, but you’ll never know.”

Uli Schöberl