These human-looking dwarfs are somewhat grotesque, yet also endearingly beautiful.
Kobito Dukan encyclopedia
"Kimokawaii" is all the rage in Japan. It’s a term used to describe something that’s at once grotesque and also endearingly beautiful, a concept that is quite popular among young people in Japan.
Kobito Dukan characters are perhaps the best example to illustrate this term. In Japanese, "kobito" means dwarfs and "dukan" means encyclopedia. This illustrated encyclopedia features all sorts of dwarfs found in the world around us. It’s the work of Japanese illustrator Toshitaka Nabata. The encyclopedia first became a hit with children, but it also ended up gaining popularity among adults.
There’s something rather surreal about the dwarfs in this encyclopedia. Some look like insects and others look like plants, but their faces are so human that they produce a curious and contradictory reaction. The book describes about these strange fictional creatures as if they really existed.
The stories in the encyclopedia are hilarious. For instance, here’s what is says about Benikinokobito (dwarf mushrooms): "When you attack them, they protect themselves using the poison in their hats. Sometimes they rub their hats against real mushrooms, but we’re not sure what this gesture means. They tend to sit in the same spot for long periods of time, but we don’t know why they do this."
The website is also very interesting. It even includes a page of frequently asked questions. One question asks: "Is the Natunotumami (dwarf soy bean) edible?" To which they respond: "Most of them are just begging for you to eat them, but it’s possible some of them may prefer that you don’t." And: "What would happen if Semigurume (dwarf cicadas) ate other insects aside from cicadas?" Answer: "Basically, they only eat cicadas. If they were to eat other types of insects, they might even die."
Aside from the encyclopedia, they’ve already come out with several books and DVD’s about these creatures. There are also plans to launch a manual explaining how to catch and take care of them. Of course, there are also a whole bunch of related products available: figurines, towels, bath salts, notepads, puzzles, key chains, mobile phone straps, etc....
At the moment, there are about 20 different dwarf characters. We hope they’ll discover more of these curious dwarfs.
Watch this video to see an example of Kobito Dukan.