From Kawaii to Horror

Curator’s choice

In this selection we look at the concept of kawaii to horror, which features as an inspiration in many NFTs.

Kawaii in Japanese culture refers to what is lovely, cute, adorable and derives from the saying kao hayhushi, which means one’s face is blushing as well as (from other morphemes) dazzling, glaring, and awkward/embarrassing. It is embodied by humans and non-humans, anthropomorphic creatures that are charming, vulnerable, shy, and childlike.

It is seen as a rebellious style against adulthood but originally, in the 1970s, it characterized a new style of writing at school where pupils would use thin pencil and stylized their texts with lines, hearts, stars, and Latin characters. It was adopted as a trend against the rigidity of the post-WWII Japanese government. The style was recuperated by brands and advertising such as the stationery company Sanrio launching a series of products with Hello Kitty characters. This genre is present but also mixed with another side of kawaii, pleasing and pastel-soft but leaning toward the anxiogenic, horror side of storytelling, also known as gurokawa or creepy cute. These works will take you on a journey from the cute to the uncanny dread of horror.



#004 Called Me Happiness is self-referencing, with the main character playing with an Ethereum symbol (cryptomoney). The style of the drawing is typical of 1980s anime with a little girl surrounded by joyful animals in a landscape dotted by castles. The artist Da Panida is an enigma; as with many NFT creators anonymity is key.



Once again, a reference to kawaii but here with a hint of closed time, with the title referring to the pandemic lockdowns. The cat-mermaid patiently waits for something to happen, its only entertainment being a rubber duck floating above. Lalana is also an anonymous NFT artist.

Anil Rinat

Pandemic by Anil Rinat

Here the cuteness turns into an anxiety-inducing scenario, reminding us that we are still in a pandemic. From a cute to a psychedelic-looking cartoon, from the adorable to a troubled scene, this work reminds me of a comic book in the way its layout shows a series of actions happening, reminiscent of authors from Chris Ware to Lewis Trondheim.

Anil Rinat is a visual artist, currently living in London. They illustrate, animate, and create music. They draw and sculpt characters, mostly with exaggerated movements and twisted, “dumb” facial expressions.

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In Colorful Silence, the artist depicts an adventure in which his spaceship and helmet were destroyed in space, and he can now live in a peaceful, silent world. The airbrushed style and pastel to acidic color, with the main character looking more blasé than sad, makes the work moody and almost meditative thanks to the soft, floating movement. Redkam is an animator making hand-drawn works.

Johana Kroft

Excited Mind

This is the 16th portrait out of 24. They are meant to represent a different stream of thoughts or feelings. This portrait has a playful and magical look; it is a weird and eerie character that we can almost link to art history and Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s painting Vertumnus (1591), a depiction of multiple fruits, vegetables, and flowers that come together to create a portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. Johana Kroft (Czech Republic) is based in Brooklyn, New York. She started her career as a designer and fell in love with 3D. She combines different shapes and surreal spaces into one frame where she tells a story. She recently started to work with AI software as a part of her process for inspiration.


Shoulder angel

Shoulder Angel is a classic anime looking portrait of a young girl who is heartbroken or maybe taking revenge for what happened to her. The few lines as subtitles of the work show a clear message of vengeance of some sort. The other characters around seem to be present as a girl band or as her other moods. Take the lighter as a transition to the forthcoming NFT.

Mami is an anonymous NFT artist.



This work references the 1980s atmosphere and the storyline that we are following here. Only the title tells us the whole story. It is comical and unpleasant, the sound of the sea mixed with the flame accentuates the anxious situation.

Marco Niemerski, known professionally as Tensnake, is a German DJ and producer from Hamburg.

Auriea Harvey

The Mystery v4-dv1

A portrait landscape as a 3D object, the mix of textures and materials with high detailing give this work a monstrous beauty. It is a sculptural work that elevates our focus on the uncanny, the weird, and the eerie. Here, we touch on an otherness, beauty and hybrid abject at the same time.

Auriea Harvey is a digital sculptress. She lives and works in Rome, creating objects and simulations bridging physical and digital space.

Miguel Mira

Blood & Damp

Here, there is something reminiscent of the scene in The Shining with the bloody elevators, but also a strong reference to the sculpture of antiquity, such as the Laocoön and the Sperlonga sculptures. The cinematic effect of the blood makes the scene incredibly dramatic, almost a tableau vivant in a choreographed theater.

Miguel Mira is a multidisciplinary artist specializing in digital media and photography. His main theme is the relationship between the performative part of the human being mixed with technology. In his most experimental work, he explores how humans can be destructive and unstable in their own environment.

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The Curated platform supports openness in the Web3 space. Most of the works featured in this Curator’s Choice section are fetched from external Web3 marketplaces and fall under their respective regulations, and remain the intellectual copyright of the artists. The editorials are non-commercial and we do not take any fees or commissions.