The people of the internet, you included, are extraordinary. We do things on this medium that are really shocking (and sometimes revolting), yet we seem to break the barrier every time. One of the most unique things that we have come up with is “Gijinka.” Gijinka is the Japanese word for anthropomorphism, which is basically a form of personification. In simpler terms, Netizens took the most bizarre things and gave them an anime look. And by bizarre, I mean bizarre.
In the anime community, Gijinka mainly deals with moe anthropomorphism- giving the object a human form that is cute. Let’s take a look at some types of Gijinka-
Some artists obtain motivation from creatures and tales of mythology. Many also adapt characters of video games and other fantastical creatures. You might know them as monster girls. We’ve seen plenty of examples where these beasts are converted into cute female characters (and occasionally even into guys), entirely excluding or scaling down their more scary, monstrous traits. If you like characters of this sort, check out Monster Musume and A Centaur’s Life.
One of the most famous examples of fantastical characters being turned onto cute Gijinkas is that of Bowsette. The female version of Bowser (or more like a cross between Bowser and Princess Peach), the antagonist from Mario.
We’ve all seen catgirls with cute feline ears and tails. Perhaps not as shocking when compared to the other stuff that’s about to pop up on this list, we’ve seen human interpretations of many more animals. Bunny girls are many times seen hopping through the internet world and the world of manga and anime. Fox girls, wolf girls, and dog girls are close behind. There’s only the human imagination that’s a limit for artists to create whatever they want. And as we know, the human imagination isn’t something to take lightly.
Adding animal ears to human characters is called Kemonomimi. It is usually done to extract a positive fan response. And boy, do the fans respond. There are many fans of Kemonomimi. Their numbers are so vast that some doujinshi conventions are explicitly held for such enthusiasts, called the Mimiketto. (Doujinshi means self-published works, and these conventions are held for selling such types of manga).
3. Digital Characters
Animators are also converting computer-related things into moe animated characters. The very first example of this was when the Internet Explorers stop button was converted to Shiitake-chan. A user on 2-channel pointed out the similarity of the stop button with that of the shiitake mushroom.
Soon, this moe anthropomorphism became a helpful marketing tool in Japan. Windows 7, 8, and 10 were marketed in Japan with the help of Gijinka. Anime girls for these versions were named Madobe Nanami (for Windows 7), Madobe Ai and Madobe Yuu (for Windows 8), while the one for Windows 10 still remains unnamed.
You may have come across the Gijinka transformations for many famous internet browsers as well.
Here’s Wikipe-tan, the moe anime version of Wikipedia.
World War Blue is an anime and manga that takes computer games and gives them a Gijinka form. This includes games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, Tetris, and many more.
4. Racial slurs
When Chinese netizens began using ethnic slurs, namely, Riben Guizi (literally, Japanese Devils), against people from Japan, users of 2channel hit back with yet another Gijinka, Hinomoto Oniko.
Even though it started out as a response to growing hatred in the mind of Chinese netizens towards Japanese people, It ended up becoming an internet meme. Ladies and gentlemen, Japan solved racism.
Several elements from the Japanese constitution itself have been personified to give them a moe anime girl’s appearance.
This is the Gijinka for Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. Since the article prevents Japan from waging war with another country, it has been given the appearance of a warm and peace-loving girl.
When the attacks of ISIS were at their peak during 2015, many Japanese nationals were subjected to brutal acts of kidnapping and beheading. In order to counter the malicious propaganda from ISIS, Japanese netizens came up with Gijinka, ISIS-Chan. Their plan with Isis-chan was to make her rank highly in Google search engine results. Basically, they hoped to make the moe character popular enough to be the top result when anyone searched for ISIS. She became a part of the war that the US and UK were already fighting against the terrorist group.
Just as with any other Gijinka, the monstrous parts of the group were substituted with more attractive characteristics. ISIS-chan was fond of musk melons and frequently carried a knife around to cut them. The creator even gave an amusing explanation for the knife, stating that it is to teach “these confused ISIS people” what the actual use of a knife is. Her mission is to stop ISIS and gather as many melons as possible, often using them as weapons.
A user of 4Chan created a Gijinka for the Ebola virus during the 2015 outbreak of the deadly virus epidemic. Creating a moe version of Ebola. Talk about unconventional. Ofcourse, the 2019 Coronavirus pandemic wasn’t going to be left alone either. This gave rise to the extremely cute Corona-chan.
While the rest of the world is happy with their national personifications, Japan’s here to break the game. There’s an entire anime surrounding moe characters representing different countries involved in World War 1 and 2, called Hetalia: Axis Powers. Most of the characters in the anime are male, and a few are female as well; this doesn’t mean they lack moe, though. The story has many Yaoi (Boy’s love or homoerotic) elements to make up for that.
Added to this are the webcomics of a Gijinka, Nihon-chan, that personifies Japan, and Afuganisu-tan, that personifies… you guessed it! Afghanistan.
The Japanese netizens, much like the Japanese media, can be crazy yet inspiring. Taking motivation from the most mundane things of our day-to-day lives, they make some of the most uncanny content. There are entire anime series surrounding such Gijinka. Cell’s at Work! is a famous example. It depicts the human body’s cells, personifying them as real characters that defend it from various problems. Like it, there are several other anime and manga that incorporate Gijinkas to attract fan-following. Companies, too, use Gijinka as a marketing tool in a world that is rapidly being conquered by moe.