Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda is clearly inspired by Japanese manga and anime — an inspiration she dates back to being a child. “My father was interested in anime and Manga, and he introduced me to the Studio Ghibli animated movies when I was a child,” she recalled in an interview with We Heart.
According to Shimoda, she would copy the drawings and, over time, taught herself how to draw cartoons. “In addition, since I was in high school, I like looking at illustration online — which was very important for me,” she notes. “All these pieces of pop culture are very familiar in my life, ones that give the most impact.”
Her work, both charming and alarming, portrays a world where cuteness and horror coexist, expressing modern-day issues in colorful and illustrative techniques. Often depicting starry-eyed children, Shimoda dresses her characters in superhero costumes, revealing problems and struggles in contemporary society.
“For me, this is my most effective means to convey my emotions and feelings to other people,” says Shimoda, “but they are not ‘human’ children. I like to use the example of magical girls (shojo) because they are inspired by human girls but they are characters.” The result is eerie and detached, albeit increasingly cute.
Naturally, Shimoda’s work tends to create quite a buzz both online and offline. Having held exhibitions in galleries worldwide, including Japan, the United States, Canada, and Europe, she has also amassed more than 95k followers on Instagram. Here are some of our favorite pieces by her: