From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Superflat is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. In a response to the homogenisation of Japanese media and art, “Superflat” attempts to critique the vacuity of post-war Japanese culture, including criticisms of the otaku lifestyle, consumerism, and related issues.

In addition to Murakami, artists whose work is considered “Superflat” include Chiho Aoshima, Mahomi Kunikata, Yoshitomo Nara, and Aya Takano. In addition, some animators within anime and some mangaka are considered Superflat, especially Koji Morimoto (and much of the output of his animation studio Studio 4°C), and the work of Hitoshi Tomizawa, author of Alien 9 and Milk Closet.

Murakami defines “Superflat” in broad terms, so the subject matter is very diverse. Often the works take a critical look at the consumerism and sexual fetishism that is prevalent in post-war westernized Japanese culture. One target of this criticism is lolicon art, which is satirized by works such as those by Henmaru Machino. These works are an exploration of otaku sexuality through grotesque and/or distorted images. Other works are more concerned with a fear of growing up. For example, Yoshitomo Nara’s work often features playful graffiti on old Japanese ukiyo-e executed in a childish manner. And some works focus on the structure and underlying desires that comprise otaku and overall post-war Japanese culture.

Some other, more mainstream artists have also done work that is frequently regarded as Superflat. These include such directors as Hideaki Anno, Satoshi Kon, and to some extent even the likes Mamoru Oshii and Katsuhiro Otomo, if for no other reason than their rejection of anime’s “conventional” stylings. Even comedy director Shinichi Watanabe could arguably be considered a Superflat artist for his strongly satirical portrayals of Japanese pop culture, with a special focus on the anime industry and fandom.


  • (2003) in Murakami, Takashi, (Ed.): Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture. New York: Japan Society. ISBN 0-913304-57-3. 
  • (2001) in Murakami, Takashi, (Ed.): Superflat. Last Gasp. ISBN 4-944079-20-6. 
  • Michael Darling (2001). “Plumbing the Depths of Superflatness”. Art Journal Vol. 60 (3, Autumn): pp. 76-89. 
  • (1999) in Store A, (ed.): Takashi Murakami: the meaning of the nonsense of the meaning. New York, NY: Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College, in association wih Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 0-8109-6702-2. 

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