“No I don’t watch anime”
Certain aspects of pop culture from Asia have spread like wildfire in the West, ever since the days of Pokémon, Toonami, the addition of anime into Saturday morning cartoons, and more recently the rise of Kpop and the popularity of Parasite and Squid Games. This mainstream availability of Asian media has in some cases gained more diehard fans abroad than within Asia itself. One only needs to visit Akihabara in Tokyo to see droves of fans from all over the world excitedly purchasing souvenirs.
Always the double-edged sword, popular Asian media abroad has also often meant deeming any individual of East Asian descent inherently an otaku, Kpop stan or lover of all things #kawaii✨. Needless to say, we do not all fit into that box.
These constant clichés drove photographer Alec Luu and model Sam Vaughn to create a photo story that puts presumptions on their head, Hello Kitty’s head, to be exact. Alec compares the “anime lover” label to a 9-5 job for Asians, constantly having to live up to others’ ideas of them. He also finds it comedic, and chooses to poke fun at the incessant kawaii persona many Asians in America, especially women, have to put on.