Kawaii Gamer is a version of Kawaii that is popular amongst gamers, Twitch streamers, and anime fans. This community gathers on Twitch and tends to be Gen Z, with influences from E-Girl culture and Lo-Fi, aesthetics that rose around 2020. This differs from other forms of Kawaii in that it contains specific merchandise, room decor, and fashion trends that are more aligned with the Western interpretation of Japan and Korea, showing increased globalization as anime and games reach a larger audience. The objects common in the aesthetic are incredibly replicated, and multiple TikToks are dedicated to showing the set-ups of a kawaii gamer. While the aesthetic requires a large quantity of merchandise (as maximalism is common), it is more accessible and casual than actual j-fashion due to the rise of Kawaii culture globally and the increased e-commerce and commercialization of media properties.
Some women in this aesthetic also put on the persona of a "gamer girl," where they advertise their love for video games, cute physical appearance, and bubbly personality through making TikTok videos and content on Twitch and YouTube. There are also some women who incorporate this aesthetic into their sexual presentation, as Erokawa is becoming more popular. Others focus exclusively on room decor/electronics, unboxing merchandise, and collecting inspiration and do not show themselves on camera.
These people, typically women, are expressing their femininity and love for these certain characters in a hobby that is traditionally dominated by men and male aesthetics. For example, most gaming merch is in black and red with aggressively sleek detailing, which isn't palatable for many girls. Kawaii gaming aesthetics would thus allow women interested in video gaming to have their own community where they do not have to sacrifice their femininity for their hobbies.
One notable influence on this aesthetic is the E-Girl, who was also influenced by Kawaii culture but involved more black, Scene culture, and sexual imagery. Some make-up and fashion trends, such as tennis skirts, heavy blush, and long dyed hair (often in wigs), also inspired the "cute gaming girl" aesthetic, which can be different depending on the YouTuber that uses this aesthetic.
The aesthetic can take on an either Yume Kawaii palette of pastels and white, rainbow, or more purple and blue neon, which allows for many color variations on the aesthetic.
Of course, kawaii gamers tend to show their love for both their passions through combining the two. Technology for gaming in pink and white accents, such as PCs, Nintendo DS, and Switches are the most shown photo subject and is most representative of this interpretation of kawaii. Customized keyboards with decorative keys in multiple colors are one of the entry points into the aesthetic due to their accessibility and variety of models and key caps, such as glowing lights, paw prints, and different colors and fonts for the display.
Displays on computer home pages and social media are also important to the aesthetic. Admirers of the aesthetic customize backgrounds of PCs, mouse pads, social media icons and headers, and phone lock screens to fan art of their favorite characters, kawaii art, abstract drawings in pastels, etc.
Certain products are iconic and highly sought-after in this community. One of them being the Autofull pink gaming chair with attached bunny ears and a tail, which was popularized by Twitch streamers and gaming YouTubers. Another are cat-ear headphones, which are an example of connecting the Erokawa trope of the anime catgirl with technology.
Building off on the inclusion of catgirls, anime girls and women who display cuteness are extremely popular, especially Nezuko Kamado from Demon Slayer, Sailor Moon, and Chika Fujiwara from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. This also includes Vocaloid characters such as Hatsune Miku.
In addition to anime characters, mascots are constantly replicated in merchandise created by popular franchises such as Sanrio and Pokémon. Plushies, themed snacks, mouse pads, stationery, etc. of characters such as Pikachu, My Melody, and Hello Kitty clutter the desks of many kawaii enthusiasts, and having affection for a certain mascot is encouraged.
These figurines and plushies are often purchased from subscription boxes, with a comment video format in the community being people opening these products. Similarly, many videos feature Japanese snack openings, where the person on TikTok uploads a video where they arrange Pocky, KitKat, candies, etc. on a platter from either a subscription box or a haul to an Asian grocery store. Boba and Japanese soda is also popular. Many of these are themed after a certain flavor, such as strawberry or matcha.
For wall decor, a common thing that differentiates this aesthetic from other Kawaii ones is the use of LED or neon lights in pink or purple tubing. This is a general trend in Gen Z gaming and TikTok communities, but with kawaii shapes such as sakura blossoms or bunny silhouettes.
Sakura motifs are also common in general, as it is connected with Japan and is often featured in anime.
All of these visuals culminate in set-ups, which are the main mode of carrying across the aesthetic. A set-up is the desk space of a gamer and the place where they watch anime, do work, eat snacks, etc. This is why the set-up is the most prioritized place in the aesthetic, as a kawaii gamer would spend most of their time there. The desk would include the electronics, multiple figurines and plushies, walls with lighting and posters, and snacks in a cluttered, yet cozy arrangement that requires a large amount of things.
The aesthetic is communicated through multiple different TikTok formulas. Some of them include:
- Set-up tours where the OP shows the set-up and zooms into certain things
- Arranging set-ups where OP places things on shelves; build chairs, shelves, carts, etc.; and decorates their space
- Asian beverage/snack shopping, subscription box opening, and arranging on colored plates
- Customizing keyboards and PCs
- Opening figurines and other merchandise
- Showing listings on Amazon to show viewers where to get certain products
This section describes the media that Kawaii Gamers interact with, rather than media that is this type of aesthetic.
- My Hero Academia (2016)
- Animal Crossing (2012 onwards)
- Osu! (2007)
- Overwatch (2016)
- Chiaki Nanami (Danganronpa 2)
- D.Va (Overwatch)
- Futaba Sakura (Persona 5)
- Hatsune Miku (Vocaloid)
- Sagiri Izumi (Eromanga Sensei)
- Saiko Yonebayashi (Tokyo Ghoul)
- Shiro (No Game, No Life)
- Super Sonico
- Umaru (Himouto! Umaru-chan)
YouTubers and Streamers
This section includes female content creators who have this general aesthetic in terms of fashion and things they cover on their channels. VTubers, which are real people who use anime avatars instead of showing their face, are also included.
- Levi Jones
- Brittney Crabb
The music associated with the aesthetic tends to be in the Vocaloid, video game soundtrack, chiptune, Otacore and kawaii Lo-fi genres. These are often cheerful sounding, with electronic beats and sound clips of extremely feminine-voiced women exclaiming something in Japanese.
In addition, some people who admire this aesthetic may be connected with Hallyu and be K-Pop fans.
- Moe Shop
Men can objectify gamer girls and focus on the persona of their kawaii aesthetic and appearance. Many memes express wanting to have these women as girlfriends to fawn over.
The criticism of Kawaii Gamer is like many other Otaku-based aesthetics in that it fetishizes Japanese culture and reduces Asia to an extremely infantilized and commercialized image.
Many TikTok users also "Asianfish," wherein a person of another ethnicity (typically white) wears make-up and in some cases, even undergo cosmetic surgery, to look Asian. These women then typically exhibit infantilizing mannerisms such as puffing out cheeks, wearing certain hairstyles, etc. They perpetuate stereotypes (inadvertently or purposefully) of Asian women being childish and sexualized in their "costume." This is especially true when these white women frequently have OnlyFans that profit off of the "pure and submissive" image. Other people then form false expectations that Asian women are like this offensive stereotype because of white women's personas made for the sake of internet clout.