Xin Nian Kuai Le


Unless I’m horribly wrong and the internet has lied to me again, I may have just wished you a happy new year in Mandarin. Today’s fortune cookie told me I would make a name for myself, which is a fairly decent omen for the upcoming year of the Dragon. As a bonus, I’m up to date on my development timeline (which I will probably post soon so you know I’m not lying!) This week: Gather! (as in collecting my concept images and research, I think) and Experiment!

Zashiki-Warashi

I’ve spent most of today researching my little wrong-doer Zashiki-warashi to make sure its an appropriate choice for an antagonist. Its characteristics differ depending on the source, but there are a few constant characteristics which seem consistent in all accounts:

Zashiki-warashi takes the form of a child, boy or girl, between the ages of 3 and 12.
It prefers to live in large, old Japanese houses, and its presence is recognised from its little acts of mischief.
While it inhabits a home, the residing family receive great fortune.
Occasionally, a family member (normally a small child) will be able to see the Zashiki-warashi, but according to at least one account, only when it is about to leave.
Once the Zashiki-warashi has left, the family fall to ruin.


The Zashiki-warashi will not necessarily be placed in shrines, but I found this cute little Garden Statue which represents one! It’s though that you can attract a Zashiki-warashi by recognising its presence, so keeping one of these statues may help bring you luck. Due to the variations on the image of this spirit being, there are few visual sources on the internet, although the Hello Kitty at the top of the post is another representation!

For my Zashiki-warashi character, I’ve chosen a girl-ghost as a good adversary for my girl-hero. That way there’s no breach of male-female etiquette when it comes to conflict and in a way, they can relate to each other. Also, by coincidence the majority of the characters currently in working progress have turned out to be male, so this helps balance things out a little! I’ve tried to portray her as a good-natured being with a childish sense of mischief.

I’ve made sure to block out the eyes, as I’ve noticed in Jizou statues there’s never any eye detail. I attempted to convert my design into statue form in the top right hand corner, based on the photo of the statue I found. I somehow managed to make my drawing look more like a Kokeshi Doll than a statue, so I went with this for my colour version. The majority of Kokeshi dolls seem to have much less smiley disposition, so I used the opportunity to create something a little more sinister!
The article in the link suggests that originally the kokeshi dolls represented a “wish for a healthy child”, so my final design may well be a little wooden figure rather than a stone statue. But one with less wonky eyes and fewer graphite smudges:

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