Meet a mysterious Japanese artist who operates under the pseudonym Ariduka55, or MonoKubo, on social media. This creative and elusive artist creates breathtaking illustrations that look like they belong in another world.
Featuring giant animals alongside normal-sized humans, her work adds a fantastical element to the pets we love living with.
Little is known about MonoKubo, other than the fact she is a 24-year-old artist from Japan who was inspired by Studio Ghibli to draw massive animals. MonoKubo cites movies like Princess Mononoke and Totoro as inspiration.
“I liked drawing pictures in such style since a young age,” MonoKubo told Bored Panda in an interview.
She also draws inspiration from “natural landscapes and various illustrations, for example, I like Piotr Jabłoński’s work.”
While cats clearly make this artist’s world go ‘round, she also enjoys drawing other soft and cuddly creatures like rabbits, dogs, and pandas.
Adding to the draw of her illustrations is the peaceful and otherworldly quality that shines through. They remind you of your favorite childhood stories.
“This black feline is a show off who likes to put his excellent abilities on display. ‘You can’t do that, human, can you?’ – he says with a challenging look on his face, while making a perfect pyramid formation with a huge ball of cotton and a blue blob of a bird.”
In Japanese, there’s a word for sunlight streaming through the leaves of trees, it’s komorebi (木漏れ日).
It’s the perfect term to define the light that creeps in through a thin curtain and creates a shadow on the ground. Komorebi is something MonoKubo portrays beautifully in many of her illustrations.
A girl returns home and attempts to give her cat a big hug, but as cats so often do, he denies her attempts at adoration with a NOPE card.
“The Japanese have a daily expression ‘tadaima’ (ただいま) which is a shortened version of ‘I just came home’, and while usually it is polite to respond with ‘okaeri’ (おかえり) i.e. ‘welcome home’, this giant feline will have none of it.”
“A world where you can surrender yourself to sleep on a giant ball of fur is a world where you wouldn’t be able to get any work done. A perfect world.”
In this illustration, the art of camouflage is exercised. The cat’s big round eyes (reminiscent of Totoro) are the only thing that give it away. That and the pretty blue bird perched on his head.
“In Japanese mythology, grain farmers once worshipped wolves at shrines and left food offerings near their dens, beseeching them to protect their crops from wild boars and deer. Talismans and charms adorned with images of wolves were thought to protect against fire, disease, and other calamities and brought fertility to agrarian communities and to couples hoping to have children. The Ainu people believed that they were born from the union of a wolf like creature and a goddess.”
H/t: The Lost Wolves Of Japan (Brett L. Walker, 2005)
Some of her illustrations have a gloomy theme, albeit still beautiful.
A giant stray cat simply looking for a place to call home… these children come offering friendship in the form of something shiny.
You wouldn’t notice it at first glance, but the raccoon in this illustration is not your typical variety. It is a Tanuki, or a raccoon dog, “an atypical species of dog that can grow up to 60 cm in length, with distinctive stripes of black fur under its eyes.”
According to Japanese folklore, the Tanuki was once viewed as a sinister trickster. Today, it has morphed into a symbol of generosity, prosperity, and happiness.
Black cats are viewed as bad luck in the Western world, but in Japanese culture they are viewed as a good omen.
Inari is the Japanese god of foxes. The fox plays a pivotal role in Japanese culture, where it has a magical aura that has persisted for many years.
The Japanese word for fox is Kitsune (狐 or きつね).
A beautiful (and very large) white cat hiding behind vines of soft pink and white flowers. You can see pastel-colored flowers like this in real life at the Kawachi Fuji Gardens in Kitakyushu.
I love how the cat’s prying eyes are two different colors.
This man does not sit atop a hill, instead he sits atop a Shiba Inu dog, one of the most treasured dog breeds in Japan. Their name translates to the “brushwood dog,” which makes sense considering they were traditionally used to hunt small animals.
Love MonoKubo’s work? Check out her book on Amazon