Over at the weebs guide to actually understanding Japanese culture (Also known as *Tofugu, the enigmatic Rachel B writers about Kimikawaii, which is when something is both paradoxically cute (kawaii) and ugly at the same time:
When I was in Japan last summer, I noticed some really strange characters mixed in with the usual flurry of fluffy alpacas and Pokemon. These strange creatures had the outside skins of mushrooms, peaches, and plants, but on the inside they looked like old men in a perpetual state of shock. When I asked my friend about them, she replied that they were called Kobitodukan (こびとづかん) and were really popular, especially among high school girls who think that they’re cute
Cute? Cute?! How can something this strange be considered cute, I thought. “They’re supposed to be gross, and that’s what makes them cute. It’s called kimo-kawaii, or gross-cute,” my friend explained.
And then later goes into the slightly disturbing fad of guro-kawaii:
Although kimo-kawaii has been a recent fad, Japan has always had a relationship with creating strange things. Similar to the kimo-kawaii is the grotesque-cute or “guro-kawaii”, which is a step more extreme. Those who know Gloomy Bear know guro-kawaii. Gloomy Bear, which has had a surge of popularity overseas, is a teddy bear character who brutally murders his child owner- but he’s so cute while he does it! Although more than a little disturbing, I can see why it would be popular with kids going through a goth-phase. Gloomy bear seems like just the thing embrace if you want to be edgy, but still cute.
Honestly, why I’m not entirely sold on the concept of Kimokawaii (My only personal experience with it being in Steins;Gate briefly) I do like the paradox of guro-kawaii.