There’s a scene in the Paul Thomas Anderson nearly jet-black romantic comedy, Punch Drunk Love where Adam Sandler’s and Emily Watson’s characters are lying in pre-coital embrace whispering affections:

Watson: Your face is so adorable. Your skin and your cheek, I wanna bite it. I wanna bite your cheek and chew on it, it’s so f-ing cute.

Sandler: I’m lookin’ at your face and I just wanna smash it. I just wanna f-ing smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it, you’re so pretty.

Aside from images of Hannibal Lecter and Cannibal Holocaust, the exchange conveys a set of emotions that none of us would dub unfamiliar. Sandler’s novelty salesman and Watson’s woman of mystery experience a visceral, pleasantly violent yet completely innocuous response to the incredibly adorable. They find something “so cute it hurts.”

It’s a feeling that Next New Networks’ latest show, Ultra Kawaii, knows and exploits all too well. Like a puppy dog with sad eyes gently whining for some love, the episodes affect some of our deepest sensibilities and beg our attention.

### Launched in October using the same production model as Next New Networks shows Channel Frederator (Tilzy.TV page) and VOD Cars (Tilzy.TV page), the series culls the web and viewer submissions to compile regular episodes packaged with professional graphics and effects. Except instead of cartoons and cars, this time it’s kittens, puppies, and other infant members of the animal kingdom.  Thematic installments highlight darlingness like “Jumping Cuteness” and “Interspecies Friendship!” that, unlike LOLCats and Cute with Chris (Tilzy.TV page), aren’t trying to be funny, but instead illicit a heartfelt “awwww!”

Judging by the content, it’s no surprise that in Japanese, “kawaii” means “cute,” and the series is accessing far more of the culture’s prominent aspect of “cuteness” than just its language. Canned claps and laughter sprinkled throughout the series and crudely drawn cartoons impart immediate connections to anime, giving the show some cohesion that goes beyond just having animal clips. Oh, back to the language thing, there’s also a head-to-head showdown segment at the end of each episode called “Kami Cutzie.” Very punny, though probably a touch too much.


On the human end, the site employs the artistic talents of the manga-inspired Cristina Paulos and the cute connoisseurship and video editing of Dave Seger and old school videoblogger Josh Leo, the latter of whom has serious experience in the both the pleasingly pretty and internet space (Leo’s been tinkering with web video since March 2005 and started his feline-centric Vlog Cats soon after).

So, what exactly makes all these vids cute? Well, there’s some science to it, and Leo breaks down the necessary characteristics in the site’s blog: extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness, need, extreme fuzziness, big eyes, big head, wobbly legs, and squeaky noises.

If you think you have a pet that fits the bill, submit a video, make him or her a star and have internet audiences everywhere think it’s so f-ing, god damn adorable that they want to smash its face, in a good kind of way. 

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