Proper Definition and Differentiation for Kigurumi?

Featured image credit by なごみや via Pixiv

The number of fun, unique designs that you can enjoy with kigurumi is undoubtedly very diverse and full of variety. That's why even among similar-ish themes, you pretty much still won't see one homogenous group bearing only one design.

... unless you and your friends deliberately made it that way, of course. 

animal kigurumi panicking

Image credit by かごのとり / とりかご via Pixiv

But we have to admit, even as kigurumi become more and more prevalent today, there are still those that are yet to be familiar with its (technical) identity. Oftentimes, they are confused with certain costumes, or lumped with the more familiar mascot type designs. Worse, people might even treat it as well outside any standard wear, allowing its use only in the most casual of situations. (which, according to our last Q&A, simply isn't true.)

This blog post is meant to clarify these queries, and to settle once and for all, the true and actual identity of our beloved kigurumi onesies. 

What is a kigurumi onesie?

A kigurumi onesie is a single piece themed suit that is built to cover the entire body. By default, these are designed as pajamas, with the initial impression by most people being that they're for infants and younger children (onesies). Well true, they're originally associated with sleeping items and gear. But, as you can plainly see, it has evolved to literally grow and be compatible for use by adults as well.

In fact, the word kigurumi itself is derived from the very exact Japanese term kigurumi (着ぐるみ), which is then an abbreviation for hito-gata chakuyou nuigurumi (人型用ぬいぐるみ, human-sized stuffed toy covering). If you are not referring specifically to kigurumi onesies or pajamas, kigurumi can then technically include all "stuffed toy"-like dress modes, including mascot suits, other themed bodysuit costumes, as well as uhh... those uncanny valley inducing stuff.

Sometimes, the line can blur between these designs. Some kigurumi onesies definitely have the same single piece suit design, but use a different type of headpiece, letting the hood just drape over the back. Or, some designs are cut down in parts where it should cover the entire limb. Some kigurumi pajamas even have very specific accessories that forces it to be considered as an entire costume set, instead of typically being treated as multiple separate clothing pieces.

So 'kigurumi' and 'onesie' are the same?

character kigurumi trying their outfits

Image credit by funa@仕事募集中 via Pixiv

Well. Not really. It is true that all kigurumi pajamas are generally onesies. But unlike the usually animal or licensed character themed fluff balls, onesies can be somewhat more non-specific. And indeed, they really are more generic, with designs that don't even have to be inspired from some living or thematic motif (e.g. wavy, checkered, rainbow, plain color, etc.).

The primary confusion for onesies generally being considered as kigurumi most likely comes from the fact that when you search for "onesies" on search engines like Google, a good majority of the results appear as kigurumi onesies. Sure, there are a few "true" onesies here and there. But the general impression, upon seeing such a result, is that kigurumi and onesies can be considered as one and the same, which they really are not.

Other notable differences of regular onesies to kigurumi onesies are:

  • They're from Japan - at least in our case, almost all of our designs, licensed or no-licensed come from Japanese sources.
  • Creature-themed - remember the nuigurumi (ぬいぐるみ, "stuffed toy") word from earlier? As with regular stuffed toys, kigurumi almost always has to be inspired from some living being.
  • Low-crotch - kigurumi are also typically loose enough on all sides. Well, sometimes not too loose, but you get the point.
  • Always cute! - kigurumi are built on the foundation of adorable designs, so by default, kigurumi are always made to look cute... even if the standards of being cute differ from person to person.

What anime is kigurumi from?

cat kigurumi looking at cat kigurumi

This one is quite easy to answer yourself if you are a frequent visitor of this blog. No, kigurumi does not come from any single anime alone. Not even the concept of kigurumi onesies and pajamas, as we frequently advertise them to be, are unique to anime.

Instead, it's the other way around. Anime itself draws inspiration from kigurumi onesies. Either by outright introducing characters that wear them, featuring them briefly as a character quirk, or show other derivatives, that kind of temporarily separate the word "onesie" from the definition that we usually accept.

animal kigurumi group selfie

Image credit by (マサル) via Pixiv

Oh, but if you are looking for anime that features kigurumi onesies (as well as other very close derivatives), then my friend, you have come to the right place. Keep yourself updated here with the latest blog posts that could inspire your next kigurumi onesie!