For as long as anyone can remember, people have argued over whether anime characters SHAPED AS WHITE or JAPANESE. There’s no end in sight to the discussion, no matter how far one side takes it.
Both sides have some decent things to make, if you can get past all the nonsense and agenda-driven comments.
But, as with any disagreement or conflict…
There are two sides to the same story
This isn’t a new subject for me; in fact, I’ve written about it before.
In my first post, I discussed the MYTH that anime characters appear to be of European descent. Mostly to white racists and a few white folks who think the universe shines out of their rear-ends.
And, to a lesser extent, the broader public.
In that article, I claimed to have “understood” why individuals hold that belief.
In my case, I’m African-American. When I see a brown character, I’m more likely to think the character looks like me and is like me because of my own personal prejudice.
We’re all guilty of it to some degree, as that’s how we identify with and comprehend the characters in the stories we read.
Because of their own biases, Americans tend to hunt for “blonde” characters to support their claims about anime characters being Japanese (even though there are examples of Japanese looking characters to destroy the argument).
Another version of the story has “truth” to it, however.
The side I’ll focus on in this essay is the one I’m going to talk about. A look at why anime characters don’t look like Japanese people.
In Asian and Japanese culture, and everything associated with it.
Let us now begin.
1. Self-hatred in Asian culture (not just Japan)
Nothing like what I’m about to discuss has been done before in the anime community. In part, this is due to the fact that it is an unwelcome truth.
When I mention “self-hatred,” what am I implying, you may wonder…?
Let’s have a look at an example. Chinese woman who had “surgery” on her eyes to make them more “Caucasian” is the subject of this contrast. Because she dislikes how her eyes look.
It was COMMENTS LIKE THIS that pushed her over the edge.
Julie Chen, a Chinese-American television personality who underwent double eyelid surgery in the 1990s after her supervisor warned she’d never make it as a top news anchor because her eyes made her look “disinterested,” is one such iconic story. As a result of her ethnicity.”
Surgery for the eyelids
Due to its prevalence in the Asian culture, I’m including it here.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Japanese culture, let’s move on to the specifics.
Several frightening facts about Japan are presented in this Business Insider article.
“More than a fifth of the 1.3 million eyelid surgeries performed worldwide were conducted in Japan and other Asian countries.
Blepharoplasty has gained in popularity among Asian patients over the past decade, leading some specialists to speculate that the treatment is being used as a technique to transform the Asian “monolid” into the European-style double eyelid.
Next, the article states:
When compared to the traditional Asian eyelid, which lacks what is commonly known as the “tarsal crease,” “they want a Caucasian-looking eyelid with an upper eyelid fold or crease.”
B.I. is the source of this information.
I believe this is what the Japanese and other Asian cultures mean by “self loathing.”
Japanese and Asians, as a whole, appear to be a minority when it comes to getting these kinds of cosmetic procedures to appear “white” or “westernized.”
People in Japan are often encouraged to undergo plastic surgery by their parents and grandparents, who want them to look more European.
Because of their lack of self-confidence and dissatisfaction with their physical appearance, those who suffer from this disorder are often bullied and teased.
It’s the truth, even if a lot of Japanese anime creators, animators, and business executives won’t say it.
Some of them do, but it has a huge impact on anime designs, characters, and their predisposition to appear like anything other than Japanese.
It’s why you see so many characters with blonde hair and blue eyes, or red-haired figures who don’t resemble any Japanese at all.
To say that making anime characters appear Japanese is difficult is a convenient excuse, but it’s not true.
The people depicted in the photographs above are a good representation of the world in which they live. They have a “Japanese” feel about them. And I’m in love with these designs since they’re real.
Anime allows me to immerse myself in Japanese culture from afar. To see Japanese people animated is another way of putting it.
This isn’t really necessary, but it’s a nice addition none the less.
When so many anime characters don’t look like they’re from Japan, as an anime fan, it might be a little strange to see.
To see a western persona, I would watch American cartoons or the like. I don’t watch anime in order to see characters who aren’t Japanese.
As a result, when characters are created in this manner due to prejudice or erroneous ideals, it leaves me perplexed.
2. The propaganda of so-called “beauty standards”
Racism is found in every country, no matter where you go in the world.
Inquiring minds want to know: “What exactly does that mean?” People of “darker skin tones” are portrayed as inferior by the media because of the stereotype that “light skinned tones” are better.
As is the case in Japan, “Asian” skin tones aren’t as attractive as those of the West.
No matter how you spin it, anime characters who don’t look Japanese have no justification. At the very least, they are of Asian descent. Due to the simple fact that it’s already been done before.
One of the many anime series that does an excellent job of depicting realistic Japanese people is Nodame Cantabile.
To me, this is one of the best anime designs.
Surely You Haven’t Heard. Please introduce yourself to me as Sakamoto! is also a good show. In my opinion, the protagonist is Asian and does not appear to be attempting to appear white at all.
It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be.
However, propaganda is a sickness.
Despite the fact that I rarely bring it up, there is such a thing as “white supremacy.”
Regardless matter how few and far between this particular group of people actually is, it is a component of the global propaganda campaign.
Media conglomerates, rather than individuals, are the primary culprits in most cases.
It’s not just Japan that’s to blame, either.
Racism is a problem in India, for example. As a result, the darker you are, the less accepted you are as a person.
Jamaica, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and numerous more countries are all included in this in some form or another.
Then there are the glossy beauty magazines, which, in my opinion, are a major contributor to the widespread belief that fair skin and fair eyes are synonymous with attractiveness.
Beauty publications and media rarely feature people of a certain skin tone. The media doesn’t want you to believe that’s what is ideal.
In this respect, Japan is no different from other countries in the world. The more light-skinned you are, the more respected you will be in Japan.
In Japan, pale skin is a desirable trait.
3. The obsession with blonde hair and European features
This is a follow-up to what I’ve already said. The number of anime characters with blonde, red, and ginger hair is mind-boggling, though.
It’s also possible to have a “larger” chest than the average Japanese man due to a combination of green and blue eyes.
In certain cases, it’s so plain to see that it’s also occurring. Even if some of the fans aren’t convinced.
Straight, usually black or brown hair is the norm for the majority of Japanese people. It’s just like every other race that doesn’t come from the West.
Nothing more than confirmation of Asians’ love with European traits can be found in the anime character’s backgrounds or historical references.
Saber from Fate Stay Night, for example, is a character who is built on rationality.
Britain’s “King Arthur” is depicted in Saber. As a result, dyeing her hair blonde and such is quite acceptable.
However, the designs of anime characters are frequently devoid of any rhyme or rationale. Except for the purpose of illustrating a disparity between what the Japanese want to appear like and what they actually appear to be.
Alternatively, it could be a case of excessive appreciation for European characteristics.
Yes, it can be used for “differentiation,” but that isn’t the argument I’m trying to make here.
Do ALL anime characters look westernized?
No, of course not.
It’s my goal with this piece to demonstrate the prejudice, fears, and obsessions that come along with having characters who appear to be from the West in appearance. And here are some of the reasons why.
Since not all explanations can be backed up by hard facts, I suppose I should use the word observations instead.
Although we may wish to reject it, many anime characters are made to look like they’re from somewhere else. However, this is not always the case.
Is there any hope that this will ever change?
That’s really unlikely, in my opinion. However, it may not be necessary.
Do you recall what I said? Few Japanese and Asians behave, think, or live in this manner. Whether or not they work in the anime industry (statistically).
In the future, though, I hope to see anime characters designed and produced that have a more authentic Japanese appearance and feel. No need to mention it.
It’s one of the things I appreciate most about earlier anime designs. I was blown away by the authenticity of it.
We can all agree that some of us would be fine with that.