ANIME Characters: Asian or white?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 15, 2011 6:11 AM GMT
    I'm confused...
    From Voltron to Macross to Ghost in the Shell to Gundam to Naruto, I've watched some anime over time (particularly mecha (robot) shows) and have always wondered if the characters are Asian or white. Or quasi-caucasian? Or maybe the characters are modeled after a certain "type" of Japanese person. And, if the characters skew towards white, then what does this say about the Japanese having consistently white-looking characters in a mostly Asian-created genre? I know that not all Japanese look alike, but they certainly don't look like the characters in a lot of their shows. A few do, but most don't. On most dubbed shows, the characters keep their Japanese names but they don't look at all Asian or Japanese. BLEACH may be one of the few shows in which the characters' facial features look vaguely Japanese. Below, I have pics of Japanese people and some who work in the anime industry along with a few pics of shows. Whether you're an anime fan or not, what do you guys think?

    Mamoru Oshii
    Mamoru_Oshii.png

    Kenji Kamiyama
    goh-kenji-kamiyama.jpg

    Kikuko Inoue
    AX2k1Fri377-2.JPG

    6a00d8345192f869e20115707034e3970b-800wi

    Bleach cosplay
    bleach.jpg

    Bleach
    bleach362.jpg

    Evangelion - Shinji
    1159794647_470x353_new-shinji-wallpaper.

    Naruto
    naruto.jpg

    Keith: Voltron's black lion pilot
    voltron-keith.jpg

    Rick Hunter and Lisa Hayes of Robotech
    robotech.jpg

    Macross II - Yumi Toma (Silvie)
    mac2_3.jpg
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    May 15, 2011 7:56 AM GMT
    I forgot where I read this, but typically, anime characters with black hair are supposed to be of Asian descent. The exception would be characters with black hair and non-brown eyes. This may or may not be so true with modern anime. I haven't really been keeping up with this stuff lately. icon_biggrin.gif
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    May 15, 2011 8:03 AM GMT
    What about Bulma from DBZ...?
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    May 15, 2011 8:59 AM GMT
    Yeah, characters with blue hair are sort of the wild card.
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    May 15, 2011 12:51 PM GMT
    dreamweaver21 saidWhat about Bulma from DBZ...?


    Tranny
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    May 15, 2011 12:56 PM GMT
    They are Japanese unless otherwise noted. It's a form of STYLIZED ANIMATION.
    Is the follow-up question going to be is Mickey really a mouse or a human with big ears?
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    May 15, 2011 1:06 PM GMT
    icon_eek.gif .........yeahhhhhhhh, lol i always wondered why can't they make all japanese anime japanese??? D: ........well, at least we can Cosplay em'! if they were black haired(and every race wants to cosplay em'), they can't. maaaaybe that's why they made different kinds of hair and styles so we can cosplay em'! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif. yes!icon_eek.gif
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    May 15, 2011 1:22 PM GMT
    I just watch it for the boobs
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    May 15, 2011 1:29 PM GMT
    TerraFirma saidThey are Japanese unless otherwise noted. It's a form of STYLIZED ANIMATION.
    Is the follow-up question going to be is Mickey really a mouse or a human with big ears?


    I've been thinking about that for the longest time...I didn't know that mice can talk and can also have a dog as a pet. icon_lol.gif
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    May 15, 2011 1:47 PM GMT
    waxon saidI just watch it for the boobs


    Did u say boobs?? icon_eek.gif%5Banimepaper.net%5Dscan-box-anime-freez
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    May 15, 2011 1:58 PM GMT
    Unlike countries in Europe and the Americas, Japan is a less diverse country, they want to draw exotic looking characters that at the same time they can relate to, to some extent. This is why Japanese anime usually incorporates mixed features from different ethnics and their own.
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    May 15, 2011 3:47 PM GMT
    charlitos saidUnlike countries in Europe and the Americas, Japan is a less diverse country, they want to draw exotic looking characters that at the same time they can relate to, to some extent. This is why Japanese anime usually incorporates mixed features from different ethnics and their own.


    This. icon_biggrin.gif
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    May 15, 2011 3:56 PM GMT
    I think a lot of what people say about the way anime characters look is pc bs. There are anime that have characters that look distinctly Asian, so its not like the Japanese don't know what they are doing. For the whole "they want to make their characters look diverse" theory to hold up, there would have to be more diversity in the characters. There are not a lot of black or latino or even asian looking characters which would suggest that they are consistently drawing on the features of once race to create their characters.

    Watch any run of the mill anime and then watch a miyazaki film and you will see the difference.
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    May 15, 2011 3:58 PM GMT
    The recent X-men series in Japan made me laugh--the new Japanese girl's power is to turn into a typical Japanese armored thingee.
    All those X-men characters speaking Japanese doesn't help things either.
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    May 15, 2011 4:04 PM GMT
    TerraFirma saidThey are Japanese unless otherwise noted. It's a form of STYLIZED ANIMATION.
    Is the follow-up question going to be is Mickey really a mouse or a human with big ears?

    I think the overall look of anime (details, backgrounds, artwork) is stylized. But saying that the characters are stylized is like saying Michael Jackson's cosmetic procedures were stylized. After all the surgeries, he started to look more white than his original race. Was he a "stylized" human being. Or maybe he was stylized white? Was he ever "stylized" black or just black? To be considered "stylized", I think you have to keep most of your original traits while adjusting a few. But never becoming something completely different from the original.

    Mickey Mouse wasn't created by another mouse and everyone knows that mice don't look like Mickey. But in anime, you're looking at HUMAN characters who look a certain way but don't look like the creators or group of people the creators are a part of. Anime inspires and influences a lot of young people and it could send a message in what the "ideal" Japanese person should look like. And achieving that "look" could be unobtainable. If I visited Europe, I would expect most animated characters to look European. If I visit Japan, I would expect most animated characters to look Japanese/Asian. In America, there are more of us whites than other races and most of our animated human characters are white... and look obviously white so you don't have to figure it out. I think caucasian characters reflect our look a little more accurately than the anime characters reflect the Japanese. I'm not talking about blue hair or overly distorted "cartoony" features. I'm talking about the skin tone, eyes and overall look of the characters.
  • needleninja

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    May 15, 2011 4:07 PM GMT
    I believe i asked a friend once why anime characters were always portrayed like they are instead of having an asian look to them all the time, but somehow i cant remember entirly what they said.
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    May 15, 2011 4:30 PM GMT
    dekiruman saidI think a lot of what people say about the way anime characters look is pc bs. There are anime that have characters that look distinctly Asian, so its not like the Japanese don't know what they are doing. For the whole "they want to make their characters look diverse" theory to hold up, there would have to be more diversity in the characters. There are not a lot of black or latino or even asian looking characters which would suggest that they are consistently drawing on the features of once race to create their characters.

    Watch any run of the mill anime and then watch a miyazaki film and you will see the difference.


    Yeah I agree with you. These are (and as silly as it is to bring up in an Anime cartoon thread) racial issues. Racial as in maybe the creators who are Asian want to look like the characters they draw or they are attracted to the Euro-descent groups they feature.

    I was a big fan of Digimon growing up and maybe one guy was truly Asian out of the entire series, and even he had eye lid "surgery" lol...so even he was "Americanized."

    It makes me sad that Asians have so many beautiful people to choose from (they all don't look alike) and they choose one dominant race over their own in their cartoons.

    Or the producers behind the shows are white and they make the designers and artists create these white looking characters. Either way I personally believe its a racial issue. No matter what others say its true and you can clearly see it.
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    May 15, 2011 8:12 PM GMT
    I'm not sure what people see as "un-Asian" about anime character designs? Hair colour? Eye colour?

    I don;t think the differences are as big as peoples perceptions of what they are.
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    May 15, 2011 8:19 PM GMT
    needleninja saidI believe i asked a friend once why anime characters were always portrayed like they are instead of having an asian look to them all the time, but somehow i cant remember entirly what they said.


    Thanks for the effort though.
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    May 15, 2011 8:35 PM GMT
    I pissed myself reading this good question though
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    May 15, 2011 8:38 PM GMT
    omg! someone else who knows Robotech!! <3

    Zentradi_Fleet.jpg

    rt4224.jpg
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    May 15, 2011 8:40 PM GMT
    There's actually a simple explanation based on perception.

    If you draw a stick figure what race is it? What gender is it? When we draw a stick figure the "default" race is usually white, the gender, male.We add details like a triangle dress before we consider it female. We color it in if we want to make it black. It's really just a matter of what you've been exposed to growing up. For most of us in western countries the default is white male.

    The Japanese are not drawing Caucasian characters. The characters in anime are Japanese unless otherwise specified. Whereas white is the default elsewhere,in Japan, Japanese is the default.They don't need to distinguish by drawing the characters with narrow eyes or straight black hair because everyone already assumes them to be Japanese.

    The reason that when you look at anime and think the characters are white is because white is your default race. You don't think the characters are asian unless they are drawn a certain way. Similarly, Caucasian characters in anime are usually drawn with a taller stature and a larger nose.

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    May 15, 2011 8:42 PM GMT
    So next question..
    Is Goofy a talking dog? Or some weird canine/human hybrid? icon_lol.gif
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    May 15, 2011 8:55 PM GMT
    Honestly why does everything become a comment about race.

    A quick search in google reveals that a large part of japanese manga is based on the works of Osamu Tezuka who was influenced by Disney's betty boop and mickey mouse.. hence the large eyes, round face, etc.

    But, then to play the devils advocate.. the overall top rated anime, full metal alchemist, the protaganist is european..

    I do believe the majority of anime characters are represented as japanese..

    Whether to say they are 'stylized white' .... honestly show me a human being that looks at ALL like an anime character. They are stylized to look like a CARTOON!

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    May 15, 2011 8:58 PM GMT
    dekiruman saidI think a lot of what people say about the way anime characters look is pc bs. There are anime that have characters that look distinctly Asian, so its not like the Japanese don't know what they are doing. For the whole "they want to make their characters look diverse" theory to hold up, there would have to be more diversity in the characters. There are not a lot of black or latino or even asian looking characters which would suggest that they are consistently drawing on the features of once race to create their characters.

    Watch any run of the mill anime and then watch a miyazaki film and you will see the difference.


    Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has a bunch of different races. Hell, half the conflict is about race and ethnicities.