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Why Do Most Anime Characters Not Look Asian?

bubbatheclown
Posts: 1,258
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4/2/2014 12:01:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Consider it: most anime is made in Japan. A lot of anime takes place in Japan, with Japanese people as the main characters. Yet most anime characters look white! They've got hair colors of brown and red and blonde like white people do, even young anime children who aren't old enough to dye their hair.
Why the heck is this?! I have a theory, but first I'd like to see what you guys think.
Adam2
Posts: 1,024
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4/2/2014 9:36:50 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Small eyes are a European trait
Big eyes are a Meditteranean/Asian trait (which you find in anime)
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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4/2/2014 10:48:56 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
http://kotaku.com...

From the first comment:

"As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why? Because to them white is the Default Human Being.

If I draw a stick figure, most Americans will assume that it is a white man. Because to them that is the Default Human Being. For them to think it is a woman I have to add a dress or long hair; for Asian, I have to add slanted eyes; for black, I add kinky hair or brown skin. Etc.

The Other has to be marked. If there are no stereotyped markings of otherness, then white is assumed.

Americans apply this thinking to Japanese drawings. But to the Japanese the Default Human Being is Japanese! So they feel no need to make their characters "look Asian". They just have to make them look like people and everyone in Japan will assume they are Japanese " no matter how improbable their physical appearance.

You see the same thing in America: After all, why do people think Marge Simpson is white? Look at her skin: it is yellow. Look at her hair: it is a blue Afro. But the Default Human Being thing is so strong that lacking other clear, stereotyped signs of being either black or Asian she defaults to white."
yang.
bluesteel
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4/3/2014 12:03:55 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
I don't think the Simpsons look like people.... But I think anime characters look white because very large eyes and white skins are traits associated with white people... It might be a little implicit bias, but it's also just what they look like.

Anime characters have large eyes because men are inherently attracted to women with large eyes. And many fans of anime are male. So having "attractive" females helps viewership. And the big boobs.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
Adam2
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4/3/2014 6:19:29 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/3/2014 12:03:55 AM, bluesteel wrote:
I don't think the Simpsons look like people.... But I think anime characters look white because very large eyes and white skins are traits associated with white people... It might be a little implicit bias, but it's also just what they look like.

Anime characters have large eyes because men are inherently attracted to women with large eyes. And many fans of anime are male. So having "attractive" females helps viewership. And the big boobs.

Big eyes are not associated with white people? If anything they're associated with Italians, Spaniards, Arabs, Asians. Scandinavians, the whitest of people, have small eyes. Nothing white about big eyes at all.
Adam2
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4/3/2014 6:19:59 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/3/2014 12:03:55 AM, bluesteel wrote:
I don't think the Simpsons look like people.... But I think anime characters look white because very large eyes and white skins are traits associated with white people... It might be a little implicit bias, but it's also just what they look like.

Anime characters have large eyes because men are inherently attracted to women with large eyes. And many fans of anime are male. So having "attractive" females helps viewership. And the big boobs.

*Big eyes are not associated with white people.
tulle
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4/3/2014 11:03:29 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/3/2014 12:03:55 AM, bluesteel wrote:
I don't think the Simpsons look like people.... But I think anime characters look white because very large eyes and white skins are traits associated with white people... It might be a little implicit bias, but it's also just what they look like.

Anime characters have large eyes because men are inherently attracted to women with large eyes. And many fans of anime are male. So having "attractive" females helps viewership. And the big boobs.

Asians have white skin.
yang.
bluesteel
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4/3/2014 11:30:18 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/3/2014 11:03:29 AM, tulle wrote:
At 4/3/2014 12:03:55 AM, bluesteel wrote:
I don't think the Simpsons look like people.... But I think anime characters look white because very large eyes and white skins are traits associated with white people... It might be a little implicit bias, but it's also just what they look like.

Anime characters have large eyes because men are inherently attracted to women with large eyes. And many fans of anime are male. So having "attractive" females helps viewership. And the big boobs.

Asians have white skin.

Not exactly....

"The darker your skin, the larger the pockets in skin cells known as melanosomes, and these contain the sticky pigment melanin. Very pale skin produces almost no melanin, while Asian skins produce a yellowish type of melanin called phaeomelanin, and black skins produce the darkest, thickest melanin of all " known as eumelanin." [http://www.bbc.com...]

I've met girls who grew up in South Korea and China who refused to go outside in the sun because they didn't want to get tan. They wanted to appear as white as possible. Their skin will darken more than someone of Nordic descent if exposed to the sun. The idea that "white skin = beautiful" comes both from their own culture traditions -- e.g. women in ancient times used to paint their faces white -- and from the association with Western culture. [http://www.globalpost.com...] The same source says that Asian women spend $18 billion a year on skin whitening products and approximately 50% of Taiwanese women have employed techniques to lighten their skin. There is a saying in Taiwan: "One white can cover up three ugliness."

So I guess you're right. Anime characters reflect the Asian ideal of beauty. There are many animes that are set in Japan, so it makes sense that Japanese people think the characters represent themselves. But I doubt they think the characters actually look like them. South Park isn't very realistic in its depictions of humans, but most people get that the characters represent specific races in the United States [with "Token" being the black character]. In contrast, [at least for me], I think of the Simpsons as *representing* Americans (given that they live in "Springfield" and Homer represents various stereotypes about Americans], but I don't see them as being a particular race.

This article provides an alternate perspective from the one you linked: "While I do not believe that Japanese people are "drawing themselves as white", one cannot underestimate the impact of Western culture on Japan before World War II and after as well." [http://kotaku.com...] Essentially, both things are true: anime characters are supposed to "represent" Japanese people, but their appearances *have* been influenced by Western culture and ideals.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
bluesteel
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4/3/2014 11:37:15 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
@tulle

It would be an interesting experiment to ask young people of various races is the United States to "draw a version of themselves as a Superhero" or for more mature people "draw an idealized version of themselves." Give them a full color palette to work with, and see how they represent their own race in the drawing. We already know that small children show preferences at young ages for white dolls over black dolls, so it would be interesting to see if certain races self-express an idealized version of themselves as having lighter skin. Given that children choose lighter dolls because they think that the light skinned doll represents certain ideals ("it is nicer," etc.), I would assume that the same children would express an idealized version of themselves as having lighter skin. But that's even sadder in many ways than the doll experiment because it would mean that looking in the mirror, they would never be able to seem their actual selves as an ideal version of themselves.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
tulle
Posts: 4,445
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4/3/2014 1:58:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/3/2014 11:37:15 AM, bluesteel wrote:
@tulle

It would be an interesting experiment to ask young people of various races is the United States to "draw a version of themselves as a Superhero" or for more mature people "draw an idealized version of themselves." Give them a full color palette to work with, and see how they represent their own race in the drawing. We already know that small children show preferences at young ages for white dolls over black dolls, so it would be interesting to see if certain races self-express an idealized version of themselves as having lighter skin. Given that children choose lighter dolls because they think that the light skinned doll represents certain ideals ("it is nicer," etc.), I would assume that the same children would express an idealized version of themselves as having lighter skin. But that's even sadder in many ways than the doll experiment because it would mean that looking in the mirror, they would never be able to seem their actual selves as an ideal version of themselves.

I've seen a study like that (and they did find that children tended to colour themselves lighter than their actual tone). I'll try to find it for you...
yang.
Eitan_Zohar
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4/3/2014 2:48:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/2/2014 10:48:56 PM, tulle wrote:
http://kotaku.com...

From the first comment:

"As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why? Because to them white is the Default Human Being.

If I draw a stick figure, most Americans will assume that it is a white man. Because to them that is the Default Human Being. For them to think it is a woman I have to add a dress or long hair; for Asian, I have to add slanted eyes; for black, I add kinky hair or brown skin. Etc.

The Other has to be marked. If there are no stereotyped markings of otherness, then white is assumed.

Americans apply this thinking to Japanese drawings. But to the Japanese the Default Human Being is Japanese! So they feel no need to make their characters "look Asian". They just have to make them look like people and everyone in Japan will assume they are Japanese " no matter how improbable their physical appearance.

Their eyes are deliberately elongated vertically.
"It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book."
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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4/3/2014 2:50:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I always assumed the whiteness of the skin was largely due to using the white space of the page (i.e. less ink), and the more ability (or easier ability) to incorporate shadow and shades.
My work here is, finally, done.
Fox-McCloud
Posts: 158
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4/3/2014 2:58:33 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/2/2014 12:01:41 PM, bubbatheclown wrote:
Consider it: most anime is made in Japan. A lot of anime takes place in Japan, with Japanese people as the main characters. Yet most anime characters look white! They've got hair colors of brown and red and blonde like white people do, even young anime children who aren't old enough to dye their hair.
Why the heck is this?! I have a theory, but first I'd like to see what you guys think.

I have had the same question for a long time.
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jaksunmadness
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4/4/2014 3:24:32 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
They're cartoons. No white person have red or yellow hair like that. It's more like a light red-brown (red) or light brown (blonde).
RaymondD
Posts: 1
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9/11/2014 6:52:30 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/2/2014 12:01:41 PM, bubbatheclown wrote:
Consider it: most anime is made in Japan. A lot of anime takes place in Japan, with Japanese people as the main characters. Yet most anime characters look white! They've got hair colors of brown and red and blonde like white people do, even young anime children who aren't old enough to dye their hair.
Why the heck is this?! I have a theory, but first I'd like to see what you guys think.

Most anime characters DO look East Asian. The East Asian characters do at least, obviously white characters don't.
LogicalLunatic
Posts: 1,633
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9/11/2014 9:29:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 9/11/2014 6:52:30 PM, RaymondD wrote:
At 4/2/2014 12:01:41 PM, bubbatheclown wrote:
Consider it: most anime is made in Japan. A lot of anime takes place in Japan, with Japanese people as the main characters. Yet most anime characters look white! They've got hair colors of brown and red and blonde like white people do, even young anime children who aren't old enough to dye their hair.
Why the heck is this?! I have a theory, but first I'd like to see what you guys think.

Most anime characters DO look East Asian. The East Asian characters do at least, obviously white characters don't.

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moneyspills
Posts: 14
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9/12/2014 1:25:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I don't think the Simpsons look like people.... But I think anime characters look white because very large eyes and white skins are traits associated with white people... It might be a little implicit bias, but it's also just what they look like.

Anime characters have large eyes because men are inherently attracted to women with large eyes. And many fans of anime are male. So having "attractive" females helps viewership. And the big boobs.

https://www.youtube.com...
rockcityboy
Posts: 29
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10/1/2014 8:51:37 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/2/2014 12:01:41 PM, bubbatheclown wrote:
Consider it: most anime is made in Japan. A lot of anime takes place in Japan, with Japanese people as the main characters. Yet most anime characters look white! They've got hair colors of brown and red and blonde like white people do, even young anime children who aren't old enough to dye their hair.
Why the heck is this?! I have a theory, but first I'd like to see what you guys think.

cuz they're art style tats why