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Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Boring question #53: Are there more nationalities represented in anime or not?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (22148 points ) June 6th, 2011

If one takes a look at anime or manga one might notice straight off is half the males look Asian and the other half Western or Caucasian. The gals on the other end mostly look Western or Caucasian, and a few look Asian. The ones that look Asian to me do not look like the Asians you would see in the Philippines, Laos, or Vietnam, with darker skin. Most noticeable is you do not see any Hispanic or African looking males nowhere in sight. Why do you suppose that? I have my theories but no one cares to hear them so why waste the time, you might be more familiar with the art form and have a factual reason as to why this is. Maybe you know some non-traditional anime out there you know about that is more nationality represented? If you have seen such, do you have a link?

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8 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Eyes in Anime are very often used to represent certain character traits.
The narrow eyes you are referring to usually represent a serious, stern, mature or malevolent nature. The big eyes represent light heartedness, openness, goodness or cuteness.
I guess that fact alone makes it difficult to depict different ethnicities without causing misunderstandings.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Not very much.

mazingerz88's avatar

I would assume in anime, representing nationalities was never the primary aim. It is uniquely Japanese and part of the Japanese culture is fascination and even to it’s very young, obsession with American pop culture. In addition, anime is an art form that may have it’s own unwritten rules. I had a Filipino-American artist animator friend who would design anime characters in keeping with what to him is classic anime design. He refused to deviate believing it’s disrespectful. As for pushing the issue of just why not anime characters presenting other races are being created, I’m sure it’s economics. If you are a producer, you would follow the path of least resistance and follow a proven marketable formula. It’s mostly business after all.

Ajulutsikael's avatar

In animes for the most part the characters are Japanese unless said otherwise. The reason we don’t see them as overtly Asian is because the Japanese know they are Japanese so there is no need to give them slanted eyes. The few times they do that is to differentiate them between other Asian nationalities like Chinese, Korean and so on. The thing with animes is that they over exaggerate features to make them obvious that they are different and many times it could make them come off as racist.

amujinx's avatar

There’s Hetalia, where each character represents a different country. I’m only assuming they get to most countries though, I watched all of one episode before I decided that it wasn’t an anime for me.

Of animes I have watched, I remember a Cowboy Bebop episode (Mushroom Samba to be exact) that is a parody of Blaxploitation films and has a few African-American characters.

Excel Saga has a recurring character named Pedro who is Mexican and has the worst luck known to man.

Other than that though, I can’t really think of any Hispanic or African characters in another anime off the top of my head.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@mazingerz88 _ It is uniquely Japanese and part of the Japanese culture is fascination and even to it’s very young, obsession with American pop culture. The uniquely Japanese part I got from the get go, but who’s _American pop culture are they obsessed with? I suspect there is a basic all-inclusive American pop culture, but with a nation so big, I would also see it as plausible for each region’s pop culture references would be their own. I am sure growing up I would not have understand some of the pop culture references or icons those kids in Queens had.

I am for tradition and traditionalist but sometimes improvisation actually helps; not always but then sometimes you have to put it in action before you know it won’t work. If there was no improvisation women would not be taking classes at West Point or the Citadel.

If you are a producer, you would follow the path of least resistance and follow a proven marketable formula. From the stand point of purely money I can see why they would be slow to change the formula; they say ”If the watch ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. How many businesses were ahead of the curve and even did well because they shook the apple cart? Snowboarding would not be what it was and there would be no Flying Tomato, at least not on snow if that apple cart had not been shaken.

Of animes I have watched, I remember a Cowboy Bebop episode (Mushroom Samba to be exact) that is a parody of Blaxploitation films and has a few African-American characters. How far back does that reach, the 70’s? If it wasn’t it surely has a stereotypical view of Black Americans, I would say almost equal to the portrayal of Chinese American as the Coolies that worked the railroads.

amujinx's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Of course it presents a stereotypical view of African Americans. It’s parodying a genre that was already rife with stereotypes of African Americans.

roundsquare's avatar

If I remember correctly, anime comes from an earlier art form that was meant to make fun of westerners. Maybe that helps explain it.

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