Why do the Japanese draw themselves as Caucasians?”

Japanese Happa Loli

Fun­ny thing is, they don’t. The belief that ani­me char­ac­ters “look white” is all based on a nar­row per­cep­tion that peo­ple tend to have when they are brought up in coun­tries that have a large Euro­pean influ­ence.

Take it easy

Breaking It Down

First­ly, let’s look into things from the stand­point of a per­son that believes that the typ­i­cal ani­me char­ac­ter pos­sess­es more Euro­pean traits, as opposed to oth­er races. Here’s a rough list of why they believe so:

  • Ani­me char­ac­ters have big eyes.
  • Ani­me char­ac­ters have hair and eye col­ors typ­i­cal­ly not thought of as nat­ur­al for an Asian to pos­sess.
  • Ani­me char­ac­ters have pale skin.

Now, let’s decon­struct these points one-by-one, shall we?

...M..me? Slanty eyes? ):

Anime Characters Have Big Eyes

A com­mon stereo­type applied to Asian peo­ple is that they gen­er­al­ly have slant­ed eyes, much more slant­ed com­pared to races such as Africans and Cau­casians. While this asser­tion is a tad bit offen­sive, it is indeed under­stand­able. How­ev­er, let’s look at the char­ac­ters in Clan­nad, who are intend­ed to be Japan­ese teenagers. You look at those eyes and see how big they are.

Now, why is it that the first thing that reg­is­ters in your head is a white per­son? Euro­peans don’t have abnor­mal­ly large eyes and abnor­mal­ly large pupils. In fact, no human being with­out a birth defect has eyes like that in real life! So what’s the deal? Hav­ing large eyes isn’t a white stereo­type, so why is that a rea­son to assume that an ani­me char­ac­ter is intend­ed to be drawn as if they were white?

This is my natural hair color!

Anime Characters Don’t Have Asian Hair Colors

The nat­ur­al hair col­or for an Asian per­son is black, unless he/she is mixed or had their hair dyed to a dif­fer­ent col­or. Yup, a nat­u­ral­ly blonde Japan­ese is extreme­ly rare to come by.

But so is a nat­u­ral­ly blue-haired Japan­ese or a nat­u­ral­ly green-haired Japan­ese (screw the rules!). Are you try­ing to con­vince me that being a white per­son gives you the priv­i­lege of hav­ing the mag­i­cal green hair gene? Those are some strange genet­ics there, yo.

Sexy Tan Loli

Anime characters have pale skin.

The most idi­ot­ic asser­tion out of all the three, main­ly because it’s a hasty gen­er­al­iza­tion. Just as black peo­ple can be brown and white peo­ple can be tanned, Asian peo­ple can be pale-skinned instead of yel­low. Peo­ple tend to for­get Asian peo­ple come in all sorts of col­ors: tanned, yel­low, and white. In fact, a lot of real life Asians are more pale-skinned as opposed to the more yel­low Asians (plain yel­low would make them look hor­ri­bly dis­eased). Even then, the nor­mal light­ly yel­low-col­ored Asians are hard to dis­tin­guish from a pale-skinned one.

Point of the mat­ter is, in order for this asser­tion to have any mer­it, it must be agreed that me accus­ing the artists of The Simp­sons for draw­ing them­selves as Asian would be as equal­ly valid… because there is essen­tial­ly the same rea­son­ing behind it.

Conclusion = Kobato is a hot loli

Conclusion

Dur­ing this analy­sis, there is one sin­gle recur­ring theme: Ani­me char­ac­ters don’t typ­i­cal­ly look like any sin­gle race. They’re just sim­ply drawn as… peo­ple with no def­i­nite equiv­a­lents in real life in terms of appear­ance. Most of the Japan­ese artists that draw their char­ac­ters with flam­boy­ant hair col­ors and big eyes sim­ply just choose to draw Japan­ese peo­ple like that, not because of any kind of self-hat­ing mind­set white suprema­cists would like you to believe. Take anthro­po­mor­phic char­ac­ters like Mick­ey Mouse, for exam­ple. If you were to ask an aver­age Amer­i­can to choose a race they would most iden­ti­fy Mick­ey Mouse with, it would prob­a­bly be a white per­son. That’s just how the human psy­che works when it comes to stereo­typ­ing every race except for their own.

That psy­che comes into play a lot when it comes to medi­ums such as anime/manga and cartoons/comics. While the typ­i­cal way of draw­ing an ani­me char­ac­ter isn’t a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a white per­son, the Japan­ese do indeed draw white peo­ple in a cer­tain way. A per­son with wavy blonde hair, blue eyes, a semi-real­is­tic facial struc­ture, and a tall nose. This is only to insist that the char­ac­ter is a for­eign­er, where­as ani­me which take place in west­ern set­tings like Bac­cano! return to the token ani­me art style.

Sim­i­lar­ly, Amer­i­cans usu­al­ly can’t draw Asian peo­ple with­out giv­ing them slant­ed eyes or a point­ed beard. When they look at ani­me char­ac­ters — who some­times have black hair, wear Asian-styled cloth­ing, eat Asian cui­sine, and live in an Asian-styled home — that do not have slant­ed eyes, there are moments where it does reg­is­ter to them that the char­ac­ter may not look as “white” as they think they do, but def­i­nite­ly don’t look Asian because they lack the slants. Iron­i­cal­ly, Takeshi/Brock from Poke­mon is wide­ly thought to be a Mex­i­can char­ac­ter due to the fact that his skin is tanned, despite hav­ing slants for eyes.

In the end, peo­ple just like to trick them­selves into believ­ing that every­one wants to be like them due to some sense of nationalism…er, or some­thing…

46 thoughts on “Why do the Japanese draw themselves as Caucasians?”

  1. yeah, i think they just draw what they think is cute
    speak­ing of cute, what ani­me is that girl with red and blue eyes in?? XD

  2. Hmm, inter­est­ing… Let me make a rant of my own about the first top­ic.

    When Japan lost the war against the Allies, the gap between the nation and the West was start­ing to dimin­ish. At this time in the West, Dis­ney had achieved huge main­stream pop­u­lar­i­ty with the release of works such as Snow White, Fan­ta­sia and Bam­bi. Each of these works fea­tured large-eyed char­ac­ters. Now, Osaku Tezu­ma took notice of this and decid­ed to imple­ment this in Japan­ese ani­ma­tion. He used these Dis­ney influ­ences to cre­ate the icon­ic Astro Boy. This cre­at­ed the basic look for ani­me char­ac­ters as we know and love them today. So, it nev­er real­ly was about the peo­ple: the eyes take inspi­ra­tion not from West­ern­ers, but from West­ern ani­ma­tion. As you’ve said already, no one in real life has eyes that big and if they did, it would look absolute­ly hor­rid. Var­i­ous artists and stu­dios exper­i­ment­ed with the size and shape of the eye lat­er on, but the trend was to increase size because they believed eyes expressed emo­tions best. I agree with that, but they real­ly did go over­board in Clan­nad.

  3. @anime adik: The girl is from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Suku­nai. I get a lot of my pic­tures from Safebooru, so if you click on them, you usu­al­ly go to the page where I found the image and you can find the series name in the tags. ;D
    @TRazor: Very much agreed. The art style for ani­me took its roots from Dis­ney and it stuck.

    I actu­al­ly like how Clan­nad did the eyes. The char­ac­ter design­er for Key is known for draw­ing her char­ac­ters in a way that makes you feel their psy­cho­log­i­cal trou­bles just by look­ing into their eyes.

    That’s why one of the oth­er rea­sons why I think Japan­ese car­toon­ists, like Osaku Tezu­ma, took inspi­ra­tion from the large eyes seen in Dis­ney char­ac­ters is that it’s a great way to have their char­ac­ters express emo­tions, in a way a real­is­tic-look­ing art style would­n’t. It’s also one of the rea­sons why I like draw­ing in this style to begin with. As an artist, I feel that it’s a very flex­i­ble style to work with, not because of any­thing relat­ed to race.

  4. Japan­ese have this fas­ci­na­tion with west­ern eyes espe­cial­ly.

    I had quite a few friends from japan back in SG and they were always telling me they wished to have this and that fea­ture, its very com­mon.

    1. Not exact­ly a fas­ci­na­tion with “west­ern eyes”, a lot of Asian cul­tures view big eyes in gen­er­al as being very pret­ty. Don’t for­get that East Asians can nat­u­ral­ly have big eyes with­out hav­ing a lick of west­ern blood.

  5. the cute ani­me chick with pig­tails blond hair and red and blue eyes is from an ani­me called “I DON’T HAVE MANY FRIENDS” and is a roman­tic com­e­dy

  6. I dont see that you answered the ques­tion as far as the eyes. When an ani­me sto­ry takes place in Japan, the eyes of char­ac­ters rarely appear char­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly Asian, even when more real­is­ti­cal­ly styled. Why arent they drawn with an appar­ent ‘epi­can­thal fold’ dis­tinc­tion or ‘cat eye’ shape? Some­how I sus­pect that Asians want to blur racial dis­tinc­tion and dont con­sid­er this eye trait as appar­ent as cau­ca­soids do.

    1. @Exer­gon: Or prob­a­bly because eye shape isn’t used to dis­tin­guish race and eth­nic­i­ty much com­pared to skin col­or, eye col­or, hair col­or, or what type clothes they’re wear­ing. Epi­can­th­ic folds are com­mon­ly seen with­in peo­ple of Asian descent, but it’s com­mon­ly seen in a few Euro­pean coun­tries as well. Dun­no about com­plete­ly blur­ring racial dis­tinc­tion in terms of more real­is­tic art styles in ani­me, but it’s cer­tain­ly less exag­ger­at­ed than in west­ern ani­ma­tion. More­over, from an ani­me artist’s stand­point, keep­ing eye shape dis­tin­guish­able by char­ac­ter arche­type is much more sim­ple than tak­ing into account that and race.

  7. @a: Not all Asians have epi­can­th­ic folds, and the fact that it’s a com­mon gen­er­al­iza­tion that’s often sub­ject to racial jokes makes it a giv­en that it will offend some peo­ple. Just imply­ing that Asian peo­ple can’t have an eye shape oth­er than “small and slan­ty” can be offen­sive to some, which is what I was get­ting at.
    I per­son­al­ly don’t find it offen­sive unless it’s pur­pose­ful­ly tak­en to such lev­els of hos­til­i­ty (“chinky”, “widescreen vision”, etc.) My point is that it’s irrel­e­vant when it comes to the typ­i­cal ani­me art style.

  8. I think they choose big eyes and pale skin because that is what is con­sid­ered beau­ti­ful in Japan/Asia. A tiny face and long limbs is also part of their pref­er­ences.

  9. I think you could argue that they typ­i­cal­ly find white peo­ple very exot­ic as a result that they are more like­ly to have vary­ing eye and hair col­ors, not to men­tion non-Asians tend to have larg­er eyes. But at the same time, many Japan­ese are very prej­u­diced against for­eign­ers so if they do “draw them­selves as Cau­casians”, it’s only because they find some of their genet­ic ten­den­cies attrac­tive, but that’s as far as it goes!

    1. @Xel: That does­n’t explain the use of mul­ti-col­ored unre­al­is­tic hair col­ors though (it’s pos­si­ble to dye your hair in real life, but neon green? Sil­ver?). It’s safe to say that it’s just a styl­ist choice and has noth­ing to do with race.

  10. What I meant is that they like those things any­way, and white peo­ple just hap­pen to embody some of them. I’m nei­ther white nor Asian and I like all of those things, so I fig­ure it’s the same for them any­way.

    1. @Xel: I agree. What peo­ple con­sid­er beau­ti­ful could be preva­lent in incre­ments with­in every eth­nic group.

  11. Yeah, it’s just a coin­ci­dence that they draw them­selves clos­er to what white peo­ple look like, and as far away as pos­si­ble from what Asian peo­ple typ­i­cal­ly look like.

    1. @der­py­derp: Did you actu­al­ly read the post, or did you come here only to make a failed attempt at being a smar­tass?

      I don’t know what world you live in, but where I come from, white peo­ple don’t “typ­i­cal­ly” have albi­no, green, blue, or fuck­ing rain­bow hair that defy grav­i­ty… or have big bug eyes. Pale skin? Asians have fuck­ing pale skin too, *espe­cial­ly* East Asians. I’m the palest per­son in the entire world and *I’m* fuck­ing Asian.

      These are white peo­ple: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/Festuva.jpg
      This is not: http://i.imgur.com/17q7z3s.png

      So der­pi­ty derp to you too.

  12. you may have a point, but if exot­ic was the look they would be after there would b a lot more african look­ing japanise char­ters.
    the real answer i think is that the mil­i­tary wins of the west and media impact of the west (i.e. white folks) has impact­ed on the cul­tur­al mind of japanise in the love / hate mode.
    and to a large extent the japanise have adopt­ed the anti black mind set of the white amer­i­cans, per­haps uncon­cious­ly.

    1. @Thomas Smith: Well, I nev­er said they were going for some­thing exot­ic in that sense. It’s the same with most west­ern car­toons. They’re not meant to look like real peo­ple. But when they ARE meant to be super-real­is­tic, Japan­ese char­ac­ters often more than not look like actu­al Japan­ese peo­ple. And are prob­a­bly more accu­rate than say, the restric­tive Amer­i­can depic­tion of an Asian per­son in west­ern media.
      As for the Japan­ese view on blacks, that’s kin­da of a touchy sub­ject that I won’t go into too much. Yeah, west­ern media does pret­ty much influ­ence their views on black peo­ple, as it does for oth­er Asian nations. I’d blame the west more for that though, for obvi­ous rea­sons, and at the very least, edu­ca­tion fix­es that if there is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for it.

  13. Excel­lent arti­cle!
    I’m always shocked with peo­ple’s lim­it­ed knowl­edge of Asia! Do you know how many coun­tries there are in Asia? The dif­fer­ent nation­al­i­ties and range of looks is huge! Asia is NOT Chi­na, Japan, Korea…

    The eyes of peo­ple in Lebanon, Bangladesh, Qatar, Pak­istan, and many oth­er “Asian” coun­tries often have large, incred­i­ble eyes, long lash­es and not always brown or black. Remem­ber the cov­er of Nation­al Geo­graph­ic with the incred­i­ble green­ish blue eyes of a love­ly Afghani girl–Asian!
    wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Girl

    So I agree with the writer. Japan draws peo­ple in their ani­me. The J‑people know the char­ac­ters are Japanese…and ani­me! Not real…

  14. i think there is a lot to your argu­ment, but­lots of peo­ple see char­ters as basi­cal­ly white with some mods, espe­cial­ly the eye thing, i have nev­er seen any with slant­ed eyes.
    I have seen 1 or 2 char­ters that were dis­tinct­ly African Amer­i­can

  15. Came across this arti­cle because I want to know why so many white char­ac­ters appear in man­ga and I’m sor­ry, but your argu­ment is a bit sil­ly and com­plete­ly false. While some char­ac­ters are exag­ger­a­tions of a mix of human traits, the real­i­ty is a large per­cent­age sim­ply look very Euro­pean. It’s most obvi­ous when the char­ac­ters are every day peo­ple and even more so when the cast of char­ac­ters rep­re­sent a mix of eth­nic­i­ties. I have seen way too many man­gas depict­ing what are clear­ly Cau­casian char­ac­ters liv­ing in Japan to buy what you are say­ing. The num­ber of blondes alone shows you some­thing is going on and you pre­tend­ing every­one who’s noticed it is just a racist is ridicu­lous. Japan­ese artist DO draw a lot Cau­casian look­ing char­ac­ters all the time and in many cas­es it’s obvi­ous. As far as why…I have my the­o­ries, but I doubt the author of this arti­cle is will­ing to face real­i­ty long enough to con­sid­er them.

    1. @elle: “The num­ber of blondes”
      “clear­ly Cau­casian char­ac­ters liv­ing in Japan”

      There are plen­ty of char­ac­ters that have black, blue, pur­ple, pink, dark brown, and green hair col­ors. How on Earth do *they* look Cau­casian? They could be any­thing. They’re car­toons. Any argu­ment boils down to “IF THEY’RE NOT STEREOTYPICALLY SLIT-EYES SMALL YELLOW ASIAN OR BIG SCARY GORILLA BLACK MAN they must be white”. I could say that Homer Simp­son is Asian using a bunch of equal­ly racist as fuck argu­ments but then you’d tell me, “but they don’t have small eyes and black bowl cuts.” Japan­ese man­ga artists uti­lize dif­fer­ent hair and eye col­ors to make it so you could eas­i­ly tell apart Char­ac­ter A from Char­ac­ter B. Would you be will­ing to imply that only Cau­casians are easy to tell apart, but every oth­er race are the only ones that look the same? You peo­ple should get over your­selves. “If car­toons don’t have slit-eyes then they’re not Asian. If car­toons don’t have slit-eyes and brown skin, they’re not black. Every­thing, by default, is white.” Wow. Just wow.

      There are char­ac­ters that are meant to look Euro­pean and stand out as a “for­eign char­ac­ter” because they ARE Euro­pean. Edward Elric was designed to look extreme­ly Euro­pean because all of the Ames­tri­an char­ac­ters are sup­posed to be fan­ta­sy-Euro­peans. And the Xingese char­ac­ters in that series are sup­posed to be Chi­nese and guess what? They pret­ty much look like every oth­er “Japan­ese” ani­me char­ac­ter out there, only they actu­al­ly con­form to only black hair and black eyes because *GASP* it’s one of those rare occa­sions where the artist chose to align their fan­ta­sy races with real­i­ty..

  16. Miko­to, you want to point out select exam­ples like they prove something…they don’t You can cry racism and cul­tur­al bias, but the real­i­ty is there are many man­ga char­ac­ter who do not have pink or pur­ple hair, nor do they have gigan­tic eyes, but most impor­tant­ly of all THEY DO NOT LOOK ASIAN. The last three series I read focused on every­day peo­ple liv­ing in Japan and in every sin­gle case there con­tained more than one char­ac­ter that in no way shape or form resem­bled any­one of Japan­ese ances­try. The thing every­one wants to talk about, which you seem intent on deny­ing, is that their are a pletho­ra of char­ac­ters in manga/anime who are por­trayed as Japan­ese, but who are overt­ly Cau­casian in appear­ance. There is noth­ing about ask­ing why that implies one race is bet­ter than any oth­er, it’s sim­ply an very obvi­ous and strange dis­con­nect. You can rant about unre­lat­ed issues like the fact that the Simp­sons do look like any human beings any­where (they have four fin­gers for good­ness sake, that’s not white or Japan­ese that’s just sil­ly), but the fact of the mat­ter is that it’s not a rare occur­rence, which is why peo­ple talk about it. There are an awful lot of blond haired, blue eyed peo­ple in ani­me who are depict­ed as being Japan­ese and some of use are inter­est­ed in dis­cussing the phe­nom­e­non, instead of pre­tend­ing it does­n’t exist.

    1. @elle: “Miko­to, you want to point out select exam­ples like they prove something…they don’t”

      As opposed to you not pro­vid­ing any exam­ples at all?

      The last three series I read focused on every­day peo­ple liv­ing in Japan and in every sin­gle case there con­tained more than one char­ac­ter that in no way shape or form resem­bled any­one of Japan­ese ances­try.

      In what way do they look specif­i­cal­ly Cau­casian then? You act as it’s a com­mon occur­rence that entire casts of ani­me char­ac­ters all have blonde hair and blue eyes like they’re as white as my pasty Asian skin.

      Seri­ous­ly, the whole man­ga col­or­ing style is like a col­or wheel turned into a roulette. Out of a bunch of Japan­ese char­ac­ters with ran­dom-ass hair styles/colors and eyes, sud­den­ly the char­ac­ter that lands on the mag­i­cal yel­low and blue is sud­den­ly white? Oh boy. It’s not some “amaz­ing phe­nom­e­non”. Why is it sud­den­ly strange to call THOSE fic­tion­al char­ac­ters Japan­ese when we have green-haired genet­ic muta­tions run­ning around Tokyo? Ani­me char­ac­ters have dif­fer­ent hair and eye col­ors to make them unique as com­pared to every­one look­ing more or less the same. My point is that it should­n’t be issue of dis­cus­sion at all. It’s fuck­ing stu­pid. THEY’RE CARTOONS. With art styles that are more styl­is­tic than real­isic.

      You want real­is­tic? Read/watch a geki­ga manga/anme. THOSE tend to use real­is­tic art styles and all the char­ac­ters look like real peo­ple. You’ll get your 100% real­is­tic Asian-look­ing pop­u­la­tion there.

      their are a pletho­ra of char­ac­ters in manga/anime who are por­trayed as Japan­ese”

      And there are a pletho­ra of ani­me char­ac­ters that look Asian and ani­me char­ac­ters that look like aliens and a bunch of ani­me char­ac­ters with fuck­ing dif­fer­ent hair­styles and col­ors. Until a spe­cif­ic manga/anime/visual nov­el depicts the entire coun­try of Japan as blonde-haired blue-eyes muhri­cans, that’s a veeeeery moot point that does­n’t “prove” any­thing either.

      You can rant about unre­lat­ed issues like the fact that the Simp­sons do look like any human beings any­where (they have four fin­gers for good­ness sake, that’s not white or Japan­ese that’s just sil­ly)”

      News flash.

      THEY’RE ALL CARTOONS. They’re relat­ed. You know what’s sep­a­rat­ing them?

      One is ani­mat­ed in Japan. One is ani­mat­ed in the Unit­ed States. Dif­fer­ent cul­tures. And there­fore cul­ture is rel­e­vant.

      Why is it sud­den­ly that Amer­i­cans are allowed to draw anatom­i­cal­ly incor­rect yel­low-skinned white peo­ple with­out frig­gin’ self-hate psy­chol­o­gy being direct­ed towards them­selves where­as it’s sud­den­ly strange for the Japan­ese to draw anatom­i­cal­ly incor­rect Japan­ese peo­ple with mul­ti-col­ored hair and eyes?

      Oh that’s right, because Japan­ese peo­ple are only allowed to draw peo­ple with every col­or from the damned rain­bow, but blondes and blue-eyes are straaaaange. Why can’t they just draw every­one with black hair and black eyes? Hell, make them all look the same while they’re at it. That should make char­ac­ter design­ing eas­i­er. :/

  17. You want exam­ples, fine. Although, hon­est­ly, it seems a bit sil­ly because the list is end­less. Here are the three I was refer­ring to, but again they are a drop in a very large buck­et.
    ISSHOU TSUZUKERARENAI SHIGOTO
    Yume Musubi, Koi Musubi Man­ga
    OMAIRI DESU YO
    What I love about these con­crete exam­ples is that the char­ac­ters not only look Cau­casian in the black and white draw­ing, but on the cov­ers you see in liv­ing col­or that they are the least Asian look­ing Japan­ese peo­ple pos­si­ble. The one thing I don’t under­stand about your will­ful blind­ness about this phe­nom­e­non is that you equate accept­ing this aspect of man­ga as proof of some sort of self-hatred on the part of the authors, which is pret­ty strange and nar­row mind­ed. I hon­est­ly don’t know pre­cise­ly why so many Japan­ese artists choose to draw Japan­ese char­ac­ters as Cau­casians, but I sus­pect there are a myr­i­ad of rea­son. Do I think they have any­thing to do with self-loathing, not real­ly. Again, why do you choose to psy­chot­i­cal­ly deny the exis­tence of what is clear­ly a com­mon motif in manga/anime, rather than sim­ply explor­ing it? You seri­ous­ly need to reflect on why you take this all so per­son­al­ly.

    1. elle: >ask for exam­ples of man­ga with Cau­casian-look­ing char­ac­ters
      >gives me yaoi man­ga with josei J‑Pop-look­ing males
      [spoiler]why am i green­tex­ting in my com­ments section[/spoiler]
      Searched up all three of those at work (thanks). Those char­ac­ters… don’t look specif­i­cal­ly Cau­casian. Heck, the black-haired dude in “Yume Musubi” reminds me of some­thing straight out of a Japan­ese boy band, imo.
      What exact­ly WOULD make the char­ac­ters look “Japan­ese” to you, any­way? Those are tall, slen­der, and hand­some ani­me-styled human beings. So I guess that makes them white? Because I’m see­ing less blonde and blue-eyes com­pared to your pre­vi­ous asser­tion.
      “will­ful blind­ness about this phe­nom­e­non is that you equate accept­ing this aspect of man­ga as proof of some sort of self-hatred on the part of the authors, which is pret­ty strange and nar­row mind­ed”
      They. Are. Car­toons. Japan­ese car­toons that are not going for “racial­ly cor­rect” or some­times even human fea­tures, they just design what­ev­er the hell they want. They think a car­toon char­ac­ter would look pret­ty with yel­low hair? They give them yel­low hair. And some­times an ani­me adap­ta­tion would pre­fer, say, green hair on the char­ac­ter, so they change it to green hair.
      You say these “exam­ples” are just a “few drops in a very large buck­et”, but I can say the very same shit on my end too.
      So the only ques­tions to be answered are:
      “What would make a car­toon char­ac­ter look a cer­tain race to you? Do these traits actu­al­ly exist on that cer­tain race? Does this trait exist on peo­ple of the oth­er races as well?”
      (The fact that we’re even argu­ing about this SAYS some­thing about what most of these char­ac­ters actu­al­ly are in the end. Japan­ese Car­toons. If they’re in Japan, have a first and last Japan­ese name, eat Japan­ese food, speak Japan­ese, then the char­ac­ter is prob­a­bly fuck­ing Japan­ese even if he has a ten­ta­cle grow­ing out of his ass.)

  18. There are sev­er­al clear­ly Japan­ese char­ac­ters in those series, but that is not what we are dis­cussing. I nev­er assert­ed that manga/anime do not por­tray Japan­ese char­ac­ters. That’s actu­al­ly what makes the pres­ence of Cau­casians char­ac­ters that much more notice­able. In all three series, includ­ing “Yume Musubi”, there are promi­nent­ly fea­tured blonde char­ac­ters who in pan­els with facial close-ups have dis­tinct­ly Euro­pean fea­tures. There are of course also close-ups of char­ac­ters who have Asian fea­tures, which is what makes it even more bizarre. It’s not like these artists are not capa­ble of rep­re­sent­ing Japan­ese char­ac­ters in their work who look tru­ly Asian, but they choose to insert char­ac­ter who in no way shape or form resem­ble any per­son of Japan­ese descent I have even met or seen any­where. In the con­text of the sto­ry­line these char­ac­ters with Cau­casian fea­tures are por­trayed as Japan­ese with­out ques­tion which is the dis­con­nect you do not seem will­ing to acknowl­edge. These series, along with lit­er­al­ly hun­dreds of oth­ers I have read, con­tain char­ac­ters who, phys­i­cal­ly, do not resem­ble indi­vid­u­als of Japan­ese descent, despite the fact that the artists are clear­ly capa­ble of draw­ing Asian char­ac­ters. The fact that the authors choose rep­re­sent Japan­ese char­ac­ters as these Ari­an arche­types is wor­thy of dis­cus­sion. If they were Japan­ese char­ac­ters with ten­ta­cles grow­ing out of their bums it would be weird, but it would­n’t pose the same type of ques­tion. Think of it this way, I’ve seen Amer­i­can car­toons por­tray a wide range of eth­nic­i­ties, white, black, Asian, Native Amer­i­can…, but I have nev­er seen a case where a char­ac­ter’s appear­ance did not match their eth­nic­i­ty as it was por­trayed in sto­ry itself. In con­trast to that, I rarely run into man­gas that don’t con­tain at least one char­ac­ter who is Japan­ese in the sto­ry­line, but drawn in such a way that they look Cau­casian. If you can’t see that as a very sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence, then I sub­mit that you are choos­ing not to see it because you don’t like what you think it might mean.

    1. @elle: That’s the thing. Did they real­ly intend for them to look Cau­casian or are you just look­ing at a “default human being” (in this case, a gener­ic anime/bishounen design, this post explains it bet­ter than I did on my blog) and assum­ing that it’s Cau­casian? High nose ridge and round eyes? Whites don’t have a monop­oly on that fea­ture. Blonde hair, blue eyes (so-called “Aryan Race”)? Again, already estab­lished that Japan­ese 2D fic­tion likes to give a vari­ety of col­ors to their humans (plus, plen­ty of Japan­ese peo­ple dye their hair and wear col­or lens­es any­way…). I have not read any of those josei yaoi series nor do I have any inter­est in doing so, so I can’t real­ly say this as a cumu­la­tive for every human being in those series (maybe those fea­tures make the artists wet or some­thing, again, I don’t know — I tend to draw petite females because that’s per­son­al­ly what I find attrac­tive), but from things I’ve seen of them on image search, none of the blondes look any dif­fer­ent from the black-hairs besides the hair and eye col­or… They’re all ide­al­ized bishies.
      Typ­i­cal ani­me art style =/= real human. I can’t stress this enough. For most ani­me char­ac­ters, the Japan­ese peo­ple see as Japan­ese. Only white peo­ple think they look white. Because their default human being is dif­fer­ent from Japan’s default human being. Japan­ese man­ga artists aren’t pres­sured to draw them­selves “look­ing Asian” for the same rea­son white Amer­i­cans cre­ators aren’t pres­sured into mak­ing their main char­ac­ters “Blonde White Guys With Giant Schnozzes”. That’s why hard­ly any­one here gives a shit if the ani­mat­ed incar­na­tions of Bruce Wayne does­n’t resem­ble an actu­al white per­son.
      Racist car­i­ca­tures of every oth­er “race” besides “default human being” are anoth­er thing entire­ly. That kind of thing exists every­where, and they’re not exact­ly right either.

  19. You are seri­ous­ly in denial. I did not see a default being. Any­one look­ing objec­tive­ly can see they are not Japan­ese. As I said before, it is most obvi­ous when the Cau­casian drawn char­ac­ters are jux­ta­po­si­tioned with char­ac­ters who have been drawn with Japan­ese fea­tures. And your dis­cus­sion of ide­al­ized forms does not negate the fact that the exam­ples I pro­vid­ed depict real­is­tic, non-exag­ger­at­ed human forms. These are not car­i­ca­tures of human beings; they are sim­ply depic­tions of every­day peo­ple, yet they con­tain one con­spic­u­ous dis­con­nect; name­ly that they por­tray Japan­ese indi­vid­u­als as being phys­i­cal­ly Cau­casian. And again, I chal­lenge you to find exam­ples of this same phe­nom­e­non out­side manga/anime. If you can I high­ly doubt you going to be able to find even one tenth of the exam­ples I can find with­in min­utes. What I can’t under­stand is why you refuse to acknowl­edge this. I also find it strange that you imme­di­ate­ly inter­pret the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of race as racist. It sounds at times like if you had your way all char­ac­ters would be drawn as racial­ly ambigu­ous, just so you would­n’t have to deal with the ques­tions that some depic­tions of race bring up.

    1. @elle: And you’re in denial that any­thing that does­n’t have stereo­typ­i­cal fea­tures that Amer­i­cans por­tray Asians with in media (or any oth­er race for that mat­ter) is auto­mat­i­cal­ly Cau­casian. If you actu­al­ly read my com­ments you’ll see I already gave a few exam­ples from Amer­i­can car­toons. The ani­mat­ed incar­na­tions of Bruce Wayne don’t look like white guys. The humans in the Simp­sons and Fam­i­ly Guy don’t look like real human beings. White Amer­i­cans don’t feel the need to car­i­ca­tur­ize white peo­ple the same way Japan­ese peo­ple don’t feel the need to car­i­ca­tur­ize Japan­ese peo­ple. How hard is that to frig­gin’ under­stand? You line up a bunch of ani­mat­ed char­ac­ters with a bunch of dif­fer­ent unre­al­is­tic or oth­er­wise hair col­ors, all of whom are from Japan, and then pick out the blonde one as a white per­son because YELLOW HAIR???? How does that log­ic work out­side of “if so-and-so has/doesn’t have [insert trait] they are always most def­i­nite­ly white EVEN IF EVERYONE ELSE HAS WEIRD HAIR COLORS ANYWAY”? And the char­ac­ters in your fujoshi man­ga series don’t look like real human beings either.
      This is a real­is­tic art style: http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/50-ultra-realistic-female-portrait-drawings/3.jpg
      This is not: http://www.citymanga.com/files/images/yume_musubi_koi_musubi/10/9.jpg
      They all have ani­me eyes, the same­face syn­drome, and the only thing that allows you to even tell the char­ac­ters apart are their frig­gin hair col­ors which in ani­me THERE ARE MULTITUDES OF. Guess what, that’s the beau­ty of fic­tion­al car­toons and art, YOU CAN DRAW WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT. They’re car­toons. The artists are most def­i­nite­ly females that love attrac­tive men get­ting it on. Said male char­ac­ters def­i­nite­ly remind me more of the shit Asian boy bands try to look like rather than an aver­age white human being. The artists can draw what­ev­er the fuck they want and if they want to give all the males in that world a “boy band” feel then they fuck­ing could.
      The racist car­i­ca­ture part of my com­ment was that, like us, Japan has had racist car­i­ca­tures of oth­er races besides the “dom­i­nant” native pop­u­la­tion. It exists every­where. What­ev­er. It’s a psy­chol­o­gy that I don’t agree with, I admit to hav­ing it too, some­times my Amer­i­can­ized upbring­ing makes me think “white per­son” when I see a sim­ple draw­ing of a stan­dard human being with no racial iden­ti­fiers. Some­times even Asian because I am Asian. Does­n’t make it right. There are stereo­typ­i­cal ways to draw Euro­pean char­ac­ters in anime/manga and the exam­ples from your yaoi man­ga ain’t one of them.
      Com­mon racial traits DO EXIST. Hence why we’re cat­e­go­rized into races to begin with. If they are accu­rate­ly and respect­ful­ly incor­po­rat­ed into a char­ac­ter design then it’s not a racist car­i­ca­ture. When it gets to the point where you have to have racial fea­tures fuck­ing exag­ger­at­ed and made up to be more com­mon than they actu­al­ly are and gen­er­al­ized through­out an entire race of peo­ple in order for you to tell the fuck­ing dif­fer­ence is when it’s racist. In Full­met­al Alchemist, the author clear­ly based the fic­tion­al races and coun­tries off of real life equiv­a­lents. But when a typ­i­cal ani­me series is set in Japan, what’s the fuck­ing point of the view­er pick­ing out races when it’s clear­ly just Japan with non-real­is­tic human beings? Also, it’s clear­ly fuck­ing racist when peo­ple say dark-skinned char­ac­ters like Takeshi/Brock are black when nat­u­ral­ly tan Asians frig­gin exist. “NO Asian can be dark eeeeev­er.”
      “Also, I love how you are so wor­ried about race, but you have no prob­lem own­ing your misog­y­ny. How does that work? We have to pre­tend that Japan­ese artists don’t draw Japan­ese char­ac­ters as look­ing dis­tinct­ly Cau­casian, even thought it is per­va­sive in all gen­res of manga/anime. (And FYI I don’t only read yaoi, so I know this is not some­thing nov­el to those sto­ries). Even though that is so upset­ting to you that you act like any­one who notices it is just a racist imag­in­ing things, but at the same time you seem pret­ty into objec­ti­fy­ing women. So I guess that mean giant freaky boo­bies is a big thumbs up, but a Swedish look­ing Japan­ese guy is some­thing we can’t even talk about… Seri­ous­ly?”

      >reads man­ga where men plow each oth­er
      >talks peo­ple down for “objec­ti­fy­ing” women

      WOW A TUMBLR FEMINIST SJW. I’m not allowed to be a fan of FICTIONAL CARTOON girls because it’s “objec­ti­fy­ing them” yet you get to read man­ga where fic­tion­al car­toon men fuck­ing fon­dle each oth­er. That’s real fuck­ing fun­ny. I’m not a misog­y­nist. I’m a fuck­ing het­ero­sex­u­al male that finds female char­ac­ters endear­ing. How in the fly­ing fuck is that “woman hat­ing”? Get. The. Fuck. Out of here.

      (Also I like how you men­tion big breasts as if I talk about big breasts reg­u­lar­ly, if at all, on my blog. Let’s play Make Shit Up On The Spot! If you haven’t noticed, most of the girls on my blog pic­tures are either flat-chest­ed or mod­est­ly endowed, which does­n’t real­ly fuck­ing mat­ter BECAUSE I TALK ABOUT THEIR CHARACTER RATHER THAN THEIR CHESTS ANYWAY. Much like I’d rather talk about char­ac­ter personality/development rather than debat­ing about their racial cat­e­go­riza­tion. There was lit­er­al­ly 0% rea­son for you to have played the misog­y­nist card.)

  20. Also, I love how you are so wor­ried about race, but you have no prob­lem own­ing your misog­y­ny. How does that work? We have to pre­tend that Japan­ese artists don’t draw Japan­ese char­ac­ters as look­ing dis­tinct­ly Cau­casian, even thought it is per­va­sive in all gen­res of manga/anime. (And FYI I don’t only read yaoi, so I know this is not some­thing nov­el to those sto­ries). Even though that is so upset­ting to you that you act like any­one who notices it is just a racist imag­in­ing things, but at the same time you seem pret­ty into objec­ti­fy­ing women. So I guess that mean giant freaky boo­bies is a big thumbs up, but a Swedish look­ing Japan­ese guy is some­thing we can’t even talk about… Seri­ous­ly?

  21. Japan­ese ani­me DO por­tray char­ac­ters as Euro­peans. Their face is an Euro­pean shape, and nev­er flat. Their noses poke out of their face, in a typ­i­cal Euro­pean man­ner, and nev­er flat like all Asians have. They all have pale white skins akin to Euro­peans — Asians aren’t as pale as Euro­peans. Their hair is usu­al­ly blond, red and eyes blue and green. Nev­er, almost nev­er, the hair is black or the eyes black. There is no use in denial, pre­tend­ing its not there. I would like to see an open frank debate about this.

    1. Their face is an Euro­pean shape, and nev­er flat. ”
      So unless you’re white, you’re going to have a “flat face”? What the hell is a Euro­pean-shaped face? We’re all homo sapi­en sapi­ens, dude. Our faces vary with­in every race, not just white peo­ple. Phys­i­cal­ly, if there are any dif­fer­ences between the bones struc­tures of skulls that can iden­ti­fy race, you should­n’t be able to tell that kind of dif­fer­ence with­in a frig­gin’ car­toon with exag­ger­at­ed facial struc­tures unlike that of actu­al humans.

      Their noses poke out of their face, in a typ­i­cal Euro­pean man­ner, and nev­er flat like all Asians have. They all have pale white skins akin to Euro­peans – Asians aren’t as pale as Euro­peans.”
      >all

      I’m an Asian with a high nose bridge and pasty-ass skin, plen­ty of East Asians do as well, so I can auto­mat­i­cal­ly tell that this is bull­shit. Fur­ther­more, the way noses are drawn in ani­me varies. In this very fuck­ing post, there are pic­tures of ani­me humans with DOTS drawn as their noses.

      White peo­ple think all Asian peo­ple look the same. Asian peo­ple think all white peo­ple look the same. It’s not rock­et sci­ence. It’s easy-to-under­stand psy­chol­o­gy.

      Their hair is usu­al­ly blond, red and eyes blue and green. Nev­er, almost nev­er, the hair is black or the eyes black.”

      Son Goku. Tohsa­ka Rin. Nakano Azusa. Lupin. Shana. Suzu­miya Haruhi. Chi­hi­ro. The list is end­less.

      It’s fun­ny how amongst a rain­bow of hair col­ors, the fact that there are blonde char­ac­ters in the mix auto­mat­i­cal­ly makes every­one white. That’s real hilar­i­ous. I’ve lit­er­al­ly been repeat­ing this point, but I guess every­one’s a bro­ken record when they’re talk­ing to peo­ple with super paper­white-tint­ed glass­es. If car­toons don’t fit into the stereo­typ­i­cal racist car­i­ca­tures that the red­neck soci­eties of old cre­at­ed for pro­pa­gan­da, the default is auto­mat­i­cal­ly white. Right.

      Okay. Look. Dif­fer­ences between races exist. But at the same time, peo­ple have fuck­ing tun­nel vision. B‑but green-haired char­ac­ters are prob­a­bly just white peo­ple who dyed their hair. The eyes? Col­or lens­es! Wait, whad­dya mean every­one else can do that too?

      There is no use in denial, pre­tend­ing its not there. I would like to see an open frank debate about this.”
      There will nev­er be an open frank debate about this because 1) the peo­ple that are more social­ly aware of the world as a whole will just see them as car­toons and 2) peo­ple liv­ing with tun­nel vision will con­tin­ue with their com­ments about how the blue, pur­ple, yel­low, black, and green-haired char­ac­ters are all white because the mid­dle guy is blonde and they don’t look like Uncle Chan.

      Super duper tun­nel vision. It’s like argu­ing with the so-called fem­i­nists of today like the one who com­ment­ed before you, who accused me of being misog­y­nist because I’m a het­ero­sex­u­al fan of Japan­ese media. Yet read­ing man­ga where men fon­dle each oth­er is total­ly A‑OK for her. Jeez, I real­ly hate peo­ple some­times.

  22. Yup. All man­ga-artists por­tray their char­ac­ters as japan­ese. Japan­ese and oth­er asians can be white, peach/fair, tan, brown..

    The only excep­tion is if the man­ga artist says that the char­ac­ter is from a dif­fer­ent nation­al­i­ty or cre­ates their own nation­al­i­ty.

    Some peo­ple com­plain how Ani­me Char­ac­ters don’t look Japan­ese, it’s not like they look euro­pean now do they. Japan­ese have had yellow/blond hair ages ago but this has died out.

    Green hair, blue hair — don’t look japan­ese?
    Heck it is more japan­ese than amer­i­can.

    If an artist draws a for­eign/non-japan­ese char­ac­ter they would change the art style of the char­ac­ter to look dif­fer­ent to show that they are dif­fer­ent.

    #Unless a whole manga/anime was based on say Europe then the ani­me can have the nor­mal japan­ese-style design.

    Basi­cal­ly point is ani­me and man­ga char­ac­ters look more japan­ese than any oth­er cul­ture.
    Blond hair used to be a part of nat­ur­al japan.
    It only takes one gene to shut off to turn a brown eyed jap. to a blue one.

  23. When the bleep was blonde hair a part of nat­ur­al Japan???
    The fact is there are a whole lot of Cau­casian look­ing char­ac­ters in Japan­ese man­ga or else no one would ever ask this ques­tion in the first place.
    And it’s not sim­ply west­ern­er’s apply­ing their Euro­cen­tric view­point to the art.
    You see enough blonde or light brown hair and Cau­casian fea­tures on char­ac­ters depict­ed in sto­ries that also fea­ture dis­tinct­ly Asian look­ing char­ac­ters to know there is more to it than that.

  24. I find it the most racist that you refuse to acknowl­edge the fact that some of the char­ac­ters may be por­trayed as any­thing oth­er than Asian. Is there real­ly any­thing wrong with want­i­ng a char­ac­ter you’ve cre­at­ed to be seen as Euro­pean? For you to focus on the green hair and not say any­thing about the blonde, or to say they’ve used col­ored con­tact lens­es (in a car­toon!) Instead of say­ing the artist want­ed them por­trayed as hav­ing green eyes, it says more about you than it does about the artists. Ani­me is its own sub­cul­ture and to sit here and make up your own OPINIONATED beliefs that are close mind­ed and racist in itself, as well as bash any­one who has their own, oppos­ing opin­ions, is imma­ture.

    1. @Bermu­daSquare: Um, if a blonde char­ac­ter is named Oliv­er or EDWARD ELRIC or some­thing, and espe­cial­ly if the set­ting is in Europe, then the char­ac­ter is obvi­ous­ly Euro­pean.

      If you have char­ac­ters named Kaede, Takeshi, Shizu­ka, or Kana­ta with brown, blonde, green, and blue hair respec­tive­ly, but for some rea­son you auto­mat­i­cal­ly cher­ryp­ick the blonde one as white, then you are fuck­ing stu­pid. Peri­od.

      Woohoo, one more per­son that com­plete­ly missed the point of this post… There’s noth­ing wrong with Japan­ese writ­ers acknowl­edg­ing their char­ac­ters as Euro­pean, Mario the Moth­er­fuck­ing Jump­man is fuck­ing Ital­ian, holy shit, the prob­lem is when fans assume that char­ac­ters are intend­ed to look white for cul­tur­al­ly biased rea­sons. How is a char­ac­ter named Taka­hashi Haru­ka intend­ed to look white just because she is drawn with yel­low hair and blue eyes, when every­one else has a myr­i­ad of hair and eye col­ors to begin with? If you’re going to go out of your way to make car­toon designs and real biol­o­gy seem com­plete­ly indis­tin­guish­able like an igno­rant prick, then okay, the only expla­na­tion is that all the char­ac­ters dye their hair or use col­ored lens­es, or else why does a Japan­ese per­son have nat­u­ral­ly blue hair and pur­ple eyes???? … OR it’s a fuck­ing car­toon and the char­ac­ters aren’t drawn with any spe­cif­ic race in mind. Wow, there’s a thought. So racist!

  25. All of this and the arti­cle writer still failed to explain why peo­ple in clas­sic-equiv­a­lent era Japan­ese art clear­ly look eth­ni­cal­ly Japan­ese and there is a total­ly remark­able dif­fer­ence between that and how Japan­ese are depict­ed in ani­me — they lit­er­al­ly look worlds dif­fer­ent.

    Watch­ing Japan­ese ani­ma­tion with­out the audio, you will gen­uine­ly be sur­prised when you vis­it Japan and see actu­al Japan­ese peo­ple. Blue hair and wide eyes aside, of course. If you watch ani­me and then go to Europe on the oth­er hand you won’t be so sur­prised. The issue here is their actu­al faces. The OP’s “default human” argu­ment is belied by the fact that the “default human” in ani­me looks sur­pris­ing­ly Euro­pean. But in clas­sic-equiv­a­lent Japan­ese art “default human” looks clear­ly Japan­ese.

    Any argu­ment that says tra­di­tion­al art must some­how look dif­fer­ent than ani­me is a dis­hon­est copout.

    1. @jacquelope: Please tell me you’re trolling. Obvi­ous­ly tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese mark mak­ing in gen­er­al is dif­fer­ent from typ­i­cal man­ga art, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the lat­ter has its Tezu­ka Osamu roots inspired by Dis­ney (which also has big expres­sive eyes for its char­ac­ters and vary­ing hair­styles regard­less of the char­ac­ters’ sup­posed eth­nic­i­ty). I don’t see how that’s a “dis­hon­est cop-out”, they are com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent art styles for large­ly dif­fer­ent medi­ums that orginate from com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent con­texts. That’s also not tak­ing into account that dif­fer­ent artists and/or art direc­tors also have vary­ing styles, and some par­tic­u­lar­ly art­sy ani­me pro­duc­tions such as Mononoke take on the tra­di­tion­al ukiyo‑e paint­ings as inspi­ra­tion to stand out. But it’s ludi­crous to sug­gest that all con­tem­po­rary ani­me art should bare a close resem­blance to Japan­ese Edo-peri­od clas­si­cal art (and that’s odd­ly spe­cif­ic at that). Just the same, it’s ludi­crous to sug­gest that west­ern ani­ma­tion should take on the styles of clas­si­cal eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry art.

      If we absolute­ly have to dis­cuss the race card in regards to a clear­ly car­toony, and at times sur­re­al, art-style like a bunch of annoy­ing polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect mil­len­ni­als, okay then, I’ll humor you. Let’s take a look at the mod­ern moe ani­me style. Apart from the pro­nounced eyes, impos­si­ble hair col­ors (set­ting aside the dis­re­gard that hair dye could ever be a thing in Japan), and oth­er anatom­i­cal­ly ludi­crous body pro­por­tions, it’s not that hard to con­nect them with actu­al Japan­ese peo­ple rather than Euro­pean peo­ple, espe­cial­ly if you are Asian your­self. For one, they tend to be drawn with small noses, and com­mon­ly are drawn with no nose bridges at all. They also have soft­er facial fea­tures and jaw struc­ture that empha­sizes the char­ac­ter­is­tic of neote­ny that is often asso­ci­at­ed with Asian youth. It’s not uncom­mon to see some char­ac­ters that are drawn with rather petite and/or small body builds espe­cial­ly com­pared to actu­al for­eign char­ac­ters, Euro­peans are stereo­typ­i­cal­ly giants while Asians tend to be stereo­typ­i­cal­ly on the short side of the height spec­trum. When col­ored with black hair and black eyes, they look more in com­mon to an Asian com­pared to what a “Japan­ese” ani­me char­ac­ter col­ored with yel­low hair and blue/green eyes has with a Euro­pean. With dark skin, they also look just as Oki­nawan as they do His­pan­ic.

      This is how an Asian per­son is usu­al­ly por­trayed in an anime/manga.

      THIS is how a Euro­pean is por­trayed in Japan­ese anime/manga, very chis­eled.

      And there are obvi­ous­ly excep­tions to the broad exam­ples.

      On a per­son­al note, I think char­ac­ters such as DC’s Bruce Wayne remind me of an Asian per­son depend­ing on the ver­sion apart from his typ­i­cal blue eyes, but his char­ac­ter is obvi­ous­ly intend­ed to be Amer­i­can and I rarely con­sid­er bring­ing that up, ever (and lo and behold there’s con­text there, such as col­or­ing expens­es being an issue). Roy Mus­tang in Full­met­al Alchemist is also in a sim­i­lar posi­tion where he looks more Asian than Euro­pean despite being an Ames­tri­an, a fic­tion­al Euro­pean, where­as every oth­er char­ac­ter in the same series looks obvi­ous­ly Euro­pean when put against the Asian (“Xing”) and Mid­dle East­ern (“Ish­valan”) char­ac­ters.

      Point of the mat­ter is, unless the art style and/or is meant to be super real­is­tic and undoubt­ed­ly indis­tin­guish­able to real life, it’s gen­er­al­ly futile to argue about race if it even mat­ters to begin with. We as humans tend to be ego­cen­tric. Any­one with knowl­edge in the pro­duc­tion of comic/cartoon art will know that often times stu­dios will try to give char­ac­ters as many neu­tral traits as pos­si­ble so a wide range of audi­ences can asso­ciate with, Japan­ese comics and car­toon media is no dif­fer­ent. The stan­dard of char­ac­ter designs in Japan­ese ani­ma­tion in par­tic­u­lar is so gen­er­al­ized that what may look Euro­pean to you may look Asian to some­one else else­where. Again, obvi­ous­ly there are excep­tions, because every artist is one indi­vid­ual, they aren’t a hive­mind. Even the pop­u­lar­i­ty of using unnat­ur­al hair­col­ors comes from artis­tic exper­i­men­ta­tion. In the ear­ly days, this devel­oped when man­ga artists par­took in cre­ative exper­i­men­ta­tion with dif­fer­ent col­ors in their illus­tra­tions regard­less of the char­ac­ters’ canon hair col­or (whether it be black or brown, or what­ev­er), this evolved into a stan­dard of man­ga artists choos­ing to make these sur­re­al hair col­ors canon. Some choose to stick with black hair, styl­iz­ing it with some dark blue or brown. What­ev­er.

  26. I feel real­ly sor­ry for the blog own­er to deal with all the racist com­menters who can only post nation­al­is­tic remarks, and did­n’t real­ize what’s wrong with THEIR think­ing.

    In a bet­ter way to reply this prob­lem that is com­plete­ly nation­al­ism-free, I’ll rather explain it in this way:

    Real­ly, the race/ethnic of ani­me char­ac­ters are nei­ther Japan­ese nor Cau­casian, not any Far East Asian nor Mid­dle East Asian nor African nor North/South Amer­i­can nor Euro­pean, nor I would say they are any Earth­lings accord­ing to our Real-Life dic­tio­nary.

    Ani­me char­ac­ters, is a race of their own, where I per­son­al­ly named them “Ani­me­sian”.

    So, what is this race of “Ani­me­sian”?
    It is a race that lives in anoth­er uni­verse, where they had phys­i­cal fea­tures of what­ev­er one may imag­ined of. There is no lim­i­ta­tion, there exists as many as one may think of, and exists as much as one can’t even think of.
    Their eye col­or has col­ors of not only black/brown/blue, but it may also be green/red/pur­ple/pink/­gold/sil­ver/­mul­ti-col­ored/odd-eye­/change accord­ing to time or view­ing angle.
    Their hair col­or may not only be black/brown/gold/gray, but it may also be red/o­r­ange/yel­low/white/sil­ver/pur­ple/blue/­green/pink/­mul­ti-col­ored/change accord­ing to time or view­ing angle.
    Their eyes may come in dif­fer­ent shapes, not only big/small almond/slant eyes, but it may also be round or oval-shaped, rhom­bic or square or even poly­he­dron-shaped, as sim­ple as one sin­gle dot or as com­pli­cat­ed in abnor­mal shape as it can be.
    Their hair style may come in dif­fer­ent nat­ur­al form with­out using hair gel, not just straight long hair or up-grown short or afro, but there can be lit­er­al­ly pointy and sting­ing­ly sharp hair, seem­ing­ly hard hair like a plas­tic hel­met, super-fluffy hair like a over­grown sheep, etc. And with the dif­fer­ent dec­o­ra­tion and hair treat­ment, it may comes in so many dif­fer­ent style that goes beyond one’s imag­i­na­tion.
    Their skin col­or comes not only in usu­al pale/yellow/tanned/brown/dark, their even exist Ani­me­sian with skin in pink/sky blue/light brown/light green col­or. To be fair, those Ani­me­sian with such “unusu­al” skin col­ors nor­mal­ly have traits of non-human beings.
    Their body shapes comes in dif­fer­ent shape and size. There exist both small and large-sized Ani­me­sian, has both short and tall ones, has slen­der body to bulky body, thin to fat, no breast to over-sized breast, etc.
    And to a more extreme lev­el, some Ani­me­sian has non-human traits. Ani­mal ear and tail grown on the head and at the bot­tom, with a pair of wings at the back, anten­na grow at the top of the head, no legs but some­thing like low­er body of oth­er ani­mals, etc.

    As long as the set­ting did­n’t spec­i­fy the race of a char­ac­ter, ALL ANIME CHARACTERS ARE ANIMESIAN. Even they hap­pened to live in Japan (more cor­rect­ly speak­ing, the Japan in alter­nate uni­verse, not our Japan in our Real-Life), with Japan­ese names and liv­ing in a very Japan­ese lifestyle, they are not eth­i­cal­ly Japan­ese, they are Ani­me­sian with Japan­ese as their nation­al­i­ty.
    Though, to be more fair, even the set­ting did spec­i­fied the race of an ani­me char­ac­ter, he/she/it is still not any of the races we Real-Life peo­ple had cat­e­go­rized. They are at best an Ani­me­sian hap­pened to have some spe­cif­ic stereo­typ­ic traits of the Real-Life eth­i­cal arche­type, but even that it is not 100% guar­an­teed to have at least one of such spe­cif­ic traits.

    It is utter­ly point­less to bring in Real-Life racism/ethical issue to fic­tion­al work, when the fic­tion is, well, FICTION!!! Aka non-real imag­i­nary stuffs set in a non-Real-Life alter­na­tive uni­verse. If race/ethic of a fic­tion­al char­ac­ter must be jus­ti­fied, then I would also like the Amer­i­cans to assign a race to those ETs in the Dis­trict 9 film. They lived in South Africa Johan­nes­burg, do you think they are African then?

  27. I have to agree with the author here. Ani­me char­ac­ters aren’t “mod­eled” after Euro­peans. And traits like big eyes, straight noses, and pale skin aren’t exclu­sive­ly Cacau­sian. For instance, my sis­ter and I both have straight noses, despite being 100% East Asian, and no we did NOT get plas­tic surgery. My sis­ter has nat­ur­al brown hair and my own skin is as pale as a white girl’s.
    I also think it’s hilar­i­ous how some peo­ple think ani­me char­ac­ters are auto­mat­i­cal­ly “Cacau­sian” because they “look” white, when there are peo­ple with blue hair run­ning around in fic­tion­al Tokyo. Is blue hair a Cacau­sian thing now or am I miss­ing some­thing?
    On anoth­er note, I think the rea­son ani­me char­ac­ters don’t look stereo­typ­i­cal­ly Japan­ese is this con­cept called Mukokuse­ki, mean­ing “state­less”. Ani­me char­ac­ters are, in a way, sup­posed to be “with­out race”. Look it up.

  28. @Mikoto: Since some details of Roy’s back­ground isn’t cov­ered, there’s a pop­u­lar the­o­ry that he might be half Xingese. Like­ly the moth­er’s side.

    In Hells­ing, it is com­mon knowl­edge that Inte­gra Hells­ing is the daugh­ter Arthur Hells­ing (who is Eng­lish). Her dark skin, how­ev­er, sug­gests she is mixed. In a flash back where she talked to her father dur­ing her younger days, a framed pho­to­graph of an Indi­an woman car­ry­ing a baby Inte­gra can be seen. The woman is like­ly her moth­er. In the real world, and at the his­tor­i­cal sense India has ties with British Empire, being a colony. Indi­ans have been in the UK since colo­nial times and in the manga/anime Vic­to­ri­an Romance Emma, there, too, are Indi­an char­ac­ters. But still, it’s just a the­o­ry.

    Mugi from K‑on! is pos­si­bly half-Finnish. Her fam­i­ly has a vil­la in Fin­land. She can speak Finnish. She vis­its Fin­land from time to time.

    On a semi-rel­e­vant note on Mugi; At times there are sub­tle cues we have to take notice of. For exam­ple, these names; Lizlet L. Chelsie from Omamori Himari, Tina Fos­ter from Ai Yori Aoshi, Lem­my Miyauchi from To Heart. Sarah Adiemus, Eri Sawachi­ka and Har­ry Mcken­zie from School Rum­ble. They come from series where fruity hair col­ored char­ac­ters exist. What to they got in com­mon? Lem­my Miyauchi and Eri Sawachi­ka are half-for­eign­ers, where­as the rest of the names list­ed aren’t. Nobody would ever know this is they don’t both­er do research

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