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Why do Japanese characters in anime, manga and video games "look" Caucasian?

19 Comments

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19 Comments
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I’ve asked some of my Japanese relatives this question and they replied, “They don’t!”

17 ( +17 / -0 )

I remembered reading or watching an answer to this on Youtube. If I remember it correctly, It's not that they look Caucasian on purpose, but the animators gave them highly-contrasting features (larger eyes to emphasize eye color and shape, wild hairstyles, hair colors and unique accessories, etc.) to distinguish one character from another.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I’ve asked some of my Japanese relatives this question and they replied, “They don’t!”

I agree. It’s white people who think they are meant to be white.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

They look anime and not of any race.

Lighter colors probably to save on ink and create contrast, they don't really harp on being pc to purposefully do something for the sake of it.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Anime characters look nothing like Caucasians. I'd say it's only Westerners who think so.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Sometimes they look caucasian, but Japanese find caucasians a curiousity to be adapted and laughed at rather than emulated. One only needs to look at a few TV commercials with silly caucasians attempting to speak Japanese and doing goofy things to see what the intent is, although caucasians do themselves not favours by submitting to this generalisation

4 ( +8 / -4 )

So what?  they are comics.  anyway not even sure the way they are drawn they look anything like Caucasian .....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Which manga characters are misrepresented as western?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I thought westerners were typified in Japan by idiots with curly blond wigs and stick-on big noses. I’m not a manga reader. Do they look like that in manga?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because character design is about ideals. So it reflects idealized beauty standards like big eyes, tiny mouth and nose, light skin, very thin long legs, etc. Background art and themes aside, it's not supposed to represent reality.

I don't think it's a function of racism really, since discrimination in Japan seems based on "blood" more than skin color/race.

The reason I think it's about beauty standards is because styles have changed over the years. In the past smaller eyes, more realistically-sized limbs, head size more in proportion to body, etc. were more common.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Because Japanese perceive people with these traits to be beautiful. Folded-eyelids, making the eyes look bigger, sharp chin, high cheekbones, which are all qualities than can be found mainly in Caucasians. Beautiful people sells, regardless of gender, age or cultural background.

I once worked with a Japanese artist, we have a mascot for some product, an old "wise" dude. The artist immediately said, "yeah I will not buy your product, nor would Japanese people. If you want to sell, change it to something cute or cool."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The modern style started with the god of manga Osamu Tezuka - and he was inspired by Disney animation

People liked the look, so everybody just followed his since

Lighter colors probably to save on ink and create contrast

Everything's digital nowadays; no more ink - changing colors is as easy as the press of a button

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seems like a whole lot of nothing here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Pukey2

"Heck, when they say Asia, they don't even include their own country".

This is completely true. But then when we in the UK say "Europe" we mean continental Europe.

It's exactly the same thing. So while there are plenty of incidences and evidence of Japanese people looking down on other Asians as inferior, this figure of speech might not be one of them. It could be equally to do with simply island geography as preconceived notions of superiority.

Of course, Brits do feel they are a little bit superior to their cousins on the continent, so there is that too...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember that in the 1980's many commercials, both billboards and on TV had Caucasian characters (especially in the case of body care products and cigarettes). Perhaps it was because these products were considered western.

Maybe it is an extension or evolution of this, after a while nobody really does sees a difference any more.

Mind you, I have to laugh sometimes, when I telephone a friend, or go to visit friends in the countryside, I always end up saying "how did you know it was me". (In Japanese of course).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, they don’t look Asian, but the real funny thing is, the Japanese will make their characters look more Caucasian, but often make other Asians look like Asians. strange.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

The same reason why so many Japanese people dye their hair brown or even blond, wear blue contact lenses, have eyelid surgery and prefer to see models who are either white or Eurasian. And they hate to be compared to their Asian neighbours. Heck, when they say Asia, they don't even include their own country.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Bass4funk:

Yes, I've noticed that too.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Pukey2, spot on mate. There is a massive superiority complex here over other Asian nations and an equally large inferiority complex with western and European nations

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

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