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Diversity in anime.


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Ryo Hazuki



Joined: 01 Jan 2008
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Location: Finland
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:13 am Reply with quote
Even though the Japanese aren't a minority in their own country, they're a minority in terms of global media representation. The Color Purple is an extreme example, but Disney's Big Hero 6 did diversify its characters by making some of the Japanese characters (including an Ainu) white and black. This is exactly the kind of diversification that some people in this thread seem to want (referring to the Afro Samurai example, according to which, even historical accuracy shouldn't matter).

I'm not opposed to ethnic diversity/phenotype diversity in media but also don't think that there should be some sort of global diversity quota that all media in every country should fill. If you only watch anime with no Japanese characters whatsoever, there are plenty of movies and shows to choose from.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:08 am Reply with quote
Well, that I can agree with. By using the Color Purple as an example, I thought you were referring to diversity in entertainment in general, as opposed to anime in particular. I'm not adverse to anime producers including more diverse characters whenever it makes sense and doesn't feel unnatural, but it's hard to overlook the reality that Japan is an extremely homogenous society. I do like things, for example, such as in Action Heroine Cheer Fruits where a character is in a wheelchair and absolutely no reference is made to it.
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ChibiKangaroo



Joined: 01 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:01 pm Reply with quote
Ryo Hazuki wrote:
Even though the Japanese aren't a minority in their own country, they're a minority in terms of global media representation. The Color Purple is an extreme example, but Disney's Big Hero 6 did diversify its characters by making some of the Japanese characters (including an Ainu) white and black. This is exactly the kind of diversification that some people in this thread seem to want (referring to the Afro Samurai example, according to which, even historical accuracy shouldn't matter).

I'm not opposed to ethnic diversity/phenotype diversity in media but also don't think that there should be some sort of global diversity quota that all media in every country should fill. If you only watch anime with no Japanese characters whatsoever, there are plenty of movies and shows to choose from.


I'm not sure why the reference to Big Hero 6. It was a diverse and very highly regarded movie that made a crap ton of money and won an Oscar. Why would you bring that up as an example of the evils of diversity? Additionally, the movie sat atop the Japanese box office for SIX consecutive weeks, which is quite a feat I might add. So obviously, the Japanese audience was very pleased with the diversity on screen. Why do people come up with examples like this to claim diversity is bad??

And as I said, Afro Samurai was made up from nothing by some Japanese dude who thought it would be cool to have a black character as a Samurai. Obviously he was right, because Afro Samurai was a big success.

These debates always seem to go to these straw man arguments about artists being forced at gunpoint to change the pigment of a character from white to black. People who are against more diversity in content can never deal with reality, they need the straw man. Reality is that studios are doing more stuff with diversity because it sells.
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Mad_Scientist



Joined: 08 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:33 pm Reply with quote
People often bring up the fact that Japan is such a racially homogeneous country as an example of why anime can't be diverse.

Consider two points. First of all, there is more to diversity than just racial diversity. Blood- brought up the fact that Action Heroine Cheer Fruits has a character in a wheelchair as one example.

LGBT people, disabled people, women, there are many forms of diversity. And I will say that anime at least seems to do a better job of showing gender diversity than Hollywood does. Even if it still has some issues with sexism and specific portrayals of women, there are at least plenty of them, and so we also get plenty of really good portrayals of women too. Though anime can still improve in many ways.

The second point I want to mention is that plenty of anime that don't take place in Japan, or even if they do, still feature at least one foreigner. And so anime is full of white people.



Consider one of my old favorite mangas (which got a partial anime adaption I have some issues with), Claymore. Takes place in a fantasy setting inspired by medieval fantasy. Characters all have western style names like Clare, Priscilla, Teresa, Helen, and so on.

The entire main cast is white.



Or let's consider My Hero Academia. It's set in Japan. But it does feature two characters that I know of that were born outside of Japan. One was born in France, the other in the US. Here they are.






Or let's consider the big hit, Attack on Titan. Some characters, like Mikasa, are Japanese, but most are vaguely German. It's full of white people.



And I'm sure there are plenty of arguments some of you will want to make about these specific examples and why you feel it's only logical that these characters must be white, not black/latino/etc. Okay, whatever, I'm not even interested in arguing that right now, just illustrating a point. The point being, anime has no problem including white characters. As minor side characters, or as the entire main cast sometimes. White characters frequently show up in anime, despite the fact that Japan is 98% Japanese.

And so if anime can somehow keep on coming up with scenarios and situations where non-Japanese characters are featured, then it can also easily come up with scenarios where some of these non-Japanese characters can also be something other than white.




EDIT: There has been talk in this thread about Afro Samurai. It's interesting to note that Afro was directly inspired by Yasuke, a man who is believed to be the first foreign born Samurai, who was a black man. Obviously Afro Samurai was not a historical epic or anything, but again, it drew inspiration from a real life black Samurai who actually existed.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:06 pm Reply with quote
@ Mad_Scientist - you raise a very good point. When I think of anime, I naturally think mainly of anime set in Japan made up of primarily Japanese people. But you are quite right that there are lots of anime where that isn't true. Given the current popularity of "sent to another world" stories, there is no reason why we shouldn't be seeing a greater diversity in, for example, skin color given that on a make-believe world, you can come up with whatever rationale you want for seeing something other than just more white people.
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ChibiKangaroo



Joined: 01 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:29 am Reply with quote
@ Mad_Scientist

Agreed.

I think the whole issue of the prevalence of white people in anime speaks to the larger issue in a more profound way that I certainly have discussed before. Japan has a whole lot of Europhilia. As you mentioned, tons of anime explicitly takes place in Europe or in Europe-like fantasy settings. The whole thing with Mikasa in Attack on Titan being the last Japanese person alive is a huge masturbatory gimmick that allows for a nearly all white cast but with the added bonus of a special "last of their kind" Japanese person who is basically a super ninja. And I love AoT, but seriously, that aspect is not subtle.

So yea, racial/ethnic representation in anime has little to do with homogeneity in Japan. Hell even the Japanese people in a lot of anime look white. But to Blood-'s point, one of the big problems in anime due to this issue is the sameness and recycling of content we get as a result. You could certainly talk about how kids from minority groups or LGBTQ would like to see better representations of people who resemble them and that is important. But also, anime in many ways has become formulaic and stagnant. When that is the situation and suddenly you see a show like Afro Samurai pop up, it's almost a shock to the system because of how different it is. It's like that old Apple commercial from the 1980s with the girl running into the IBM propaganda facility with all the shaved head people repeating some cult like mantra. She throws the hammer and breaks the propaganda screen and suddenly everyone is free. That's how I often see the anime industry today. Diversity is the hammer in many instances.
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:35 am Reply with quote
@ ChibiKangaroo - I have read about Japan's ... you call it Europhilia, but I'll call it Caucasian-philia - before. People within races tend to find members of their own race more attractive, but I've read that for some Japanese, especially historically, this was not necessarily true. I've read that some Japanese who went to Europe felt ugly in comparison to the Caucasians around them. I have no idea how widespread this sentiment may be today, but it does sort of explain why so many "Japanese" anime characters actually look Caucasian, I suppose.
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Guile



Joined: 18 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:35 pm Reply with quote
Mad_Scientist wrote:
And I'm sure there are plenty of arguments some of you will want to make about these specific examples and why you feel it's only logical that these characters must be white, not black/latino/etc. Okay, whatever, I'm not even interested in arguing that right now, just illustrating a point. The point being, anime has no problem including white characters. As minor side characters, or as the entire main cast sometimes. White characters frequently show up in anime, despite the fact that Japan is 98% Japanese.

And so if anime can somehow keep on coming up with scenarios and situations where non-Japanese characters are featured, then it can also easily come up with scenarios where some of these non-Japanese characters can also be something other than white.


I'm Dutch and I and many others certainly wouldn't want a Dutch character to be represented by migrants over an indigenous native. Most French and Germans share the same sentimate. It could be viewed as a deep insult. Just as Japan gets upset a Japanese character is portrayed by a non Japanese Asian. Either way you can not bring up scenarios where non Japanese characters show up and saying why they can't be non-white while also saying you have no interest in arguing why people would want them to be logically white. We see French, German, Poles, and others in the Netherlands. They are 99% white. I'm sorry if this is not to your satisfaction.
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Mad_Scientist



Joined: 08 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:39 pm Reply with quote
Guile wrote:
Either way you can not bring up scenarios where non Japanese characters show up and saying why they can't be non-white while also saying you have no interest in arguing why people would want them to be logically white.


Yes I can, because I wasn't arguing about those specific scenarios, just using them as an example of how there are plenty of anime that include characters that aren't Japanese, and so the idea that Japan's racial homogeneity means anime characters always or nearly always have to be Japanese is demonstratively false.

Because it is. Anime with non-Japanese characters are plentiful.
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
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Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:34 pm Reply with quote
ChibiKangaroo wrote:
I think the whole issue of the prevalence of white people in anime speaks to the larger issue in a more profound way that I certainly have discussed before. Japan has a whole lot of Europhilia. As you mentioned, tons of anime explicitly takes place in Europe or in Europe-like fantasy settings.


We have been living in a Eurocentric world. So its natural that non-European cultures show heavy admiration for European culture: Japan plays Beethoven's 9th symphony for every christmas.

However, there is a growing number of manga and anime set in China. For instance, in Kingdom is set in Ancient China during the Warring States period. Great manga by the way, I cried when Ouki died.

While we have other foreign characters in anime and manga that are not European. From Utena we have Himemiya which is Indian. And for JoJo: Stardust Crusaders we have Egyptian main character. While in a Silent Voice, we have a Brazilian character.

I think that the problem is not the lack of representation of gaijins in manga/anime but the stereotyping of foreign nationalities. I think that this stereotyping comes from the lack of ethnic diversity inside their owb country as their automatically tend to assume that foreign countries are similar: in Japan all Japanese are Asians and have black hair and brown eyes, therefore they automatically think that Americans are all white with blond hair and blue eyes., even though Americans consist of pretty much all ethnic groups in the world.
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Gatherum



Joined: 14 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:16 am Reply with quote
Froschess wrote:
1.Do you guys think anime needs more diversity?


Depends on whether or not this entails more caricatures.

I'd rather a given cast be homogenously Japanese than riddled with stereotypes and cultural insensitivity. There have been entirely too many works featuring black-faced characters and buff, black guys essentially filling roles as bouncers and body guards--or just being depicted as ruffians in general.

To answer the question, yes, as long as the representation is sound. Some people like to dismiss this with naïve queries like, "Well, why should it matter? Shouldn't theme and narrative and character development be relatable by themselves?"

Yeah, sure, in a society wherein racial and cultural diversity have been completely transcended, but this does not describe the human experience anywhere in the world, and I'm not entirely sure it ought to.

Diversity is essential in media because it assists in exposure and driving home to both majorities and minorities that the latter are not merely "other". This doesn't necessarily cheapen a given story featuring, say, white characters; merely, it posits that there should be more stories involving people of colour along with them.

Froschess wrote:
2. Would you watch an anime if the main character he/she wasn't Japanese? Like Spanish, Black, Native American or any other race.


Yes, provided the above.
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Unicorn_Blade



Joined: 18 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:32 am Reply with quote
Jose Cruz wrote:


We have been living in a Eurocentric world. So its natural that non-European cultures show heavy admiration for European culture: Japan plays Beethoven's 9th symphony for every christmas.

However, there is a growing number of manga and anime set in China. For instance, in Kingdom is set in Ancient China during the Warring States period. Great manga by the way, I cried when Ouki died.

While we have other foreign characters in anime and manga that are not European. From Utena we have Himemiya which is Indian. And for JoJo: Stardust Crusaders we have Egyptian main character. While in a Silent Voice, we have a Brazilian character.

I think that the problem is not the lack of representation of gaijins in manga/anime but the stereotyping of foreign nationalities. I think that this stereotyping comes from the lack of ethnic diversity inside their owb country as their automatically tend to assume that foreign countries are similar: in Japan all Japanese are Asians and have black hair and brown eyes, therefore they automatically think that Americans are all white with blond hair and blue eyes., even though Americans consist of pretty much all ethnic groups in the world.


It's got nothing to do with being Eurocentic, which btw most of the world is most definitely not. It's like people think that English is spoken everywhere so no point learning foreign languages, but I have been to plenty of places where English got me nowhere.

A lot of countries around the world fine elements of other cultures interesting, and not necessarily because they admire it. In Japan actually there exists quite a widespread sentiment of Japanese culture being far superior to others (if there are any Japanese folk around hope they don't feel offended) in a way I have not observed anywhere else in the world. Japanese people may f.ex. like the idea of Christmas, because they are curious about it, just like some kids in Europe celebrating Halloween- because it has been commercialised and looks fun, The fact that they play Beethoven for Christmas does not mean they are fascinated by Europe, but that they appreciate composers. A lot more attention is attached to Japanese festivals and local customs etc.

I kind of think the reason for anime and manga to be set in idealised/fictional pseudo European settings is that anime as a medium is meant to offer something different, a fantasy, not a life (maybe except some slice of life shows).So of course it is set in various places- like in Space or fictional European or American-like country, or a place that could be anything. And of course characters would then appear to be kind of European, with often made up non existing fantasy names etc who really do not represent anything European, except for some vague notion of being something different from being Japanese. It's ot necessarily a sign of admiration, but a way to mix things up. It's not even as far as I am concerned a sign of deep interest in European culture either.


Last edited by Unicorn_Blade on Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2017 4:39 am Reply with quote
I thought about this thread yesterday when I saw an item about a Caucasian actor who has pulled out of a role in the Hellboy reboot because the role was a dude who has mixed Asian background.
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Vegirotto



Joined: 31 Aug 2017
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 6:16 am Reply with quote
I think that in games and anime diversity is too much. My armored warriors are laughing, and next to them are "girls" in metal bras and panties. In general I do not like to watch as the girls are beaten, and it that knockout men are already sci fi, not anime. I like things like PoE Items, exacly i Love buy Exalted Orbs and many other things like anime, new poe orbs and exalted anim characters. If you buy exalted orbs https://odealo.com/games/path-of-exile/harbinger-softcore

Last edited by Vegirotto on Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Blood-
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:09 am Reply with quote
Being able to see females in metal bras and panties next to laughing armored warriors is EXACTLY why I am such a highly evolved and passionate advocate for diversity...
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