I am not at all a fan of anime (don’t judge me, I just never got interested in it), but in my passing glances at it I had casually wondered why the characters never seem to have any of the attributes I associate with Japanese people. I can’t say I’d ever thought about it much until now, but now I know why: because I have a lot of implicitly racist assumptions.
Why do the Japanese draw themselves as white? You see that especially in manga and anime.
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.
Oooh. Processing. Consciousness raised. Will try to adjust perspective from now on.
Whoa. This affects a lot of things, not just anime that I never watched much anyway.