A Critical Examination of Race in Anime: Part I

Given the recent inauguration of America’s first black president and, more importantly, the release of the first episode of Hetalia Axis Powers, the times call for a critical examination of race in anime.


Japanese People

Madarame is one of about five anime characters who actually look Japanese. The rest all look white.

Even Pesche admits that Ishida looks white through reverse implication. Here’s why the vast majority of “Japanese” anime characters are not Japanese:

  • They don’t have black hair
  • They don’t have brown eyes

We’ve all watched so much anime that we’re programmed to think anyone with a Japanese name is Japanese. Surely a character named Matsumoto is Japanese!

Show this picture to people who don’t watch anime. Tell them she’s Japanese. They’ll laugh at you. Make all the excuses you want. Say she dyed her hair, put on contacts, and underwent plastic surgery. Say her skeletal structure is Japanese (it’s not). It doesn’t pass the laugh test. She’s white, like nearly every other anime character.

Let’s try again. Which of the following characters is Japanese?

It’s the one with the lighter hair and lighter eyes. Yet some people are so divorced from reality that they believe only a Japanese person could convincingly cosplay either one.


Black People

There are two types of black people in anime:

  • Black people who do anything remotely black, thereby coming off as stereotypes
  • Black people who do nothing remotely black, thereby trivializing the richness of black culture and reducing the notion of blackness to a mere skin tone

Indian People

Indian anime characters suck, and I’m not just saying that because I hate everything about India. Look at it objectively. Many see Love Hina as the prototypical harem anime. However, one of the Love Hina girls didn’t evolve into a staple of the genre. Can you guess which?

  • The Bitch
  • The Slut
  • The Pussy
  • The Annoying Hyperactive Indian Girl

That’s not to say Indian characters can’t be cool. I almost liked Kougaiji. Then I noticed a shocking trend as the show progressed: he’s incapable of winning a fight. I suppose it’s not entirely his fault. I can’t reasonably expect him to put up a good fight if he eats nothing but shitty Indian food.


Chinese People

Sometimes I get the impression that Japanese people and Chinese people aren’t the best of friends. Of course, this only applies to men. Women are always exempt from racial animosity.

Chinese Women

Chinese Men


English People

The English love their tea. They really love their tea. Almost sexually. I wonder where these stereotypes come from


Akikans

Few poorly animated fanservice anime satirize racial divisiveness quite like Akikan. There are two types of cans on the show: aluminum cans and steel cans. They transform into girls and talk shit to each other.

Are you an Akikan? Or an Akikan’t?

Mamiko Noto trash talking about the economics of the soft drink industry

These differences seem trivial to us humans. We judge beverages not by the composition of their cans but the contents therein. But the cans can’t get over their petty differences. They’re quick to find fault in others, yet they crave acceptance. Why can’t we all just get along?