Okay so while I’ve never been a huge fan of Anime or Manga, I am a fan of both mediums I just tend to stick to what friends recommend or things done by the same individuals I’ve enjoyed before. I was part of the Anime club in my High School, in fact I was the vice-president and I enjoyed a lot of the series and OVAs that we saw. What I didn’t enjoy was the fetishization I saw coming from a lot of the white boys in the group.
Now from talking to friends I understand that my high school group was actually better than a lot because except for me all the officers were Asian and aware of the issues with fetishization. Now that I’m thinking about it this was the reason I was brought in as VP because they didn’t want the office to go to the only other guy running, a really annoying white guy who used to try out Japanese pick up lines on all the Asian girls in the group despite the fact that a large percentage of them were from China.
Anyway I’ve gotten completely off-topic. My point is that there was/is a weird dynamic among those white boys of a huge fetishization of Asian culture and bodies while at the same time coding most of the anime characters as white. I had a huge disconnect recently when I heard someone on the street say to a friend that one of my favorite shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender, was great but why were all the characters white? My head jerked around so quick I almost got whiplash. I didn’t understand how she could see those characters as white and before I could find a way to insert myself into their conversation and question her about this they were gone. It’s something I couldn’t help but think about though.
Well my good friend bankuei has busted out some deconstruction of these issues in his post: Why Are They All White? over at Deeper In The Game: From Geekdom To Freedom. Head over and check it out, here’s a sample:
The usual point most of these folks like to bring to the table is that all the characters have big eyes. At the same time, none of these people turn and ask of American comics, “Why are they all steroid/silicone breast enlargement junkies?” Oh, that’s right, they’re able to parse and comprehend that this is a style factor of the genre, not a literal representation.
But why is that?