For instance, the Wikipedia article notes: "The distinctive "large eyes" style of Japanese animation was invented by Tezuka, drawing inspirations on cartoons of the time such as Betty Boop and Walt Disney's Bambi and Mickey Mouse."
You can see how Bambi was drawn with large eyes here: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=bambi
You can see Betty Boop here: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=betty+boop
You can see Mickey Mouse here: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=mickey+mouse+classi...
You can compare the style of those eyes to Tezuka's Astro Boy, first published in 1952: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AstroBoyVolume1.jpg
Firstly, to make them cuter... like babies. All baby humans have proportionally big heads/eyes to the rest of their bodies and we're hardwired to think of those characteristics as simpler, cuter, and deserving of our attention.
Secondly, to give the animator a face that is both simpler and larger which makes it much easier to draw expressions
These two things make it much easier for the audience to relate to the animated character and for the artist to draw it
full article: http://www.monmsci.net/~kbaldwin/mickey.pdf
All of this leads to people thinking larger pupils look better, and in the case of small cartoon characters, look cuter.
The intro from the Wikipedia entry ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atropa_belladonna ) says:
"It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery, the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both used it to murder contemporaries) and predating this it was used to make poison tipped arrows."
"Drops prepared from the belladonna plant were used to dilate women's pupils, an effect considered attractive."
Combine the Tezuka/Disney influence with this, and the human instinct to regard large eyes as signals of childhood and cuteness, and the result simply makes sense.
In any case, "Asian" features aren't always as pronounced as westerners imagine them to be. There's not that much genetic distance between the so-called races. "Black" in the US is actually a hugely diverse group all by itself. (There was a Newsweek cover that demonstrated this nicely a few years back.)
(The protagonist of Golgo 13 is said to be indeterminately Spanish or Japanese.)
If you look at anime, people of all colors have pretty much similarly sized eyes, white characters or Japanese characters. If the Japanese really perceive white people to have large eyes, then you would expect to see white people in anime to have larger eyes than Asian characters. That's not the case.
Large eyes is a style in anime in general (as Sukotto explained) and has nothing to do with race.
chinese people often have slits for eyes
A question to you: What is it that makes them drawn specifically white, other than eyes? Is it only the fact that they're on a white background, or is there more there that I am missing.
"The Other has to be marked. If there are no stereotyped markings of otherness, then white is assumed." This may be true but it has very little to do with anime. As others have pointed out (i) anime artists have been influenced by their Western counterparts (anime is not a traditional Japanese art form, you know) and (ii) commercial considerations play a role, i.e. very Japanese looking characters would have less appeal to a large audience.
But forget about that and just think about the argument to see how faulty it is: In its essence it is trying to show how lop-sided white Westerners see the world but it itself is also very prejudiced. Do you think when a Chinese person looks at an anime character they think it's Chinese (because "otherness" isn't marked)? This sort of thinking is typical of a lot of mumbo-jumbo that comes out of English departments under literary criticism. If Japanese didn't have to mark "otherness", why are the characters in traditional Japanese paintings look very Japanese (slanted eyes, hairdo, etc.).
In the end the article states: "Some Americans, even some scholars, will argue against this view of anime. They want to think the Japanese worship America or worship whiteness and use anime to prove it. But they seem to be driven more by their own racism and nationalism than anything else." This is another common tactic: when someone raises a problematic viewpoint, label them as racist, misogynistic, or worse (e.g. see the Summers episode).
How can you explain that a lot of Japanese women go through cosmetic surgery to get rid of the slant in their eyes to make them look more Western? Why is baseball so popular in Japan? Japan has had a long love/hate relationship with the US (and Westerners in general). I'm not saying some form of American idealization is at the heart of anime styles but I think it has definitely influenced it.
EDIT: For similar over the top ideas about race and culture and to see how politicized the debate can be, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_race_controver...
As for the baseball question, I don't think it makes much sense. Soccer is popular almost everywhere in the world except in the United States, so it's obviously not a Western thing, and there are other sports highly popular in some countries and not in others. It has more to do with history than with any fascination. For example, cricket and snooker are extremely popular in countries that used to be parts of Great Britain, but that's just history, not any "worship" of England.
So you can't be a former part of Great Britain unless there is some major tectonic activity!
The correct term would be 'former British Colonies', or perhaps, beter still, 'former members of the British Empire' or even 'Commonwealth nations'. Even these have problems because most of the Northeast USA was once part of the British Empire. And, curiously, Canadians never really went for Cricket despite still being in the commonwealth. I guess it's difficult when the fields are under snow for half the year.
Your point stands - cultural traditions can take root in any place, and don't necessarily imply a worship of the parent culture. It probably has more to do with a filling a cultural need with a pre-created product than anything else. You could reverse the trend and ask why so many young people are into the 'import' car scene : which generally means Japanese cars. Is this a worship of Japanese culture or just young people finding that Japanese performance cars are cheaper and more accessible?
I guess I should have used a different tone or something. All my other comments I've done expanding something like this have generally been well received, so I'm at a loss why this one was taken so badly. Maybe it was the parent thread.
Double eyelid surgery isn't exactly about making the eye bigger. It's to emphasize a small fold between the eyelid and the Epicanthic fold. It's considered beautiful to see just a small sliver of the eyelid from underneath the fold, and in many East Asians, the fold tends to grow too low. Additionally, as people age, the skin of the fold tends to sag and people may want some of it removed in order to open their eyes up.
From wikipedia "The procedure of reducing or removing epicanthic folds is epicanthoplasty. It is now an extremely rare procedure. Blepharoplasty, however, is not an uncommon form of cosmetic surgery in East Asia. The use of "eyelid glue" or "eyelid tape" (sometimes referred to as "eye glue" or "eye tape") is used to create the appearance of the "double eyelid" by finding a "natural fold" in the eyelid and tucking it in and holding it with an adhesive."
So modern anime characters should look more like traditional Japanese paintings?
"How can you explain that a lot of Japanese women go through cosmetic surgery to get rid of the slant in their eyes to make them look more Western?"
Citation? How many is "many"?
"Why is baseball so popular in Japan?"
Because they're better at it now than Americans?
As for baseball, most everyone agrees this is a quintessential American game, some authors have even suggested that it reflects the American spirit. To people from other countries it may seem slow and pointless. If you disregard Cuba, which has close ties to US historically, AFAIK the only non-American culture where baseball is very (or even on the average) popular is Japan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball#Popularity_and_cultura...).
Large eyes were considered beautiful and makeup manuals for women showed them how to accentuate their eyebrows and make eyes larger and rounder.
I am not crazy about the original article but have th agree - here - with the point he made. Do not assume that because they are making their eyes larger and rounder it is because they want to look Western. It is because larger rounder eyes have been considered attractive for a long time in the culture.
As did paler skin I believe - but again not because of a Western Caucasian model. The foreign influence for these ideas would have been China, probably Confucian ideas.
The Japanese were not as isolated from the West as the Koreans were but I would not be surprised if there were older indigenous models for beauty as well.
And Japan won the tournament, both of the times it has been played so far. The best U.S. finish is fourth.
I see the U.S. relationship with baseball becoming similar to that of England with soccer. We may have invented the sport, but that doesn't mean we're the best at it any more.
As a case in point, consider the recent FIBA World Campionship: Turkey played the final with US and gave it a run for its money (at least at the start of the game). Serbia was awesome, too. The US Team didn't even make it to the final in the previous three times (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIBA_World_Championship#Results). Now, that doesn't mean that the level of basketball in these countries is better or on par with the one in US. It just means that the very good pro players see this as a waste of time and money (and chance to be injured) and don't go. I bet a similar reason applies in the case of baseball.
I am not sure I could empirically prove it though. I find it hard to sit through an actual game in any major US sport, though I find myself still following the NYC teams I grew up with (Mets, Giants, Knicks).
I'd take Pau Gasol over any U.S. big man. That's probably it, though.
The U.S. had to rethink the way they ran their national program after getting embarrassed, getting more continuity with players committing to multiple years. Wade, James, and Anthony came back after losing in 2006 to put on a dominating performance during the 2008 Olympics. I was extremely impressed with how this current team was put together, because I thought they would have trouble handling the much taller teams they would face. Instead, the U.S. smaller but quicker and more athletic players created trouble for the taller teams they faced by stealing the ball and getting out for dunks and layups. Also, Kevin Durant is a beast.
In short, I actually believe that the quality of U.S. basketball got better as a response to the improvement in the international game and the realization that it was not a glorified exhibition. That's quite the sea change from what the original Dream Team faced in 1992.
Back to baseball, here are the 2009 rosters.
Just clicking around, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic are loaded with many of the most famous MLB names. The U.S. is, too, but most of the biggest U.S. baseball names I'm familiar with are on there, and they lost any way. Japan has several major leaguers and of course they have the second best professional league in the world (I don't think there's much dispute about that).
So I think with basketball we have re-asserted ourselves as the dominant world power, but only with a renewed dedication and commitment to get back to that place. I still stand behind my argument that the quality of baseball player development is now better in some other countries than the U.S. This is very much like the English Premier League, considered the best league in the world, and with many English stars, but not enough to make England a dominant football power.
And yes, maybe I think about this stuff just a little too much. :)
I think the entire setup is bullshit though. You get a bunch of guys who don't really want to be there to play in an "all-star" team that, for some reason, is assumed to have any unit cohesion at all. You're better off just playing championship series in every country and then playing the winning teams, regardless of nationality. I think "The Yankees" is a better team than any "All-Star" bullshit they come up with.
I'm a sucker for international tournaments. I guess I just like the idea of professional athletes organized around something other than who is offering the highest salaries at the moment. I think the U.S. is just starting to come around on the concept.
As a case in point, consider the recent FIBA World Campionship: Turkey played the final with US and gave it a run for its money (at least at the start of the game). Serbia was awesome, too. The US Team didn't even make it to the final in the previous three times (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIBA_World_Championship#Results). Now, that doesn't mean that the level of basketball in these countries is better or on par with the one in US. It just means that the very good pro players see this as a waste of time and money (and chance to be injured) and don't go. I bet a similar reason applied in the case of baseball.
I like the World Baseball Classic and I would attribute in part the lack of American success because the MLB players are in the beginning of their playing year when the tournament takes place. In his glory years Lance Armstrong did not win too many spring races because he was looking to peak in July.
I think the American players in the WBC are just getting into "spring training" mode.
The Asian teams come to play. The last two WBCs there have been really good games Korean vs Japan. MLB players like Ichiro and Hee Seop Choi crashing into walls and sliding head first. In March.
The WBC is great fun and I recommend it. I cannot sit through an MLB game any more...
Actually, most still agree that the Japanese professional baseball is close but not quite at the level of American major league baseball. The top Japanese players obviously can compete at the top level in the US but most people think that Japan would probably only have enough players for a half-dozen MLB-level teams at the most.
Comparing the two leagues, MLB has placed a greater emphasis on the home run (probably because Japanese players are smaller on average than many U.S. and Latin American players). However, that does not necessarily make the Japanese style worse when it comes to winning games. The World Baseball Classic is the only serious competition we've had to compare national styles at the highest level, and so far the Japanese system has won out. Granted, a sample size of two is probably not significant, but it seems all we have to go by.
Except that that's never what I said. I said the MLB is a more competitive ball league than EPL. With the internationalization of trade and sports I'm not sure it's terribly important what the nationalities of the players are.
The World Baseball Classic is the only serious competition we've had to compare national styles at the highest level, and so far the Japanese system has won out. Granted, a sample size of two is probably not significant, but it seems all we have to go by.
As a good statistician would say, a result with an insignificant sample size is worse than no result at all because it can fool one (as it did you) into thinking it has any significance at all.
Let us call a spade a spade shall we? Asians have a considerable and measurable white bias when it comes to aesthetics.
Couple the skin-whitening phenomenon with the double-eyelid surgery explosion with the open-air admission of the Asians' who elect to do these procedures that the so-called "Hellenic" features are more desirable than their own - and you have more than circumstantial evidence for the proposition "The Japanese draw themselves as white."
...And that isn't even mentioning the fact that the characters they draw, by any reasonable appraisal look about as white as Christmas in Nebraska.
If the truth offends your sensibilities, then it is your sensibilities that need adjusting.
I'd be inclined to think you're painting targets around bullet holes there. There are procedures/products that are designed to make people look more caucasian, but you can't just ignore everything else and call it a bias. To give an example, the practice of wearing yukatas to matsuris is distinctly non-caucasian and far more common than, say, eyelid surgery.
Programmer, West Indian, NYC area, writes 500 words a day on whatever he likes. Also a father. Studied Classical Greek and Comp Sci in college:
People told me studying ancient Greek was a waste of time, but I learned far more about life and the world from the Greeks than from anything in computers.
I read a few posts and enjoyed them all.
(I was helping one of my friends with a grad school application. He got to race, asked me why a school would need to know this -- silly Japanese person, how would we run our racial discrimination departments without sorting you first -- and couldn't find Japanese on the menu so he picked Other. Quote, "The closest I saw was Asian American, but I think that's for Chinese people, right? Whatever, I'm certainly not American.")
In the 90s, I was totally baffled by the popularity of the 'Azn' movement.
(Yes, I know that in Japan "Asian" almost always mean "Asia - Japan", but I think a college student wouldn't fail to realize that outside Japan, "Asia" does include Japan.)
I understand the idea that a person is not defined by their skin color. But, really, I'm generally not talking about someone else's background as much as I'm asking a third party if they know them.
More on topic, it would seem that a good artist specifies a particular cultural background for a character if it enhances a story. Otherwise, it is often the case that any cultural baggage is brought by the viewer/reader.
The daughter of the ambassador from Jamaica was a student at the college, and she was being interviewed by the student newspaper as an interest piece.
The interviewer apparently asked her how she felt being an African-American at the (predominantly white) college.
The interviewer could not fathom why the daughter (being neither African nor American) was upset by the question.
That, and living in a foreign country has pretty much made me give up on the PC-ness that American creates. I'm as white as the Whitey-white white, and I feel that no one could be faulted for telling me otherwise.
Interestingly enough, when I tease my wife about our (half-hungarian, half-japanese) daughter about being part of "Team Whitey," she always responds by saying that our daughter is part of "Team Yellow."
While horribly non-PC in America, it brings into light the amount of power that words like that have, and how they have almost no power if there's no history or culture backing them.
Thinking about it further, I find it interesting that "Team Whitey" sounds perfectly fine and dandy in an English context, while "Team Yellow" seems racially insensitive.
Strange what a single color-change can make.
-- END Random rambling
Since when are black Jamaicans any less African than black United States-ians?
I've been an anime fan for years and this question has legitimately never crossed my mind despite being cynical and critical of almost every single factual inaccuracy I come across.
Interesting article all the same!
"Some Americans, even some scholars, will argue against this view of anime. They want to think the Japanese worship America or worship whiteness and use anime to prove it. But they seem to be driven more by their own racism and nationalism than anything else."
After that kind of sentence, I really expect some evidence that someone, somewhere has this view.
What's the point. I bet there are a million bigots, immature kids, and ignorant people asking questions on Yahoo Answers. Unfortunately every country has people like this, it's not exclusive to one area.
Let's just all read this and decide collectively that Yahoo Answers should never again be used as debate source material:
And by the way, what's up with the people posting that Yahoo! question? If it's not a joke, I'm seriously worried about the state of humanity.
"The ultimate reason for the lower Japanese body esteem
may perhaps concern broader cultural and historical
perspectives. Being part of the West, but non-Caucasians,
Japanese people seem collectively to experience high
incongruence between their Western-oriented bodily ideals
and the perceptions of their own body. "
Japanese body image: Structure and esteem scores in a
cross-cultural perspective by Rotem Kowner, University of Haifa, Israel, in: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, 2002, 37 (3), 149–159
Oddly enough -- in 2001 some test footage from Wind Waker was released, showing a Link with some very almond-shaped eyes. The appearance of Link was retooled so they look less almond-shaped and more mukokuseki.
Never thought of it this way, either, and I'm not white.
When you have 10 or 20 characters, and want them to be recognizable at a glance (for brand ownership), even when appearing completely out-of-context alongside characters of similar ages and styles from other series, and even when drawn minimally and potentially badly by a subcontracted art studio--it's logical to make them whatever race has the widest "visual range." It's also logical, for the same reasons, to give them technicolor hair.
Don't just claim "scientific studies say X;" cite studies Y, Z, and A. I'm not saying that your claim is wrong, but it sounds implausible to me, and I suspect that, if such studies exist, they probably indicate that whites find it easier to differentiate other whites and Asians find it easier to differentiate other Asians (I'd be curious: are such studies done solely in the United States? If so, they'd be worthless).
In this particular case, I believe the best I can give you is that I heard it from a science podcast of some sort.
The open question is why Japan, as dominated by clerical work as any other fully industrialized country, still retains the ideal of white skin. OTOH, it's a generational thing there as well: deep, fake tans are quite popular among school-age girls (and guys).
A former hostel-mate of mine was Japanese and we would hangout with the Japanese expats in Shanghai. 100% of the time, Japanese people would speak English to him. I forgot where exactly in Japan he is from, but he said everyone in his home town looked like him, but Japanese people elsewhere would assume he is something else; 6.4 tall, full beard, and looked a lot like Tarkan, the Turkish singer:
A year later when I went to Japan I found out how unusual looking he was.
A distinction needs to be made. Most of the Asians using whitening products aim to get the skin to #ffffff, not the color of caucasian skin. Caucasians are a few tints darker than #ffffff.
Many people want to show that they have the financial means to enjoy leisure - whether that be because you’re well paid enough to take holidays, or because you employ others.
Most of the westernised world aims to get a tan - it shows that we have the means to go to far away sunny places and laze in the sun.
Conversely, in Asia, a tanned skin is what you get from labouring outdoors (farming, for example), and so light skin is a sign of a leisurely life.
And if you can’t afford a leisure lifestyle, you can buy the appearance of one in a bottle: fake tan, or skin bleacher.
Right, because it refers to the guy with a red neck and bright white chest when he takes his shirt off, because he actually is working outdoors properly dressed for such work, not on a beach somewhere getting a leisurely tan. Thus, a red neck indicates working class.
Actual red necks, of course, seem to use it as a term of endearment and solidarity, much as other epithets have been co-opted by their targets.
However, a quick google search http://bit.ly/bHOnEC doesn't show a particular bias for double or single eyelids in anime.
They might look whiter than Asian, but it probably has nothing to do with Asians wanting to be white. You can probably test what the OP said by asking a villager in Africa which race those cartoons belong to assuming he's seen an equal share of whites and Asians.
It's not clear whether it might be influencing different art styles, though.
It's a red flag when you preemptively declare all of your opponents racists before they've even had a chance to respond.
Maybe someone will disagree for a non-racist reason? Just maybe?
Because it is such an inflammatory statement, it should be better supported, if that was the author's main point, or omitted, if it wasn't.
There's something else at work, though. I think that as soon as many readers read "racist", they mentally shut down as a defence mechanism.
"B ... b ... but it's an axiom that I can't be racist, so any argument that might cast me as racist must be wrong, without further consideration." It's the same thing you're arguing against.
My response would be that it's okay to unequivocally declare a class of arguments as wrong. "Wrong" in the sense of a bad argument that doesn't hold up, it could still (coincidentally) reflect the correct position. What the author does is different though, he simply declares an entire side wrong on the assumption that they all must be using a certain class of arguments.
But the example you offered does demonstrate an equally important point: There are correct and incorrect reasons to rule out a class of arguments. Clearly "if this were true I'd be bad person, therefore this is false" is one of the bad reasons. The technical term is "argumentum ad consequentiam": appeal to consequeces.
So you're absolutely right to preach caution here.
Like if I said "Mac is better than PC, and if anyone disagrees with me, it can only because that person is a pedophile". Obviously that example is unrealistic, but you see the issue.
If someone counters that Japanese definitely draw white people because Japanese people think Americans are awesome (and there are some arguments of this type floating around out there), then it's a culturally myopic, borderline racist stance.
Forget racism. I said nothing about whether "racist" was an appropriate term for the kinds of people he has in mind. The problem is in equating "the people I have in mind" with "everyone who could possibly think I'm wrong". The problem is that he has assumed, before anyone has even had the chance to argue with him, that any arguments he gets will be motivated by some particular flaw he expects to encounter. The problem is that he dismisses all disagreement as "racist" before even hearing that disagreement.
Yes, if a bunch of people speak up and disagree with his points, some of them will probably do so because of some underlying racist beliefs. But that doesn't authorize him to declare that everyone who disagrees with him must therefore be a racist. That's wrong, descriptively and normatively.
For example, if I linked to an article where the top 50 Japanese anime authors had explicitly stated "Yup, we just draw white people", that wouldn't make me a racist. It would make him wrong, and me right to disagree. I don't expect to find an article like that, and I find the author's main point in the article quite plausible. The issue is just that there are conceivable legitimate objections (particularly any based on actual evidence, which, as has been noted, this article lacks), a possibility he has refused to even acknowledge with a wave of his hand.
I seem to be talking right past you, but I don't know how to spell this out any more plainly.
The author states in the last paragraph that he is referring to the Americans who make that argument. Perhaps that was not clear to you, but it was clear to me.
I found the article very interesting. I'm not white. I was raised in and live in a white culture, and interestingly, I make the same assumptions the author attributes to American social conditioning.
It's sad to reject useful or interesting information just because it's not well cited, or perhaps because the author used the dreaded "R-word."
Also, is this question the same as why do British singers sound like Americans in their songs? Just asking...
Pale white skin has a history here in Japan much longer than anime. Look at geisha for example. On the other end of the spectrum, there were Gangaru walking all around tokyo at one point too:
Japanese women especially are well aware of their skin's natural ability to change color and often treat it as a fashion decision.
A heavily tanned caucasian can be much darker than an asian, latino, african american, etc... I think many westerners would be surprised that caucasians don't always have "white" skin if they actually looked around the world with a critical eye.
It has no ethnic origin beyond unicode. Just like it has no eye colour, no skin colour (no skin), etc.. Am I weird about this?
I really can't say I've ever thought of a stick figure as coming from a particular place or having a particular identity. But then I don't really identify with a particular location, I'm just happy to be in it in preference to other places.
Man, have we some issues to work through!
It is glaringly obvious that European ideals of beauty have enormously affected the Japanese aesthetic, especially including anime; almost any Japanese person you meet will readily admit to this, to claim otherwise takes willful ignorance.
The popularity of actual caucasian models in advertisements is also interesting.