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Old 2011-09-29, 22:44   Link #1
Kudryavka
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Race in Anime

It's common knowledge that our large anime eyes came from Osamu Tezuka, who himself was inspired by American animation icons such as Betty Boop and Felix the Cat. In today's anime, large and expressive eyes dominate in anime (not so much in manga, but they still dominate, they just don't completely overwhelm).

But how much is too much? I don't mind having everyone mukoku seki, but when Asian, non-Japanese characters get drawn with more realistic East Asian features - positively or negatively - it makes me stop and think. Why are only Japanese drawn with large eyes and such? I'm not saying this is universal, it isn't.

Another thing is just how many series don't really depict realistic people. I'm not saying they should always; some of my favorite series depict people as such, and a few of them have character designs so simplified that they arguably no longer resemble humans faithfully. But really, most series in Japan draw the characters (sometimes just the Japanese) without Asian features, something I find interesting when made in a country where almost everyone has East Asian features. Why is there a lack of portrayals of realistic people? Perhaps the audiences are all wanting of these character designs, they don't want to see realistic people?

I've heard that it's a case of wanting to be the superior European, but I honestly don't buy into that bunk, especially when we're talking about a nation that considered itself superior to all other humans (perhaps except Germans, maybe they saw them as equals) half a century ago. That'd be a seriously shameful step down from a high horse, lol.

As for discussion, let's keep it clean. Please don't act like someone insulted your mother or something; it's a discussion on why, not on what's right or wrong.

Last edited by Kudryavka; 2011-09-30 at 19:51. Reason: safety
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:01   Link #2
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Primary reason is smaller eyes = a bigger challenge if not impossible to depict emotions.
I've seen enough Japanese live action dramas to prove I'm right.
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:10   Link #3
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I think it's part of identity. You define others by how they are different than you( or your ethnicity), and exaggerate these traits to make them distinguishable in a medium like anime where a person's face is rather simplified. This was a good vid somebody made a while back:

While the video criticizes the 'belief' that anime characters represent a desire to be Caucasian or somesuch, its got many relevant points about the way people look.
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:20   Link #4
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Because anime is supposed to be unrealistic, and thus it comes with unrealistic people. I mean those hair colors after all; how often will you see those around.

But when it comes to portraying people of another ethnicity, people naturally fall back on the stereotypes.

Bascially....
For anime being Japanese is "standard"; therefore all anime characters that are the norm are assumed to be japanese. It's kinda like how everyone speaks English in many an American scifi show/movie. Something is considered the norm. Thus, if not outright said, they're japanese. If they're not japanese, then something is done to show to the audience that they're something else.

There is no need to show a Japanese stereotype to a Japanese audience.
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:26   Link #5
Kudryavka
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Real larger eyes aren't exactly miles better at depicting emotion, no? I've seen many Asians irl who express themselves quite colorfully.

Decagon, could you PM me the direct link to that video? Steve Jobs isn't having it embedded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
Because anime is supposed to be unrealistic, and thus it comes with unrealistic people. I mean those hair colors after all; how often will you see those around.

But when it comes to portraying people of another ethnicity, people naturally fall back on the stereotypes.

Bascially....
For anime being Japanese is "standard"; therefore all anime characters that are the norm are assumed to be japanese. It's kinda like how everyone speaks English in many an American scifi show/movie. Something is considered the norm. Thus, if not outright said, they're japanese. If they're not japanese, then something is done to show to the audience that they're something else.

There is no need to show a Japanese stereotype to a Japanese audience.
How are they stereotypes if the vast majority of the accused has these features in real life? Good points on why others are drawn differently.
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:27   Link #6
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I think this link can help explain it all:

http://www.matt-thorn.com/mangagaku/faceoftheother.html
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:39   Link #7
Kudryavka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
I think this link can help explain it all:

http://www.matt-thorn.com/mangagaku/faceoftheother.html
Like I said, I'm totally fine with this. But it's how so many series do this today; these characters don't look much like their creators. Do they have to? No, they don't. It's funny how the "default" is something that looks so different, especially considering the default used to look much more like them.

derp, i gotta think of a better way to explain.
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:43   Link #8
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Oddly the large round eyes makes it relatively easy to market amine in the west. Or at least it use to when. It was cheaper to import a few series, strip off the sound and redub the whole thing. Much cheaper than producing animation in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s.
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Old 2011-09-29, 23:58   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komari View Post
It's funny how the "default" is something that looks so different, especially considering the default used to look much more like them.
Are you referring to old Japanese prints that depict themselves with squinty eyes? If so, they don't actually look anymore "like them," considering that even those narrow eyes are greatly exaggerrated.
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Old 2011-09-30, 00:11   Link #10
Decagon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Komari View Post
Like I said, I'm totally fine with this. But it's how so many series do this today; these characters don't look much like their creators. Do they have to? No, they don't. It's funny how the "default" is something that looks so different, especially considering the default used to look much more like them.

derp, i gotta think of a better way to explain.
If it's about the design choice for larger eyes, it might have to do exploiting the eye-size to body ratio of baby animals/humans to evoke a nurturing/oh that's cute response (primal moe, if you will). Some anime just try to extract as much out of that ratio as they can without making it disgustingly deformed to most people.

In regards to race, it might be the case that in such a homogeneous society the most common source of exposure to non-Japanese is via media. Media itself carries stereotypes and ideals of whoever is producing it, so someone like a 50 cent or a Matt Damon or a Angelina Jolie might have a more pronounced look that an artist might try to exemplify when drawing foreigners. But I think I'm missing your point. Did you have any particular series in mind?
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Old 2011-09-30, 00:50   Link #11
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This is 2D not 3D. Realism does not apply

But seriously, it is their art style. Each country that produce their comic will have their own common art style. If the art is too realistic, people will rather watch a live action than animation. Another reason is big eyes is a physical attractiveness in some part of Asia. Japanese would do not have big eyes like other races express this physical attractiveness in anime.

But yeah, big eyes needs to be done right sometimes. I remember watching a certain mechan anime where the eyes are so big the kind of reminds me aliens with ahir.
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Old 2011-09-30, 02:35   Link #12
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Go watch some Samurai/Ninja stuff like... Ninja Scroll. There's plenty of material out there that still depicts the Asian squinty-ness. :3
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Old 2011-09-30, 03:06   Link #13
ahelo
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That was technically how anime designs started, with the notion that the Japanese wanted bigger eyes. But its just an art style now more than anything. I don't think that when people draw anime these days that there would be even any notion that they want to look like what they are drawing. Plus there's no rule to drawing "anime" style, its really just the way its drawn.
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Old 2011-09-30, 03:17   Link #14
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That video that Decagon posted makes a very good point. While anime characters don't look too realistic, they DO look more Japanese than anything else.
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Old 2011-09-30, 03:23   Link #15
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They adapted the "big eyes" and made a big change in the animation history. It's has became a Japanese trademark. I seen old Japanese prints and come to think what if they adapted it....

OH my God!!!

I'll never be an otaku!

The thing that just bother's me is the hair colors which is so, so not Japanese.

But hey, at least it's Kawaii, mundai nai
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Old 2011-09-30, 03:45   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Decagon View Post
I think it's part of identity. You define others by how they are different than you( or your ethnicity), and exaggerate these traits to make them distinguishable in a medium like anime where a person's face is rather simplified. This was a good vid somebody made a while back:

While the video criticizes the 'belief' that anime characters represent a desire to be Caucasian or somesuch, its got many relevant points about the way people look.
Brilliant find, Decagon, requoting the video for Great Truth... it should be used to slap the hell out of the misinformed/uninformed who keep asserting this nonsense.
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Old 2011-09-30, 03:59   Link #17
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Originally Posted by Kyuu View Post
Go watch some Samurai/Ninja stuff like... Ninja Scroll. There's plenty of material out there that still depicts the Asian squinty-ness. :3
I'll second that notion. People like to think that all anime have Clannad like design, but there are tons of stuff with realistic proportions and proportions which are no more exaggarated than in western cartoons.
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Old 2011-09-30, 10:27   Link #18
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Video is right, Anime characters do not look like western people. They don't particularly look like Japanese people either. But hey, when was the last time you saw an American that looked like a Disney character? And let's not get into the Simpsons...

It's a stylized form of reality, naturally it's not going to be realistic. The vast arrays of coloured eyes and hair is really more for visual variety then anything else. Every character having black hair and dark eyes would get dull after a while no?

In fact, I'd really say that Anime, and Japanese fiction generally, is actually the opposite of what these people say. If anything Anime veers towards the ethnocentric, if not xenophobic, attitude. I mean how many times do we see the only foreigners being either:
a) Uninformed idiots.
b) Evil
or c) Half-Japanese, so they're actually okay.

And as Decagon's video shows, most Anime does actually show a flatter more oval face as Japanese people tend to actually have (albeit idealized). Likewise plenty of Japanese are not squinty. Though a lot of Japanese are actually pretty squinty, but they don't tend to be very popular as media darlings. That's an entirely seperate matter though. I mean, ever heard of double Eyelid Surgery? How much of that is due to idolization of western appearances is an interesting question.

The change might also seem more dramatic then it is, when you consider that old Japanese art usually depicted squinty eyes.
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Old 2011-09-30, 10:52   Link #19
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Just commenting on eyes alone.

During one of my animation lectures, my lecturer told us about a study on Japanese film, specifically on why do Japanese films like to do extreme close ups to the eyes of characters. This applies to all Japanese films, not just life action but also anime. In films all over the world there would be middle shots for characters, simple close ups to make a point or minute actions, but extreme close ups to just the eyes are very rare. This is a very peculiar camera angle, rarely seen outside of Japan.

One of the main conclusions is that Japanese believe that the eyes are windows to the soul, I'm sure lots of people here have heard of it. Exactly because of this, the Japanese use extreme close ups to the eyes and hold the camera there for a couple of seconds, allowing some sort of emotions to be conveyed to the audience. Does this really work? I do not know. Do the eyes really tell the audience everything? Or did the sound track and speech help the eyes convey the message clearer?

This obsession of eyes in Japanese culture is also why anime characters have such big eyes, you get extreme close ups to anime eyes every episode. Not only do they save frames with close up shots, they also look pretty enough to attract audience. People loved the eyes in Suzumiya Haruhi and kyoani used extreme close ups of the eyes so much, they even use it on a single eye sometimes, making Haruhi's eyes quite famous.
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Old 2011-09-30, 10:55   Link #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I mean, ever heard of double Eyelid Surgery? How much of that is due to idolization of western appearances is an interesting question.
Wait a minute, I thought that double eyelids were a Asian feature that Westerners don't have.
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