Things I've noticed about Japanese anime pt. 1

Occasionally I have the urge to do random things, like making a youtube video with ysflight, and, recently, writing a wiki encyclopedia article about anime (and that's why the blog hasn't been updated in 3 months). But since I will never finish it, and no one will actually read it, I've decided to spend more time writing on this blog again.

Ever since I started watching anime since ... 1995? I've noticed certain things that are common in anime or its genres. (My TV at home had a channel (probably Tooniverse) that was dedicated to anime and cartoons 24/7. I vaguely remember when I was about 4 years old, and I could not finish watching one of the last episodes of Nadia with the flying N-Nautilus submarine because my mom had to take me to a dinner. At the time I presumed all anime's were Korean because the anime title, character names, opening and ending songs, and voice acting were all changed to Korean or the Korean equivalent of a western name or word.)

Anyways I want to talk about some common features of Japanese anime that other people might have or not have noticed over the years.

First thing is that the main characters and the main antagonists tend to be lighter skinned and more caucasian than the side characters. You can clearly see it in the differences between Shinji Ikari/Shinichirō Nakagami and Toji Suzuhara/Miyokichi Nobuse in Neon Genesis Evangelion and True Tears, respectively. Always in a Gundam series, the maintenance staff are dark-skinned, blackish/bluish-haired rough men and the most deadly enemy pilot is a blonde dude. "Konnichiwa, I am Rei Ayanami, and I'm really light skinned and look caucasian BUT I'm not liked very much (despite Japanese obsession with caucasian looks) AND my fictional self even has real-life fans who adore me precisely because I am lonely and pitiful BUT also pretty ALTHOUGH if you were pretty, you would be popular and not be lonely, and if you were lonely, you would more or less be ugly and not very attractive, so the two cannot actually go together..." Some Japanese animes try to justify the caucasian looks by presenting the characters with mixed heritage, as Chidori Kaname in Full Metal Panic!, Sumeragi Lee Noriega in Gundam 00, and Eri Sawachika in School Rumble. (But Japanese + European = nowhere close to the angelic characters in anime; they usually have pigglish Caucasian looks)
Second, I've noticecd there are characters who make repeated appearances in different animes either as clones or hybrids of favorite personalities. I already indicated above that Shinji and Shinichiro, and Toji and Miyokichi from NGE & TT are parallel characters. Also, Hiromi and Noe in TT seem to be hybrids of Rei and Asuka - Hiromi resembles Asuka physically, but her personality is closer to Rei's, and the opposite is true for Noe. Certain character looks have recurred so frequently that they are pretty much stereotypes. For example, a strong-willed Japanese woman (often older than the main protagonists) with long dark purple or blue hair and big breasts would be the anime stereotype of a modern, beautiful Japanese woman, like Itoko (School Rumble), Katsuragi (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Yurika (Nadesico), and Tamako (Denno Coil). A lot of male protagonists in animes from 1980s and 1990s used to be teenage punks with long zigzagged brown hair and little boys with black or dark blue hair. This was probably so as to avoid alienating the young Japanese male audience and to make the anime seem more racially neutral or balanced.


I think ever since Rei debuted in NGE, the silent female character has also become a permanent icon in Japanese anime. As Ive pointed out previously, this kind of persona is contradictory because girls can't be hot and unpopular at the same time. Examples of Rei clones include Primula from Shuffle! and Ruri from Nadesico. I literally worshiped Rei when I first saw NGE, but eventually I grew out of it. I hated Primula and also the entire series for being so fake (partly because of the contradiction), but I think Ruri-chan from Nadesico plays the role awesomely. Ruri's success as a silent female character has a lot to do with the fact that her persona doesn't ask for cinderalla pity, and her aloofness is self-imposed, primarily because she is a child prodigy who thinks better of herself than of the others, and she doesn't want her space and composure to be degraded by things she calls 'baka.'

(Primula on the left; Ruri on the right)

4 comments:

Paul said...

I remember kinda a darker Gundam Protagonist from one of the older series... Turn A Gundam I think.

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