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Pet Sins September 2005

East Asian-looking characters in East Asian comics/animation

Blonde, European-looking cyborg

It has been observed how rare East Asian-looking characters are in East Asian comics/animation in general. Chinese, Japanese and Korean comics all suffer from the 'unrealistic hair and eye color syndrome' even for characters who are ethnically East Asian.

Often, all characters in a comic book are drawn in a stylized huge-eyed, small-nosed style that doesn't accurately represent any human of any ethnicity, thus rendering irrelevant any discussion of 'accurate racial representation'.

Racial biases are actually more apparent the instances in which not *all* characters are drawn in the same way.

Take for example the vastly popular anime Ghost in the Shell. The story is set in a futuristic Hong Kong and the main characters all have Japanese names. The key characters Kusanagi and Batou have Caucasian features, as do other cyborg characters. The female cyborgs are invariably blue-eyed and straight-nosed and have double-eyelids. But it is not as if the artists couldn't draw yellow people accurately - the stupid and unimportant characters in Ghost in the Shell looked perfectly East Asian with their yellow skin, black hair, single-lidded eyes and flaring noses, examples being the deluded garbage men, and assorted people in the marketplace.

Minor characters from Ghost in the Shell - Chinese-looking garbage men deceived and manipulated by the Puppet Master

Similarly, in Kung Fu comics from Hong Kong, the main characters look Caucasian. Only the silly or unimportant characters have East Asian features. In contrast, Latino comic artists try to give their characters some color and accurate African and Native American features when appropriate.

BlaqueRonin and Wu from yahoogroup Black4anime

Comment from 'L.M.'
I would like to second the observation made by the contributors. I was reading the Gundam Seed Destiny manga and noticed all the important characters have big eyes and straight, pointy noses, but the unimportant characters (e.g. all the crowd characters in Cagali's wedding scene) look much more like the average real-life East Asian. They have smaller eyes and more flaring nostrils compared to the main characters.