The above image shows two characters, one done in the “anime style” and the other in an American comic book style. What follows is an explanation as to why Chie Satonaka “looks Japanese.”
According to Kyodo News, one in 29 babies born in Japan in 2014 had one (or more) non-Japanese parent. That means the number of mixed children in Japan is increasing, and why the total number is still small, there are more diverse Japanese than ever before, challenging preconceptions about Japaneseness. (For more, see the film Hafu.)
About those perceptions... Via 2ch (and Yaraon), below is a comparison between “Japanese people” and “white people.” Some of the physical characteristics are the space between the eye and the eyebrows, a loosely defined jawline, and noticeable nose and cheek features.
Via website Tamenal, these comparisons claim to prove that anime characters are mostly Japanese.
The problem with the comparisons like this is that those who don’t fit into this comparison then don’t fit in either group, making them loaded. Images like these have been floating around the internet for years, such as the ones below. As Kotaku previously pointed out, these comparisons aren’t exactly ideal and seem to be made to simply further an argument.
The other problem with these comparisons is that animators might be looking to a variety of sources, including other anime, with one artist influencing another, and the end result moving further away from reality as artists aren’t then drawing real people, but anime people.
Another commenter in the same original thread also pointed out that the profiles of many anime characters actually looks similar to a cat’s profile, calling the angle “neko-gata” (猫型) or “cat-shaped” and providing examples of a rather convincing argument.
So, do these characters look like cats? Japanese? Or, like anime characters?
But the best way to think about this isn’t about facial structure, stereotypes or physical features. As one commenter put it, “The big eyes and small noses in anime don’t exist in Caucasians or Asians.” They do exist in anime.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.