Are anime characters Asian?

Are anime characters Asian?
Russian character Auska Langley, from Neon Genesis Evangelion

White washing in Hollywood has become a huge problem, and Asian Americans have been quite vocal of it lately. I, and many others, have discussed how the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in The Shell will feature the caucasian actress Scarlet Johanson as the character ‘The Major.’ Before her, it was going to be Margot Robbie, but she signed on for Suicide Squad.

Some have argued that white people are the ones who are the ones yelling about it, but I remember watching youtube videos post Dragon Ball Evolution about how Goku was Asian.

The word ‘adaptation’ is thrown around a bit, especially when Japanese material is brought to the big screen. I believe that Dragon Ball Evolution was more of an adaptation than Ghost in The Shell is going to be, as everything was changed in it, for some reason. Ghost in The Shell’s setting is still in Japan, and the characters seem to be retaining their names though.

Recently, it was announced that there was going to be a movie based on the hit manga and anime series, Full Metal Alchemist. The cast? Entirely Asian. Why? Because it’s a movie made in Japan for the Japanese audience. Why bring this up? Because let’s take a look at some of the characters from the show.

That is a lot of blonde hair for these characters to be Asian. Full Metal Alchemist’s world isn’t Asia, such as Avatar The Last Air Bender. Their world is more European inspired. Perhaps there wasn’t enough Caucasians to fill these roles, or maybe they did not want to look for them? No clue. Let’s take a look at the characters that they did get.

Image via My Game News Flash

I’ve talked about a video that was done by That Japanese Man Yuta where they were not even aware of the problem, they were fine with it due to the fact that they have a gaijin fetish. One argued for Scarlett Johanson in Ghost in The Shell, saying “But if she was Japanese, it wouldn’t look like an anime.”

Sailor MoonLA
Sailor Moon live action Japanese series.

There was almost a Hollywood adaptation of Sailor Moon in the 1990’s. In 1997, this article, which is now archived thanks to the wayback machine, was floating around.

It had been mentioned that they were going to take it out of Tokyo, and put it in California. They most likely would have had an all white cast, you can assume. What if instead, they had a multi-cultural cast, and kept it in Japan?

I always pegged Minako as being from London, for some reason. Ami seemed European to me as well. The only character that had to be Japanese, was Rei, as she was a Shinto Priestess.

This brings me up to my point. Are Anime and Manga characters Japanese? Do they have to all be played by Asians unless specifically mentioned to not be, such as Auska from Neon Genesis Evangelion being Russian? I’m not sure.

For some reason, I think people would complain if Sailor Moon’s blonde hair and blue eyed Usagi Tsukino was played by an American, Ami Mizuno was Indian, Makoto Kino was African, Rei Hinako was Japanese, and Minako Aino was Norwegian. Racial type casting? I’m not sure.

Weird tangent, but was there ever even one black person on Sailor Moon? Honestly. I’m trying to remember if I saw even one. I know I saw a few white people from France… but huh. I guess not?

Our world is weird.


2 thoughts on “Are anime characters Asian?

  1. Maybe people should stop expecting stories to be absolutely representative. Stories capture one small snapshot of one view of one reality and that’s all they need to do. When we try to cram our expectations and views into them, we end up with a less fun story.

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