Lamar Abrams (storyboard artist & voice actor on Steven Universe) made some interesting commentary about how we present our characters in media a while back.
You guys should follow his twitter, it’s great.
definitely a thing i need to work on, good thoughts here
I think this is super important to consider with your own work. I remember when I got pissed about RWBY’s broken promises of diversity, some people pointed out “well, it’s anime influenced, what do you expect blah blah blah stay the course”
Here’s the thing:
The current estimated breakdown of ethnicity in Japan puts it at 98.5% ethnic Japanese citizens. Of the remaining 1.5%, The vast majority are other Asians (namely Korean and Chinese), which tend to be indistinguishable if we’re talking generic anime styles.
This leaves a tiny, tiny percentage of the population that would actually look distinctive if represented in Anime. Japan’s going through a lot of its own growing pains when it comes to interacting with foreign cultures and ethnicities (along with all the other kinds of minorities), but it’s not too surprising that it lacks a lot of them in its traditional pop culture.
If you’re making something as a Westerner, for other Westerners, you don’t have that excuse. Chances are, you ACTUALLY know and interact with other people that aren’t the same race as you. If you’re reading this in English, then you speak a language that allows you to communicate with people of different cultures from all over the world.
It’s like… when manga-influence artists make their word balloons all tall and skinny, or make their pages read right to left, because “that’s the style” in manga. It’s not a stylistic choice!! It’s an inherent result of their language, which we aren’t making our comics in!
In the same way, having everyone look “generic vague pale anime race” in your comic isn’t a legitimate stylistic choice. It’s just… taking the laziest, easiest path. Obviously there’s exceptions if you’re being accurate to a certain setting, but when I see it in Generic Fantasy Mishmash worlds I sigh a bit inside. All other depressing implications aside, it’s such a waste of a great way to distinguish your characters from one another. Don’t lose out on it!