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News Article
New Poll - Asian Characters
This week's poll comes from StaticHD. Basically, do you just assume characters are Asian in manga, manhua, and manhwa? Fair enough assumption in my opinion...

You can submit poll ideas here (and try to keep them manga/anime-related):
http://www.mangaupdates.com/showtopic.php?tid=3903

Previous Poll Results:
Question: Your opinion on series that detour from the main plot line
Choices:
I want them to always stick to the main story! - votes: 1378 (12.5%)
The occasional one chapter side story is fine - votes: 6512 (59%)
An entire side arc is good every once in a while - votes: 2517 (22.8%)
Any amount is fine - votes: 625 (5.7%)
There were 11032 total votes.
The poll ended: October 6th 2012

Most of us don't mind the occasional side branch, but get on with the main plot!
Posted by lambchopsil on October 6th 7:21pm Comments ( 46 )  [ View ]  [ Add ]
Comments

» NightSwan on October 6th, 2012, 12:52pm

Most of the time, they don't look Asian, but yeah, definitely.
It's pretty hard to ignore with names like "Yamada".
Unless, of course, I'm given a reason to think otherwise...
Not that it matters to me one way or another.

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» deadhoney on October 6th, 2012, 2:04pm

I miss the "Never thought about their race"-option. Since I honestly never think about it. I mean, their appearance mostly depends on the art style but with the society rules given most storys play in Asian countrys (obviously, since we talk about manga not comics) so its natural to consider them as Asians.
But then again there are even cases then you can't exactly tell if a character is meant to be black/brown/or simply strongly tanned because the art style doesn't give that. duh~

But does it matter? Can't manga be that one imaginary world where races don't matter?

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» gundamgundam on October 6th, 2012, 2:09pm

Quote from deadhoney
I miss the "Never thought about their race"-option. Since I honestly never think about it.

I have exactly the same thoughts about it. lambchopsil, could you please add that option to the poll or is it too late to do it?

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» whatnot on October 6th, 2012, 2:25pm

Quote from gundamgundam
I have exactly the same thoughts about it. lambchopsil, could you please add that option to the poll or is it too late to do it?


that option is too neutral and I think some of us are bored by that kind of response

third choice for moi

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» takeva on October 6th, 2012, 2:26pm

Quote from deadhoney
I miss the "Never thought about their race"-option. Since I honestly never think about it. I mean, their appearance mostly depends on the art style but with the society rules given most storys play in Asian countrys (obviously, since we talk about manga not comics) so its natural to consider ...

+10000

I completely agree. bigrazz

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» tactics on October 6th, 2012, 2:54pm

Yeah I never really think about it, but I suppose the third choice would bring it to my attention, so I went for that instead.

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» FormX on October 6th, 2012, 3:18pm

If they look Asian? This depends greatly on the setting.

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» DarrisonSaber on October 6th, 2012, 3:39pm

they all have the same bone structures cause their face is pretty much the same if u shave their heads...so meaning everyone in anime/manga are the same race n that race is up to everyone's individual opinion to decide

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» alexdhamp on October 7th, 2012, 10:02am

Depends on the art style. I've read some manga where Asian characters actually look Asian. Angel Densetsu is an example of Asian characters looking Asian, IMO. The volume covers of I"s also makes the characters look Asian.

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» Whatever on October 6th, 2012, 3:42pm

Yes because its obvious that is the intention regardless of how they look. The world of manga and anime doesnt have to make sense. Just look at Sailor moon. She is blonde with blue eyes, gets with a black haired blue eyed guy, and has a child with pink hair and red eyes. Logic has no place here. bigrazz Plus their names. Usagi Tsukino. Most of the time when someone who isnt Japanese appears in a manga they mention it or make them act weirdly. Like this guy.

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» MangaGhost on October 6th, 2012, 4:09pm

The way this poll is worded sounds like a round about way of bringing up the whole "anime/manga characters look Caucasian" thing that sends some people into spats. Why would I assume they are not Asian? If the story takes place in a Japanese High School with kids that have Japanese names, well duh I assume they are Japanese no matter what their hair or eye color is. However, there's plenty of manga that does not take place in an Asian setting with Asian characters though. Gunslinger Girl takes place in Italy and almost all the characters are Caucasian. Black Lagoon has a pretty international cast as does Full Metal Panic! Usually the story tells me the nationality of the characters, so I don't have to assume anything based on looks.

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» Sakuya on October 7th, 2012, 5:53am

Quote from MangaGhost
Usually the story tells me the nationality of the characters, so I don't have to assume anything based on looks.


+1

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» soja75 on October 6th, 2012, 4:45pm

i think of them as Asian or Caucasian depending on what they are in the manga.
but before i know i always think of them as Asian

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» crazy_addiction95 on October 6th, 2012, 5:04pm

I don't really consider the race. Never found it of importance.
To me, if there is no specific setting or expression of culture, they'd be "blank" to me.

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» asdfffdsa on October 6th, 2012, 5:39pm

In anime/manga usually I find that the middle-aged and elderly appear more asian, but children, teenagers, and young adults look pretty caucasian or at least half caucasian. In some manga the difference in appearance between both age groups is so vast that it's difficult for me to imagine the maturation into the latter. And if I'm debuting a new manga/anime, it can be difficult to determine the setting until a character's name is said or another cultural clue comes in. And then other times an anime/manga in an asian setting will introduce a new character and it won't be obvious that the character is caucasian until their name is said ... because asian and caucasian characters typically look the same.

As for the specific question asked by the poll: yes, if I don't have any prior knowledge about the story, I typically assume the characters are asian simply because most anime/manga are in an asian setting. But I can't deny that it can be ambiguous sometimes--especially for the introduction of new characters.

I've seen a few manga and anime where the characters look distinctly more asian, but honestly I prefer the norm.

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» HikaruYami on October 6th, 2012, 7:01pm

Things like FMA clearly have characters not meant to be asian... though I guess I considered Mustang asian despite his last name....

If a manga is set in Japan, I assume the characters are Japanese unless there's something obviously stated otherwise. For example, I have no trouble imagining everyone in HSDK as Japanese besides the foreign members of Yami & Yomi, despite how they look. But with stuff like Dragon Ball, I assume that maybe Son Gohan, Gokuu's "grandpa", was asian and therefore gave Gokuu an asian name, but otherwise, no.... (Bulma?)

I like it when a manga is drawn like Genshiken, which is interestingly all-around one of the most realistic manga I've ever read (right down to having known someone like Sue in high school =.="); in it, all the Japanese look Japanese, despite standard anime/manga ways of drawing eyes.

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» alexdhamp on October 7th, 2012, 10:15am

I don't think any of the characters in FMA were meant to be Asian, save for those four that came from the East(can't remember their names..just that the prince guy ends up becoming the new Greed and the youngest girl used an Eastern version of Alchemy). If anything, I'd say they were supposed to be Austrian or German. The fact that they refer to their leader as "fuhrer" comes to mind for the reason why I think this.

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» HikaruYami on October 7th, 2012, 11:24am

Hey... try multiquoting instead of double posting....

Anyway, I agree that none of the people from Amestris were meant to be asian, I just thought Roy's eyes and hair fit the idea of a Japanese pretty well. It's a fantasy world, and Xing was obviously based on China, whereas Amestris was mostly based on WW2 Germany (human experimentation and all that, as well as fuhrer, the ishvalians were basically jews, etc).

Also, there are a lot of ways you can tell them apart; eyes, facial structure.... If you really think they're that similar, it's probably just because there are so many Koreans in both Japan and China....

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» whitespade on October 6th, 2012, 8:15pm

i assume they are asians until told otherwise. but if they are martian or cyborgs I still think they are asian if they are in asian setting or having asian names, unless they are in other setting or have non-asiatic name.

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» VawX on October 6th, 2012, 8:40pm

Well I'm Asian myself but not from Japan, Korea, nor China but well... most of the characters in manga, manhwa and manhua are just "overcharacter" mmm...

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» nowyat on October 6th, 2012, 9:35pm

Humanity doesn't get much more beautiful than Gackt... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaE6nWR6LRE That's what I think. Who would want to look at anything else. ;P

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» That3rdGuy on October 7th, 2012, 12:22am

I always see them as Caucasian, unless the art is more realistic, especially with facial features. When they have large, cliche anime eyes, it's hard not to see them as Caucasian. Even when they have Asian names, their physical features are more Caucasian most of the time (usually eyes, but also different hair color). Especially in manga when the hair is white (as opposed to black or gray), I think blonde, even though it's usually brown, red, blue, etc when colored. Either way, they almost always look Caucasian, unless their eyes are drawn like typical Asian eyes. That's always the biggest factor when determining race in manga/anime IMO. I prefer when I can tell races apart in manga/anime, especially when there's a European or American in the bunch or if the setting is somewhere outside an Asian country. They look the same in almost every shounen, especially women. It get's frustrating when you can't tell one person's ethnicity from another. no

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» FormX on October 7th, 2012, 12:50am

Quote from That3rdGuy
I always see them as Caucasian, unless the art is more realistic, especially with facial features. When they have large, cliche anime eyes, it's hard not to see them as Caucasian. Even when they have Asian names, their physical features are more Caucasian most of the time (usually eyes, but also different hair color). Especially in manga when the hair is white (as opposed to black or gray), I think blonde, even though it's usually brown, red, blue, etc when colored. Either way, they almost always look Caucasian, unless their eyes are drawn like typical Asian eyes


...... makes me wonder a bit how many Asians you have seen in real life.

That said, this poll should have defined Asian, although we all know its SE Asian.

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» whitespade on October 7th, 2012, 1:35am

Quote from FormX
That said, this poll should have defined Asian, although we all know its SE Asian.


south east asian look quite different from east asian, or the orientals.

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» KaoriNite on October 7th, 2012, 6:50am

Quote from That3rdGuy
Especially in manga when the hair is white (as opposed to black or gray), I think blonde, even though it's usually brown, red, blue, etc when colored.


When I first starting reading manga I did see all of the characters as being Caucasian, and wondered why mangaka drew their characters like that. But then, I read some post on here about what race ppl thought the characters were and it opened my eyes to my own biases (like thinking that all Asians have squinty eyes). Most characters aren't really drawn with enough distinctive features for a person to tell what their race is. I think we just see in the characters the race that we are used to seeing (or maybe want to see). But I do still automatically think of the characters' hair being blonde when the mangaka doesn't have it colored in.

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» nugro on October 7th, 2012, 12:36am

Depend on the artist. Kinda pointless poll.

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» alexdhamp on October 7th, 2012, 10:48am

Exactly. I've seen some manga where the character's are drawn to definitely look Asian...and yet, still others that you only think Asian because it takes place in an Asian society. It certainly depends on the mangaka/artist/illustrator if you consider that. ^^

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» caitnap on October 7th, 2012, 5:47am

the third for me

I see them as Manga drawing, neither asian or caucasian
it really depend on the artist, what the artist's story say about them

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» NekoYumiko on October 7th, 2012, 5:58am

If their name is Asian and/or it's stated that they're from an Asian country, then yes.

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» thevampirate on October 7th, 2012, 7:41am

To be honest it really seems like they kidnapped a whole bunch of Europeans at birth and raised them as Japanese. It really becomes more apparent when you have either all or half 'white' people in the manga and they look exactly like everyone else. I have gone to japan and honestly I stuck out like a sore thumb. People often started talking English (especially at restaurants and stores) without me asking or prompting them to), they seemed overly polite (although that died down somewhat over the months I was there), and over all I really stuck out.
On the other hand they do look different enough from a Caucasian person that I would buy the argument that they aren't Caucasian. I believe that Its the fact that they all look like their 'ideal sense of beauty' unless they are intentionally drawn to not look good. It's like every TV show here in the west, where everyone is unnaturally attractive. While working over there I never really understood their sense of beauty, it's both similar and different from the general western beauty.

In the end I "consider the majority of characters to be Asian" but they do look Caucasian.

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» CuthienSilmeriel on October 7th, 2012, 8:03am

Frankly, I don't really think about it much in fantasy manga, but in real-life manga I tend to see the characters as Japanese unless they are in a different country. When I was younger, maybe I saw them as caucasian, but now I live in Japan so their speech and actions just seem very Japanese to me (for obvious reasons), so that is how I see them. With regards to their eyes and such, I never really thought about it. Caucasian people don't have eyes that take up half their face, so it seems silly to think of manga characters as caucasian simply because their eyes are large.

I do understand why people think they are caucasian though. I live in Japan and it is blatently obvious when someone is even half-caucasian. Even my students who are half-Chinese can be picked out of a crowd, let alone those who are half-phillipino. In manga, you often can't tell unless it is stated when someone is supposed to be of mixed race/nationality. Mostly it is the mannerisms that give me a sense of Japanese more than the apperance.

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» alexdhamp on October 7th, 2012, 10:59am

You can tell Chinese apart from Japanese just by appearance? Those two and Koreans, I have a hard time telling them apart...even with all the Asian movies I watch( I'm a big Asian horror movie fan..most I watch are Japanese, Chinese, and Korean movies, though.). I can't tell those three nationalities apart from each other. Others, though, like Thai or Filipino I can tell apart from those three.

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» TaoPaiPai on October 7th, 2012, 8:34am

since japanese are very racist in general
they sometime draw other asians close to how they draw themselfes

but other than that it is fairly obvious who is part of the master race and who is not
cute,fine lines,"special" eyes
then we have the nonasians
hairy,weird eyes,big nose,black ppl often remind me of racist caricatyrs of black ppl from like the 1890s or something,other asians if drawn diffrently are usualy overall drawn to be ugly ,weird chins,


so atleast when i read japanese comics...i assume everyone is from the continent in that world that would be Asia in our world

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» CuthienSilmeriel on October 7th, 2012, 9:17pm

Quote from TaoPaiPai
since japanese are very racist in general
they sometime draw other asians close to how they draw themselfes

but other than that it is fairly obvious who is part of the master race and who is not
cute,fine lines,"special" eyes
then we have the nonasians
hairy,weird eyes,big nose,black ppl of ...


I have to wonder what manga you have been reading. I have read plenty of manga where the non-Japanese characters are potrayed as at least equally, if not more, beautiful/handsome/desireable than the Japanese characters. I think a lot of what you see as racism is actually just art style. There are plenty of hairy, weird looking, big nosed Japanese people in manga as well. It's just a way of highlighting how handsome and perfect the main character is.

Also, with regards to Japanese racism, I would say it is more ignorance than racism. I live in a very rural area of Japan, more than half my town is over 60, so it really does feel like I stepped back in time sometimes when it comes to attitudes (I can't wear anything that exposes my shoulders around town for example. This is too scandalous). Without fail, every time some one has asked me a question than could see, racist (like assuming I'm American because I'm white, or asking if I can use chopsticks), it has never been malicious. Japanese people don't see themselves as a master race, they just have a very small population of foreigners so when they see one, they tend to get excited and ask what e might cosider a stupid question. It's no different to people in the west thinking Japan and China are practically the same. You would not believe how many people have asked me to translate Chinese just because Japanese also uses kanji.

Every single Japanese person I have ever met has shown me nothing but overwhelming generosity, patience, and curiosity. They don't think themselves better than me, or discriminate against me. Maybe your experiences were different, but I don't see it as racism. When you live in a country where 98% of the people are the same ethnicity, it shouldn't be a surprise when you're treated like a rarity. That isn't racism.

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» Whatever on October 7th, 2012, 2:59pm

Long time anime/manga fans know that appearances in anime/manga dont prove anything. Traps alone have caused us to question everything. laugh

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» BlackOrion on October 7th, 2012, 5:47pm

Never in my life did i even consider this, what the fluck will i ever care where they are supposed to be from?


Not to mention that a lot of manga happens in it's own universe, like DB or HxH

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» Yenoh on October 7th, 2012, 6:27pm

Well, I think it's natural for me to think they're Asian because of their names, setting, etc.despite the fact that they look nothing like Asians (most of them don't). Unless, of course, they're not supposed to be Asian, then I won't think so otherwise.

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» QueenVIP on October 9th, 2012, 8:25pm

Honestly, Asians create manga with the mindset that an Asian Majority will be reading it. So even if an artist were to draw Caucasian, African, Indian looking characters living in a NON-ASIAN WORLD, they'd still be given Asian-like names with Asian reaction customs because it would make the story more understanding to Asians.

I mean, when we watch the dubbed versions of some anime series, you'd notice that characters don't refer to each other through Asian Honorifics because it may be too confusing/annoying to English viewers. This is the same for some English translated Asian comics - not all, but some.

So as of yet, I don't consider the characters that have different colored hair, big blue eyes, big tits and other obvious stuffs to be Asian, even when portrayed in an Asian society. I see them as a different race of people living in an Asian story.

I mean, let's face, Asian wish they had bigger eyes and bigger tits, and born with different hair color ...so they use their comics to them relieve the painful dream of having squinty almond eyes.

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» MasamiAkane on October 11th, 2012, 9:12am

Quote from QueenVIP
I mean, let's face, Asian wish they had bigger eyes and bigger tits, and born with different hair color ...so they use their comics to them relieve the painful dream of having squinty almond eyes.

It's good thing I'm only half Asian and was spared from inheriting the squinty eyes and tiny tits. Ultimate dream within reach *fist pump*


I've never really thought about race when reading manga, unless it specifically states that the character is this or that.

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» Turbophoenix on October 11th, 2012, 8:41am

I just think of them as people usually, not of a specific race unless it is mentioned.

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» Azula on October 11th, 2012, 8:04pm

Most Manga/Manhwa/Manhua characters, in their own specific series, lack the specific formalities that reassure that they are asian. Look at One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Nisekoi, GE - Good Ending, Psyren, Bleach, Berserk, Dragonball, Inuyasha, Rurouni Kenshin, Btooom!, Ichigo 100%, I"S, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and the list goes on and on.

You see these non looking Asian characters in shounen, shoujo, seinen, josei and all the others.
Those who say "Only when portrayed in Asian society" or "Always do" are too narrow minded.

When you go to American/European/Canadian Anime conventions don't you guys notice how anyone who isn't Asian looks waaay better wearing their cosplay? ...now ask me this, "why is that?" Case is Closed.

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» RattixEmpire on October 11th, 2012, 8:51pm

I never considered it, I sometimes get annoyed at the styles they are drawn, but it never occurred to me to actually wonder what nationality they are, they are just manga characters.



[edit]
Just remembered, whenever the characters have been living in Japan and go abroad, somehow, everyone speaks their language, unless it is as part of the plot that they don't.

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» Hell_Clues on October 11th, 2012, 9:18pm

I have met at least two white americans that wondered why asians seem to draw what they percieved to be caucasians. Hearing that was very strange but these guys were good people, not trying to be racist.

One thing I liked about animation is how it blurs that line,especially when its in a fantasy world. But I imagine they see the lack of the skin flap asians have from the cartoony, not really accurate human eyes, and imagine the character closer to themselves. The shapes in drawings often have people fill in blanks, and some people end up thinking this way, and perceive the character as whatever.

The way I look at it is that cartoonist are drawing cartoons first. Secondly they need this cartoon to represent a thing: a human, robot, ect. The more serious the work, the more important the representation will be. The representation of the country might matter more, the society, race relations, ect. It depends on how much this is important to the story. I think that's a strength for animation, because even if you want a serious work, you can make the character cartoony enough to be relatable despite anything. It makes things like nations and race less important, though people are influenced by wherever they are.

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» leiyepewei on October 11th, 2012, 11:32pm

lol if it werent for names and settings i dont even know what race id guess them as since the majority of manga characters only look vaguely human to me

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» Curium on October 12th, 2012, 6:51pm

you are missing an option. When i read manga I never think about what race the characters are, unless they go out of their way to specify. Even then I don't think about it beyond the pages when it is referenced. Saying I "consider" them any race would just be false.

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» Sapphiresky on October 12th, 2012, 7:36pm

When I think about it, I tend to see often see characters as white. Sure they may be in Japan, but having big blue eyes and brown/blond hair doesn't make someone look Asian to me. It definitely depends on the art style too. Probably the fact that where I live, most of the people I see are white doesn't help either.

On a different note, I find it amusing that in a given series Chinese people look perfectly Asian, black hair, brown/black small eyes but Japanese people don't.

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