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New Poll - Racism in Manga

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7:52 am, Sep 7 2019
Posts: 9912


This week's poll was suggested by 8-3. I'll just copy/paste what he stated
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Some manga do get banned/censored/altered in certain countries due to racist imagery. What's seen as light-hearted humor in Japan could be regarded as offensive in other countries. For instance, the Viz Media version of Dragon Ball actually removed Mr. Popo's lips, due to the resemblance to "Blackface."

And compared to other countries, namely western ones, racial stereotypes actually are vastly different in Japan. Two very common stereotypes that I see in manga are that Chinese people supposedly end their sentences with "-aru," and that every black man is named "Bob."


You can submit poll ideas here
http://www.mangaupdates.com/showtopic.php?tid=3903

Previous Poll Results:
Question: What is the best implementation of beast ears (kemonomimi) in manga without counting the hair?
Choices:
Beast ears on top and no human ears - votes: 1861 (66.4%)
Beast ears on side and no human ears - votes: 593 (21.2%)
Beast ears on top and human ears on the side - votes: 349 (12.5%)
There were 2803 total votes.
The poll ended: September 7th 2019

I'm very confused about having beast ears and human ears... So they just have 4 ears? Why?...

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8:59 am, Sep 7 2019
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I feel indifferent, because I live in a South Asian country myself and don't perceive racism in the same way the west does; I'm sure Japan is the same. To get offended by supposed racism in a culture vastly different from my own and to do so by judging according to western standards - which have nothing to do with me, the reader or the writer and illustrator of the story - strikes me as being patently ridiculous.

This doesn't mean I won't judge western fiction for being racist in the way western people are racist, or my own country's fiction for being racist in a way that's relevant to my own people; but to do the same for Japanese fiction is just too illogical. I think the only people who can truly tell if a manga/anime is being racist is if they were themselves Japanese, or at least had a concrete understanding of what real-life racism in Japan looks like.

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Post #771664
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mmm...
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10:43 am, Sep 7 2019
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I feel like racism is different in every country especially if we compare it from western countries to eastern countries mmm...
But for sure I never understand western racism until I'm part of western forum myself, and I bet Japanese people and mangaka also feel the same about it, they just don't realize that their content can be seen as racist by people thousand miles away from their main audience mmm...

But there are indeed some shocking, but most of all I'm okay, so my answer is It's a little shocking, but I understand that Japanese racial humor tends to be different from the rest of the world, though rather than the rest of the world it's more like western side of the world mmm...

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11:49 am, Sep 7 2019
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I hate seeing things get banned or edited over offense. Give me the raw unfiltered stuff. The chaos that ensues in comment sections is the best. "It's funny/interesting" is the closest answer I guess.

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12:22 pm, Sep 7 2019
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It's as offensive as racist content found anywhere else. With a focus on anywhere. Extreme stereotyping of black and Chinese characters shows up the most to this day. And I don´t mean stuff as Mr. Popo, the zero-dimensional African clerks in the Yakuza games or the Feng shui "wizard" in JoJo Part 6 (fix him a bit David Pro). Those are mostly lazy, not malicious. I ain´t excusing them still being used as is in new material and PoPo being changed for other territories is valid (Germany left him as is) due to him intrinsically changing through an American cultural context regardless of authorial intent. I mean cases with clear intent, which I won't advertise but I stumbled over multiple ape-like black serial rapists still being used in modern manga during my recent tagging sprees. Let´s not even start about porn, as racial stereotyping there exists worldwide.

Blackface in Japanese media is an interesting topic. Gantz had a high schooler successfully impersonating a black man during his killing though simply smearing his face black, cuz that how it works. There were zero reasons for the author to go there and the killer died himself, so him being "masked" was pointless. Guess which plot point the anime film Gantz O changed/skipped despite it instigating the film´s scenario? It would have been impossible to sell the film to Netflix otherwise, as there are zero artistic merits to the blackface but we are talking about Gantz here.

Blackface Obama impressions were a common daytime comedy-variety skit in Japan. Look em up. Or how about the Chinse Poster for Black Panther? I would lastly advise staying clear from discussions of anti-Chinese depictions, as this site is less than capable of doing the mostly unacknowledged war crimes justice that still fuels this split. Anti-Japanese crap in Chinese media is equal garbage of course.

I noticed the intent of the OP to steer the discussion in a certain direction, as the answers are about comedy, while the poll´s topic is NOT. Hm... And the deflection in the tread that is already going strong. Oh those quirky Japanese, they just have their own special way of viewing the world that has never been academically explored and isn´t rooted in any social or historical context. They simply don´t have the same tools for research or reference photos as us. It´s not as there is currently a trend in Japanese media to break this cycle or anything either. Both Street Fighter and Tekken got a sensitively depicted Arabic fighter at almost the same time for no reason whatsoever. Us having a critical/analytical look at the intent of Asian creators is misguided, even if such works are exported. What´s next? Am I supposed to take the government propaganda in my Chinse action films like Wolf Warrior at face value, as I ain´t Chinese? Sure, Jan.

Racism in media is fine, it´s important to create media about it, so don´t turn my words. Just you know, not actual racism. Here an example. H. P. Lovecraft´s systemic racism in his works, and it can´t be excused through cultural context, is a toxic nightmare. There is a reason why ITOU Junji, a clear disciple of Lovecraft, noped out of that aspect in his adaptations. The thoughtful historical racism in the recent Lovecraft game The Sinking City is a positive aspect of that work on the other hand. My final recommendation is Spike Lee´s Bamboozled. A film about comedy, to be topical. The film doesn´t quite work but it´s interesting. Especially as it predicted why Chappelle's Show was canned by its own creator. It´s not like comedy/satire can be co-opted by the wrong people, oh wait.

Last edited by residentgrigo at 1:33 pm, Sep 7

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12:24 pm, Sep 7 2019
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I feel like there's two different types of racist content:

- Content where the characters are being racist, usually in a historical setting where it would make sense for them to be this way.
- Content where the author is being racist, either by pushing their own agenda through dialogue or by portraying certain characters a certain way.

I completely accept the first type, as it helps add believably to a story, and can absolutely work in specific settings where racist people likely would exist.... and while the second type can be offensive, I also understand how it can sometimes just be an unintentional difference in cultural values (Mr. Popo being the prime example.)

The poll options are strange, as they mostly refer to "humor"... so none of them really match my sentiments on the subject, but I suppose It's a little shocking, but I understand that Japanese racial humor tends to be different from the rest of the world is as close as I'm gonna get, so that's my answer.

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Post #771671 - Reply to (#771668) by vigorousjammer
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2:11 pm, Sep 7 2019
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I went with "It's as offensive as racist content found anywhere else", because I don't judge Japanese content any differently than I judge any other content
...but that doesn't mean I condemn all racist content.

As vigorousjammer said, there is a difference between a character behaving a certain way, and having that behaviour presented as good or proper. Having it promoted or treated as normal/fine/okay.

Schindler's List, for example, is chock full of racist content.
Who would possibly claim that it is racist? Or offensive?

With this said, there is of course a difference between racism that is intentional or unintentional, malicious or "benevolent".
Ignorance (particularly wilful ignorance) is bad too, but with Japan being a island country, and isolated in many ways, despite the Meiji Revolution...
They tend to be a lot more ignorant than others, but for far more understandable reasons.
That is the only way, in which (some) instances of Japanese racism can be not as bad, as that of other peoples.
I have some tolerance for certain levels/kinds of ignorant foolishness, in Japanese media, due to that. It's still bad, but...

I also agree with residentgrigo's comments about Chinese people (that includes Koreans ...and some more of their neighbours, IIRC. Funny how they're significantly worse against those that are close to them, more similar to them, than those further away)

I haven't particularly encountered much genuinely racist manga, but then I doubt such I'd stumble upon such works (they'd hardly come up as recommended, or even get translated), unless it was due to someone bringing attention to it, specifically to call it out as racist.

On the other hand, I have encountered several manga with "foreign" characters, where there is no hint of racism, or even clear messages of equality, which is nice.
(though, of course, just because a work has messages of equality, doesn't mean that it can't contain some, unintentional, racism)

Edit: I forgot to comment on residentgrigo's mention of blackface.
Obama blackface, with no thought that it might be racist and offensive, was far from exclusive to Japan. How they do not realise that, that is just terrible, I simply do not understand.

Oh, and on a kinda related note:
Foreign accents in anime, typically utterly absurd and nothing like how people, of the in question country, sound. At all.
This could hardly be considered a form of racism, just...
Ignorant. Interesting. Also rather amusing.
(to be fair, Japanese depictions of an American accent, tends to have some resemblance to how Americans sound. Aside from Americans, however...)

Last edited by zarlan at 2:26 pm, Sep 7

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Seinen is RIGHT
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2:43 pm, Sep 7 2019
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I said my piece but I also have to break a lance for Japan, as they can also swing the other way.
Super Dimensional Fortress Macross The First (1982-83) depicts a post-race human society in the same way (60s) Star Trek did, as the nearly extinct human race had to band together to survive a war against 2 alien factions who also fight each other. (Wait, did Macross predict the inevitable Gender Wars tm?)
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Pictured are Roy Fokker, one of the original anime senpai with his partner Claudia LaSalle. A mixed-race couple, something the show takes as plain fact. It was the 80s US script that slightly toned down their relationship, despite it keeping the suggested sexual dynamic. (Mixed-race couples were still a bit of a hot topic in the US). The 1982 Japanese script was more woke than the US one from 1985!

The show´s female lead is the Japanese-Chinese Lynn Minmay, who became one of the biggest idols of the 80s, even looking outside of anime. We are talking about a daytime cartoon for older kids and young adults here that is older than me! Let that one sink in. Her Chinse roots are part of some of her songs and appearances. The historical anime has an abysmal 3rd act that was tacked on due to the unexpected success, so go with the remake film Macross: Do You Remember Love? that skips all that tacked on rubbish.

PS: I ain´t one to beg for scanlations but the linked manga remake can´t be licensed due to a rights clusterfuck. Scanlators with an open spot should give this one a look 😉 .

Last edited by residentgrigo at 6:10 pm, Sep 7

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2:44 pm, Sep 7 2019
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I understand that Japan's (and other country's) relationship with race is entirely different than many countries in the west, especially the United States. I'm not really the type of person to promote banning at the smallest stereotype, but I will personally withhold my money if I feel a certain way, and I won't be shy with my reasons why if people ask.

The thing is, despite the context the racist content is written in, I am still experiencing this content through my own experience as a person of color living in the U.S. No author can change that or expect me to change my expectations because of it.

I agree wholeheartedly with residentgringo that there are depictions of racist content that can be appropriate in historical contexts and just plain lazy stereotypes out there. There is also the question on if the intention of malice is involved in the content.

We can say that Japanese people have a different relationship with race all we want, but if their intention is ultimately to be successful in a global market (which includes the west), then these depictions are something that they will have to take care with and do the extra work on.

I'm not for censorship at all, I mean, let people say who they are and let people judge them by their own words and vote with their dollar. I just hate it when people complain that someone is being criticized for something that isn't their experience with race. Okay, so expect that person to only sell well with other people who understand that experience, don't expect that excuse to absolve them of criticism.

tl;dr: if I find it racist in my home, I'll find it racist in the manga. Analyze the intent, drop or continue and move on.

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2:49 pm, Sep 7 2019
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As long as a good story is told, and I'm not being preached at, I don't care. Also, and this is something that I've been wondering for a while, WHAT IS ACTUALLY WRONG WITH RACISM? And, yes, that is a serious question.

All I ever hear is that it's a "terrible thing", that we're suppose to drop all matters of rationality just because we hear a single word, but no one ever hears or gives single reason why or an explanation as to how it is a bad thing beyond just "It's mean". In fact, as I'm reading up more on history, people seemed to be a lot more tolerant and progressive WHEN people were openly racist and offensive than NOW where everyone is trying to put on a facade that "we can all be one happen family.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
And, it IS a facade because every single European tribe has been trying to kill each other since the beginning of time despite all being "white" (And were all openly racist against each other even when taking the trip across the Atlantic and landing in new territory). Every single Asian nation has been trying to kill each other since the beginning of time despite all being "Asian" (Or is it "Oriental"?). Every single African tribe has been trying to kill each other since the beginning of time despite all being "black" (Or is it "people of color", or "colored people", or "negro"?). And, every single American-Indian and Meso-American tribe has been trying to kill each other since they immigrated from Asia to American despite all being "American Indian" (Or "Meso-American", it isn't "Native American" as there is nothing "Native" about them living in America).


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2:59 pm, Sep 7 2019
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I think at a certain point you have to stop cutting people slack by assuming all racism in other cultures is unintentional or due to a lack of cultural understanding. It's easy to think "well they probably don't realize why that is so offensive". But I feel like with the world more connected than ever and more cultures meeting and exchanging, the issue of stereotypical and racist portrayals have already been raised. I think of the example of blackface in Korean comedy sketches. International communities have pointed out time and again that these blackface sketches are offensive. And at the time, that particular show will apologize and say that they weren't aware, and then later on a different show will do a blackface sketch. I think it's just a lack of giving a sh*t. In Korea and Japan where the societies are largely homogeneous, they don't have to care if they are offending a group of people who represent a very small minority in their own country.

Post #771678 - Reply to (#771676) by Transdude1996
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3:03 pm, Sep 7 2019
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Quote from Transdude1996
WHAT IS ACTUALLY WRONG WITH RACISM? And, yes, that is a serious question.


Wow, I did not think we would actually have to address this. Next we'll have to start asking "was the Holocaust actually bad?" and "what's wrong with rape?"

Post #771680 - Reply to (#771678) by KaoriNite
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Seinen is RIGHT
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3:19 pm, Sep 7 2019
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KaoriNite, stop while you are ahead. Mission Abort, Mission Abort. Quoting for posterity is great but don´t engage the Neo-Nazi further. Don´t play into their hand. This is right out of the air-right playbook to trigger the libs and derail the discussion so that they get a platform for hate everywhere they go. I didn't read his response btw. only your comment but his opinion on the holocaust was once explored before on this site... with perilous results.

Marching past people as him is the only way how critical discussion survives. Point out the hypocrisy, give (counter) souces if needed and move on to better things.

Edit: And there you go. Incompetence verbal diarrhea that somehow excuses Jewish termination (Hitler also executed homosexuals) and the denouncement of rape as a crime. Like clockwork. Don´t click on the bad man´s links, everyone. I sure didn´t. A complete derailment of the topic before page 2 is even reached.

Last edited by residentgrigo at 3:51 pm, Sep 7

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Post #771681 - Reply to (#771678) by KaoriNite
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3:38 pm, Sep 7 2019
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Quote from KaoriNite
Next we'll have to start asking "was the Holocaust actually bad?"

Why not? The Russians killed 10 million people in Ukraine, the Great Leap Forward killed 45 million in under four years, and then there is the millions and millions of Africans killed because of religion or the work of a single man.
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and "what's wrong with rape?"

Considering what constitues as "rape" today, a lot.

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Post #771686 - Reply to (#771663) by calstine
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5:19 pm, Sep 7 2019
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I disagree with your statement. about seeing racism in another country and judging it as being ridiculous. It is true that defining racism and sexism per culture is vastly nuanced and many people get it wrong. Even in your own culture,you get it wrong!! Therefore, this idea you proposed only has so much weight in my mind.

I feel like the more you read manga and whatever else you're reading about Japanese culture; the more you become aware of racism within those things from a Japanese perspective.

There are so many novels/manga that I can't read anymore, because they feel too racist/sexist now, where before it didn't mean anything. To say "pearly white skin" or "noh shaped face" once, I can give a pass. To say it a thousand times (which some novels/manga do), I can only only think of those bonin or ainu minorities or the darker skin east asian countries migrants or natives within whatever I am reading. (This affects how a child will see themselves).

Your point of view should be encouraged when your group doesn't have that much weight in the production. However, because the foreign market for Japanese content is a good percentage of revenue (its not a small minority), our reactions have a lot of say. Once you become aware of an issue such as racism, you should back the groups within Japan (or whatever culture you like reading), such as Ainu Association of Hokkaido, Korean Residents Union in Japan and/or Shimin Gaikou Centre.

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