Friday, March 2, 2012


At least you don't have to sit at the back of the chibivan.

Zero Like Me #180:
Tokyo Police Club


Easter Eggs: "Yale" in panel 2. Today's setting is not actually Tokyo nor a police club, but it is set in Japan, for what it's worth. Today's guest star is Umezawa. Today's title is a reference to the band Tokyo Police Club, who coincidentally has a song called "Your English is Good," which I'd argue's possibly their weakest song.

Fun Facts: Japan has a thing for light skin. It's undeniable. Lighter skin's best--from the ultra-white make-up of traditional Japanese beauty care to the depictions of their historical figures in ancient scrolls, you don't want to be dark. And yet when I came here, I discovered many Japanese people can be pretty dark! dark. Shocker given how much press light-skinned Japanese people get abroad. Being dark is a not a death sentence, but it's something of a dangit (for Japanese) or a novelty (for foreigners); the ideal is to be as light as possible.

Baa: I dunno. Is light skin is aesthetically more pleasing? I feel like I've been conditioned to think that. I read a ridiculously fascinating article a while ago about why there are basically only white-looking people in anime/manga. I wish I could find it again...but to put it roughly, it argued that Japanese people are so psychologically insulated that any drawings are made like how we westerners make stick figures, except the assumption is that unless otherwise specified, the person is assumed to be Japanese, if anything at all.

The article introduced the idea of a stick figure analogy. If I draw a stick figure what do you know about it immediately, with no context provided? It's male. It's white. Now if I draw that stick figure with a triangle-dress, what is it? It's female. It's white. In order for me to communicate this is a black man, I'd have to tell you that this stick figure represents a black guy. I'd have to go out of my way to make explicit the context of the stick figure otherwise it is assumed it's a white male, assuming you stop to consider what the figure represents at all beyond "this is a human."

And so it is, the article explained, with anime and manga characters: they're just humans, but pausing a second past that, they're Japanese if we must assume nationality. If we make the character pronounce our language weirdly, or dress him in ridiculobviously non-Japanese clothing, or otherwise make it painfully clear he's not from around here, then he's a foreigner. This then gets around to why all "Americans" in anime and manga are blond/blue/white people, but that's another discussion.

Wish I could find that article again...


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