JAPAN: IS ANTI-ANIME SENTIMENT RACIST?

MATEO FERNANDEZ WRITES — Anime is deeply rooted in Japanese culture and has been around for quite some time now. That’s why characters often display traditional Japanese kimonos.

Yes, there are Chinese and Korean anime-like shows, but typically anime is Japanese.

Anime fans come from all corners of the globe, so it can actually be educational, especially for those who are not Japanese. You can learn a lot about Japanese culture, regardless of what anime you are watching; and if you watch the subbed versions of anime (the version in Japanese with English subtitles), you can also learn phrases and single words in Japanese.

And yet, many people perceive anime as weird, and those who watch it as even weirder. When some shows display vulgar language, viewers are belittled and often bullied for just watching. Those who do not watch anime but nevertheless reject it are accepting the stigma as well as contributing to and reinforcing it.

This stigma encourages harsh judgments towards Japan. According to a survey published in  The Mainichi, a Japanese News outlet, more than half of Japanese citizens feels proud of anime and manga culture (manga is a series of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, and is the blueprint for anime shows in the same way that books become movies).

According to the Oxford Dictionary, racism is defined as “The inability or refusal to recognize the rights, needs, dignity, or value of people of particular races or geographical origins.” If people have a preconceived notion of what they think anime is, then are they making prejudiced assumptions?  If they continue to buy into stereotypes, then are they being fair? Does this in fact link racism to anime, since it has deeply rooted Japanese culture and anime itself is a culture in Japan? We must start a conversation normalizing anime, one that breaks down the stigma so that when we see something different, we choose to respect rather than judge it.

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