Depictions of Men in Anime


Well, after my diversion on something a little closer to my home I’m going straight back into Japan for understanding how men are viewed across the globe. This time from a more easily cited source material: Japanese Anime. I know and very easily understand how so many of you that follow the content of the Honey Badgers are avid fans of such. For crying out loud my nickname on the net for the past 16 years has been “Anime-Mun” on the internet. Try to google it, the first few pages are more or less solely me. The rest is some Portuguese anime forum. But I digress. What I’m going to do with this is show key pieces of anime since its existence, show depictions of men from both the East and the West because there are several examples. I’ll go with some key classics as well as some niche properties so there will be a broad representation of strong examples.

Before we begin though I’m going to suggest some reading if you want to look into things deeper than I’m going to in this. These are books I’ve read and are full of insights into the cultural aspects of anime and the like. First I will suggest ANYTHING written by Gilles Poitras (through either his blog or his Anime Essentials and Anime Companion books), a librarian who has specialized in this vein of Japanese culture for over 20 years. The second is The Anime Encyclopedia: Third Revised Edition.  Like with any of my articles I’m going to encourage you to do your own research and supply any information that you might find that I’ve missed.

With anime the best part to begin is with Osamu Tezuka, the father of the art form. His works have been the first ones ever developed in the 60’s and 70’s. While essentially rudimentary by today’s standards they also showed what can only be interpreted as ‘racist’ depictions of non-Japanese people. Europeans are depicted as arrogant and amoral aristocrats, Africans as mostly poachers in series like Kimba the White Lion. They also showed a great distaste for the military, which stems from the American Occupation by MacArthur. You can see obvious nods to this in the works Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Black Jack. Of course ,you could also link in Speed Racer and some of the various super robot shows.

Later in the 70s and throughout the 80s however, depictions started to become more nuanced as the burgeoning industry grew. The voice actors/seiyuu became more experienced and the artistry more complex. This era became the starting point for many an iconic male – Roy Focker, Goku, Kenshiro Kasumi, and perhaps my favorite Captain Phantom F. Harlock! One of the most interesting aspects of this era is the fact that not only do we have the common generic language issue be a thing but the East/West dichotomy is all but dropped.

The biggest example of this being in Mobile Suit Gundam. The main character of Amuro Ray, while decidedly Japanese, is from the American Northwest, specifically Washington state if you check against the topography used in the series. Gundam, however, depicts its ‘racism’ as more prejudice between the Earth-born “Elites” and the downtrodden “spacenoids” of the colonies. Still, men and women in this era are considered equal on both sides of the One Year War conflict, examples being the commonness of such strong female leaders as Matilda Ajan, Crowley Hamon, and most importantly Kycillia Zabi.

This trend continues on through the 90s and the early 2000s with beloved series such as Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Berserk and Cowboy Bebop creating some of the most quintessential anime archetypes that are still used to this day. Some of which even being ongoing series that started in this era such as Naruto and Detective Conan. Showing a plethora of different male characters of both positive and negative archetypes.

One example from this era that I’ve always been fond of has been Mad Bull 34. An OVA (Original Video Adaptation) of only 4 episodes. Starring Daizaburo “Eddie” Ban and John “Sleepy” Estes, the titular “Mad Bull” of the 34th precinct of the NYPD. This series depicts the roughness of the Washington Heights district of Manhattan, albeit somewhat incorrectly as they neglect the Hispanic cultural influences but keep the size right at approximately 2 square miles. Another exaggeration is in the aspects of police brutality, informed I’m sure, by rumors of police brutality and 80’s action films, considering the manga it’s based upon started in 1986. This is brought to a rather amusing head with the greatest scene in the entire show, a scene where Eddie and Sleepy are off duty but are dealing with a gang shootout from the top of a building. Then Sleepy drops his pants to reveal that instead of underwear he is wearing grenades tied to his pubes. If I forgot to mention it, this ultraviolent series is a comedy.

After this point though we start to see the ‘androgynization’ of our male leads, the late 2000s making characters such as Light Yagami, Sebastian, and the Ouran High School Host Club, the norm. Tall lanky pretty boys also known as “ikemen” in certain circles.  If I were to give a real world comparison try comparing Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime to Justin Bieber at his. An odd thing with this era was there is a noticeable step back. While westerners were depicted favorably in the past in this era they have been depicted as aloof and ignorant, the epitome of the Japanese slur ‘gaijin’ or ‘foreigner,’ with bad Japanese usage, their native language making no sense to the rest of the characters, and shown as nothing more than useful idiots. Whether this is a reaction to our SJWs or what I can’t be certain as of yet. Future interviews may reveal more.

The one thing that doesn’t really change however is the dynamic between men and women. They are seen as equals revered for their honest status and merits, not their gender, reinforcing what I’ve stated about Japanese culture in my prior articles on the subject. Men and women are seen as they should be, two equal but different sides of the same coin. Men  and women are biologically and mentally different in various ways but each of these differences balance each other. What feminists wish for is complete and utter imbalance in favor of them, to make men into a slave class rather than companions. They wish to all be Marie Antoinette while we just eat piss yellow cake made from their vaginal yeast. This is why feminism doesn’t exactly pick up in Japan, the entire idea of women being ‘oppressed’ frankly baffles them since they’ve always honored women. This, I will go into more depth on soon as I go into Shinto.

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

By Alex Tinsley

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