One of the things I used to get a kick out of with Anime what whenever they would portray America and Americans. Here is a video of their portrayal of our legal system. The first thirty seconds are a bit hard to bear if you’re a cat-lover, but I nonetheless found it amusing. Particularly with the National Anthem playing at the end.

One of the most outrageous series was something called Mad Bull 34, which takes place in New York City and follows the adventures of John Estes and Daizaburo Ban (the latter an “American Born Japanese”). It’s ridiculously over the top in a number of respects, but it’s portrayal of NYC as an utterly lawless culture is absolutely hilarious. It’s easy to chalk it up to being a cartoon, but I don’t think I ever saw the Japanese police portrayed in quite this manner. Anyway, below is a condensed version of the first episode of the series. {Note: Pretty graphic imagery, both violent and sexual}

There are a few other shows I’ve seen that take place in the US, including Gunsmith Cats and Riding Bean. Both take place in Chicago with the latter being something of a spin-off of the former. The portrayal there was fairly staid as apparently they made a real effort to portray the US accurately. Boooo-ring. It’s actually a fair, if somewhat-by-the-numbers productions. However, it’s worth pointing out that they did something I don’t think that an American TV show would ever do: they made a politician who strongly advocates gun control the villain. If they ever made a US version of it, I’m sure they would turn it around and make the gun manufacturers the bad guys.

Category: Theater

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7 Responses to HCW: Japan on America

  1. Maria says:

    Why do they depict “Japanese” characters with blue eyes? I’ve never understood that.

  2. trumwill says:

    For variety, I think. It is, of course, politically incorrect to say that they “all look the same”, but from an animator’s standpoint, that is a problem. Other than hairstyle, the animation features are typically going to involve the same traits (dark eyes, dark hair). The same reason they basically give the young guy in the first video white hair.

  3. drathernaut says:

    Man, this brings me back! I miss watching anime with you, despite the fact that I’m not at all that interested anymore in the genre. There are still some shows I want to check out. I’ve had many discussions with people over the years about why they portray characters in such a “caucasian” kinda of way. Likely it’s for the reasons you mentioned and I also think Japanese culture seems to have a western fixation. I can only assume that’s why they have to work english into almost everything they produce. (Anime or not)

  4. trumwill says:

    I’m not really all that interested in it anymore, either. I’m trying to figure out why. I have a few ideas. Perhaps for a future post.

  5. Maria says:

    Some Japanese do look very Caucasian; I presume those are the ones with a lot of Ainu ancestry (the indigenes of Japan.) But I’ve never seen one with blue eyes.

  6. drathernaut says:

    I think, for me, the reason came down to being able to relate to American media more. Anime works as a departure from the normal course of media we get everyday. There are many small things in each anime I’ve seen that don’t click: I don’t see the context, the biting satire, the joke (more or less).
    There are times when we looked at each other blankly in the midst of almost every show we encountered. Not that it detracted too much from the experience. This was fresh, this was new, this was something we hadn’t been subjected to and it charmed the socks off us.
    Sadly, I think without sufficient cultural grounding, interest will, sooner or later, run dry. There are those who spend hours upon hours on the culture that reap more benefits from a single show then we could. At the end of the day, I could watch something made in my home country and get it completely, and feel more a part of it, like it was written for me, or with someone like me in mind. That is far more satisfying. God knows, there is plenty of media to devour in America. Not saying it’s all great, but you could most assuredly say the same thing about anime.

  7. trumwill says:

    That’s a really good rundown, Drather. Maybe one of the reasons why it is such a good social activity (and kind of lacking when you’re watching it by yourself) is that we can look at each other in confusion and try to parse whatever it was that happened that we have no clue about.

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