Ask John: Editorial Response
The following statement comes on behalf of numerous Japanese anime fans that follow the “Ask John” column.
I read your article arguing about the reaction of typical Americans to romance in anime. It was an interesting question to me. However, your argument about the relation between boys and girls in anime annoyed me. I am not denying that Japanese culture is apt to be sexist, but I doubt it is appropriate to apply your own view to all anime without examining how actually your premise is true.
In my opinion, anime is still primarily for people in adolescence and youth in Japan compared with Hollywood movies. A title is for young males, and another title for young females. I think it is logical that in a show for young males, a girl appears whom they wish/fear/desire/hate/love.
You point out stereotypical depictions in anime, but it seems to us that you are frequently obsessed with stereotypical views of Japan. Go around the amusement quarter everywhere in Japan and you’ll find a pile of pairs of teens after school.
BTW, I also don’t think it is true that Americans love straightforward-love (See Spiderman).
I’ve been informed from multiple sources that my analysis of gender based stereotypical characterizations in anime has somewhat offended many native Japanese readers. So I’m now in the precarious position of needing to defend my credibility while also affirming my fallibility. I can only respond to this native Japanese rebuttal with an apology and explanation.
I am an American anime fan that has tried to carefully and considerately educate myself about Japanese culture and the anime industry for many years. I enjoy the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and limited knowledge of anime with other, primarily English speaking, fans, and hope that my statements encourage fellow fans to further appreciate and respect Japanese culture and anime. As an anime fan, I’m also highly honored that my theories and opinions are often appreciated and respected by international readers. But as an American with only limited first hand knowledge of Japanese culture, I must admit that my perception and understanding of Japanese culture is limited and unavoidably influenced by Western stereotypes and interpretations. I try, as much as possible, to balance a responsible integrity to both my own opinions and factual reporting. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always right.
I never anticipated that the “Ask John” article in question would generate any significant response, much less one of slight irritation. Such was never my intent. To Japanese readers, I apologize for any inadvertent offense I’ve caused. My original statement reflected my belief that anime created by Japanese artists will inevitably be influenced by, and reflect native Japanese attitudes, traditions, and social perceptions. However, my theory did not consider the logic of Japanese animators intentionally tailoring their art to address a target audience.
I encourage English speaking readers to analytically evaluate my articles, and consider them only as a foundation for individual opinions. Many of my “Ask John” articles are my own theories and opinions and should not be considered definitive. My goal is to encourage all anime fans to think about anime critically and contextually relative to their own tastes and culture, and as an example of Japanese culture. No country is free of stereotypes. Likewise, every country is subject to the stereotypical perceptions of foreigners. In this case, I may have indulged stereotypes too liberally.