July 31, 2001
In the animated world, it doesn't pay to be politically correct. Trust me, you're dratted if you do and double-dratted if you don't.
Say, you create an excellent animated series. But, there's no minority character. You add one useless character in, making him black. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons(NAACP) is happy, but not the black(for lack of better terms) kids and animation enthusiasts forced to endure insults because the character with their skin color is pitiful and uninteresting.
An example would be Silverhawks. You had a great five-character team of heroes; an old, bald cyborg, a cool bird named Tally- Hawk, and a gang of vicious space criminals.
Problem is, there were complaints to the toy industry that there weren't enough black heroes for kids to identify with.
Thus, the birth of...Hotwing. I kid you not, Hotwing. That is no hero; that is a snack you buy from KFC. Don't start me on the Black Ranger. See, you're sunk no matter what you do.
Mercifully, the truly good series avoid this by making a black/biracial/afrimerican character from the beginning. Storm is supposed to be on X-Men. (Okay, she's African.) Joe "Robbie" Robertson is black, but you don't care—he's a good character.
And Elisa Maza...wow. I didn't notice or care when I found out. Tolerance for minorities wasn't even an issue—in dealing with humans. Nor was it supposed to be; it was about the gargoyles.
I worry sometimes about whether the Japanese will be perceived as racist. After all, very few African peoples are in their anime, and when they do appear, many are badly-drawn.
There is a good reason for this. We are descended from people who were imported—against their will, for the most part—to the US from various regions of West Africa. However, they were not forcibly enslaved by the Japanese. Therefore, thanks in part to the NAACP, we can be drawn accurately here, but don't expect accuracy in Japan unless they have a big budget.
For every Blue Submarine No. 6's Mega Mouse, there's three of Robotech's Claudia Grant. We can do the orange hair—I have redheads in my family-- but pale pink lipstick doesn't work on her skin tone. Smile with me.
As for the low numbers: how many African peoples live in Japan? Not many.
As for all the "white" people in anime: they're all Japanese.
The blondes and redheads are so because of their personalities and attributes. Red indicates strength or force of character, for example, and Shutendouji(aka Anubis) of Ronin Warriors fame is quite strong in physique and personality.
The colors are mainly for style. Otherwise, you'd get something drab, like Akira or Demon City Shinjuku. So there's no national self-esteem problem.
Can we all just get along? Sure. We just need to quit taking our heritage so seriously.
Let's just watch the pretty pictures and the fun story, okay?