Asahi Shimbun (Japan): what should be the Japanese from the point of view of foreigners? Reflections based on the illustration “Sailor moon, looks like an Oriental girl”

Recently the Germany-based journalist Zion Amamiya (Amamiya Shion) wrote that if the anime characters use German, English and other foreign languages, they should do it the right way, that their words did not cut hearing to the native speakers.

In her opinion, if the grammar or pronunciation is wrong, the residents, for example, English-speaking countries or Germany will not be able to fully get pleasure from the work.

In turn, the translator of the Arabic language and the researcher of Islamic thought Liyama Akari (Akari Iyama) said: “the Use of foreign words in native language is more global standards. The French use the Japanese word “tatami” as a verb, and all over the world “sushi” pronounced as “su-Shi” (drawl). And that, Amamiya laughs at them and regrets it? I once again hurt by the fact that foreign language and foreigners are superficial”. Came a small dispute.

Stereotype: Japanese should speak Japanese

Sometimes foreigners who are watching the anime, it is sad how the cartoon characters speak in a foreign language. Of course, the language you must speak correctly, but I think this is a deeper problem.

At one dinner, which was attended by Japanese and foreigners, a German, recently arrived in Japan, asked the Japanese whether they sing in their country Geburtstagslied (song of the birthday).

One Japanese answered “Yes”, and the German was asked to sing it. The Japanese began to sing: “Happy besday Tu Yu!” German is jarred: “It’s in English? I was wondering, does Japan own the song “happy birthday””.

I and other colleagues began to explain to him that in Japan do not attach importance to the day of birth, as in the West, in ancient Japan was not the custom to celebrate a birthday, and so they usually sing English song Happy birthday to you. However, the German is not convinced, and he continued to stand on his own — why do the Japanese sing a song in English? He was greatly annoyed.

Strange, but this man was adamant that, as in the case with a song about a birthday, the Japanese should speak Japanese that if they don’t own the song, it is necessary to translate the words into Japanese.

Many have tried to explain to him: in ancient Japan, people thought that they would all Mature at one year in the beginning of the new year, therefore, the custom to celebrate personal birthday appeared recently, but the answers did not satisfy the Germans.

To celebrate the birthday in Western society is important, but in Japan, not so much. And I thought that the problem is in the course of thinking of man — he not only categorically requires a different culture (Japan) unconditionally accept Western values, but unhappy with the fact that the Japanese sing the English Happy birthday.

Speaking about songs, if not to take ENKA songs in Japanese in the climactic parts periodically used English words. Even if the grammar is correct, karaoke, foreigners still ask, why Japanese song appear phrase in the English language.

When I asked these questions, it annoys me, so when I go to karaoke with foreigners, I choose to only ENKA.

I can’t agree with the statement that “the Japanese should sing only Japanese songs” and “Japanese songs should not be foreign words.” The fact that even the Germans in everyday life diluted his speech with French words. In the dialogue instead of saying Ich auch (me too), they say moi aussi (“me too” in French), so the desire to speak in a foreign language is common to all peoples.

Labels not only about the language

Foreigners believe that the Japanese in all occasions need to use only Japanese language cause confusion, but these labels apply not only to speech.

For example, foreigners know very well that the Japanese companies are difficult to take paid holidays, so many Japanese don’t use the whole vacation. Nevertheless, the fact is that it also leads to a shortcut to the Japanese.

One of my friends, the Japanese, working in a foreign company in Tokyo, has applied for paid leave. This learned her colleague was a foreigner and began to mock her: “What? You’re Japanese!” He thought it strange that his fellow Japanese want to take a day off despite the fact that the Japanese do not do this, but my friend was unpleasant because of the approach “just you, Japanese, office slaves, remain like this”.

Perhaps mocks her colleague wasn’t doing it on purpose, but because he expected some boilerplate for the Japanese actions (e.g. that they don’t take weekends), this resulted in unflattering remarks.

Japanese people should be with black hair?!

There is a stereotype that Japanese people should be brunettes. This is reminiscent of the rules of high school of the Showa period (1926-1989), but the proportion of immigrants from Western countries really thinks so.

In ancient Japan, some Japanese people dyed their hair in brown color, and now do many adults. But there are foreigners who don’t approve of this Japanese fashion.

Some come from purely aesthetic considerations: what is the point to paint such gorgeous black hair? But some foreigners are very negative to if the Japanese repainted in brown or blonde: Japanese hair not brown and not Golden, so they can’t imitate white.

However, in different countries and regions have their own fashion style, including hair color. In Japan, few dye their hair brown or a Golden color, because I want to be like whites.

Resonance in social networks about “Sailor moon-like Eastern girl”

Recently, the Malaysian Twitter resonated the image of “Sailor moon, similar to the Oriental girl,” which was drawn by an artist living in Kuala Lumpur. Here is the picture:


— こつよせ (@be_wormholed) May 20, 2020

Immediately warn you that this drawing is not made in accordance with the appearance of the Japanese. Malaysian artist painted Sailor moon with my daughter.

Some foreigners, who saw this drawing of the character in the Eastern style, expressed positively: “I never understood why Japanese anime the main character look Caucasian”, “It’s the right image with the point of view of races.”

Nevertheless, many Japanese have expressed the view that the approach, according to which in the Japanese anime should be Oriental characters, is discrimination.

I think so too. Some foreigners think that Japanese anime characters drawn similar to white, you need to fix it, because they have nothing in common with the Japanese. It is the same that to demand that all Japanese do not dye your hair.

As some foreigners want the Japanese to behave in a certain way, and some Japanese to foreigners impose similar requirements. It’s a double-edged sword, so to be attention to both sides.