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Eyes Too Slanty?

The video above (21.2 MB and which you can watch by clicking on the picture above) was taken from  Koji’s Cafe  and can be found on a web page that provides  a tutorial on how to use “Eye Talk” .

What appalls and fascinates me about this product is what it says about Japanese perceptions of beauty. Over the last couple of years, I’ve done some research on anime and I’ve seen enough of it to know better than to explain the Western appearance of anime characters away as Susan J. Napier does in  Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke . Napier writes that anime “offers a space for identity exploration in which the audience can revel in a safe form of Otherness unmatched by any other contemporary medium” (27). The problem with Napier’s assertion (outside of the fact that she does not consider interactive media such as newtorked video games) is that characters in anime overwhelmingly resemble Anglo-Europeans and almost never Asians, especially if the characters in question are protagonists. To my mind, Napier is much nearer the mark when she reminds us that Oshii Mamoru suggests that the “de-Japanizing of [anime] characters” is “part of a deliberate effort by modern Japanese toevade the fact that they are Japanese’ ” (25), a statement reminicent of Hayao Miyazaki’s assertion that “the Japanese hate their own faces” (qtd on 25).

The whole sorry problem reminds me of what has happened in the United States with blacks striving to erase their racial difference by getting rid of their naps. The issue has been addressed by many, but perhaps never more effectively as Okot p’Bitek in the  Song of Lawino 

They cook their hair
With hot iron
And pull it hard
So that it may grow long.
[. . . .]

They fry their hair
In boiling oil
As if it were locusts,
And the hair sizzles
It cries aloud in sharp pain
As it is pulled and stretched
And the vigorous and healthy hair
Curly, spring, and think
That glistens in the sunshine
Is left listless and dead
[. . . .]

The beautiful woman
[. . . .]
Smears black shoe polish
On her hair
To blacken it
And to make it shine,
She washes her hair
With black ink;

But the thick undergrowth
Rejects the shoe polish
And the ink
And it remains untouched
Yellowish, greyish
Like the hair of the grey monkey.

Most of the black men I know don’t bother straightening their hair because they are bald as chemotherapy patients.