Anime

OWLS: Growing Up Biracial with Anime

Thank you everyone for reading all the wonderful OWLS posts that have been coming out this month. As many of you know, this month, our theme is ‘Colours’, where we aim to celebrate ethnic diversity in anime! If you haven’t already, please check out the lovely Crimson’s post that focused on her personal story and how she feels about representation in media and anime. You can check out a full list of tour stops here, and later today (8pm CST 29 April) there will be a recap livestream over here!

We are all part of one race, the human race. “Colors” refers to people of color in anime. For this monthly topic, we will be discussing how people of color or characters of different “races” (a literal alien race) are represented in anime. Some topics we are considering is the dangers of stereotyping, bi-racial characters, and the importance of racial inclusion.

Much like Crimson, I wanted to incorporate my own story into this tour post. So I present to you~ ‘Growing Up Biracial with Anime’!

Growing Up Feeling Like a Half and Not a Whole

Growing up I didn’t really notice anything ‘different’ about me. I have a Chinese mum and an Australian dad, and I really inherit my father’s looks. To the point that people are more likely to guess I’m Russian or Italian than even begin looking at Asia. I never really saw my family dynamic as anything strange or unique, it was just my family. The first time I realised I was out of the norm was at a church group event. They had a mothers day event, and of course I invited my mum. I was about 7 and the entire church was filled with Caucasian people. No one knew whose daughter I was, and when I explained to the other children that my mum was my mum, they didn’t believe me. For the rest of the day they teased me saying I was adopted and that there was no way that I was Chinese. In fact this ‘joke’ about being adopted has followed me throughout my life, just last week a ‘friend’ said “are you sure you’re Chinese? Maybe you should get DNA tested.”

I’ve mentioned before that I really struggle with the way I look, and I can definitely see it stemming from these incidents. I want to join a group, that I belong to, but I feel automatically disqualified because of the way I look. I feel that I have to constantly ‘validate’ myself and being Chinese. This is added on to the fact that I don’t speak Cantonese nor Mandarin, a comment a friend once made in response to this was “If you can’t even speak the language, what’s the point of being a halfie?” To make matters worst I never saw anyone ‘like’ me in media, on TV shows and films, people always looked like their parents. I began to feel uncomfortable about my own identity, and that I didn’t belong anywhere. It was around this time that I discovered anime.

My Anime Representation

One of the first anime I ever watched was ‘Ouran High School Host Club’, and I instantly fell in love with it. What inspired me even more about it was Tamaki Suoh, the French-Japanese co-founder of the host club! While his story was more focused on his family and being an ‘illegitimate’ child, it was still refreshing to see someone who had a similar background to me. To see how it was a part of his identity that he could enjoy with pride. Many MANY years later, I got to see Mikasa from Attack on Titan, the last ‘Asian’ in the world, who was also biracial. Again, another character whose ‘biracial’ identity isn’t the focus of their story, but always great to see someone like you kick some serious Titan butt!

Tamaki-episode10-1.png

mikasa-04.jpg

Final Thoughts

It’s interesting that to see someone similar to me in anime, has somewhat quashed many of the doubts I had about my identity. Seeing characters such as Tamaki and Miakasa take on their identity and go about their lives unapologetically has inspired me. In saying that, I still believe anime has a way to go in representing biracial characters. I would love a series that explores biracial identity, and how to connect to the cultures that one belongs to. Overall watching these anime has made me proud of my identity, and while each step is difficult, I’ll be happy if I can get at least half the confidence that Tamaki has.

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24 thoughts on “OWLS: Growing Up Biracial with Anime

  1. This is a lovely post.
    I certainly cannot relate, but I can say thought that we all have dark clouds that hound us, never letting us be, always ruining our day, and I do hope you realize the dark cloud eventually peaks in sunlight from time to time. 🙂

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  2. I loved this post Steph, Loved how you put yourself in this discussion, you are who you are dear. Noone can take that way. People are so stupid these days for mistaking of what nationally you are, it’s obvious im english but in the past people have thought I’m from scotland or ireland. DO I SOUND THOSE ACCENTS PEOPLE !! haha

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  3. Great post! It’s interesting to have parents with a different race. It hurts knowing that some people only see physical appearance and judge others. At least with anime, you can be any race and still be proud of who you are.

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  4. Lol you know how much I loved your post!😉 I love how candid you are with your posts in general and this one was no exception! You did a fantastic job! I really enjoyed reading the perspective of race and color from someone who is biracial. Plus Tamaki!!❤

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  5. Thank you for sharing your personal story with us, Steph! It’s sad that you had to experience those careless words from others, but I’m glad that you somehow became comfortable being biracial because of anime (in some ways). This is a great post. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am an American of mixed Middle Eastern (from Lebanon and Turkey) and Hispanic (from Argentina) descent.
    My favorite mixed race characters from anime are:
    1. A tie between Rin Tohsaka and Sakura Matou (the Fate franchise)- They are revealed to have foreign ancestry dating back to the times of the hidden Christians. They are also related to the Edelfelt family from their father. The Edelfelts are implied to be of Ashkenazi Jewish descent judging from both their first and last names.
    2. A tie between Rias Gremory, Akeno Himejima, Irina Shidou, and Raynare (High School DxD)- Rias’s name suggests she is of mixed Spanish (Basque), Ashkenazi Jewish, and Scandanavian ancestry. Akeno’s mom is Japanese and her father, Baraqiel is implied to be Jewish judging by his name. Irina Shidou is also implied to be because of her name because Irina is a Russian name while Shidou is a Japanese surname. Raynare’s name and alias she uses also implies she of mixed Jewish and Japanese descent.
    3. Koko Hekmatyar (Jormungand)- Koko’s name is Japanese while her surname is Persian.
    4. Mine (Akame Ga Kill)- She has half-foreign ancestry.
    5. Sherry Cromwell (A Certain franchise)- Her parents are a mixed-race couple who are also implied to have Jewish ancestry as well.
    6. Ira Gamagoori (Kill la Kill)- His mother is Japanese while his father is a Caucasian American serviceman.
    7. Triela (Gunslinger Girl)- She’s implied to be part Japanese and she is Tunisian.
    8. Irene “Rally” Vincent (Gunsmith Cats)- She’s half-English and either half-East Indian or half-Pakistani.
    9. Maka Albarn (Soul Eater)- Given who her parents are, it’s suggested that Maka is mixed-race.
    10. Michiko Malandro (Michiko to Hatchin)- She’s from the fictional South American country of Diamandra and her name implies that she has Japanese ancestry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry for the late reply, WordPress has been acting up and I’ve been very ill. Your research into biracial characters is incredible! I’ll have to check all these characters out!

      I remember Mine’s backstory in Akame ga Kill, I got very teary reading it. I didn’t pick up about Seryu , so that was a fantastic spot! I’ll have to go back and read it and pay more attention to her ^_^

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  7. Another favorite mixed-race anime character of mine is Integra Hellsing from the Hellsing series. Her mom is implied to be either Indian or of Indian descent while her father is Caucasian.

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    1. Other favorite mixed race characters of mine are Ilya von Einzbern from the Fate franchise, Maria Oosawa from Canaan, Seryu Ubiquitous from Akame Ga Kill, and Asia Argento, Kalawarner, and Serafall Leviathan from High School DxD. Ilya’s mother is German and her father is Japanese, Maria is implied to be of half-Hispanic descent descent judging from her first name, Seryu is implied to have Ashkenazi Jewish and European ancestry on her father’s side while her mother is implied to be Japanese, Asia Argento is named after the famous actress so it’s implied she has Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, Serafall is also implied to have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry because of her last name and her first name also indicates Spanish ancestry too.

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      1. I also forgot to mention Mittelt from High School DxD as well along with Simon, Yoko Littner, and Nia Teppelin from Gurren Lagann and Lilianne from Jormungand. From her looks, Mittelt has Spanish (Basque and Castilian), Ashkenazi Jewish, and German ancestry. As for Simon, he is implied to have Western ancestry (presumably Slavic) judging by his name, Yoko is implied to have German ancestry because of her last name, and Nia is implied to be mixed race because her father, Lordgenome is also implied to be of Turkish/Middle Eastern ancestry while her mother is implied to be of another race (presumably Caucasian or Japanese). As for Lilianne, she is Japanese but is implied to have French ancestry because of her first name

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  8. Another mixed race character favorite of mine who I forgot to mention is Shutaura Sequenzia from A Certain Magical Index. She’s Japanese but is implied to have Sephardi Jewish ancestry judging from her surname.

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