Why The Japanese Love Foreign Characters in Anime
One enjoyable anime I’ve been following this season is Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai, aka Tada Never Falls in Love, a show I’m interested in because it’s by the staff that brought us Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. It’s the story of Mitsuyoshi Tada, a boy whose family runs a coffee shop in Tokyo, who encounters a beautiful but slightly airheaded European girl near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. She’s Teresa, an exchange student from Luxembourg. who’s an otaku for samurai period dramas. She’ll naturally be transferring to the main character’s school, and as the story unfolds, we’ll see if the Tada will fall in love with her or not. It’s an original story, so hopefully we’ll see some interesting surprises in the story.
It’s interesting to look at the high number of foreigners who appear in anime, often as side characters so the creators can set-up straight man/wise guy gags about the foreigners not following the social rules around them, which happens a lot in real life. Adding foreign characters lightens the story and adds flavor in the same way adding characters from Osaka or Akita do, and allows for some convenient story elements, like the ubiquitous “parents live overseas” plot device.
Some of my favorite foreign characters in anime include…
- Karen and Alice from Kin’moza are super cute when they can’t figure out Japanese culture
- Patricia, the otaku girl from Lucky Star, is pretty much all of us if we had the chance to attend a Japanese high school for a year
- Susanna Hopkins and Angela Burton from Genshiken are comically K.Y., e.g. kuuki yomenai, which means unaware of what’s socially appropriate around them
- The half-Japanese cousin to Morishima-senpai in Amagami is Jessica, who grew up in England, where they kiss random people they’ve just met apparently (“in the West it’s just a greeting!”)
- The new Steins;Gate 0 anime introduces Professor Alexis Leskinen, a researcher from America, who calls Okarin “Lintahlo”
- Director Hideki Anno loves putting foreigners in his stories and forcing non-bilingual Japanese actors to speak accented English. He did it in his heavily Eva-fied Godzilla remake, too.
Do you love foreign characters in anime? Which one(s) are your favorites?
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