The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: October 1st, 2000

You Aren't Japanese

By: Pia'Sharn

This article is in response to the email received by the AQ. While I generally do not care what other people think about my interests (and I'm certain that the AQ can defend themselves), I have gotten this reaction from people before and decided to finally state my opinion on it.

I've had this sort of response before. I mention that I am a fan of anime, and the person I'm talking to gives me a quizzical look and states, "But you aren't Japanese." No, I'm obviously not. What I don't understand, though, is how this relates to my anime interest. Does one have to be Japanese to enjoy the animation that country produces? Can a person only like that which is from his or her own country?

What I like about anime has nothing to do with its cultural origins. I love animation in general, and have since I was a little kid. I love art as well, yet no one has ever said anything derogatory when I mention an interest in the French impressionist Claude Monet, or the Mexican symbolist Frida Kahlo. I have never been told, "You aren't Mexican, so how can you appreciate Kahlo's work?" That's because one doesn't need to be Mexican to feel the impact of her work. It transcends language and culture.

The same idea holds true for anime. Beautiful animation and an intriguing plot line do not need a common heritage with the person who enjoys them. I like the basic anime style: the overly large eyes, long legs and unnatural hair colors. I like watching the transformation sequences in Sailor Moon and analyzing the animation techniques used in Serial Experiments Lain. I sing along with the duel songs in Revolutionary Girl Utena, and it certainly isn't the first time I've listened to music in another language. I have CDs sitting on my shelf from all over the world. German music by Rammstein, Spanish music by Mecana, various multilingual songs by Dead Can Dance, among others: I don't need to understand the words to hear that Lisa Gerrard (of Dead Can Dance) has a beautiful voice, or that "Du Hast" (by Rammstein) has a great beat to it.

Also, while I do not know the Japanese language, I have never claimed to know it either. I have no proof that the translations I have acquired are accurate. I have, however, compared the translations on my fansubs to those of other fans, and to many different sites online. While they may not be the same word for word, they are very close. Logic then tells me that these are either accurate translations or one big conspiracy (someone call agents Mulder and Scully!). If anyone can prove that the episode summaries on Hitoshi Doi's Sailor Moon Encyclopedia (, or Castle in the Sky ( are inaccurate, I would like to hear about it (especially since Hitoshi Doi is *gasp* Japanese).

Lily offers claims left and right about how Americans claim to know everything about anime based on "a few original comics", yet fails to offer any proof to support her/his claims. In fact, the letter s/he wrote shows a great lack of research. "Anime is for the Asians…. Americans…. get on the stupid computer and learn everything from there." Well, Lily obviously didn't do any reading on the AQ. Right in their About Us section, Palla Palla's bio states, "PallaPalla is a half-Japanese and half-American girl…. She began watching Sailormoon while R was being played in Japan." Gee, not only is Palla Palla Asian, but obviously learned about Sailor Moon directly from the show, not the computer.

Beyond the AQ, I've met and chatted with Asian anime fans online. It wasn't a big deal to them that I was born in the United States. We have a common interest, and were quite happy discuss it. I have also met fans from England, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among other places. Many of them expressed a great deal of knowledge on both the animated and manga versions, as well as the various dubs. Interestingly enough, I have also met people from Asia who knew next to nothing about Sailor Moon. Knowledge of the series is not based on location.

Yes, there are fans out there that think they know everything based on one fansub or translated manga, but the majority of people I have met are not like that. Nor have all the Know-It-Alls been American (idiocy is not based on location either). If there is one person on the planet that knows everything about Sailor Moon, I would think that it would be its creator, Takeuchi Naoko.

I would also like to point out that, contrary to Lily's claim, not all anime is intended only for Japanese. There is a movie that came out back in 1981 that has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember. It's called The Last Unicorn. When I started getting into anime, I looked back at this movie and saw something very familiar about the animation style; it was anime. However, this was not an American movie that mimicked the anime style, this was the real thing, made in Japan. It was not made for Japanese audiences, though. Those English voices you hear are the original ones, not dubs. This is an anime movie made for U.S. audiences. The Last Unicorn was not the only movie of this type. There are several others (including the animated version of The Hobbit) that were produced in the same fashion.

Beauty and knowledge are not limited to one part of the world, or the inhabitants thereof. There is an aesthetic pleasure to them that transcends nationality. Items like anime can be enjoyed on many different levels, by many different people. Examine your assumptions, do some research and open your mind: things aren't always as they seem, and stereotypes are rarely accurate.

Comments on this article can be sent to: Pia'Sharn.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

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