True Face of Asian Americans in Film and Comics

Japanese comic books called Manga has developed into a grand industry in Asia. Many of the stories are adapted into T.V series and are highly popular both in the United States and Asia. There has been a growing scene revolved around this industry in the U.S. bringing together comic lovers of a myriad of races. However, in the United States’ comic book industry, there is still a lack of representation from the Asian community. In order to combat the lack of representation a collaboration of Asian American writers created Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology.  With this comic anthology, was it enough to show the comic book world that Asians have a place as main characters with sufficient appeal to the comic book readers?

Within Shattered: we looked at some major stories that showed the main characters being clearly Asian American. As their stories progress, you begin to see them being represented as subjects who are able to present their own agency in their stories. Even when they are being treated as objects of race, they are able to transcend that objectification and be at peace with themselves. Just look at the comics we analyzed, Heroes without a Country and Carmen’s Revenge. Society’s views of them initially were the basis for their actions but by the end they took control of their own lives and refused to accept the role of being the stereotypical Asian.

After Shattered, can we see an improvement in the representation of Asians in the comic book world? A big part of the comic book industry is the movies and T.V show adaptations from them. This is where it reaches a broader spectrum of viewers especially now with the superhero craze. This article goes into further depth of the Asian American casting when it comes to the shows and movies created by American production companies. It cites Dragon Ball Evolution, Iron Man, or The Last Airbender as good examples of the whitewashing of Asian stories told in manga or American comics. Dragon Ball is one of the major manga in Japan and the movie was considered a disaster for their appeal to non-Asian people by casting extremely poorly and then not presenting the Asian themes in a serious manner. Now America is going to try their hand and another highly regarded manga Ghost in the Shell but has already received a good amount of criticism for again whitewashing a Manga story with the cast of Scarlett Johansson. Now I am concerned with the fact they are putting a white face on an Asian story because it makes me think that we, in 2015, are still uncomfortable with a non-white main character in a foreign based movie. I truly hope that this is not out of hate but maybe in an effort to keep Asian culture in the minds of people who would otherwise never see Asian stories.

Scarlett Johansson compared to the main character of Ghost in the Shell, Motoko Kusanagi

Scarlett Johansson Ghost in the Shell

We can still see the whitewashing occurring in the media adaptations of comic books. Even though this is the case, you can see a relative growth of Asians in comic books.  Again referring to the article, it is all about the addition of a new Asian American superhero girl named Silk. It also goes on to mention not only Asian superheroes, but there is even a Muslim character that was introduced. Perhaps the comic book society is more advanced than the American public. Along with many others, my favorite Asian comic book character is Glenn from the Walking Dead which not a lot of people know it was a comic before it was a TV show. He has become a figure for badass Asian characters in a series without many minorities. So there is pretty good evidence of a slow progression for Asian Americans in the comic book culture along with the TV/Movie adaptations. Not just as a token object, but as a subject that displays infinity in their characters.

Comic books and manga have been around for a while now but in 2015, we are still in a state of under representation for Asians in America.  Shattered was made in order to encapsulate the Asian Americans all over the country feelings like they should have a voice scince they are such a big part of the culture. With the growing popularity of comic book heroes, there is a growing need for new material and Asia is a big source for that. With the growing industry, hopefully there will be a acceptance of Asian Americans in the Movie/TV adaptations finally creating an equally represented comic book culture.

“Glenn” From The Walking Dead                         “Silk” the new Asian American Superhero by Marvel

Glenn3 (TV Series).jpg             


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