Representation of Chinese Characters in Anime

First, I’ll give some examples.

1. Tao Ren from Shaman King (Chinese)


VS. Yoh from Shaman King (Japanese)


2. Shampoo from Ranma 1/2 (Chinese)


VS. Akane Tendo from Ranma 1/2 (Japanese)


3. Chinese Team from Beyblade Metal Masters


VS. Jingka from Beyblade Metal Masters (Japanese)


As you can see, the Chinese characters in these anime are wearing traditional clothing like qipao and the girls have buns in their hair. These anime take place in the modern day so not everyone is dressed in traditional clothing. Meanwhile, the Japanese protagonists are wearing headphones and are wearing modern clothing.

When I went to China, I did not see anyone wear a qipao. What are everyone’s thoughts about the Chinese characters looking distinct from everyone else, even though the setting does not take place during a traditional era? It seems to me that the Chinese character designs are stereotyped.


The King’s Avatar is a Chinese show that portrays a realistic representation of how Chinese characters should look in a modern day setting (in terms of clothing). It features Chinese people in China.


9 thoughts on “Representation of Chinese Characters in Anime

  1. Well, I have noticed that most other races in Japanese anime tend to follow super stereotypical traits, which happens in a lot of Western media as well. My only logical and (maybe) rational guess as to why Chinese people are portrayed this way may be to differentiate them as being distinctly Chinese rather than people assuming they are Japanese. A lot of people who don’t have knowledge of either Japanese or Chinese language (or even Korean sometimes), cannot tell the differences with between the two cultures via names alone. This is something I’ve noticed in general, at least in the States, where East Asian people are concerned. There have been very little Indian people in anime, but the ones that do exist (Princess Jellyfish comes to mind immediately), the woman is always dressed in a sari (traditional everyday clothing) and makes the best curry. Aside from those stereotypes, she’s actually very intelligent and amazing. That is one thing I do like about foreigners (except for Americans) depicted in anime. Most of the time they aren’t dumbed down. The stereotypes usually apply to clothing or cuisine only, for the most part.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You make a really good point about the characters not being being dumbed down! Tao Ren is my favourite and it’s not because he is Chinese, but because he is strong. Haha solid A+ comment, thanks Neha. ^_^

      I do think that it is problematic but it does make things easier to understand. However, it’s a little too exaggerated for my liking… I think that simply saying that a character is from another country should be sufficient enough without making an exaggerated character design. Yeah, the rationale you provided makes sense but it’s still something I would like to be changed. These anime are kind of old so maybe things will be different, I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh it’s definitely problematic and I hope that things change with newer anime as well. Things were definitely a bit different back then in terms of viewing people of cultures that are different than your own (generalising). I think as people become more outwardly spoken about their culture and identities, it provides content creators to understand ways to rid themselves of harmful stereotypes. At least that’s my hope.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. Very early manga are a lot more problematic. An example is Tezuka Osamu’s Lost World. Fortunately I do not see that kind of racism in manga anymore. Anime is now a worldwide thing so I think it will improve because it wouldn’t be a good idea to upset the international audience. However, blackface is STILL in Japanese comedy shows today. I’m not sure if that will go away anytime soon…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Blackface makes me cringe so much every time… I feel that’s the biggest and one of the most outwardly problematic things coming out of Japanese media right now. I’m hoping as cultural acceptance is being practised more and more worldwide (except the US) that blackface will disappear. But I suppose only time can tell.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s interesting how you pointed it out. I think I know what you mean when it comes to Chinese and Japanese traditions. I know in anime like Dragon Ball Z and recently I seen Outlaw Star, characters with Chinese clothing originated from China. In other anime, characters who wear modern clothes is mostly Japanese. I think it either helps distinguish themes between China and Japanese or maybe Chinese keep their traditions and values strong and make them relevant today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good that you’ve noticed these things. However, how come Japanese characters are not in their traditional clothing then? Are they not keeping their traditions and values strong today? Only the Chinese characters? Just something to think about!! It certainly does help to distinguish the cultures apart, I agree. At the same time I think it’s unnecessary and exaggerated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good question to ask. I am not an expert, but it depends on the creator’s perspective in traditions. Since most anime is done in Japan, they probably see the fashion everyday and just use modern clothing rather studying past traditions. In Chinese traditions, they probably stick with stereotypes that is common and easy to see. I don’t know exactly, but you wrote something that I am curious.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s