There have been many, many American characters in anime and manga over the years, and in many cases they tend to use a very odd and unique form of Janglish, where Japanese and English are interspersed. One common way to convey that a character is American (or perhaps just American-esque) is to have them use English pronouns, e.g. “YOU wa baka desu!”

So you’d think they’d use “I” when referring to themselves, but there’s a long tradition of using “ME” (as in “me, myself, and I”) instead. Of course, I don’t quite understand why it’s used over “I.” So the thing I’d like to know is, when did this start? How far back in the history of anime and manga does it go? Is it even something that arose out of anime and manga? Perhaps it has something to do with how Americans spoke in post-war occupied Japan.

As far as anime and manga go, the oldest example I can think of with an American character who uses “Me” as one would normally use “I” is Getter Robo, which features American cowboy and robot pilot Jack King. Another popular American character is Terryman from Kinnikuman.

If anyone has more information about the history of American manga and anime characters, I’d like to hear all about it.

Also, In celebration of this most American of days, I’ve decided to open up the myanimelist club dedicated to American characters a little more, so that non-members can also post. I know I haven’t been able to keep up with requests and such over the past year either, so I’m also going to be opening up officer positions over the next few days so that the truly patriotic can make this club greater than it has been.

When It Comes Pouring Down and It Burns Inside

Every so often in anime you get a character who is not just American but fabulously so. The internet’s most famous example would probably be “Bandit” Keith Howard of Yu-Gi-Oh! fame, but he’s also joined by fellow Yu-Gi-Oh! characters Pegasus J. Crawford and Rebecca Hopkins, as well as true patriots such as the super robot pilots Jack and Mary King, anime fans Sue Hopkins and Angel Burton, and bakers Spencer Henry and Monica Adenauer, Italian-American and German-American respectively. There’s so many of these excellent individuals that I even made a club dedicated to them.

But there’s a new inductee to the club that stands out in particular, a man among men. I’ll let him introduce himself.

Seen in the best fanservice anime based on a blackjack-themed pachinko slot machine ever, Rio: Rainbow Gate, Bull Hard as you can tell is quite American. Hearing him talk, he has about the same level of Janglish as the illustrious Jack King mentioned above. But what makes him rather special is that most of the other characters, from Hollywood star Rosa Canyon to Rio Rollins herself are in fact American, and none of them have the tendency to say, “OH MAI GOD!” or other random English phrases. On top of that, the show most likely takes place in America.

So what we have here with Mr. Hard is an AMERICAN-type anime character in a show where everything already is American. Which is to say, Bull Hard must be some kind of transcendental American. Perhaps like how Spencer Henry is Italian-American or Monica Adenauer is German-American, he would best be considered an American-American, or maybe even a DOUBLE American.

In any case, I hope he makes a return (not likely).

You See Davis

In anime, it is often the case that a romance is hindered by one or more parties being completely oblivious to their own feelings, let alone the feelings of others. But every so often you see a character who “gets it,” realizing that maybe subtle hints just aren’t enough when the person they’re interested in is just a tad dense. One such character is Lina Davis from Heroman, the All-American Cheerleader who knows how to do it.

Opposite Lina is Joey Jones, a guy unfamiliar with the ways of love. Playing coy doesn’t exactly work with a passive guy like him, as it’s difficult for him to make that first move. But Lina is aware of this; she actively tries to get Joey alone so that she can ask him out. Then, when they actually go out on their first date, Lina really lays it on thick.

Whereas most anime girls would be content to maybe put on some makeup and wear a nice skirt, Lina is well aware of how much prompting Joey needs and knows such small steps are simply not enough.

I don’t think there’s much room for misinterpretation here.

While I would not recommend anyone actually look to Heroman for an example of good relationship anime, I think there’s something to be taken from Lina’s more aggressive approach. A lot of anime nerds, not just guys OR girls, can be unable to move forward. But you don’t need a personality change into someone more confident, you just need a quick burst of confidence, just those few seconds or minutes to make your move. In the case of Lina and Joey, while Lina takes the first step, it also allows Joey to reciprocate to some extent.

Let’s celebrate America with an American as interpreted by Japanese attitude towards being with others, even if you’re not American!

Incredible America: Genshiken and the Accidentally Accurate Portrayal of Americans

In Volume 1 of Genshiken, Ohno’s character profile states that her favorite game is Samurai Spirits. “Well that makes perfect sense,” you might think, seeing as how Ohno lived in America for many years, and how that very game was released in the US under the name Samurai Sho-down, but a later comment in the Genshiken Official Book reveals something interesting. It turns out that Kio Shimoku had no idea whether or not Samurai Spirits was ever released in America, and most likely picked it for Ohno due to the game having multiple old/burly types such as Earthquake.

So what we have here is what seems to be a surprisingly decently researched aspect of the American video game/anime fandom from the 90s but instead is just a lucky coincidence. Of course, Ohno and her preferences aren’t the most “American” aspect of Genshiken. That title naturally belongs to her friends Angela and Sue. And when you look at Angela and Sue across their incarnations (anime, manga, drama cd), you get the feeling that Kio Shimoku and the staff of the anime ended up portraying American fangirls with surprising accuracy, but based on the Ohno-Samurai Spirits Revelation there is the very real possibility that this too was also one huge coincidence.

Much of the portrayal of Angela and Sue can boil down to “HAHA AMERICANS ARE SO MUCH MORE DIRECT THAN JAPANESE,” but there is a grain of truth to that, and I think the result is that this “fictional” portrayal is about as realistic as the portrayals of the actual Genshiken members. Sue may possess a knowledge of anime far beyond your typical female otaku, but keep in mind that her otakudom was fostered by a Japanese fujoshi, so it might not be surprising for her to reference, say, Saint Seiya. Sue’s got a fairly abrasive personality, a general lack of manners, and you often cannot tell if she’s being awkward or devilish. Her frequent and loud reciting of anime quotes in lieu of real Japanese is definitely a trait you can find in fangirls (though she eventually becomes comfortable enough with the language to actually start speaking it fluently, albeit with an accent).

Then there’s Angela, who loudly declares to Sasahara that she may in fact be bisexual, which Sasahara despite his limited English ability seems to get the jist of. It might be somewhat stereotypical to brand Angela as very open when it comes to sex and sexual relationships, i.e. very AMERICAN, but it’s not like this is unprecedented even if you ignore anime cons and the fact that they are places where sex occurs in less than small amounts. Not that I’m saying she’s a slut or anything, merely that she is possibly about as sexually experienced as Saki, maybe more. I can also totally see Angela attending an anime club in America and being the center of attention among male members, but maybe I’m reading too much into it. As an aside, I sometimes wish there would be a Genshiken AMERICA spinoff starring Angela and Sue and seeing the interactions between characters in that respect. Maybe this could be a fanfic or a fancomic, I don’t know.

Sue is either young-looking for her age or actually young (her age is never given, only loosely implied), and we already know that the anime fans are getting younger and younger, so this makes plenty of sense. Angela meanwhile has a dynamite figure which some might say isn’t terribly realistic for a nerd girl, but I speak from experience (no not that kind of experience) when I say that this is not an impossibility. There are geek girls who look that good. You might see them cosplaying.

Though I think what stands out to me most about Sue and Angela and their American-ness is a scene in the Drama CD “Road to Ikebukuro,” where together they recite the famous line that so many female anime fans in the US have tied to their very histories: “In the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!” Granted, it’s said in Japanese, but I know that plenty of Sailor Moon fans are familiar with the Japanese catch phrases. And Sailor Moon was popular in Japan too (Love Hina creator Akamatsu Ken mentions it as the inspiration for him getting into doujinshi), but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Sailor Moon is arguably one of the most significant shows in American fandom history.

And again, all of this could just be happy coincidence! Kio Shimoku could have simply said, “I have no idea what American anime fans are really like so I’ll just make them however.” Which is to say, Kio Shimoku is a frightening man.

Don’t Think I Forgot About the 4th of July Either

You can help me celebrate the fact that THIS IS USA, as opposed to JAPAN.

Today, on this Independence Day, I order you to  act like an American Anime Character.

-Remember to replace simple Japanese pronouns and random words with AMERICAN ones.
-Blond hair isn’t necessary, but it can often help.
-If you have trouble gaining acceptance, claim that you are in fact Half-Japanese.

If you’re still not up to the task, I instead ask that you observe Americans in the wild.

The Only Club that Matters

Oh, You are Crazy! This is USA! That is Japan!

ME no PRIDE o kakete, YOU-tachi de MEMBERSHIP INCREASE suru ze!