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"Why Are Girls' Breasts Emphasized in Japanese Anime?"


ASPERBURG

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Nice to meet you, ANIMEFORUM!  !

During my time studying in Europe, I was often asked the question mentioned in the title, and I have been contemplating how to interpret and answer it even after returning to Japan.

I have now written down my thoughts and posted them on note. I have also prepared an English version as I would like to hear the impressions and opinions of Westerners.

If possible, I would love for you all to read it and point out any mistakes from a Western perspective.

If you find it interesting, please upvote and comment! Thanks!

How to Respond to "Why Are Girls' Breasts Emphasized in Japanese Anime?" from Foreign Friends

Understanding the Concept of "Virtue"

To understand Western criticism of manga and anime, it is necessary first to grasp the underlying ideology, the concept of "virtue."

"Virtue" refers to the qualities that drive a person to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. In the West, it encompasses the standards, actions, and attitudes that respectable members of society are expected to follow.

In "virtue," particular emphasis is placed on abstinence, typically encompassing the prohibition or limitation of consumption, drinking, makeup, sexual activity, masturbation, entertainment, and adornment.

Abstinence has been a consistent thread through Western thought and religion, from traditional religions like Christianity and Islam to modern ideologies such as socialism, feminism, and veganism. Many Westerners believe that imposing strict limits on sexual and dietary practices not only refines oneself as a person but also promotes societal progress and improvement.

It is also believed that many social problems stem from a lack of virtue, and that encouraging widespread abstinence will solve these issues. Consequently, people who are perceived as indulgent in sex or food are often harshly criticized, with calls for their punishment and purging viewed as virtuous political opinions that garner broad support.

Historically, in the West, there has been a tendency for citizens to welcome restrictions on freedoms, especially regarding expressions deemed unvirtuous. Those considered unvirtuous may face severe social sanctions, including societal ruin or death.

Differences in Perceptions of Beauty

In general, beauty and eroticism are seen as positive attributes in Japan.

Beautiful and erotic things are regarded as divine and sacred. When Japanese people encounter such entities, they feel spiritually cleansed, and they express their awe using religious vocabulary like "godlike"(神 Kami)and "sacred" (尊い tootoi).

In anime and manga culture, beauty and eroticism are often used as symbols of power, justice, divinity, and virtue (the Japanese concept of virtue, not the Western "virtue"). Historical figures, Gods and Buddhas are frequently depicted as beautiful and sexually attractive men and women.

In contrast, in the West, beauty and eroticism have historically been viewed as wicked temptations that lead people (especially men) and society astray from the righteous path, considered attributes of the devil. Young, beautiful, and sexually attractive women have traditionally been expected to hide their hair and skin, avoid makeup and adornment, and strive not to tempt men, which is seen as virtuous and responsible behavior.

In Western tradition, this can be seen in traditional clothing designed to conceal hair and skin, such as habits and niqabs.

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Freedom in Japan vs. the West

In Japanese, "freedom" is a Buddhist term translated from the Sanskrit word "svayam," meaning independence and being unrestricted. An enlightened Buddha is "free," and this state of liberation from all restraints is considered "freedom" and a desirable state to attain.

Therefore, in Buddhist cultures, including Japan, freedom is often viewed as an unconditionally good state, representing a process towards nirvana that all people should strive for.

Conversely, in the West, freedom is seen as a test from Yahweh, interpreted as a practice where one must continually choose good over evil.

Thus, in the Western perspective, freedom itself is not inherently good; it becomes virtuous only when one overcomes the temptation of evil and consistently chooses morally good actions. Westerners call the force that prompts one to do good and avoid evil "conscience," and acting according to this conscience is considered "true freedom," distinguished from mere freedom. Those who pass Yahweh's judgment are believed to be liberated from the freedom to choose between good and evil in the afterlife, achieving a state free from sin (which, in Japanese terms, would be an "unfree" state).

When encountering the chaotic and uninhibited trends on platforms like Twitter or 5chan, Japanese people might be both appalled and impressed by the sheer freedom, feeling a renewed appreciation for their Japanese identity. However, from a Western viewpoint, such freedom is seen as evil, a fearsome chaos that conflates good and evil, indicative of a lack of conscience, and something that must be regulated.

Moreover, while in Japan, unfreedom is often associated with shame, weakness, baseness, foolishness, poverty, or disability, and sometimes even becomes a target of contempt or discrimination, in the West, people who impose unfreedom on themselves and proudly display their level of unfreedom, encouraging others to do the same, are respected.

Summary

In the West, matters related to sex are often religious and ideological taboos, making them highly sensitive topics. Expressing seemingly trivial opinions or revealing sexual preferences can lead to social ruin, unlike in Japan. Therefore, it is crucial to understand Western viewpoints and recognize where potential pitfalls lie.

Ideally, we should strive for mutual understanding through frank cultural exchange, but in the West, it is not advisable to argue casually about delicate topics like sex with someone you do not know well.

While Japanese social pressure might lead to something as minor as a flat tire, Western social pressure can lead to serious personal harm. Always be cautious!

How to Respond to "Why Are Girls' Breasts Emphasized in Japanese Anime?"

When responding to Westerners' questions about why girls' breasts are emphasized in Japanese anime, it is essential to be mindful of their perspective, where adults vehemently criticizing and ostracizing the depiction of young, beautiful women may seem peculiar to Japanese eyes but is seen as a virtuous and responsible stance in the West.

If someone you recommended an anime to reacts by saying they aren't interested in such explicit content and runs away, don't laugh or persist in recommending it. They likely have ideological or belief-based reasons for abstaining from watching such anime.

If someone reacts by calling you a degenerate or immoral for liking such anime, do not get angry. Provoking their sense of justice could lead to a dangerous situation.

Even if surrounded by an angry crowd, do not apologize, cry, flee, or let them see your fear. Losing face and social standing could escalate the situation to lynching.

Stay calm and composed, smile, and nod in agreement until their excitement subsides. Once they calm down, compliment their virtue:

Praise points:

* Strong sense of social responsibility.
* Strong sense of justice.
* High sense of purpose.
* Willingness to sacrifice for their beliefs.
* Well-educated.
* Actively spreading their beliefs.

 

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Thank you for your reply! Japanese people don't often think in the way you described. I won't say it's nonexistent, but it's rare. At least, I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.

14 hours ago, jovana99 said:

I have the impression that the Japanese emphasize what they don't have

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Perspectives to be added:

- In Japan, showing anger over small matters is considered a sign of baseness, foolishness, or weakness, whereas in the West, it is seen as a manifestation of strong ethics and is regarded as a virtuous attitude.


- In the West, the concept of sexual contents aimed at women often does not even exist in societies, as it has been traditionally believed that women do not have sexual desires.

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Well, I wonder. It doesn't really look like the kind of art that Japanese people would like. While cartoon porn is popular in the West, it is very niche in Japan.

On 5/31/2024 at 5:18 AM, Clayton said:

because a lot of them were originally basing their designs on Disney characters. 

 

 

It's nothing new

 

Mohammad Fucked A Teen And Mary Was A Teen When God Impregnated Her, So  What's Wrong With Lesbian Sex Between A Nun And A Hijab? SHADBASE -  ShadBase Free Porn Comics

 

 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, ASPERBURG said:

Well, I wonder. It doesn't really look like the kind of art that Japanese people would like. While cartoon porn is popular in the West, it is very niche in Japan.

 

There are kinds of art used in anime. 

 

In any event you are talking about a culture that had vending machines that dispense used girl's panties. 

 

Also they produce the anime so... apparently they do like it. In anime anyone under a C-cup usually gets teased for being flat chested. 

 

naruto_tsunade0076-1.jpg

queens-blade-melona.gif

 

 

Edited by Clayton
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Posted (edited)

Perspectives to be added:

In Japan, it is not only considered natural but also healthy for children entering puberty to start showing interest in sexual matters. Books, manga, and anime for young boys and girls often include many sexual expressions, and parents feel happy about their children's growth when they show interest in such expressions. Conversely, they may worry about delayed development if their children do not show interest. Furthermore, Japanese society generally believes that allowing children to freely read their favorite manga and play their favorite games contributes to their happiness and growth. Therefore, prohibiting or excessively restricting manga and games is often seen as cruel abuse.

On the other hand, in the West, where desires including sexual desire have traditionally been seen as vices and abstinence is believed to promote human growth, the common view is that letting children read indecent comics will not result in them becoming decent adults, and sexual expressions are considered unsuitable for children. In Japan, it is common knowledge that sexual desire is a natural and fundamental human need. However, in the West, due to new and old values like christianity and feminism, this understanding is not as universally accepted, despite long-standing efforts in sex education. As a result, there is still a strong belief that it is abnormal for girls and children to have sexual desires, attributing it to negative influences from media. It is thought that sexual awakening can and should be prevented through regulation.

Protecting children from such media is seen as a parental responsibility. Parents are expected to monitor all the programs their children watch and the games they play. Parents who fail to do so are considered neglectful and unfit, often facing severe criticism, strict social sanctions, and even legal penalties. The media is regarded as having significant social responsibility, requiring strict educational considerations and being readily subject to regulation.

Therefore, the kind of erotic manga for children that is abundant in Japan is completely beyond the understanding and imagination of Westerners. For a Japanese parent to feel deeply moved by discovering erotic manga hidden in their adolescent child's room, thinking, "Ah, my child is at an age where they are interested in these things," is a common parenting experience in Japan but something Westerners might find hard to relate to.

14 hours ago, Clayton said:

There are kinds of art used in anime. 

 

In any event you are talking about a culture that had vending machines that dispense used girl's panties. 

 

Also they produce the anime so... apparently they do like it. In anime anyone under a C-cup usually gets teased for being flat chested. 

 

naruto_tsunade0076-1.jpg

queens-blade-melona.gif

 

 

Well, it's unfortunate, but cartoons are already quite niche in Japan. Naturally, cartoon porn is even more niche. The logic that Western cartoon porn should be popular in Japan just because there are vending machines for used panties is nonsensical. I didn't think the picture you sent was any good either. It's a poorly drawn picture. Many other Japanese people would likely feel the same lol

Edited by ASPERBURG
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Posted (edited)

Which is why it became very, very popular in America. Teenagers figured out mom and dad would look at something and see cartoons and not think: gee, there might be full frontal nudity in this. 

 

It didn't work for long, but it worked. And now it's a cliche. I literally wrote a book on this subject called How to Be An Anime Character you can find on Amazon. Anime characters having large gravity defying breasts is right up there with with how they have 50 gallons of blood and sweat in their bodies, death's revolving door policy, the way that pink haired girl will try to murder you and apologize later,  or can scream loud enough to be heard in space. 

https://www.amazon.com/How-Anime-Character-Clayton-Overstreet/dp/1441451803

 

Edited by Clayton
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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a very fascinating read. And as a longtime moderator of a Japanese Culture Club in the school I've taught at, I at least have an answer to this now should it ever come up in the future.

Admittedly, everything you were pointing out about Japanese versus western ideologies made sense as you pointed them out. I would say as a minor counterpoint that these days here in America, there are some who will publicly band together and very strongly advocate what it is seen as virtuous to the point that it becomes political. This often leads to a pushback from those who don't want such virtue to be forced upon them or everyone, in part because of the concept in our Constitution of "separation of church and state". The general idea of being "virtuous" largely remains among everyone privately, but the ones who call for it the loudest are not as celebrated as one might think.

As for myself, I see it, and sometimes it's just there, and other times it's emphasized for both comedy and/or sexualization. And I react on a case by case basis, but I don't think too much about it.

Again, great read. I'll remember to come back to this whenever anyone asks about this.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

 

On 6/17/2024 at 7:14 AM, Sonic Whammy said:

This is a very fascinating read. And as a longtime moderator of a Japanese Culture Club in the school I've taught at, I at least have an answer to this now should it ever come up in the future.

Admittedly, everything you were pointing out about Japanese versus western ideologies made sense as you pointed them out. I would say as a minor counterpoint that these days here in America, there are some who will publicly band together and very strongly advocate what it is seen as virtuous to the point that it becomes political. This often leads to a pushback from those who don't want such virtue to be forced upon them or everyone, in part because of the concept in our Constitution of "separation of church and state". The general idea of being "virtuous" largely remains among everyone privately, but the ones who call for it the loudest are not as celebrated as one might think.

As for myself, I see it, and sometimes it's just there, and other times it's emphasized for both comedy and/or sexualization. And I react on a case by case basis, but I don't think too much about it.

Again, great read. I'll remember to come back to this whenever anyone asks about this.

 

 

Keep in mind that when girls have small breasts in anime they are usually ridiculed for it as well. Those who do not have big breasts often envy those who do. 

 

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Edited by Clayton
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Posted (edited)
On 6/17/2024 at 10:14 PM, Sonic Whammy said:

This is a very fascinating read. And as a longtime moderator of a Japanese Culture Club in the school I've taught at, I at least have an answer to this now should it ever come up in the future.

Admittedly, everything you were pointing out about Japanese versus western ideologies made sense as you pointed them out. I would say as a minor counterpoint that these days here in America, there are some who will publicly band together and very strongly advocate what it is seen as virtuous to the point that it becomes political. This often leads to a pushback from those who don't want such virtue to be forced upon them or everyone, in part because of the concept in our Constitution of "separation of church and state". The general idea of being "virtuous" largely remains among everyone privately, but the ones who call for it the loudest are not as celebrated as one might think.

As for myself, I see it, and sometimes it's just there, and other times it's emphasized for both comedy and/or sexualization. And I react on a case by case basis, but I don't think too much about it.

Again, great read. I'll remember to come back to this whenever anyone asks about this.

I'm honored by your compliment, Teacher! If there are any other common questions about anime or manga that you encounter as a moderator of your anime club, please let me know. I might consider them for my next project.

>As for myself, I see it, and sometimes it's just there, and other times it's emphasized for both comedy and/or sexualization. And I react on a case by case basis, but I don't think too much about it.

Often, there isn't a specific meaning or reason behind it. In Japan, erotic content is generally seen as a good thing. Essentially, if all other conditions are the same, people think that choosing the erotic option is better. Therefore, creators make everything as erotic as possible within the limits they have, unless there is are speciific reasons not to do so.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/2/2024 at 12:09 AM, ASPERBURG said:

I'm honored by your compliment, Teacher! If there are any other common questions about anime or manga that you encounter as a moderator of your anime club, please let me know. I might consider them for my next project.

>As for myself, I see it, and sometimes it's just there, and other times it's emphasized for both comedy and/or sexualization. And I react on a case by case basis, but I don't think too much about it.

Often, there isn't a specific meaning or reason behind it. In Japan, erotic content is generally seen as a good thing. Essentially, if all other conditions are the same, people think that choosing the erotic option is better. Therefore, creators make everything as erotic as possible within the limits they have, unless there is are speciific reasons not to do so.

 

 

Keep in mind also that not only are big boobs legit awesome, but small breasted characters make people think their fans might be pedophiles, lolitas, into crossdressing boys, and the like. So a lot of people feel safer if the fifteen-year-old main character has the body of a twenty-five year old stripper incase anyone has any questions on why they like them

Black Lagoon Vampire Twins - Hansel & Gretel

 

 

Edited by Clayton
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Clayton said:

 

 

Keep in mind also that not only are big boobs legit awesome, but small breasted characters make people think their fans might be pedophiles, lolitas, into crossdressing boys, and the like. So a lot of people feel safer if the fifteen-year-old main character has the body of a twenty-five year old stripper incase anyone has any questions on why they like them

Black Lagoon Vampire Twins - Hansel & Gretel

 

 

Well, Westerners might feel safer with that, but it's not a Japanese way of thinking. Japanese creaters and fans are more likely to try to spread the greatness of their fetishes.

Edited by ASPERBURG
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Posted (edited)
On 7/3/2024 at 3:46 PM, ASPERBURG said:

Well, Westerners might feel safer with that, but it's not a Japanese way of thinking. Japanese creaters and fans are more likely to try to spread the greatness of their fetishes.

Well yeah. Most Japanese have small breasts and slim figures. But when they are brought to America you gotta go with the audience. Which do you think is easier to explain to people as a poster in your room? Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo or an up-skirt shot of Card Captor Sakura?

 

 

In any event it's become a trope. I wrote about it in "How to Be An Anime Character". After all if you are going to give someone superpowers, you migth as well go fully and dgive them unattainable physical standards too. 

 

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But keep in mind Disney started it. Gargoyles was even made in Japan for example. 

 

gargoyles demona transformation - Google Search | Gargoyles cartoon,  Gargoyles, Disney animation

 

 

 

Let's face it, American cartoons do not skimp on large boobs either. 

 

 

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On 7/9/2024 at 5:28 AM, Clayton said:

Well yeah. Most Japanese have small breasts and slim figures. But when they are brought to America you gotta go with the audience. Which do you think is easier to explain to people as a poster in your room? Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo or an up-skirt shot of Card Captor Sakura?

 

 

In any event it's become a trope. I wrote about it in "How to Be An Anime Character". After all if you are going to give someone superpowers, you migth as well go fully and dgive them unattainable physical standards too. 

 

Even james was hotter than misty - GIF - Imgur

tumblr_ltw9c3Lj6i1r244lmo1_400.gif

Anime_irl : r/anime_irl

 

Funny flat Chest moments in Anime #1 - YouTube

 

Flat chest problems - Imgur

 

But keep in mind Disney started it. Gargoyles was even made in Japan for example. 

 

gargoyles demona transformation - Google Search | Gargoyles cartoon,  Gargoyles, Disney animation

 

 

 

Let's face it, American cartoons do not skimp on large boobs either. 

 

 

Wonder Woman: Commemorative Edition Trailer (DC Original Movie)

The 20 Sexiest Female Cartoon Characters On TV, Ranked | Cinemablend

 

Animaniacs Original Production Cel on Original Background: Hello Nurse

 

 

 

In many cases, Japanese creators are indifferent to what American audiences are looking for and do not think about catering to them. They do not know what Americans want in the first place, and even if they have the opportunity to find out, the values are so different that they often cannot understand.

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On 7/10/2024 at 3:32 PM, ASPERBURG said:

In many cases, Japanese creators are indifferent to what American audiences are looking for and do not think about catering to them. They do not know what Americans want in the first place, and even if they have the opportunity to find out, the values are so different that they often cannot understand.

 

Well to be fair in many cases Japanese animated women STILL have much smaller boobs than American. 

Japanese

 

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