The thing with entertainment and TV is – there’s always certain biases, and stereotypes that come along with the characters.
No entertainment medium can escape this fact. And anime is probably the most prone to it because it’s not just animated, but fictional as well.
It’s kinda like when you see an anime character pull a stupid facial expression like the one above. In real life this isn’t possible. Our facial expressions can only go so far in the real world.
But because of the animated nature and style of anime, creators are able to do things we can only sit back and hope of doing in the real world.
In the case of anime characters, here’s why so many of them are SKINNY.
And the motives behind that.
1. The ideal image of “beauty”
One thing that’s true in Japanese media, that’s also true in media around the world, is beauty standards and the ideals that come with that.
In the west, curvaceous women are the “standard” to an extent. But more so than that are models who are thin and fit a certain stereotype. Anything outside of these ideals is considered “unattractive”.
That image is portrayed a lot in western media, and even international media.
And in Japan, this is taken to an even greater extreme. Because the beauty standards in Japan come down to being thin and skinny.
Anything beyond that is considered fat, chubby, ugly and the kind of thing MOST don’t see as being beautiful.
Have you ever noticed when you’re watching anime shows, that when an anime girl is “fat” or “chubby” she somehow magically gets thinner without explanation?
During the time when they’re fat or chubby, they’re nothing special in the plot or main story. And other characters don’t give a F about them (not really).
The same is true when you flip the gender roles, too. Notice how the “fat” or “chubby” guy is made fun of, and is essentially treated like a loser?
This ain’t the case with ALL chubby, fat anime characters who are male. Steins Gate being an example.
But in your average school, romance, supernatural, or a similar genre – male anime characters who aren’t “skinny” are usually laughing stock.
They’re literally used to for the sake of “comedy” until they (if at all) lose weight and become “popular” with the girls.
Anime shows like Masamune Kun No Revenge highlight this.
That leads me to my NEXT point about skinny anime characters.
2. Japanese culture and beauty standards
It’s a well-known fact that Japanese people are some of the healthiest on the planet. A lot of this stems from the Okinawan culture (which is ancient), and their unique ways of living.
This has crossed over into Japan itself. And you won’t find many Japanese people who aren’t conscious about their weight compared to MOST countries.
That’s why anime characters are so f*cking skinny. Especially anime girls, but also anime guys.
Japan has one of the lowest rates of obesity in the WORLD. And you’ll struggle to find a lot of Japanese people who are fat or obese.
In fact – the only time you’ll see a fat or obese person in Japan, is when it’s required for their profession. Sumo wrestling being an important profession that relies on WEIGHT, and having some “fat” to take part in it.
It’s a somewhat popular sport in Japan, so that’s the only time you’ll see Japanese people who you can consider “overweight” or anywhere close to it.
And it’s the only time it’s acceptable in Japanese culture.
Outside of circumstances like that, finding a fat, chubby or obese Japanese person is like finding a unicorn running down the motor way: you won’t see it.
It’s looked down upon to some degree. Though it’s more about perception and the lifestyles that are promoted over there.
Being of a certain weight is better for your overall health in general, and you’re live longer. Among other benefits like energy, self-esteem, youth and even more.
So anime characters, girls and boys, who are skinny look that way for a reason. It’s a reflection of Japanese culture, ways of thinking, standards, and their own social beliefs as a society.
You might say it’s extreme or even questionable depending on how you look at it, but that’s what makes Japan’s “body” standards different.
You see this through the eyes of 100’s of different anime shows and the characters within them.
3. Giving fans what they want
Let’s keep it real here: nobody wants to see a bunch of fat, obese characters on-screen. Whether it’s an anime, a TV show, or a standard film.
It’s not politically correct to admit or even say that out loud, but it’s the brutal truth no matter which country you’re from. Especially with Japanese culture.
Japanese anime fans don’t wanna see anime characters that don’t represent themselves. The average Japanese person is skinny or slim at most.
And so anime creators, designers, studios and animators make sure the average anime character is “skinny” or of a similar physique.
It’s only when it makes sense for the plot, or there are side characters who “stand out” from the other characters that they’re fat or overweight.
The general consensus is anime characters have to be skinny or of an acceptable weight, according to the Japanese. And that’s why both genders are usually skinny, or even athletic and muscular.
Sometimes it’s done in a way that’s exaggerated.
Even in the anime: Dragon Ball Z, fat characters like Yajirobe are “killed off” eventually. He’s comical and doesn’t serve a bigger purpose beyond that.
Majin Buu on the other hand is an exception to the rule, because he’s a “monster” so nobody really cares. There’s nothing to relate to, physically.
4. Social pressure and “diet” culture
The social pressure in Japan is more extreme compared to countries like the UK, Europe, Jamaica, Australia, or similar countries. “Skinny” is the STANDARD in Japan. And no more than slim.
It’s an accepted standard, if not rule that most Japanese wouldn’t dare breaking. Because of the ridicule that comes with it (just like any other country).
You see the effects of this in so many different anime series. Where the main character (and side characters) are obsessed with losing weight and going on a DIET.
The same thing happens in the anime: How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift? Released in 2019.
Hibiki Sakura’s friend claims Sakura’s “put on some pounds”, and she freaks out about it. Assuming that it must be true that she “needs” to lose weight and shed some pounds.
This is social pressure at work, not logic or reason.
People are pressured into being a certain way based on what other people will think about them. Physically, mentally and socially.
This notion in Japan is stronger than some countries, and so – that’s portrayed in anime culture. With the endless amounts of skinny anime characters, male and female, who instinctively do everything they can to maintain a “healthy” weight and stay away from the realms of being fat or obese.
What are your thoughts on anime characters being skinny?
Do you relate to it?
I’m the Founder of Anime Motivation.
The 1st anime I watched was Dragon Ball Z. Followed by Claymore, Inuyasha, Attack On Titan, and the rest as they say is “history”.