Japanese Animation Games and Fetishisation

In Brittney’s presentation and this weeks readings we learned about the “white male”, and how games are designed to appeal to this demographic.  This included letting the player (assumed to be a white male as a majority) feel powerful and dominant over all things, letting women be put in games as play things and other races as nothing more than an exotic element, and thus no challenge to the masculinity of the supposed player.  I would like to challenge this by bringing up the concept of japanese animation games.  This brings to light a style of game and visual culture that is native to japan (though it has seeped into North American culture), and lets us see the same pattern, but with the “asian male” targeted, rather than the white male.  This lets us see that it is a model applied cross-culturally, and that the white male is not always the dominant character.

What is interesting about most Japanese animation games is that there is usually not an option to be a male at all. This could be great in the way of female power, if it were not for how the majority of the characters are deigned. Instead of powerful, respectable women you have the choice of different females, usually falling into two major fetishes: The young innocent girl, or the busty promiscuous female.  It is the usual case that there is very little clothing worn (an extremely short school girl skirt for the young innocent girls, and practically a body g-string for some of the promiscuous characters), and in some cases there will be sexual gratification after making a correct move (such as in the white male comparison of SSX Tricky).  Not only this but often there will be a bisexual female theme included in these games, most obviously for the male to consume. Race also comes into play, as if there are any characters of colour it is almost always a white female, and usually blue eyed, blonde, scantily dressed, and leads to the fantasy of what a white girl should be like.  Any girls of other races (except Japanese and white) are almost always omitted, and the white male is almost never seen which may be for the same reason that men of other colours are never put in the same rank as the lead white player: so that there is no real challenge to their *insert race* masculinity.  So though quite a lot of video games are targeting the white male as discussed in class, I think it is important to remember that this is just a model, and can be applied cross-culturally.

A great example of a japanese animation game would be “Arcana Hearts”, which is a fighting game (reinforces masculinity), where all of the characters you can choose from are female, highly fetishistic, and have promiscuous background stories to boot.

Arcana Hearts Preview:



1 Comment

  1. As someone who has a soft spot for Japanese games, I have to agree that this characterization is true more often than not. To give a single example, I offer the recently released puzzle/visual novel game, Catherine. The game consists of two parts: First, there is a narrative, wherein you play Vincent, a man cheating on his long-time girlfriend, Catherine, with a much younger woman, Katherine (which is, yes, sometimes confusing). The second part of the game is traveling through Vincent’s guilt-ridden dreams, climbing a never-ending staircase. The game does an excellent job in presenting its characters as well-rounded, even though the two females start from very specific stereotypes: the older “librarian” and the younger “promiscuous” type, as dare2dream14 calls it. Unfortunately, the endings of the game are presented as the culmination of various male fantasies.

    We do need to take into account cultural difference when evaluating digital media responses from other cultures. At the same time, as dare2dream14 points out here, we also need to recognize how gender roles can reinforce existing stereotypes.


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