Post-TGS 2009: Yes We Can Make You Uncomfortable About Race!
Jones' post about the "Mr. James" character at McDonald's touched on weird racial stuff, but Mr. James is a white dude (an incredibly white dude). What about black people? Like, say, the first African-American president of the United States?
He's a cute little vending-machine character! The letters going down the middle of his suit say "CHANGE." OK, pretty harmless, even fun, right? Next Obama thing I saw was on the subway:
The picture's a little blurry, so to clarify, yes, that's a Japanese Obama impersonator in blackface on the left. (I don't know who the other blackface guy is supposed to be.) This made me kinda uncomfortable. And then there was this at a branch of the famous Mandarake anime/collectibles store:
Yeesh. I realize that it's a vintage item and so on, but really, right outside the front door? At one of the country's most famous collectibles stores?
So in terms of race portrayals that just might raise some eyebrows stateside, "Mr. James" is the tip of Japan's iceberg.