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Anime News Network asked Gio & Yasha to write an article about Utena, Empty Movement, and they totally called us superfans, omg. Think of it as a belated Valentine's to Utena, its fandom, and the excellent friendships we've made along the way. 20 Years of Utena Fandom with the Ultimate Superfans!!!

#1 | Back to Top09-11-2009 10:11:17 PM

lily.chou.chou
New Student
Registered: 09-11-2009
Posts: 1

Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

As far as I remember no one in the series or the movie refers to this fact. Then again, nobody refers to anyone else's hair color, either. I guess you could say that it doesn't really matter, but I can't think of another anime which has Indian characters. Then again, their voice actors are Japanese and their names have Japanese etymology. But I still wonder.

Here's a picture for reference:  Chu...

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#2 | Back to Top09-11-2009 10:13:46 PM

BioKraze
Faceless Master
From: Yuma, Arizona (USA)
Registered: 11-26-2006
Posts: 8278

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

My theory is that they are indeed Indian, but have had so much time since Dios' fall that they could afford to spend a great deal of time in Japan and learn the nuances of culture and language. For Akio and Anthy, it wouldn't be as hard as it would be for normal mortals. I mean, we're talking demi-gods and demi-goddesses here!

But yes, generally, the heritage of the Himemiya family is left up to the discretion of the viewer.


Roses have thorns to stop those who would dare deny their right to live.
Chu...: For every lover of lesbians out there, there is an equal and opposite attraction to Dippin' Dots.

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#3 | Back to Top09-11-2009 10:51:05 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10327
Website

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

lily.chou.chou wrote:

I can't think of another anime which has Indian characters.

Niea_7 has an Indian character.  Sort of.  He has Indian skin tones, a Hindi accent, is always surrounded by what's supposed to be Indian music, wears a turban, runs a convenience store, and is in all other ways as much a stereotype as one could conceive of... except that it turns out he's actually a peaceful space alien who has assumed the guise of a stereotypical Indian.  The issue of the stereotyping is actually a plot point, and it's handled rather interestingly.  The show is light fare but tasty -- it's by Yoshitoshi ABe, who's better known for his similarly philosophical (but heavier) Haibane Renmei and Serial Experiments Lain -- and worth a watch.

But of course none of that is really on point, is it?  emot-smile  Honestly, I think it was probably a way to make Anthy and Akio stand out as different.  In a world of unusual people, they are the most unusual: they're archetypes brought down to earth.  Modern Japan is in some ways a Western country, and they probably mythologize India just like the rest of us do; it would be natural for mythological characters to be Indian.  I'm sure Ikuni and Saito also jumped at the chance to have a central character with a bindi, a mark that simultaneously symbolizes marriage and wisdom.  Anthy is the Rose Bride, and she's also the character most in need of clear self-knowledge and insight.

Or Ikuni could just have thought Indians are hot.  He's like that.  You never know with him.

Last edited by satyreyes (09-11-2009 10:53:49 PM)

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#4 | Back to Top09-12-2009 09:53:49 AM

The_A_Man
Someday Shiner
From: Canada
Registered: 02-22-2009
Posts: 9107
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Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Well I think it's something we just assume. There really isn't any way to prove it, nor is there a way to disprove it. The only way I could think of to get the real answer is to ask Ikuhara ourselves, though I really doubt I'd be the one to do that.

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#5 | Back to Top09-12-2009 10:22:30 AM

Duelist Megu
Ruthless Deflorist
From: Calgary, AB
Registered: 12-07-2007
Posts: 303
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Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

I mean, I'm wondering if it could also just be an association between South Asia and heavy, ancient mystical shit.  And honestly, I'm thinking it almost makes sense to think of them as Hindu divine figures.  They're clearly way more than human, and Anthy's got her avatar-self running around in Ohtori while her true self is still upstairs, which kind of seems akin to Krishna's incarnations and such.  I don't feel like I can structure this argument really well here, but is anyone else taking this angle?

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#6 | Back to Top09-12-2009 04:22:47 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
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Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Akio and Anthy aren't the first Indian characters to appear in Saito's work, and as I understand it, she did the original character designs. Changes were made in transition to the series, mostly involving hair color and uniforms, but the original call was hers.

Given that, I think a lot of the motivation was just plain old 'this is exotic'. I would ignore the names, since it's rare that non-Japanese characters appear in anime anyway--the only example I can think of is Asuka, and most of her name is Japanese. They're definitely meant to be taken for Indian; a dark skin tone alone would be ambiguous but they specify it with bindi/tilak. When you think of how anime is put together, it becomes kind of necessary to use skin tone to create exotic--an American/European character won't look much different from a Japanese one in that animation or manga style, and indeed whenever that's done it has to be made a specific plot point or people forget the character's not Japanese. They could have made the characters black, but there again in anime style that usually requires changing how the faces are drawn and such. Indian just makes sense--the style can stay, it's exotic coloring, and the bindi is a tell-tale marking.

I think in the end it's just that and that they're mystical and shit.


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#7 | Back to Top09-12-2009 05:42:35 PM

Raven Nightshade
Someday Shiner
From: Louisiana
Registered: 12-17-2006
Posts: 2909

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

I've always thought that the use of dark-skinned characters in anime/manga was never random, especially in series that have any sort of magical element to them. I theorize that it's done to blatantly differentiate that character from the rest of the cast, and they are often the most mysterious characters in the series with one of the least developed backgrounds.

EDIT: There have been other Indian characters in anime. Rakshata from Code Geass for example.

Last edited by Raven Nightshade (09-12-2009 09:20:06 PM)


Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again.
It's so far and out of sight.
I really need someone to talk to and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight.

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#8 | Back to Top09-12-2009 06:41:37 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

lily.chou.chou wrote:

Here's a picture for reference:  Chu...

I've got a question: Who actually drew that picture?

I think my very first Utena question ever was why they looked Indian, and this thread already mentions all the ideas I have ever heard. India has myriads of deities and demi-gods and one advantage with making them Indian is that the viewer would not spend time trying to figure out which Japanese deity they might be.

It may also be a way to signal that they are exiles and outsiders and also perhaps possess secrets that are simultaneously dark and profound. It may also be a shortcut way of saying ANCIENT and perhaps by extension ADULT and DECADENT.

I'm still floundering.

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#9 | Back to Top09-12-2009 06:44:32 PM

Aine Silveria
Pumpkin Bride
From: Allegan, MI
Registered: 11-03-2006
Posts: 2098

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Raven Nightshade wrote:

Integra from Hellsing are two.

not to derail the thread, but Integra is, in both manga and anime, very very British. And not at all Indian.


http://i1130.photobucket.com/albums/m526/aines_pixels/mikageirgsig02-2012.png

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#10 | Back to Top09-12-2009 09:20:25 PM

Raven Nightshade
Someday Shiner
From: Louisiana
Registered: 12-17-2006
Posts: 2909

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Fixed it.


Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever gonna make it home again.
It's so far and out of sight.
I really need someone to talk to and nobody else
Knows how to comfort me tonight.

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#11 | Back to Top09-12-2009 09:36:53 PM

Giovanna
Ends of the Forum
From: Edmonton, AB
Registered: 10-12-2006
Posts: 8617
Website

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

brian wrote:

I've got a question: Who actually drew that picture?

Shinya Hasegawa. He did the character designs for the anime and movie. (He seems primarily to be a key animator, but given the character designs were already half-completed...)


Also, do thou wear thine suits and cuffs, be thee male or no, for such attire doth please my girl parts. - Gios 3:15
Chiefest of Calamities

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#12 | Back to Top09-13-2009 02:40:08 PM

Lightice
Azure Paleontologist
From: Finland
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 1255

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

satyreyes wrote:

The issue of the stereotyping is actually a plot point, and it's handled rather interestingly.  The show is light fare but tasty -- it's by Yoshitoshi ABe, who's better known for his similarly philosophical (but heavier) Haibane Renmei and Serial Experiments Lain -- and worth a watch.

Off topic, but ABe had nothing to do with Lain's storyline - he did nothing but character designs based on already existing descriptions. In NieA_7 he did some suggestions to the characterizations, but still had little to nothing to do with the script. The only series he has actually written plot to is Haibane Renmei. The only person present in making all ABe's series was the producer Yasuyuki Ueda, who deserves a lot more credit for the concepts of the shows, with the exception of Haibane Renmei which he produced as a personal favour to ABe.

As for the topic itself, I think that there's the straightforward explanation and symbolical explanation, both which may be correct. Namely that Indians simply are exotic to the Japanese, and Akio and Anthy are supposed to feel foreign and special. I suspect that the symbolical explanation may be the Indian-originated concept of Avatar, connecting to my belief that Akio and Anthy are supposed to be abstractions in flesh - the duality of male and female, sky and earth, Yin and Yang, Prince and Witch, but corrupted and incomplete.

not to derail the thread, but Integra is, in both manga and anime, very very British. And not at all Indian.

Actually her mother was Indian, if I remember correctly. Remember that India used to be a British Colonial Territory. She has duskier skin than the rest of the cast because of this.

Last edited by Lightice (09-13-2009 02:40:35 PM)


Hei! Aa-Shanta 'Nygh!

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#13 | Back to Top09-13-2009 04:06:38 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
Registered: 10-16-2006
Posts: 10327
Website

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Lightice wrote:

satyreyes wrote:

The issue of the stereotyping is actually a plot point, and it's handled rather interestingly.  The show is light fare but tasty -- it's by Yoshitoshi ABe, who's better known for his similarly philosophical (but heavier) Haibane Renmei and Serial Experiments Lain -- and worth a watch.

Off topic, but ABe had nothing to do with Lain's storyline - he did nothing but character designs based on already existing descriptions. In NieA_7 he did some suggestions to the characterizations, but still had little to nothing to do with the script. The only series he has actually written plot to is Haibane Renmei. The only person present in making all ABe's series was the producer Yasuyuki Ueda, who deserves a lot more credit for the concepts of the shows, with the exception of Haibane Renmei which he produced as a personal favour to ABe.

Thank you, I didn't know that!

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#14 | Back to Top09-14-2009 11:25:08 AM

Aine Silveria
Pumpkin Bride
From: Allegan, MI
Registered: 11-03-2006
Posts: 2098

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Lightice wrote:

not to derail the thread, but Integra is, in both manga and anime, very very British. And not at all Indian.

Actually her mother was Indian, if I remember correctly. Remember that India used to be a British Colonial Territory. She has duskier skin than the rest of the cast because of this.

.... wait, what? Hellsing trivia I don't know? Can you point me to this?

Granted, I don't believe that her 'duskier skin', if that's even the case (which I don't know for sure because I don't have immediate access to the manga or DVD's and I don't want to go searching right now), means much of anything.


http://i1130.photobucket.com/albums/m526/aines_pixels/mikageirgsig02-2012.png

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#15 | Back to Top09-14-2009 02:09:30 PM

Lightice
Azure Paleontologist
From: Finland
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 1255

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Lady Chani wrote:

Granted, I don't believe that her 'duskier skin', if that's even the case (which I don't know for sure because I don't have immediate access to the manga or DVD's and I don't want to go searching right now), means much of anything.

It's not outright stated, but in the manga Integra has visibly darker skin than the rest of the cast, and in the first anime series there is a photograph of her as an infant being held by a woman in sari, presumably her mother.


Hei! Aa-Shanta 'Nygh!

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#16 | Back to Top09-23-2009 01:11:19 AM

Android raptor
Rose Smilee
From: North GA, USA
Registered: 08-11-2009
Posts: 126
Website

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

I can't think of another anime which has Indian characters.

Chu...


I kind of wonder whether or not certain aspects of Anthy's character design were in any way influenced or inspired by Lalah. Gundam's been a pretty big phenomenon in Japan since the mid-80's (though at first it was an unbelievable failure), and the large, pupil-less green eyes, updone hair, and ethereal, almost non-human and surreal natures they both share make me feel there might be more than just coincidence at work.

Plus like Anthy/some Utena stuffs in general, Lalah has been shown to "come back from the dead" in a way.

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#17 | Back to Top09-28-2009 03:09:15 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Skuld from Ah My Goddess. Am not sure what to make of this.
Chu...

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#18 | Back to Top09-28-2009 04:58:31 PM

Agito
Eternal Eschatologist
Registered: 08-25-2009
Posts: 901
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Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

I never saw Skuld as Indian.

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#19 | Back to Top09-28-2009 05:02:05 PM

Aine Silveria
Pumpkin Bride
From: Allegan, MI
Registered: 11-03-2006
Posts: 2098

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Urd may be more construed as such, but I can see the confusion. They all have forehead markings, which may be alluding to the mysticism of India. Or something.


http://i1130.photobucket.com/albums/m526/aines_pixels/mikageirgsig02-2012.png

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#20 | Back to Top09-29-2009 03:02:07 PM

Lightice
Azure Paleontologist
From: Finland
Registered: 10-21-2006
Posts: 1255

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Lady Chani wrote:

Urd may be more construed as such, but I can see the confusion. They all have forehead markings, which may be alluding to the mysticism of India. Or something.

Nope. The facial markings signify divinity in anime - literally every time you see a god in anime, they have something on their face. It originates from Kabuki theatre, I think. Urd, Skuld and Belldandy (Verthandi) are supposed to be the Norns of Norse mythology, so they don't really have anything at all to do with India, but for some reason that pic brian linked has Skuld in Indian, or maybe Middle-Eastern garb, playing a sitar. I wonder if it's official or fanart.


Hei! Aa-Shanta 'Nygh!

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#21 | Back to Top09-30-2009 08:52:34 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Lightice wrote:

Skuld in Indian, or maybe Middle-Eastern garb, playing a sitar. I wonder if it's official or fanart.

I think it is official.

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#22 | Back to Top10-03-2009 11:45:27 PM

MissKosmic
Miki Molester
From: Oregon
Registered: 12-01-2008
Posts: 39
Website

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

I definitely think they are meant to be Indian, perhaps to make them seem more mystical, ancient, or exotic, and I think it has something to do with them both being so desirable to the opposite sex. I wonder if it's common in Japan for Indian people to be seen as attractive? Or maybe just the opinion of the person who made it.

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#23 | Back to Top10-05-2009 01:40:21 PM

tohubohu
Precious One
From: Boston metro area
Registered: 11-02-2006
Posts: 289
Website

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

IIRC, there were complaints about SKU in Japan because of the "black" characters (Anthy and Akio).  I expect this information was filtered through various sources, so I don't know what the original complaints actually *were* ("dark-skinned"? "Indian"? etc?).  I wouldn't be surprised if, in Japan, there was a general sort of mushing together of people of alternate color under a given term.  This was certainly true in the US until the 20th century (eg, in Delaware, a group of dark-skinned people were called "Moors" for years/centuries; recently, it was revealed that these people were the last of a local nearly-destroyed Native American tribe that happened to marry into the local population; also, there was just one term, generally, on US censuses to identify non-white people).

I agree with folks who suggest that this was probably to mark them as "Other."

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#24 | Back to Top01-29-2010 12:17:00 AM

minervana
High Tripper
Registered: 10-10-2009
Posts: 246

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Part of it might be stereotypes about dark skinned people. I remember reading an essay where the writer described how, in almost every romantic comedy or love story you'll see on film, the male actor is darker-skinned than the female one. Part of this is nature (women have naturally lighter skin) but part of it is that women are more attracted to dark skin than men, hence "the fairer sex" and "tall, dark and handsome." Or something to that effect. That's sort of a nice underlining of the double standard: while Akio's skin makes him sexy, Anthy's makes her "different."

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#25 | Back to Top01-29-2010 06:37:05 PM

Cyrias
Tenjou Tilter
From: Exploring the psyche
Registered: 10-04-2009
Posts: 83

Re: Why are Anthy and Akio Indian? (or are they Indian?)

Or maybe as the Rose Bride and White Prince, Akio/Dios (a deity in the RGU manga) and Dios/Akio only chose to appear that way as a human-like Incarnation, because the epitome of pure goodness would be too difficult to fathom. And maybe because Anthy was labelled as a disputed 'witch' by the villagers, Anthy has the power to change her appearance through sheer willpower alone, and maybe the long haired Anthy was her True Form, the Rose Bride was her (depowered) form.

Although it is interesting that in many Hindu myths, Indian deities come down in human incarnated forms (Avatar) in every generation to defeat and purge evil demons... maybe its the same symbolism with Utena and Anthy?

Last edited by Cyrias (01-29-2010 06:38:45 PM)


In lumine tuo, videbimus amor ('In your light, we shall love') Slippy slippery mambo~ everyone at Ohtori is in some kind of spiritual land, created by Goddess Anthy and her brother Akio?!

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