Concerning people who try to define a characters race by identifying their physical features.
I see alot of people calling out people who whitewash- perfect! wonderful! its really something everyone should do. but then they follow up their arguement talking about how a character has the facial and physical features of a certian race. While thats all good and well…
you can’t really define what a characters race is based on their features for a few reasons.
1.(artistic style) the most obviouse one. they aren’t detailed enough. on top of that any outstanding features could just be to redefine a characters personality. Ex. Mako is more refined and solem so he has a long and thinner body with sharp eyebrows and chin, much like the physique of a wolf. Bolin is comic relief, he’s naive and childlike but he’s very large and strong. he’ sort of like a big ol saintbernard. A snuffed nose and a broad chin and torso help define that.
or they could just be trying to avoid sameface.
or they don’t have a broad enough of defined enough spectrum. to be honest, unless we see what the creators define as a white person or an asian or any other race no one will ever be sure. people will just jump to their default. (the most common one being white which causes internalized rascism).
2. While its true that some races have more common distictions than others (ie, Asians have smaller eyes or Africans have broad noses) they don’t HAVE those distictions in cartoons.
THEY ARE CARTOON CHARACTERS. you’re lucky if you even get a nose drawn in there! and most eyes are rounded anyway. (true some cartoonists make some people with noticable distictions, but its usually drawn as a huge stereotype and sometimes can even be passed of as rascist or offensive) But you can’t use slight variation on eyes or ears or noses to prove you’re point because a. not everyone notices that. and b. not every drawing of the same character is the same (concerning eye width ect ect).
As well: not every african looks african. not every latino looks latino. stereotypes may be the majority. but the majority is only the people we’ve been exposed to in media. ( see: the Chris Rock contoversy) alot of people don’t look their nationality.
cartoon characters are usually draw with a big case of sameface. and sure. some animations are really good about defining characters either because a) it takes place in our world or be b) it is defined and said in story about the character. But i’m focusing more on wishy washy cartoons/animes like Legend of Korra or Avatar the last airbender or FullMetal Alchemist. i’m actually kind of making this post in response to: http://korraisnottan.tumblr.com/post/25664627562/ai-yo-littlelionheartedavatar
Physical features are often shody or imperminant or just to damn vague. when concerning race. the only stable way of determining it in animation is either by skin colour. (which can also be shody) or culture. (except in Korra alot of cultural diffusion has gone on. causing alot of controversy, so, even that is shody.)
personally I think Bolin and mako to have an italian-like race. judging by their olive skin. (also arguably moderatly asian honestly a little up in the air about them.)
Korra is deffinatly based off Inuit. thats like basicly canon jesus no one say anything else. (which may be the reason some white washing has happened ie. artists using inuit reference. it is common for inuits to be a bit whiter than some. (not to be used as an excuse))
Asami. i’m not sure. she actually looks a bit polish to me but thats totally off the wall. maybe arabic(she may be a bit too white for that)
also idk about you guys but lin is as white as a sheep. (which is odd because i consider toph to be somewhere around korean). maybe jewish. those pearly grey curlsss