One common occurrence is fans searching for meanings in the names and visuals of characters. Let’s take an example: a female character from a romance anime wearing an outfit adorned with a particular flower.
This flower, in the language of flowers, may symbolize separation, sadness, and more. Fans then associate this with the character in question, giving them the impression that every anime, manga, or light novel created by the Japanese holds hidden meanings, subtexts, and nuances that should be treated with attention…
NO! An illustrator has requested that people stop doing this!
Illustrator urges fans to stop Seeking Meaning in Character Designs
Through his Twitter, an illustrator asked people to refrain from imposing meanings on the visuals of the characters they see: “I always come across information like ‘Meaning of piercings and rings’ or ‘Language of flowers’ or even ‘Meaning of eye color.’ I’ve seen ‘Characters hiding their right eye have a fixation on the past’ or ‘Wearing black gloves means they consider themselves a dirty presence.’ As an illustrator, I draw just for design reasons.”
“At least I don’t incorporate these meanings into the design of my characters, and I find it completely incomprehensible to have characters interpreted according to rules that others have arbitrarily decided. Please stop this; it doesn’t make sense; it’s just design.”
Let’s see how some Japanese people reacted to this fact?
“It’s true, right? Even if I think like that, in smaller genres where the supply has long dried up, there are people who try to forcibly extract what remains and find moe in it, so I ask you to overlook this. I know that the side writing only sees it as a design…”
“Interpretations and impressions are free for the reader… I think it’s not right to impose limits on the audience when the creation is exposed. On the other hand, it is also the right of the author to say ‘that wasn’t the intention.’ If you don’t like it, maybe it’s better to stop posting in public places, especially when it leads to abusive language in the comments.”
“I used to think the same way, but I think it’s okay. It’s annoying when there’s a lack of analysis, so I want people to do more.”
“That’s the ideal way for that person to interact with the work, and by no means does it represent the general opinion of illustrators, so let there be no misunderstandings.”
“Depending on the case, analyses have ‘conviction,’ so if they are based on the personality, past, and actions of the character, it’s okay with me. Let’s avoid forcing interpretations, okay? It’s good to have fun alone, but when it’s exposed, it can cause problems.”
Despite this artist talking about character design, it also applies to translation. Many translators are currently against AIs translating manga because only a human translator can “understand the nuances” of the Japanese language and what the original author wrote.
However, the truth is that most Japanese stories don’t have any of that. Many authors write simply and have no nuance. Authors don’t always seek meanings and references to include in their stories.
Animes like Madoka Magica are full of symbolism and are on purpose, but many other animes don’t have any of that. Their stories are simple, and the designs of the characters were made that way simply because the author wanted it.
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