Thinking back, my earliest memory of Asian Americans in the media is the anime Pokémon. When Pokémon first came out with their television show, I remember my brothers and I would always watch it in the morning. Eventually we had gotten so into the show that we started to collect the trading cards and would duel against each other. Charizard was my favorite Pokémon. I remember at one point, we began to collect the holographic cards but it was really hard to find a Charizard holographic. Eventually we had our parents start looking for that specific card and my dad happened to find it in a store in LA. We were definitely infatuated with everything that had to do with Pokémon, including the video games for Nintendo 64 and the ones that came out after that. Pokémon was my favorite when I was young and was my first memory of Asian Americans in the media. At the time, it was a brand new thing and it was very popular.
Back then, I never payed attention to how the characters were represented in the show or what the Pokémon’s represented as well because I was young and didn’t care for that kind of stuff. Now that I look back, Pokémon did not represent many Asian characteristics for an original Japanese anime show. The Pokémon movies and shows that I would watch were very Americanized. The characters spoke proper English and didn’t look Asian that much. The only character that looked somewhat Asian is one of the main characters, Brock, who was the only one that had slanted eyes.
A side note that I did not know about in Pokémon back then was the use of black face. One of the Pokémon had a black face with big pink lips. The color of her face was changed to purple because it was seen as an African-American racial stereotype by the way she looked and how she wiggled her hips all the time. An African-American cultural critic was the one that pointed out the use of blackface. It is crazy to me how I never knew about it because she was just an anime character to me and I was too young to know about stereotypes at the time. She was critiqued as the use of blackface and for that her character’s image changed. She went from a black face to a purple face.
As a young girl, I wasn’t aware of the stereotypes that went on and didn’t pay attention to details of how the media portrayed people. Now that I have grown up and seen what kind of stereotypes there are in today’s world, I get a sense of the media’s representations of people and their cultures.