Whether it be a story about a submarine crew led by a female captain that fights evil sea mutants, or a young half-dragon half-human hybrid girl that just wants to lead a normal life: anime and manga can get pretty outside the box.
Am I making a wide sweeping statement here? Yes. But I think it’s fair to say that Japanese storytelling is unique in the way that it doesn’t just focus solely on white male leads. You could click on any show on Viewster and each one you watch is going to give you a more diverse cast than most American shows. I only know my narrow American experience here, but this is an aspect of Japanese culture that I wish would spread.
Female leads in western entertainment are seen as something rare, but in Japanese animated shows like Murder Princess, High School of the Dead, or Kill La Kill, a female lead is practically standard. Many anime series are also not anxious about featuring LGBTQ characters in leading roles; like the original Japanese Sailor Moon or Attack on Titan. I’m not saying all anime always display the most positive representations of these underrepresented groups, but at least they are putting them out there. Eventually quality rises up through the mass of quantity; that’s why we shouldn’t be afraid of putting a wider range of characters in our television series or movies. Anime and manga have a long history of celebrating diversity and what’s different.
These are the aspects of Japanese entertainment that the rest of the world should adopt. You will never find a larger variety of ideas than in anime and the more wide-ranging our entertainment becomes the better it will be. If you think about the shows you love, it’s probably because you found something in them that spoke specifically to you.
The fact that anime series and films are unafraid to feature more diverse cast means that there is something out there for literally everyone. A more inclusive way of thinking will always invite a stronger sense of belonging among any audience.