I’ve noticed for a while now that a good majority of the shows I watch feature one or more characters who seem to constantly eat from one episode to the next. This snacker usually consumes ridiculously large amounts of food, yet somehow stays thin. Even though they constantly have some candy or treat in their mouths, I still find them cute. What gives?
Part of why this baffles me so much is because I compare the anime’s attitude towards food with what I perceive as the Japanese/Asian’s attitude towards food. Too much is unhealthy, unattractive, and wasteful. Why consume all the food when you don’t actually need it? Almost every Japanese person I’ve run across (admittedly mostly female, though some guys) has an obsession with dieting and staying thin. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been told how wasteful us Americans can be, and how high our numbers are for obesity amongst all age groups. Usually the tone I hear is disapproval, shock, and/or disgust. Yet despite all this, we have cutesy anime girls chomping down on Pocky as if they’re lives depend on it. Let’s list some examples, shall we?
There are tons more that I haven’t shown here who I’m sure you can name. Part of why I think this trend exists is because of desire, the desire to be able to eat whatever you want without having to worry about any consequences. What disgusts you can also fascinate you, and even tempt you. Part of what influences this notion is Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Culture (Seven Theses), a reading of which I’m very fond. One of his theses states that the monster is actually a kind of desire. Apply this to our gluttonous anime characters, and we have what every foodie desires: the ability to eat and eat and eat and not gain a single pound of fat.
So if not to fat, where does all the food go?
Pretty much every one of the above characters channels tons of energy into one medium or another, be it a lively personality or great physical prowess, or a mixture of both. I also tend to prefer these characters because of my own foodie tendencies and a general liking for lively people. I especially like the ones who eat a mixture of healthy and fatty food, showing an appreciation for the flavors of both.
If you’ll excuse me, I have a batch of fresh potato croquettes to polish off!
More interesting reads on anime and food:
- 2D Teleidoscope’s “The Udder Truth: Otome Youkai Zakuro and Modern Japanese Food”
- Nov3mber Project’s “Food in Anime”