The American Character from Do It Yourself!! Annoys Me

It’s a pretty nice anime, but the Do It Yourself anime American character really annoys me in a few ways.

This Fall 2022 anime came and went without a ton of fanfare, but it’s one of the very few original series that release each year. Not based on a book, manga, game, toy line, or anything else, just a straight-up story. It’s a clear Yuru Camp cash-in, trying to get a crossover audience with the classic Cute Girls Doing Cute Things shows. Most CGDCT shows are pretty heavily male audience due to anime stereotypes, but Yuru Camp was a fairly mainstream hit–and D.I.Y. wanted to do that too!

I’m not sure it succeeded, but it got a live-action adaptation recently, so at least there’s that. Did it egg on the D.I.Y. craze among teens like Yuru Camp did for camping? Probably not, but there’s always time for another season or two to make things really popular. We’re in the streaming age, after all, so a mid-level performing first season no longer dooms anime when they’ve got such low budgets to begin with.

Anyway. It’s a good anime, with nice characters, mildly educational, and a cool near-future setting. But I’m very annoyed by the Do It Yourself anime American character, and that’s what I’m here to rant about.

Do It Yourself anime American character

Her nickname is Jobko, which is really cute. She’s an extremely rich character, a 12-year-old prodigy, who meant to go to the elite tech high school, but accidentally enrolled in the neighboring normal high school instead.

I’m a big fan of foreigner characters in anime, if only because literally any representation is nice. Japan has up to 10% of its population as foreigners or at least 1/4 foreign ancestry. But the rate of representation among them in media? Far, far less than even 1%. Most of these foreign and mixed people are Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean, but even stereotypical white blonde-hair-blue-eye foreigners are at least SOMETHING.

At least that’s what I thought until this Do It Yourself anime American character came around.

She’s a major character in the show! But there’s not even a base attempt to dive into her character as a foreigner. Her first appearance deals with language barriers and loneliness, but it lasts for 5 minutes until it goes away.

(By the way, there’s actually a second foreigner major character, Shii, from Southeast Asia. They do EVEN LESS with her foreigner status, and don’t even say her country. She’s cute too though.)

Being 12 and alone in a foreign country is tough, but she makes plenty of friends through the D.I.Y. club and learns new things about technology and Japanese snacks. She has to go back home at the end of the term, which makes everyone sad and emotional… And it’s done pretty well.

It’s just the execution of her existence that annoys me.

For one, the voice actor isn’t foreigner. She’s not even fluent in English. She spouts off English phrases out of textbooks that no American teen would be caught dead saying, and her Japanese grammar and pronunciation is essentially perfect other than a weird accent–NOT an American accent, either.

You’re telling me the entire Japanese seiyuu industry didn’t have a single voice actor who can fluently speak English? This is a very big indsutry, and there are plenty of actors who would have done really well with the part, I’m sure.

This is actually a big problem in all Japanese media. There are so many cases of characters who are native English speakers, but then they cast Japanese who absolutely aren’t fluent. Shin Godzilla, for example, and its “American” character.

There’s plenty of examples of American characters speaking bad Japanese, but it’s usually small snippets. Not characters whose entire purpose is to be a foreigner.

It shows a lack of attention to detail, and a lack of interest in actually portraying diversity.

For the Do It Yourself anime American character, casting a very-not-fluent English speaker as an American is just one symptom of not really going beyond surface level. Her being an American is an origin story, never meant to be explored beyond an origin story.

Like, Jobko’s full name is Juliet Queen Elizabeth… Why did an American give their kid two middle names and also make those names the ruler of Great Britain? It’s never explained, but it sure feels like the writers just made up a random foreigner name. Come on!

It’s so close to great. They have a character who struggles with loneliness and cultural/language barriers. And a second foreign character who’s been through those struggles and can help out. But the show doesn’t do anything with it!

I’m not holding it against the anime itself. I’m holding against the broader Japanese entertainment industry for not giving a shit about foreigners or diversity at all. There’s millions of us in this country, and tens of millions of people with diverse family backgrounds. So why’s there never any representation beyond stuff like this, an exchange student in a slice-of-life anime who doesn’t match at all with the real-life exchange student experience?

Stuff like this fuels my righteous anger. Japan isn’t some monolithic racially pure ethnostate. It’s a huge country with so much beautiful diversity. And I want to make a story that shows people that side of it.

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5 thoughts on “The American Character from Do It Yourself!! Annoys Me

  1. I guess it makes sense that media-savvy people from countries with very vocal, very widely spread and visualized culture mixing ‘n’ mingling are having totally different conversations, and facing different expectations, about how to depict characters on TV than Japanese execs. Why didn’t they put more care into this character? I guess they really did only care about the surface level. It’s always weird to bump into stuff that would be gawked at and massacred by an increasing amount of viewers worldwide and is…just still normal and uncontroversial where it airs.

    Don’t @ me though I have two middle names 8 (

    1. This article isn’t at all to say American media is innocent of this stuff; Hispanic characters in American media love to randomly throw in Spanish words for some reason and Japanese nationals who come to America and AREN’T the kids of rich aristocratic Zaibatsu leaders are shockingly rare. But it’s changing for the better, and quickly, at least for, say, different groups of Asian-Americans throughout movies, TV, and animation–that recent Disney show Amphibia specifically had a Thai-American protagonist and the story actually did stuff with that, allegedly. That’s cool.

      If your two middle names aren’t Queen Elizabeth I don’t want to hear it

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