Representation of different groups and identities has been a big political issue in the last few decades. Now, it has percolated in the field of entertainment as well, and we often hear about the lack of meaningful representation and diversity. Diversity is just as important, and with the world becoming more connected through modern transportation and communication, it is the need of the hour that there is less friction between different groups and identities to create a peaceful world. Today we would look at one of the groups that deserve more attention and representation since they have been sidelined for too long now.
The Autism community garners very little consideration, and there appears to be a lot of ignorance, which results in social stigma. If we look at the entertainment industry, it is not common to see autistic characters being given meaningful representation. However, things are changing, and, in a few years, we will probably see a general shift towards a much more inclusive cast. But when one looks at anime, it is disappointing that with so many shows, there is hardly any that has an officially confirmed autistic character.
However, there have been characters that are recognized by fans to be on the spectrum. Today we look at some of them and see whether anime is inclusive of them or not.
Kamille Biden is the only character in anime with an official autism diagnosis. His behavior and thoughts are an accurate representation of some of the traits of people on the spectrum. He never really understands or empathizes with the views of others and acts on his judgment only. He has often made remarks that are not appropriate, but he never really realizes what he can be offensive to others.
Once described as being on the spectrum by her voice actress, Futaba Sakura is shy but a brilliant girl. She was always an introverted girl and loved her own company. But her mother’s death had a lasting impression on her personality, and she went through a lot of personal trauma. After that, she avoided going outside and confined herself to her bedroom. She used the internet to connect to the outer world and preferred to stay away from everyone. Although she had her father, apart from him, there was no one that she would have a face-to-face interaction. She found it hard to deal with the trauma of losing her mother and struggled to make sense of what she was feeling.
L and Near
It would be impossible to talk about characters with autism and not include Death Note’s L. He is the world’s greatest detective, has amazing attention to detail, and ultra-focus. But he appears to have a lack of compassion, and his peculiar habits make him seem strange. Because of his unique habits and response to certain situations that have made fans feel that he might be on the spectrum. However, there has been no official confirmation to this day.
L’s successor Near appears to be lost in his world and pays little attention to anything else apart from his toys or the cases he is working on. He is logical and has little understanding of emotions. He seems to have no one that he has a bond with, and his social skills are even more limited compared to L.
Mei Hatsume is a genius inventor from My Hero Academia. She has little patience and time for human connection, as she is usually lost in his work. She has narrow interests in life, which is one of the traits of people on the spectrum. She spends all her time working on her inventions and often pushes them on other people. Mei always fails to understand things from other people’s perspectives. She acts strangely in many scenarios once she gropes Izuku from head to toe to test his physique, unaware that this is inappropriate for everyone standing there.
These were some of the characters from anime that are probably autistic, even though only one of them had been officially categorized as such—the reluctance of the anime industry to give more recognition to specific identities and groups is not uncommon. There is also the issue of lack of inclusion of black characters, and then there is a racist portrayal of such characters. It’s high time that just like movies and TV shows from the west, anime also recognizes the importance of inclusion and becomes more accepting of different groups and identities.