Seizing on a small sample size of tweets supplied by a Japanese website, video game news outlet Kotaku published an article highlighting the few allegations of the white washing of Gym Leader Bea in her latest Pokemon: Twilight Wings anime appearance spinning the minority accusation into a more widespread controversy.
On February 20th, Japanese news aggregator Hachima Kikou reported, as an oddity, that a tiny group of Western fans had taken issue with Bea’s appearance in the latest episode of Pokemon: Twilight Wings, “Training.”
In their article, Hachima Kikou cited seven tweets, noting that these “oversea fans are spotty”:
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Hachima Kikou would conclude their article by offering up several defenses for Bea’s appearance, such as the fact that Bea is not black but rather deeply tan, that Bea’s darker appearance is seen within a closed Pokemon Gym, and that in Pokemon: Twilight Wings, Bea’s skin is being highlighted by bright sunlight due to training outdoors.
The same day, Kotaku staff writer Brian Ashcraft brought the nontroversy to widespread Western attention, publishing an article titled “Pokémon Anime Accused Of Whitewashing.”
In the article, Ashcraft discusses the same points made by the Hachima Kikou article, but concludes his article with a comparison image of Bea’s two appearances and stating “Uh…….”, implying in a less than subtle fashion that he agrees with the accusations.
Kit Harrison, the technical QA lead for Jurrassic World Evolution and Elite Dangerous series developer Frontier Developments, offered his support for the accusations, leveling the tired insult of “right-wing gamer chuds” against opponents and condescendingly hoping “future episodes correct this.”
This article will stir the pot of right-wing gamer chuds no doubt, but it’s right: even with the anime’s weird lighting, Bea very clearly has a lighter skin tone in the show than she does in the game. I hope future episodes correct this; I want to chalk it up as a simple error. pic.twitter.com/mZJ7v8rfA3
— Kit Harrison! 🎮 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈 (@KitFez) February 20, 2020
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However, despite Harrison’s assumed moral high ground, his statements proved to be some of the most unpopular concerning the issue:
Do tell us more about how you don’t actually understand the difference between lighting and saturation.
— Dangerous Zombie (@ZombieGamerLvX0) February 21, 2020
Dude, you’re White acting as if this is some breaking news. Have a comment from a Pokemon fan who’s Black; shut the hell up. You’re not doing us favors.
— 💝🍫🦑❤️🦑Hearts, Chocolates and SQUIDS🦑❤️🦑🍫💝 (@RainbowSquidInk) February 21, 2020
Hi, left wing artist here. You’re comparing a scene in an interior space, with a scene in plain direct sunlight to the face. Yor first clue should be that every other color is also lighter.
— Kukuruyo (@kukuruyo) February 21, 2020
As a member of the black community and descendent of Africans, I appreciate your desire to see people of a darker complex on screen.
No self respecting black person is gonna lose sleep when a racially ambiguous character like Bea looks a bit lighter in tone. WDC.
— S. Phantom Denizen 🇯🇲 (@SaberLumiEre) February 21, 2020
Translation: “I have no idea how shading and lighting works in animation.”
“BUt tHE rIGht-WInG GaMEr ChUDs”
Educate yourself before taking about things you clearly dont understand.
— Gald (@Galdeus1) February 22, 2020
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Similarly, most audiences who encountered Kotaku’s article saw through the disingenuous representation of Bea’s appearance and criticized the site for seemingly attempting to stir up artificial controversy and discourse:
Maybe if the social justice sweatpants brigade went outside in the sun instead of lurking in their parent’s garage, they would realize that skin tones look different in different types of lighting.
— Tet ♤ ♡ ♢ ♧ (@T_E_T_W_A_V_E) February 21, 2020
This wasn’t an outrage that had any traction, Kotaku just blew up this story because it gets a certain subset of games riled up.
— Soy Addict🏳️⚧️ (@idkLolaSomethin) February 21, 2020
By woke individuals who are more interested in faux activism and that don’t understand how lighting work, and by toxic Pokemon fans who want to find something to whine about.
— 🏴Ⓐ🔞 BΣƧЦBΛЯЦ 🔞Ⓐ🏴 (@BesuBaru) February 22, 2020
Do we seriously have to have this tired conversation again?!
— B r o c c u ~ (@ChawnSarter) February 21, 2020