I like watching my children develop hobbies that express their interests and pleasures. Both my children like books - Emma to read and Ken to listen (because he cannot read yet, although he is learning two languages quickly). Both Emma and Ken like to watch television and movie videos, but they have never played video games, so-called “television games,” or computer games. We live in Japan, but we have no Play Station. I am not even sure what Play Station is. We have a computer in the house, but it is mine. I am the only one who uses it, and I use it for documents and E-mail only. We have no game software for it.
Most of all, my children like to draw pictures - with black graphite pencils, pencil crayons, on bleached white printer paper, scrap paper, all kinds of paper. Like most parents, we keep samples of their work. In the future we can either embarrass them with it, or else use it as evidence to document their genius. Whatever. There are a few things that I notice about children’s pictures in Japan. My children share distinguishing characteristics shown by all Japanese children, and they also display a lot of differences between themselves.
Japanese children draw the most amazing animeillustrations - characters with huge watery eyes and long legs up to here just like what you see in Japanese professional anime andmanga (comic book) illustrations. It is part of Japanese culture, so they pick it up naturally and with a talent for imitation. By comparison, kids here are drawing these amazing pictures while their peers in Canada or the U.S. are probably still doodling stick men. Currently 11, Emma is very proficient at these kinds of pictures, and right now her dream is to grow up to be an illustrator or artist of some kind. At 6, Ken is not as proficient, although I am confident that he will follow his sister in this. Right from the start, Emma’s drawing has always concentrated on human figures, quickly focusing on cute female characters. Her younger brother is very different. Ken is drawing detailed representations of scenery - cityscapes, houses, etc. - with people in them and sky above. His sky scenes are surprisingly complete, with sun and clouds, moon and stars, and even meteorites all at once. Whereas Emma by his age had already focused on cute, female anime characters, Ken is doing scenes of human and family life that contain a lot of moving parts. I mean depictions of machinery, like Star Wars robots and such, but also action-filled representations of his everyday life: Nana and Grandpa’s house, nursery school, and our own apartment, filled with details of people actively doing things.
Emma’s superior drawings of human figures are just stationary. They are not doing anything except standing around looking cute. I think what I am observing here is evidence of hardwired sex role perceptions of the world.