Other people have approached this topic before, but I want to do it without immediately dipping into claims of racism or whitewashing. What I’m talking about is how women in the manga are pale, while men are dark.
I can think of multiple male/female instances where this happens.
- The Strauss siblings. Mirajane and Lisanna are pale, while Elfman is dark-skinned.
- The Tower of Heaven crew. Milliana is pale, while Sho is dark-skinned.
- The Oracion Seis. Putting to one side the incredibly uncomfortable experience of watching Brain, a black man, turn white when he turns more evil (not pale, literally Caucasian white), he and Cobra are dark-skinned, while Angel is pale.
- Scorpio and Aquarius. Pale female, dark-skinned male.
- The Seven Kin of Purgatory. Ultear and Meredy are pale, while Azuma is dark-skinned.
- Jiemma and Minerva. Minerva is pale, while Jiemma is dark-skinned.
- Pisces in human form. The mother is pale, while the son is dark-skinned.
- Arcadios and Yukino/Hisui. Hisui and Yukino are pale, while Arcadios is dark-skinned.
- The Spriggan Twelve. Ajeel and August in his battle form are both dark-skinned, while the women are light-skinned.
Dark-skinned men without any nearby females include, of all people, Acnologia. Men that reach into the “probably still on the dark edge of light-skinned” include Jager, Ivan Dreyar, Dan Straight, Bluenote Stinger, and Jura Neekis. In some cases, it’s apparently supposed to be attributed to a tan (I believe that was Cobra or Elfman, don’t quote me), and in other cases it’s probably their home locale (Sho and Azuma).
Believe me, I’m not complaining about the dark men’s skin tones–every one of them on this list ranges from ‘pleasantly muscled’ to ‘damn fine as hell’. But I’m just wondering where the dark women are at. There are exactly three dark-skinned women in the whole series, and two of them only appear in the anime (Sue and Eclipse Aries). It especially doesn’t make sense for people who are blood relatives to have such different skin tones, especially as hair color seems to match in most cases (Pisces, the Strauss siblings).