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Feminism in Anime


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A look into feminism in anime, and how it related to Japanese culture.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor
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Feminism in Anime

  1. 1.  Like any mass media product, anime has widespread cultural impact, and as such needs to be evaluated critically for its gender dynamics  Most anime, percentage-wise, is consumed by children, making negative gender stereotypes especially damaging
  2. 2.  Japanese women, more-so than in first world countries, are marginalized in the workplace  Most Japanese women are part-time workers or stay-at-home mothers, despite being highly educated  Having a salaryman husband is key
  3. 3.  OL (Office Lady) culture is a good example of how Japan treats its female professionals  Patriarchal ideals are still strong in Japan, specifically for child-care
  4. 4.  Fanservice girl: no utility beyond partial nudity Examples: Queen's Blade, Kanokon, Kiss x Sis, harem shows in general Shows objectification, relative worth of females
  5. 5.  The mother: Nags the protagonist, then makes him dinner. Examples: Chi Chi from DBZ, Hiroko from Hajime no Ippo, many other shonen moms Reflects Japanese values of housewives
  6. 6.  The objective: Save her and complete your quest! Examples: Yuria from Hokuto no Ken, Holly from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Nico Robin during Enies Lobby in One Piece, Rukia during the Soul Society Arc in Bleach Standard damsel in distress trope, but the key here is when formerly useful characters become useless so they can be saved
  7. 7.  Most of my examples are from Shonen, because it's emblematic of the problems in the genre as a whole, and by far the biggest market in the anime industry  Shojo, Seinen and Josei have their own problems, which I will detail on the next slides.
  8. 8.  While male role-models in Shonen may want to rule the world, become the strongest or become rich, girls just want Senpai to notice them. This gives a young, impressionable girls a warped perspective of what they should be aiming for in their lives, for someone else to validate them. While this is also not exclusive to anime/manga, it's particularly pernicious with series meant for young girls
  9. 9.  Seinen series rarely have any women at all, especially in major roles. This is reflective of the trend of increasing singleness among middle-aged Japanese men; they don't have women in their lives and don't want them in their fiction either.
  10. 10.  Josei manga, intended for adult women, does generally have gender-positive characters and stories. However, owing to its target audience, it sells far less than all other types of manga. Recommendations: Chihayafuru, Nodame Cantabile, Gokusen
  11. 11.  Male characters in anime are typically either very weak-willed or stereotypical manly men, reinforcing typical gender stereotypes.  These are less damaging, overall, than the negative female stereotypes, because the male characters are generally successful heroes.
  12. 12.  Madoka Magica has multitudes of strong female characters, but the most interesting in terms of gender dynamics is Madoka’s stay-at-home father.  The Madoka universe is filled with unreal buildings, magic, and somehow the most unrealistic thing is Madoka’s dad.
  13. 13.  For the first 5 parts, most of the story of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is about men saving women.  Part 6 is about a woman saving herself. This part was widely critically acclaimed, but the author fought with editorial over it and eventually moved magazines as a result of the disputes.
  14. 14.  A series about a young female tennis player, this manga is all about feminine self-sacrifice.  While it’s hard to clarify without deep spoilers, this is an example of a truly realistic (flawed, but still good) independent female character.
  15. 15.  Because Japan is a male-centric society, anime simply reflects what Japan is like.  Some media, like the works of Studio Ghibli have decent feminist material, but they're few and far between.  Japanese culture has to change for anime to change, so it will take a long time.