Japanese media needs to stop glorifying abusive relationships

October 31, 2010

There are all kinds of people out there and pretty much all of them are capable of finding romance, but sometimes it seems like the only men we see in a romantic context are the exact same ones that the Nice Guys TM complain about.

I just read about the plot of Metroid: Other M (and I will be sticking to Metroid Prime, thanks very much).

And it reminded me of the trend that has caused me to make this last issue of Asuka magazine the last one I will buy (barring super super awesome furoku or something). I haven’t done a formal survey, but the trend of the male love interest being a complete asshole to the female protagonist just got to be too much. (And of course she is never allowed to really defend herself, he never gets comeuppance, because then he wouldn’t be so infuriatingly superior, which is what we apparently are supposed to like. At best she eventually gets some acknowledgment that she doesn’t completely suck, but she is certainly not allowed to expect any kind of actual emotional support or perceptible respect.) There have been times when reading that magazine has ruined my day, and the entertainment value when it doesn’t is just not worth the risk.

Aside: It didn’t help that this month’s installment of Kiss of the Rose Queen featured that same cliched emotional blackmail dialogue that I hate. Note to everyone: Do not try to get your close friends to stop doing X by telling them “I hate people who do X,” especially if you are then going to say you love them after they respond by swearing off of X. It makes you look like an asshole and also really, really fickle. Also I have seen and heard that conversation several hundred times already, and it was stupid and melodramatic every single time. If anyone said that to me, I’d immediately change our relationship from “friendship” to “polite but distant acquaintanceship,” but I get the impression that I just have an abnormally low tolerance for manipulative bullshit. At least in this instance, it was the female protagonist being an asshole to a member of her reverse harem, but you know she is going to wind up with Kaede because he is an asshole and therefore obviously the main, real love interest.

So in conclusion, romantic narratives marketed to girls are squicky and horrifying. I guess this sells. I guess women are trained to find this kind of thing appealing. There would be nothing wrong with this if it were just a part of the natural variety of human romance and sexuality, but it really squicks me out that this is the mainstream, this is normal, there are no other options. Something must have gone terribly wrong with me because I find assholish behavior a complete turn-off. I am such a pervert!

It also occurs to me that of the Asuka comics I still want to read, a lot of them have male protagonists, and don’t really have love interests at all (which makes sense, since a straight female audience wouldn’t enjoy a vicarious relationship with a woman and this isn’t a BL magazine).

In conclusion, Japanese media is scary (in that it portrays lots of really messed up relationships in an uncritical and positive way in both manga and video games). Possibly even more than American media. How to Train Your Dragon flunked the Bechdel test (but I love it anyway), and Percy Jackson was just messed up, but not this messed up (at least in terms of romance and love interests), and that’s about all I know about recent American media.

Now I better hit post before the cat gets on the keyboard, because she is really determined to. Also, Happy Halloween!



March 20, 2010

What’s been going on lately?

Well, a while ago there was some kind of weird fail chapter in Shounen Sunday’s manga by Watase Yuu, Arata Kangatari. One of the guys Arata had to fight had this underling who was a big, infantilized fat guy, who for some reason never moved. I guess this was supposed to be funny. Fortunately he largely disappeared after the one chapter in which he figured prominently. (Can I just say that this whole kudashi thing kind of freaks me out? His sword basically eats all his opponents. I hope they all get restored at the end because Arata’s magic sword is all special like that.)

In that Gakuen Tengoku manga in Wings, the fat character lost a lot of weight over a completely unrealistic time period. Like, a couple of days. That doesn’t even happen on The Biggest Loser. How did this happen? I don’t really know, but I think it was through vampire magic, and possibly vampire sex. (Sex burns calories, ha ha joke.) Now that he is thin, his vampire girlfriend treats him with kindness, but she wants him to be fat again because she realized she liked his body that way and that was why they initially got together. (If he does, will she resume treating him like dirt as she did before?) I thought there might be more explanation of this, but they have gone off to other plotlines instead. My theory is that they realized they had a fat character who was not entirely relegated to being the butt of jokes and they had to do something to stop that regardless of whether it made sense or contributed to the story in any way, possibly because readers wrote in to complain about having to look at a fat character without mockery. But they could come back to it later. I won’t get my hopes up.

Sakura can't do anything except believe!In Shounen Jump, I have been peeved by the casual killing off of female Naruto characters, but they never stayed dead so I guess it doesn’t count. Plus, there have been other huge death cheats lately as well. Last week, Sakura tried to do something I won’t go into because of plot spoilers, but didn’t have the guts and required rescuing. This week, she goes on for a page about how useless she is and how she can’t do anything about the current situation the characters find themselves in, except for believing in Naruto and another important character. This is because she has a terrible genetic condition where her Y chromosome has an extra leg, making her unusually prone to inaction and fervent believing in people. Also, it was revealed that she accidentally poisoned someone while she was screwing up last weak. Fail, Sakura. You are the female lead and you are not anything remotely resembling on a level with the male lead. You are several tiers down from the characters who actually influence the plot. And it really annoys me that you spent a page pointing this out to the readers. (This is not Sakura’s fault; it is the author and editors’.)

On a superficial level, the Naruto world is pretty gender equal. There are a lot of female ninjas. But aside from the one who gets to be Hokage for a while (who uses ninja magic to make herself comply with the giant-boobed young-looking beauty ideal, and whose gambling addiction arguably makes her honorarily one-of-the-boys*) they are all fairly unimportant to the overall story (mostly supporting other characters and for the duration of a plot arc and then dropping off the radar). Sakura is part of the original trio of classmates, and she has accomplished nothing compared to Naruto and Sasuke. So I think there is a message here (not saying it’s intentional, but that it is possible to get this impression) that girls can have all the opportunities that guys can, but they just don’t have the same potential to actually achieve anything. Maybe the setting is less gender-equal than it seems on the surface, but we haven’t seen this because we don’t see any stories from a female viewpoint?

*There is a trope of the sexy girl who likes all the things guys stereotypically like as one ideal of the most desirable sex object, because you get the sexy sexy body without being expected to tolerate “girly” interests (although she probably does have an interest in makeup/beauty products because she has to look super hot at all times, but she doesn’t bore you by ever talking about it–or she doesn’t need those because she just naturally looks like a photoshopped supermodel with no effort). Of course I am not opposed to female characters having interests traditionally associated with masculinity (like being a ninja), but we really don’t have a shortage of sexy eye-candy girls who like robots or guns or stuff. (Not that girls who like robots or guns can’t be great characters — see Fullmetal Alchemist.)

By all rights there should be pictures to illustrate these comments, but I hate my scanner and it hates me back. [Oh, but I found the Naruto page on the internet!]

Body Image Fail: Ninja Edition!

August 3, 2009

Naruto and the Stupid Long Movie TitleBody Image Fail goes to Naruto and the Animal Panic on Crescent Moon Island! In this movie, Naruto and supporting characters are hired to protect an oafish disgusting loser who is the prince of Crescent Moon Island. He embodies a large number of fat stereotypes, the most obvious being that he is constantly eating. (This is not called “being a fat guy.” This is called “binge-eating disorder.” Although maybe not an accurate representation thereof.) After providing much comedy by being fat and stupid, he eventually learns what is really important and plays a minor supporting role in the saving of the day. In the epilogue, Naruto and his friends stay on the island for a week so Kakashi can recover from using his Fancy Ninja Eye too much. During this week, the fat guy crash diets, and although he is still on the chunky side, he is considerably thinner after the ending credits, to let us know that we are suppose to stop laughing at him now because he is no longer a loser idiot! Also, losing a bunch of weight in the course of a week is totally healthy. Anyway, you can see him in the upper left corner there. I am too distracted by the kitty. KITTEH!!! (The villain was also on the chunky side, and had a guy following him around with a tray of fruit who read as comically gay. Homophobia fail too?)

Body Image Win goes to Nabari no Ou (anime version; I haven’t confirmed whether the [on-going] manga version features the same character or not). In this ninja anime full of even skinnier people than usual, there was totally a minor character in one plot arc who was noticeably chubbier than other sympathetic female anime characters! If I had been writing this blog when I had seen that plot arc, maybe I would have a screen shot. But I don’t! You’ll just have to watch the whole thing. (It would be nice someday if we had a sympathetic protagonist instead of a minor character who lasted a few episodes, but I am not holding my breath.)

Oh girl comics, why must you normalize being a complete asshole?

July 20, 2009

Read the latest Hana to Yume today.

Skip Beat: I don’t read it, because I read the beginning and it had that infuriating gratitude toward assholes thing going on. Because really, the only way you can be motivated to do something with your life is to be treated like absolute dirt by a huge asshole so that you then want to prove something to them. HEALTHY!

Voice actress comic: A girl goes to voice actor school. I stopped reading as of this issue because I am sick of her betting the farm on ridiculous arbitrary goals set by assholes. I am also sick of the asshole she is bound to fall in love with.

Gakuen Alice: I don’t read it, so I am not sure how much it involves falling in love with guys who are complete assholes.

Kami-sama hajimemashita: I love Tomoe, but he is totally an asshole. Just not enough of one that I hate his guts like the asshole in Monochrome Kids (which was not running this issue).

Gekkan Nakatoba: Didn’t read because I don’t read comedies unless they actually make me laugh. Not intended as a judgment, just doesn’t meet my tastes.

Ore-same Teacher: Masaomi is a huge asshole. But to be fair, he was not in this chapter very much!

Chotto Sekai Made: One-off comic about a girl tutoring a bunch of foreign exchange students at Japanese. The Swiss guy is a huge freaking asshole and also the love interest. DUH. I am getting the impression that Swiss people are jerks. Nooo! A prejudice!

Love So Life: Gee, a comic about taking care of little kids! Boring! The kids need to have superpowers and transform into giant cat robots or something.

Shiawase Kissa San-chou-me: Don’t read, therefore cannot judge asshole content.

Kyou mo ashita mo: It seems the only way to teach people how to draw manga or whatever is to be really really mean and tell them they are completely pathetic wastes of space. Then they will be motivated! Yeah, I’m putting this one in the asshole column.

Lovesick: I got bored with this a couple issues ago. But I don’t specifically recall any characters being raging assholes.

Jiu Jiu: This is awesome because it has subservient demon wolf boys. This issue also features some kind of vampire prince, who is a total asshole, of course. But he isn’t a love interest or authority figure or in any superior position over the protagonist, so I hesitate to actually tally this one on the asshole column.

Grimoire and O’Toole: I am sure I am getting the title wrong but that is what it sounds like. Anyway, the time demon guy is an asshole. Asshole column +1.

My point is that every single comic I read except one (and it still had an asshole guy whom the heroine was nice to) in this magazine (and also some that I didn’t read and some that were taking a break this issue) featured a complete asshole as love interest and/or authority figure (sometimes there are separate love interests and authority figures who are both assholes) and pretty much the only option heroines have in dealing with assholes is to suck it up and work extra super hard on the slim hope that the asshole will be impressed enough with the results to tone down his assholishness by a tiny fraction which of course then causes the heroine to be totally elated and/or fall madly in love with him.

I think shounen comics have this problem too sometimes (or a similar one — not so much with the female authority figures there, so I don’t think there’s much falling in love with your asshole superior, but there is certainly the “being treated like dirt is the only/best motivator” philosophy on occasion), but not with the saturation that shoujo comics do. It is depressing. I almost hope the comics that make this magazine worth reading for me would hurry up and end so I could stop buying it.

Also note that there are no consequences for being an asshole if you are a guy! Everyone will adapt to it because that’s just the way you are! (I have totally experienced this in real life, too.) But if you are a girl, you will be shunned by everyone and hated and despised, because your first duty is to everyone else’s feelings, especially the assholes whose feelings you have hurt by being adversely affected by their assholish treatment of you. At least, if you are the protagonist. Sometimes other girls can get away with being assholes — to the protagonist.

Of course, a perfect person would be able to work under any asshole without feeling threatened, because she would have perfect judgment and therefore know exactly how much of an asshole he was. But for real people who might actually put some faith in the opinion of their superior or lover, desperate resentment is not really the number one desirable attitude for productivity.

I wouldn’t mind if romances about falling in love with total assholes happened occasionally in the context of “Let’s take a totally unlikely love interest and try to make a feasible story about falling in love with him!” But really, 90% of (male) love interests are complete assholes. (Note: that is one of the 47% of statistics that are completely made up. But you get the point — it is a very strong trend.) It is not original or interesting! It does give the message that there is something wrong with you if being verbally abused does not make you all twitterpated though. (Okay, not really. It’s the slight lull in abuse that makes you twitterpated. What’s totally abnormal is if you consider a constant stream of verbal abuse to be a turn-off. YOU PERVERT.)

Oh! Synchronicity! Girl-comics are a vehicle for corporate brainwashing, I guess.

Hooray, another fat fetish video game.

July 10, 2009

I often flip through Weekly Famitsuu and look at the section of new information about upcoming games. Today I noticed a game that has a bunch of princesses. One of them is fat, so I paused to see if there was any indication whether she would be mocked or at best grotesquely fetishized as tends to happen when fat women are featured prominently in games (or anything else).

Long story short, I was offended! She had a dialog bubble [edit: actually it was just some text floating next to her but it was still her speaking], and she was saying something along the lines of, “I am divorced. I love you more than steak. I just want to eat you up.” I was too disgusted to stick around long enough to note the title of the game, or the princess’s name with enough accuracy for Google to find her again. Maybe I will check the magazine again tomorrow.

I don’t particularly care if people have fetishes about eating and such but their being so tightly bound to a particular body type encourages (and is encouraged by) vile stereotyping, and I kinda suspect a lot of people would be in it not for the looks or the food but for the shame of living in a body that is so broadly condemned by society and the guilt of eating food while in such a body, which are less innocuous.

[Update: The game was Ou-sama Monogatari (King Story – English title given as Little King’s Story) for the Wii, and the princess in question is named Spumoni, which Japanese Wikipedia says is a type of cocktail. It looks like she is yet to be revealed on the character page.]

[Update again! OH! She has a character page now! The larger text is the same lines I saw in the magazine. Below that is a little description. The description of how she is chubby and cute and warm and junk is pretty good, actually, but the last line is about how her dream is to eat all the food in the woooorld. Whatever, Nintendo-authorized game creators!]

[Update some more: No list of fat-phobic video games is complete without Love Revolution! (No relation to other games that end in Revolution.) The dating sim where you diet until guys are actually attracted to you! Because that is a great idea for so many reasons.]

Digimon Tamers

July 7, 2009

Feminist kudos: Ruki (a girl) takes the role of prickly outsider, while protagonist Takato (a boy) is the one who is always overcome with emotion. Plus Jen (a boy) is the one who has to overcome touchy-feely nonviolence in order to let Terriermon fight.

On the other hand, Renamon’s later evolutions lean strongly toward the defensive (she says this is because she was only concerned with the offensive before), all the digimon gods are male, and Ryou is infuriating with his superior do-what-I-am-yelling-at-you attitude and adoration from everyone as the Digimon card game champion (plus no one understands why Ruki doesn’t like him, because most girl characters would be overcome with guilt and thankfulness toward him about now – see below). Also, it totally sucks to be Juri. Maybe these last two points will be ameliorated in the remainder of the show (I’ve got about ten episodes left). [Update: Nope! Not ameliorated at all. Nothing good happens to Juri ever, and her lesson is that even though everything that happens to you is absolutely terrible, you should forgive people who killed your best friend in cold blood and be happy forchrissake because otherwise you will make your friends sad or something. Sadness is never justified just because your life is made entirely of suck.]

Regardiing the incessant gratitude and apology on the part of all good cartoon girls, I didn’t hate this the first time I read it. It’s the fact that female protagonists (excluding some types such as the deadly, perfect femme fatale) almost invariably fall into this pattern that is offensive. When it happens in just about every series with a girl as the protagonist, it’s no longer “wow, she is really emotionally strong to be able to do that,” and more “this is the way all girls should be, the same way boys should be spiky-haired and know no fear” (I was going to mention the ridiculously unfounded optimism in the face of sheer impossibility, but that is a unisex trait). Let’s leave that kind of thing to Honda Tohru from Fruits Basket, because she is the best at it – it doesn’t even require her to suffer. She doesn’t go through the “understandably hurt” phase that comes before the “oh wait, it is all my fault and now I must apologize to the guy who hurt me because actually I am a horrible person and he is so awesome and was just being helpful/reacting to what a horrible person I am” phase. She just already thinks everyone is awesome, even if they are an axe murderer (and never hates herself so much that it would, you know, possibly make people feel bad, which would be a possibility because people actually like her, because she is less surrounded by assholes than many protagonists about whom I have read lately).

[Edit: Also, since the random digimon who sacrifices himself to let the other digimon merge-evolve in the real world belongs to a random girl, fully half of the girls’ digimon die. (The ones who live being Renamon and Lopmon.) I don’t see any obvious sexist trope it would be reinforcing, but that just sucks.]

Goodbye, Blade

June 23, 2009

You were a good and kinda gender-neutral geek-oriented magazine, and then most of the comics I liked moved into the new, more female-audience-oriented Comics Blade Avarus. I kept buying you because you had that old-timey fox demon comic, and Mother Keeper (which is about cyborgs; Mother is the name of a computer), and someday I am totally going to catch up on Elemental – I’m sorry, Eremental Gerad. But then you kept introducing annoying comics about spunky heroines getting humiliated by nasty men, or else playing sports, which strike me as designed for a male demographic, and more importantly, which I find annoying. And then Mother Keeper got onto this plotline where Female Lead is enslaved and forced to fight to the death all the time, which is much more creepy and less cool than when she was doing things like impaling Male Lead with bladed weapons, and speaking of that, whatever happened to Male Lead anyway? Seeing as how he is the protagonist and all. I think I will try some tachiyomi, and maybe I will buy you again if you have a nice color page for one of those comics.

Other comics I am disappointed in lately: Jump. It has a lot of comics I find disgusting (the one that is entirely about oozing dripping meat; the one about the preschooler who wears neither pants nor underpants; the usual boob-and-crotch one; and I still hate Bakuman for its early spiel about how girls should not get good grades because their purpose in life is to be cute, whereas boys should because they might need to actually do something with their lives), and D. Gray-man is on vacation again. I’m still going to read it for Bleach and Naruto though, because my girl comics do not have enough ninja and shinigami fighting action. Meanwhile Sunday has new comics by renowned artists Takahashi Rumiko and Watase Yuu, and their bishoujo harem comics are the relatively inoffensive and visually cute Kami nomi zo shiru sekai and Hayate the Combat Butler – and maybe Zettai Karen Children, which I don’t read, but at least it’s not saturated with fan service. Now if only they would stop putting photos of models on the cover, because they have nothing to do with comics.

While I am being negative (it’s easier to find flaws in things than demonstrate that they are good), here are two plots I am feeling totally sick of right now: 1. The one where the protagonist undertakes a completely impossible goal but is rashly, illogically convinced they will succeed; at first they fail and everyone makes fun of them, but then they discover their miraculous hidden one-in-a-million power/talent that they just happen to have and then eventually succeed beyond anyone’s expectations, thus justifying their initial completely unjustifiable optimism. 2. The one where the protagonist tells an outrageous lie and then wacky hijinks ensue as they try not to get caught, but finally they get caught just as they were about to come clean anyway and eventually everyone forgives them and they realize that there was no need for the outrageous lie in the first place. We get it! Honesty preferable to outrageous lie requiring untenable and elaborate deception!

This Month’s Asuka…

May 23, 2009

…features one story about making low-calorie sweets because EVERYONE loves counting calories and HEY LET’S ALL DIET except that guy because he eats eight muffins in a sitting and never gains weight HOW COULD THAT BE it’s almost like it’s genetic OH WAIT STOP THINKING, and one story about a penguin who wants to go see the south pole before HE DIES and he knows he’s going to die because he is metabo. Way to take it one step further with the “fat = ABOUT TO DROP DEAD AT ANY SECOND” meme. Because I bet you’ve never seen an old fat person.

DuckTales character Doofus is also made of 110% pure Fail.

How to Betrayal

May 23, 2009

This post contains lots of spoilers for Pretear, Deltora Quest, and a minor spoiler for the latest chapter of Monochrome Kids. Non-spoiler summary: It sucks when a character betrays the protagonist by saying “Mwahaha I was evil all along and all my character development up to now was a lie.” It is much less annoying when a character betrays the protagonist for actual reasons that are in character. This is where I would use the lj-cut tag, but this isn’t LJ and I don’t know how to cut things.

So, I really hate Monochrome Kids, but I kind of have to keep reading it because of all the cat ears and junk. This issue, main character Kureha finally meets a hyena who is all kind and polite and helpful. “Yes! Someone who is not constantly insulting and threatening to kill me!” the protagonist thinks. “Yay, a nice animal,” I think. “I bet he is totally going to try and kill her.” The asshole leopard refuses to let her work with the hyena and insists on helping her himself, while keeping up his usual steady stream of verbal abuse and justifying his helpfulness as sadism (because being helpful for the sake of it would ruin his image as a huge asshole). Then she has to give a speech and the hyena says he left her speech on the podium. She goes up to the podium, but the papers there are blank. She has to ad-lib a speech to avoid the potentially lethal wrath of the student body.

Betrayal Classification: Annoying. I saw it coming a mile away, and it really pounds you over the head with the message that people who are kind and polite to you can’t be trusted, because they are just getting you to let your guard down so they can hurt you worse later. Don’t you know that nobody is genuinely kind, so you can peg anyone who fails to insult you as a liar? Not to say you can trust all assholes, but you can trust some assholes, whereas nice people are scheming lying backstabbers and you should punch them in the nose at the first sign of politeness.

It occurs to me that I hate this kind of plot, where a character that I liked or had marginal hopes for liking suddenly reveals that they were pure evil all along and everything up to that point was a complete act with no hint of truth whatsoever. A much worse case of this type of betrayal is in the anime (it comes in other formats but I haven’t read/played them) Deltora Quest, wherein a certain character – I guess I won’t give too much detail and limit the spoilerage – turns out to be a horrible deceiving crab monster of some kind, near the end of the series, with absolutely no redeeming qualities (and completely two-dimensional, since he had to start from scratch and didn’t have much time and, oh yeah, was generically evil). (I didn’t finish the series once I was sure they were done with this plot point, so someone tell me if I’m wrong and this was retconned out at the last second.) This is better than the Monochrome Kids hyena in that people who aren’t assholes exist in the Deltora Quest universe, so it doesn’t deny the existence of non-assholes at all. But it is worse in that that was a frickin’ long series and I watched most of it only to go “Ugh! This is stupid! I’m watching something that doesn’t suck instead,” at the end. Not that it wasn’t a pretty simplistic show the whole time, but things that piss me off could at least try to be sophisticated. Betrayal Classification: Monumentally annoying.

Contrast to an anime I did like (although I haven’t gotten around to reading the manga), Pretear. (Can I just note that the transformation is weirdly freudian? The guys go into her heart and then armor and weapons and junk form from sparklies that come out of her womb-type area.) It’s been a long time, but as I recall the main villain turns out to be the previous Pretear-heroine-person, and one of the guys is still in love with her and eventually takes her side against the protagonist and the rest of her harem. I always liked him better than the main love interest, because in accordance to the Protagonist Always Chooses Asshole if She Has a Choice Rule, the main love interest is kind of an asshole (although of course, regular assholes pale in assholishness compared to the leopard in Monochrome Kids). But the thing is, after the whole betrayal thing, I still didn’t hate him and he didn’t become an entirely different character! He was the same character but with some new elements revealed, and they changed a lot but did not contradict his previous character development! THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE IT NOT STUPID. Betrayal Classification: Deliciously angsty.

Body Image Fail and Win

May 19, 2009

Fail goes to Zotcha no Nichijou (a very well-drawn comic about a cat published by Margaret Comics) for the character of Bravo and the way she is treated. Google image search only found one relevant result for Bravo: here is a fanart of Bravo, whom the artist finds adorable. My friend said the same thing when I showed her Bravo, but my cynically defensive side was pretty sure she was just being politically correct. Zotcha himself, of course, finds her butt ugly but since he is a Nice Guy he didn’t actually treat her like rubbish like all the other cats.

In volume 7, Bravo goes on a crash diet (after a tree branch breaks under her weight). Everyone showers her with praise. The vet warns her that sudden weight loss is bad, but also tells her her weight loss has made her cute. She is suddenly the most popular girl-cat in town and all the boy-cats who were complete assholes to her before want to get a date with her. But she starts dating Zotcha, because he was not a complete asshole to her when she was fat. At first this is totally awesome, and if you caught some chapters of the serial publication but not others you would get a diet success story. Then Zotcha notices things like how she can’t walk any distance without becoming exhausted and she keeps falling asleep while he is talking to her. Finally he tells her he liked her better when she was fat. She starts eating again and gets slightly fatter than before (because dieting does that to your metabolism). Zotcha is still dating her, because dumping her at this point would be too assholish, but he is not as enthusiastic about it. The manga itself mocks her earthquake like steps, which makes zero sense considering that, being a cat, she weighs much less than the stylishly skinny human girls in the comic, and their steps do not cause earthquakes when they run.

So, it sucks to be Bravo. The story wasn’t wild anti-fat propaganda but it didn’t provide much counterpoint to all the “wow, you are so cute now that you have dieted yourself to a weight that is unhealthy for you”, and the manga still mocked her with fat jokes, and Zotcha may have learned a lesson but she deserves someone who actually finds her attractive.

Body Image Win goes to Gakuen Tengoku (of the previous Fail post) for having a character concerned that Hawt Babe Vampire and Fat Geeky Boy are not a good couple, not because Fat Geeky Boy does not deserve a hawt babe, but because Hawt Babe Vampire treats him like dirt and he deserves better.



Another Body Image Win goes to a cartoon I have seen all of two episodes of on weekday morning reruns called “Dr. Slump”. I knew of its existence from Jump Super Stars on the Nintendo DS, which featured a wide variety of comics from Shounen Jump. In these days of Dora the Explorer getting a slimming makeover and government-funded programs practically teaching kids to ostracize the fat kids, it’s refreshing to see an old cartoon consistently portray a chubby-by-today’s-standards girl like Arale as cute and adorable. Just look at the ending credits where she wears different adorable outfits like a tanuki and R2-D2 costume.  (Sure, it’s kind of relegating her to eye candy, which always happens to women in ending credits, but at least it’s body-positive eye candy.)

Of course, it also has Fail, because while all the men are pretty square-shaped, all the women of attractive, marriageable age (that is, all female characters who are not little girls or old women) look like supermodels, because duh, their function in the male viewpoint world is to be sexily attractive. Presumably Arale will too when she gets older, unless she is some kind of non-aging superhuman android–she does seem to have super strength.

Bonus Win for the sentient pink poop on a stick. I found a plushie of it at a yard sale, but my dad took it home with him.

Bonus Female Character Fail: I saw that Summer Vacation with Coo the Kappa movie and it was much less kiddy than I expected. But why are the daughter and mother so shallow and unlikeable? Because women are fickle and make no sense! (I also would have liked to see more affection for their dog on the part of the whole family, like, before xyz happened. The mother was the only one who seemed to care for him, because you know, women are sappy like that, when they’re not going on about how old they look and how smooth their skin is.)