Archive for July, 2009

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.

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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.]