Archive for the ‘Body Image’ Category


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.)

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.]

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.

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.)

Body Image Fail

April 11, 2009

Wings is running a comic called Gakuen Tengoku (wait, wasn’t that a yaoi anime? No, that was Gakuen Heaven — totally different) about a high school kid with supernatural powers and his twin brother and various supernatural beings who want his supernatural powers.  This month he has gotten the hang of his powers enough to try and help the werewolves, who are going extinct because they have no females of child-bearing age.  So they’re going to turn some of their male members into females.  Hilarious sex change magic!  (I’m kinda concerned that playing this for comedy is offensive to transgendered people, but hey, what do publishers care about minorities in the audience?)


So, the kid screws up a bunch of times before he gets it right.  The first failure is that he makes this man into a woman, but OH NOEZ, he didn’t change her body-type to “petite hourglass” and therefore HILARIOUSLY there is a large square-ish-shaped woman!  Oh how droll!  Not like a REAL woman at all.  Fortunately, all his subsequent failures result in proper feminine appearances, because no matter what you would look like with a Y chromosome, having two X chromosomes means you are TINY AND SLENDER.  (He just screws up the genitalia and presence/absence of breasts — because primary and secondary sexual characteristics are comedy gold.)

Of course, the first failed transformation looks much more like me than most women in manga.  Yes, the Japanese population has a much lower percentage of large or fat people than, say, the US.  But it’s not like they don’t exist at all.  I have seen them on the train.

Speaking of this comic, the fat guy who runs the occult club is one of the most positive portrayals of a fat character I have seen recently.  He is kind of weak-willed and geeky (being the head of the occult club and all) but generally nice (as opposed to a bad guy in need of beating up or something).  A girl even likes him — but it’s problematic, because she is very verbally abusive, and her attraction to him is based entirely on a fat fetish she didn’t realize she had and doesn’t involve anything like respect or mutual interests or anything.

You know what would be great? A theme that didn’t use this stupid font that makes a dash look, if anything, shorter than a hyphen [edit: unless you type spaces around it, but my habit of typing a dash as two hyphens is hard to break].