Archive for the ‘Feminist type things’ Category

Miscellany

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!]

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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.

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.]

Ginga Nagareboshi Gin

April 19, 2009

I knew going in that this was a manly manly man story about men except they are actually dogs. Which is why I watched it. Because it has talking dogs. Except the first quarter of the show, which has talking humans and non-talking dogs (then they just start talking when the plot becomes more about them and less about the humans). I can forgive a lot of the violence in this show in light of the fact that it is basically an over-the-top fighting show, but the beating-the-month-old-puppy for no apparent reason near the beginning, not so much. Also, the part where Daisuke accidentally shoots a bird, but the narrative is that the act of taking a life makes him into a Real Man — blecch.

This show is like one of those old samurai movies, except that since it is animated, it can have talking dogs and huge amounts of blood pre-CG (it is an old show). I don’t actually object to dogs getting horribly killed in a story about dogs. It’s when dogs are just extras in a story about humans that it really bothers me to see fictional dogs get hurt. Like the preview of that scifi spider movie I will never ever see where the aliens kill a cat and it is supposed to be funny? Death to that movie.

Anyway, mostly these dogs run around impressing manly dogs with their manliness so that they will help them go fight a big evil bear (dogs are people but bears are monsters — well, only this bear and his bloodline [in the beginning] except maybe also all other bears [at the end]). These are manly, manly dogs who value honor and manliness over their lives. Like Klingons! There is a girl dog, and the DVD insert says she is totally recognized as an equal fighter just like all the others. However, she does way more than her share of getting rescued, and in the actual show it feels more like she is Ben’s girlfriend who is manly enough to tag along but still mostly just acts as the resident girl. (Like Klingons! Women are our partners in battle. Wild cards are for women because they are weak and need more help!) She fights bravely now and then but doesn’t win very much. I only remember one fight in which she played a major role and she totally lost. She is the first and often only dog to cry out with concern when someone else gets hurt. She nearly gets killed saving a puppy and then attributes it to her femaleness that she was moved by the puppy’s cries. She sits out the final battle because she has just given birth to puppies. (Maybe being pregnant was a hindrance to her fighting earlier. I’m not a doctor, but I can’t say I’d recommend running all over the country and making war while pregnant.)

Also, the henchman of the bad traitorous dog appears to have feminine-looking eyelashes.

Now I can watch/read the sequel, Weed, with context! Yay. (They did publish at least the first 3 volumes of the Weed manga in English, which is how I got into this manly manly dog series.)