Posts Tagged ‘digimon’

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.]