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-   -   Progressive Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in Anime (http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=119463)

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 15:13

Progressive Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in Anime
 
I was going to bitch about sexist characterizations, of especially younger characters, in anime but honestly we have too many threads on the issue. Instead, I'm going to do what 90% of OPs on issues like these fail to do in this particular subforum and point out concepts that anime does right for once. There's no point in aimlessly complaining about things when you can't even assess what is of a different mold. In other words, focus on what anime can do, instead of dwelling forever on what anime isn't doing and then writing 500 page rants about how today's anime doesn't suit your needs.

A few years ago, a friend told me to check out an anime called Aoi Hana. I wasn't too interested in it. My first thought thought is "this appears to be yuri, lulz, perv time". But honestly said anime did stand out in retrospect in that it treated its issues in a very natural and composed manner. Most of all, it treated what it was dealing with respect by approaching the topic as not of a source of fetishes, but to realize that these characters are actually people. So it wasn't just to do something such as simply be a consumable by the typically male audience that gets aimed at when 2 female characters are in a relationship.

A lot of you might know the same author better from Wandering Son, which was also intriguing, though other issues with the narrative prevented me from enjoying it fully.

Other examples of interesting gender portrayals include Evangelion, in particular towards the main characters in whereas not meeting expectations of gender roles lead to a rather polarizing reception of characters. And then we have stuff like Ghost in the Shell, where the Major is extremely sexualized, but then again she still comes off as a very inspiring presence.

So my question is which anime or characters have you seen that have presented portrayals of gender and sexuality that run contrary to what you typically see across the medium and other mediums?

I have more in mind, but let's just start with this.

Xion Valkyrie 2013-05-10 16:59

Tokyo ESP is a pretty good example, so I'm glad to see that it's getting an anime adaptation. In general there aren't a lot of shounen battle/action manga where the main character is a female teenager.

4Tran 2013-05-10 17:28

Quote:

Originally Posted by Archon_Wing (Post 4674274)
So my question is which anime or characters have you seen that have presented portrayals of gender and sexuality that run contrary to what you typically see across the medium and other mediums?

Let's start with an easy one: Revolutionary Girl Utena. Feminism and anime rarely interact with one another, but Utena is usually the first title that comes to mind when both are discussed.

Subverting convention is what it's all about, the prince who isn't a prince, villains who aren't necessarily villains, the helpless damsel in distress isn't helpless, and the erstwhile princess wants to become a prince instead. As for your actual question, just about everything in the show runs contrary to what's seen in most other anime (or live action for that matter).

Rose of the Versailles is a pretty good example as well. Even if it were only a historical drama, it's already more respectful of the historical events than almost all the anime out there. On top of that, it's also inundated with well written politics, and social systems, and gender roles.

Sumeragi 2013-05-10 17:39

There is no "progressive" portrayal. That's basically a loaded word with an agenda behind it.

Ithekro 2013-05-10 17:40

Well it isn't "congressive".

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 17:44

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sumeragi (Post 4674419)
There is no "progressive" portrayal. That's basically a loaded word with an agenda behind it.

Oh sure, let's just focus on the semantics of a single word.


But I prepared myself for this:
Quote:

So my question is which anime or characters have you seen that have presented portrayals of gender and sexuality that run contrary to what you typically see across the medium and other mediums?
Also, you'd be wrong. Any medium that is alive and well progresses as it builds upon itself. Thus, any attempt at pushing it in an unspecified direction fits the description regardless of any positive and negative value you may attach. There is no doubt there's a positive bias to the descriptor, but if you had read the OP, that was clearly intentional.

Sumeragi 2013-05-10 17:51

Sure, just as your premise is wrong from the start:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Archon_Wing (Post 4674274)
So my question is which anime or characters have you seen that have presented portrayals of gender and sexuality that run contrary to what you typically see across the medium and other mediums?

Define what "typical" is. That's also a restricting word based on one's particular perspective of the word.

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 17:55

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sumeragi (Post 4674431)
Define what "typical" is. That's also a restricting word based on one's particular perspective of the word.

I'm sorry, this is not Scrabble.

Exhibiting the qualities, traits, or characteristics that identify a kind, class, group, or category

Quote:

what you typically see
See:
Perceive with the eyes; discern visually.

= Exhibiting the qualities, traits, or characteristics that identify what one percieves with the eyes; discerns visually.

= What do you see, based on your view...

Not hard. But if English is not your first language, I can understand.

hyl 2013-05-10 18:02

Isn't the problem here, not what is typical but rather what you see?
Like if someone only watches ecchi and shounen series from the past few years, then that person obviously isn't going to see any progress but rather a regression. In fact, i am currently noticing more ecchi and fanservice in series than before and any socalled "progress" seems like incidental to me compared to that

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 18:03

That's the whole point of the thread. It was never meant to be some kind of universal enlightenment.

You obviously can't be aware of what you're not aware of.

Sumeragi 2013-05-10 18:04

I'm just calling you out on the hypocritical bias within the question you pose:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Archon_Wing (Post 4674274)
I was going to bitch about sexist characterizations, of especially younger characters, in anime but honestly we have too many threads on the issue.

But I suppose I'm unwelcome.

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 18:10

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sumeragi (Post 4674443)
I'm just calling you out on the hypocritical bias within the question you pose:



But I suppose I'm unwelcome.

Let's see here.

I admit my biases, state that they are not productive, and am working on creating a discussion on turning it on a productive discussion. How can you let people know where you're coming from and defining your experiences without disclosing any preconceived bias or agenda?

Sorry there's no hypocrisy here. I might be biased, but that's also irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

As for you being welcome or not, this is a public forum, so that's not up to me to decide.

4Tran 2013-05-10 18:24

A progressively portrayed gender role isn't a particularly controversial or easily misunderstood concept. Wouldn't it be easier to either bring up new examples or discuss others' examples rather than drag this thread into a silly semantic debate?

Quote:

Originally Posted by hyl (Post 4674439)
Isn't the problem here, not what is typical but rather what you see?
Like if someone only watches ecchi and shounen series from the past few years, then that person obviously isn't going to see any progress but rather a regression. In fact, i am currently noticing more ecchi and fanservice in series than before and any socalled "progress" seems like incidental to me compared to that

A lack of progressive portrayals isn't surprising in the slightest. Feminism is pretty foreign to Japan, so there wouldn't be all that many examples to begin with. Moreover, most shows are geared towards an otaku audience, and otaku audiences tend to be very conservative when it comes to gender roles. Still, there are a number of interesting takes on gender roles and sexuality out there, and this thread should ideally provide a list of such works.

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 18:45

I haven't watched Utena, but would Penguindrum, the director's later work, contain some of those concepts as they often get crossreferenced?

4Tran 2013-05-10 19:22

I don't think that the two works are all that similar conceptually. Penguindrum does seek to defy expectation, but it doesn't do so to the degree that Utena does; especially not in regards to gender roles. Moreover, Utena is woven with a much stronger sense of sexuality (and it's treated as sexuality instead of fanservice). I highly recommend that you check it out.

Archon_Wing 2013-05-10 19:24

Yea, that's a good idea.

Also, I'm surprised that the otaku community would be uptight in these matters considering the content of many a late night anime.

Bri 2013-05-10 19:32

Usagi Drop comes to mind. The biological mother prioritizes her work/career over her child while the adoptive father makes career sacrifices for her. Not to mention the portrayal of single parenting.

Fairly unusual gender role reversal in anime.

0utf0xZer0 2013-05-10 20:00

Quote:

Originally Posted by Archon_Wing (Post 4674505)
Yea, that's a good idea.

Also, I'm surprised that the otaku community would be uptight in these matters considering the content of many a late night anime.

A lot of nerd communities seem to be kind of messed up regarding sexuality in general, I've never really seen otaku as very different in this regard. Personally, I it's just a sore point for a lot of male nerds regardless of whether their general outlook is conservative or progressive.

synaesthetic 2013-05-11 00:18

How about talking about, rather than the non-word "progressive," actual stories that positively portray other sexualities and genders outside of the heteronormative sphere?

As a writer I've decided that my unifying theme is that I will portray lesbian protagonists in a favorable manner. It seems to be something a lot of creative types shy away from unless the work in question is firmly in the "special interest" category such as "Gay & Lesbian" or "LGBT Media."

Even portrayals such as Wandering Son and Aoi Hana aren't what I'd call particularly positive. They're basing their entire plot on a person's sexuality or gender identity. I'd like to see more stories with more characters that are not wholly focused on their "gayness" or whatever.

The stories I write aren't "special interest" by any stretch of the world. At their heart, they're science fiction stories and they're meant to appeal to sci-fi fans on pretty much every level. The protagonists of my stories are female and gay. This may be plot-relevant but it isn't the driving force of the plot.

This is something that I've never seen anime do. I haven't seen an action or sci-fi or fantasy anime or manga with a lead who just happened to be gay. Granted, I obviously haven't watched every anime or read every manga, but I have not seen this at all.

Archon_Wing 2013-05-11 00:37

Ah, good point there Syn.

Though I wasn't explicitly looking for "positive". I think that is too strong of a word anyways, because by whose standards are we going by? No matter how we delve into it; when people are analyzing it from a mainstream heteronormative fashion it causes problems. It's sorta like what irks me about sexual preference or identity being a choice or not. That should have never been called into question in the first place. In other words, there should be no need to really prove that one is worthy anyways.

In the end, you are right though. Even stuff like Wandering Son does make this a centerpiece and uses it to drive the drama. It can't be regarded as positive, and thus would be out of that basis. However, I still can call it a step forward (arguably "progressive") because it serves to remind me that well, they're human too, which takes precedence over all else. So I think the moment someone gets portrayed as a person, and not a stereotype, then that is something.

So what am I looking for is things that challenge commonly held views and preconceptions which ultimately helps progress towards something that leads to more freedom and acceptance. Anyhow, this is getting awfully political of me, but I do wish to respect everyone that dares go against the grain on these matters


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