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Old 2012-06-17, 19:46   Link #1
Classified Info
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Questions about magical girl genre

Ye well, i'm a 20y male, and i don't really get how i should be able to enjoy magical girl animes; i mean, being a boy, i tend to empathize with the protagonist, but if it's a girl, it's obviously impossible; add to that that the entire cast is 99.98% of the times made of other girls...

I'm asking this because i want to know what is so good about the anime "Madoka Magica", that seems to be the best series of 2011 according to many: what's so good about it that even males loved it?

Out of curiosity, i wanted to get over my aversion for this kind of genre, and watched it anyways, but it was painful: i didn't like the artwork much (the faces were... squared? Or something, they looked like stuffed...), the story was rather predictable from the first appearance of the black haired girl. If you just followed the first 2 episodes very carefully, you'd get what i mean: a girl that comes from nowhere and that cares about you but can't say anything; the same girl is trying to kill a little animal that, in the meanwhile, is trying to suspiciously convince you to become a magical girl: isn't it somehow obvious that the girl knows something more and is trying to avoid you getting hurt in the future? But then, how can she know what bad events are going to happen? Most likely, she comes from the future, and there you have got some plot with time travelling. This was my reasoning, and it actually turned to be like that, and so i wasn't surprised and the whole series became a pain.

Now don't get me wrong, i'm not trying to insult anyone, and neither i want to say that madoka is a bad series, because such statement could be due to me not being experienced in this field, but i would really like to know how can a boy find anything good in Madoka Magica and, in general, in the magical girl genre. Also, i would like to know what is that makes Madoka so good, since it didn't impress me at all. I mean, it's not like madoka can be aimed to kids(that would be easier to surprise) because of what happens from episode 3 on, but at the same time it's too predictable for a grown up audience...

Not trying to start any kind of flamewar or anything like that, just seeking which criteria do you use to judge animes in this genre, what appeals you of them, and what is so good of madoka. Naturally this question is aimed to other male users, since girls surely got their reasons for liking stuff aimed to them.

Thanks for the answers, i hope you can enlighten me on these points, so that in the future i'll be able to enjoy this genre aswell.
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Old 2012-06-17, 19:58   Link #2
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Originally Posted by Classified Info View Post
Ye well, i'm a 20y male, and i don't really get how i should be able to enjoy magical girl animes; i mean, being a boy, i tend to empathize with the protagonist, but if it's a girl, it's obviously impossible; add to that that the entire cast is 99.98% of the times made of other girls...
I think this is where the problem basically starts and ends. Why wouldn't you be able to empathize with a female protagonist? Even though she's "a girl", she's no different than any other human character in a story. She's still portrayed to have aspirations, desires, and feelings. Why would she be easier to empathize with if she weren't a "she"? I honestly don't understand at all what the gender of the protagonist or the other characters in the story has to do with empathy.

Edit: Just to add, I think the rest of the criticisms you have of the show seem to support the observation that this is the root cause. Because you apparently had no empathy for the characters, the rest of your commentary focuses entirely on the predictability of the plot as if you were totally disengaged/detached from the experience. So again, I'm not sure why, but if you really can't empathize with female characters, then perhaps the magical girl genre will never work for you. I'm not sure how to overcome this barrier, only that this has never been a problem for me.

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Originally Posted by Classified Info View Post
Not trying to start any kind of flamewar or anything like that, just seeking which criteria do you use to judge animes in this genre, what appeals you of them, and what is so good of madoka. Naturally this question is aimed to other male users, since girls surely got their reasons for liking stuff aimed to them.

Thanks for the answers, i hope you can enlighten me on these points, so that in the future i'll be able to enjoy this genre aswell.
I'm going to watch and see. This sure seems a lot like the makings of a flamewar to me. Not to mention, if you really want to ask about Madoka Magica, why not check the sub-forum, and read the many impressions people had about the show?

For the moment I'll allow the thread to stay open... but I reserve the right to close it at any time. To others who might participate in this thread, please don't post Madoka spoilers here or make this another Madoka review/criticism thread.
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Old 2012-06-17, 19:59   Link #3
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Ye well, i'm a 20y male, and i don't really get how i should be able to enjoy magical girl animes; i mean, being a boy, i tend to empathize with the protagonist, but if it's a girl, it's obviously impossible; add to that that the entire cast is 99.98% of the times made of other girls...
Who told you that? Because that is one of the most blatantly false things I've heard in my life. Boys can relate to a female protagonist, and girls can relate to a male protagonist. Many, many experiences in life, more yay than nay, are independent of one's gender. Like Madoka, we've all been uncertain about what to do, we've all had to come face to face with big decisions where we risk ourselves for others. Not universe-defining big, but important to us. The human experience is universal, and that relates to the rest of the cast, too.

I find it in me to agree with Sayaka, for example. Her mission of justice may not have had the right methods, but I support her cause. Doing the right thing to do the right thing (and maybe for a bit of glory) is a cause behind many heroes. As for what made Madoka in particular work?

It's not just about story. It's about the complete package. The visuals, the music, and most importantly, the characters. Even if you can guess Homura's plight early on, seeing it play out in episode 10 should make you understand the depths, the trials she went through in order to become the person she is today. Add to that the surrealistic art in the witch's mazes, and the idea that this is only one part of a small story, and you have something that captivates people. Looking at the plot is only looking at one element. (As for the character designs, it's Ume Aoki's style. If you don't like it, that is your own decision, but when she uses it in Hidamari Sketch, it gives the series some of the charm it's known for.)

This whole thing seems to stem from you sticking too close to stereotypical gender roles. It's okay to like things with girls or girly elements in them. Hell, I'm one of this board's most vocal fans of Smile Precure, and that's aimed at a far younger audience than Madoka. What do I like about it? A lot of the same things I listed above. The character interaction, the idea of seeing girls kicking ass against... giant clown-things (this can apply to both series, in fact) and the fact that it is, at heart, a superhero story. A frillier one, but a superhero story nonetheless.

The most recent Smile had Yayoi/Cure Peace engage in a brilliant fight sequence against a MotW in the rain, with her using her signature thunder attack with dignity for the first time at the end of it. It was the only memory of her father she had. The way the scene was composed... male or female, young or old, quality is something that doesn't care what your gender is. Whether it's Kyouko sacrificing herself to save Sayaka or Yayoi electrocuting a paper fox back to its memento form, it plucks the heartstrings in just the right way.

So while the entire premise of your argument appears flawed, I'm more than willing to show you why exploring more magical girl series is something you should do. They're really not that different from some of the things you may already like.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:07   Link #4
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The magical girl genre long been an expansive genre that has had a wide variety of shows ranging from Sailor Moon back to vintage anime such as Cutey Honey all the way to Madoka. It's frequently served as a counterpart to shounen anime, except the typical superpowered characters are female. Frequently, most of the series are imbued with a certain sense of idealism which also strengthens its relations with shounen anime. Anime such as Cardcaptor Sakura frequently give off a rather playful relaxing vibe outside the tense moments, and generally comes off as pretty entertaining as such. The magical girl genre is often popular with male viewers because casts with lots of female characters just tend to do this. It also is frequently home to strong female protagonists that aren't as obnoxiously sexualized or suffer from Faux Action Girl syndrome in which she must rely on a man anyways regardless of power-- which is lame.

In recent memory there have been quite a few notable magical girl anime that have put out some interesting takes on an aging genre. These tend to work better if you're familiar enough with the genre to recognize its twists. Nanoha, for example, invokes a lot of mecha and shounen elements, making it an action oriented fusion of diffrent kinds of show-- making it seinen, actually. Mai-HiME also mixes it with mecha element, but imbuing it with the traits and tendencies of modern anime. Anime such as Uta Kata and Madoka attempt to go for a darker route, subverting the classic idealist thoughts of the series and tempering it with realism, but still acknowledging that these thoughts are still compatible with reality, just in a different way. The former was unique for not using too much fantastical elements, the later by invoking sci-fi horror elements. I haven't really found anything quite like any I mentioned.

As for being able to relate to characters, I don't think it matters too much what gender they are to understand their thoughts, motivation, and past. Otherwise, half of history would be unreadable. Anime people don't really resemble humans anyways but we project human ideals onto them too.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:18   Link #5
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what's so good about it that even males loved it?
I find this statement a little funny when the series is actually aimed at guys.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:19   Link #6
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@Relentlessflame: i guess i misused the word "empathy", because i actually meant subbing in the protagonist, impersonate myself in the character, like it was me who lived the story. I clearly can't do it if it's a girl. I agree that i can comprehend how a girl feels when something happens, but the main issue is that i want to approach the anime in first person, like "Oh a bad thing happened to me, i feel...", and not from a third point of view, like "Oh, a bad thing happened to her, she surely feels bad, i comprehend it". I hope you get what i mean. If you don't, let me know and i'll further elaborate this point.

Anyways, i thought that the Madoka impressions thread was filled with just good opinions, so i had skipped it; however, taking a close look to it, there actually is someone who downrated it, so i'll take my time and read some of those posts. Sorry for not having done so from the principle.

I would also confirm that it isn't my intention to start a flamewar, it's just that i wanted to know how i could enjoy the magical girl anime, because it looks like i missed most of Madoka's purpose (since i thought all the way that it was a pain).

@Midonin: you may be right when saying that i might be sticking too much to stereotypical gender roles; the fact is that i've been eating only romance animes so far (with any kind of second genre: comedy, ecchi, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, psychological, action...), and when i changed genre, it didn't go very well. I'll try to approach other genres, if i get to know how i should take them

EDIT
Looks like other post came while i was writing:

@Kirarakim: what do you mean with "it's actually aimed at guys"? Doesn't it have too many girly elements to be actually aimed to guys, or am i just blinded by this stereotype that consolidated in my mind?
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:30   Link #7
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@Kirarakim: what do you mean with "it's actually aimed at guys"? Doesn't it have too many girly elements to be actually aimed to guys, or am i just blinded by this stereotype that consolidated in my mind?
I don't know if you are blinded by stereotypes are just not that familiar with the anime industry.

Madoka Magica is a late night anime targeted at a male audience. Magical girls series have been popular with guys in Japan for awhile. This isn't even the first magical girl series aimed at guys. But yeah it definitely has a different feeling from a typical shoujo anime aimed at young girls. I am not really sure how to explain.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:31   Link #8
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Originally Posted by Classified Info View Post
Ye well, i'm a 20y male, and i don't really get how i should be able to enjoy magical girl animes; i mean, being a boy, i tend to empathize with the protagonist, but if it's a girl, it's obviously impossible; add to that that the entire cast is 99.98% of the times made of other girls...
Midonin made a very good point in response to this - "Many, many experiences in life, more yay than nay, are independent of one's gender."

You don't necessarily have to share a character's age or gender in order to sympathize/empathize with the situations that the plot puts them through. It may help, certainly, but it's not usually a prerequisite.

And I think that with Madoka Magica, this is very true. Most of the Madoka girls are grappling with intellectual quagmires and ethical/philosophical issues that frankly transcend gender and age. For example...

Spoiler for Madoka Magica Episode 6 spoiler:



The magical girl genre appeals to a lot of guys because it essentially combines moe with flashy superheroes (and superhero style conflict). Now, I'm going to put moe aside because that's a huge discussion in and of itself, and probably not the most helpful one to explaining to you in particular why people like the magical girl genre. So I'm going to focus on the superhero side.

Again, Midonin raised a great point in what he wrote about Sayaka.

Sayaka, like a lot of magical girls, has many of the same characteristics as a comic book superhero. If you can like characters like Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine, etc... or even shonen heroes like Ichigo Kurosaki - It shouldn't be that hard to transition into liking magical girls. In fact, magical girl aesthetics helps here, in my opinion, because you have that "flashy style" similarity going on.

As somebody who loved comic books as a kid I find it very easy to love magical girl anime for much the same reason that I once loved comic books.


Quote:
I'm asking this because i want to know what is so good about the anime "Madoka Magica", that seems to be the best series of 2011 according to many: what's so good about it that even males loved it?
A lot of this is SHAFT's distinctive style and Yuki Kajura's BGM work. It's the full, trippy theatrical package that appeals to a lot of us. Madoka Magica has a real edge to it (maybe not that much in the first couple of episodes, but later on it does).


Quote:

Out of curiosity, i wanted to get over my aversion for this kind of genre, and watched it anyways, but it was painful: i didn't like the artwork much (the faces were... squared? Or something, they looked like stuffed...),
"Pancake-faces" is admittedly a common criticism raised against Madoka Magica. But I think that the art style will grow on most viewers over time if they give it a chance, and don't focus too much on it (as opposed to focusing on the dialogue and the plot). It's similar to how I felt about the Key/KyoAni art style - At first, it seemed a bit off to me, but over time, it grew on me, and I came to love it.


Quote:
the story was rather predictable from the first appearance of the black haired girl.
Lots of stories are predictable. Many of them are for adults. This is hardly something that you only find in magical girl anime.

I myself usually love unpredictable stories because they're so rare, so I empathize with you here, but this isn't something that magical girl anime in particular deserves to take heat for, imo.


Quote:
If you just followed the first 2 episodes very carefully, you'd get what i mean: a girl that comes from nowhere and that cares about you but can't say anything; the same girl is trying to kill a little animal that, in the meanwhile, is trying to suspiciously convince you to become a magical girl: isn't it somehow obvious that the girl knows something more and is trying to avoid you getting hurt in the future? But then, how can she know what bad events are going to happen? Most likely, she comes from the future, and there you have got some plot with time travelling. This was my reasoning, and it actually turned to be like that, and so i wasn't surprised and the whole series became a pain.
Even as somebody who loves unpredictability, I wouldn't watch a show with my only hope being "Surprise me, please!".

Even a very predictable show may be good in other ways. Focus on that. Focus on the characters that you like, the action scenes that you simply found fun to watch, the overall execution of things.

I mean, let's face it - 99 times out of 100, the protagonists win. That alone is going to make anime shows and stories at least a bit predictable. To a certain degree, it's just something you have to learn to live with (while appreciating those shows that truly manage to surprise).
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:34   Link #9
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@Kirarakim: what do you mean with "it's actually aimed at guys"? Doesn't it have too many girly elements to be actually aimed to guys, or am i just blinded by this stereotype that consolidated in my mind?
yes, you just blinded by this stereotype that consolidated in your mind. do you really think that all-girl-cast anime like K-on!, Lucky Star, Yuru Yuri aimed at girls? lol no, almost all if not all all-girl-cast anime are aimed at guys.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:34   Link #10
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i guess i misused the word "empathy", because i actually meant subbing in the protagonist, impersonate myself in the character, like it was me who lived the story. I clearly can't do it if it's a girl. I agree that i can comprehend how a girl feels when something happens, but the main issue is that i want to approach the anime in first person, like "Oh a bad thing happened to me, i feel...", and not from a third point of view, like "Oh, a bad thing happened to her, she surely feels bad, i comprehend it". I hope you get what i mean. If you don't, let me know and i'll further elaborate this point.
Well, I'm not sure that you did misuse the term... but I still can't quite relate to what you're saying on an emotional level. At a basic level, what's so different about being a girl? When a bad thing happens to a female character, I do feel bad, even though I'm a guy, and not just in an abstract "look at that bad thing that's happening to her" sense. Being a guy makes no difference in this regard, at least to me. So to me, the thing that I can't comprehend, oddly enough, is this gender barrier. It's like you're saying "absent a male perspective in the narrative, I can only perceive female characters as abstract objects"... and I honestly find that completely perplexing. I don't think it's that you've explained it poorly though... I just can't relate to that at all. I guess it's just a difference in perspective.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:40   Link #11
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It's like you're saying "absent a male perspective in the narrative, I can only perceive female characters as abstract objects"... and I honestly find that completely perplexing. I don't think it's that you've explained it poorly though... I just can't relate to that at all. I guess it's just a difference in perspective.
yeah, i'm a guy too and i don't even understand what make he think like that
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:49   Link #12
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@Relentlessflame: ok, i need to explain myself better:

i'm a bored guy, and in order to forget for a moment of this eventless and boring life, i like to take a deep breath and imagine to be one of those characters of animes, that surely got an eventful life. In order to do so, i prefer the protagonist to be male, so that it's like it was actually me leading the plot. That's it. It's clear that if it's a girl, i can't really imagine to be a girl.

Now, as previously stated, i mostly eat romances, and since those mean getting involved with girls, i of course feel bad when something bad happens to one of the girls of the story, since they are, most of the time, the love's object (For example, she loves you, but for some reason, you happen to hurt her in someway, so you feel bad for her as a reader, and feel bad as a protagonist). Now, i wouldn't want you to think that i only feel bad for the protagonist feeling bad: for example, in School Days, i actually hated Makoto, but nonetheless felt bad for all the girls.

I hope it's clear now; it's not that i can't relate with girls or things like that, it's that i want to imagine to be the protagonist, but in order to do so, the protagonist has to be male and even fit my personality (because if he's a crybaby, or stupid, or an horny dog or a kid looking and "pure" boy, i'm not going to enjoy it). This is only my problem tho, because i actually am too strict on this requirement. I'm actually working to get over this, but the more i encounter likeable protagonists, the harder it gets.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:52   Link #13
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i want to imagine to be the protagonist, but in order to do so, the protagonist has to be male and even fit my personality (because if he's a crybaby, or stupid, or an horny dog or a kid looking and "pure" boy, i'm not going to enjoy it).
Part of fiction's appeal is being able to experience other perspectives, and this kind of mindset severely limits what you can watch. (And given what you're saying about males, it seems like you're not willing to admit your own weak points, much less sympathize with a girl's.) Again, many things about the human experience - good and bad - are universal. That's why so many protagonists are the way they are, they embody a good "average" human for people to relate to.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:54   Link #14
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I like Madoka Magica because it has a great story and crazy visuals that actually benefit the anime, as opposed to distracting me. And also, it has Kyuubey, one of the greatest evil characters to ever exist in anything. He reminds me of some of the greatest Disney villains. The twists, while predictable, are also well-implemented and executed very well. It has much for boys as it has girls. I'd argue even more. What more do I need to enjoy the anime? Oh right, characters.

Really, I don't see gender as an issue for being able to relate to somebody. But character-wise, this anime has the same problem I have with Fate/Zero (another Urobuchi work). The characters are not interesting. I like their stories, but with the exception of maybe Sayaka, they don't have much going for them. But everything else is good that I can overlook that.

Quote:
Now, i wouldn't want you to think that i only feel bad for the protagonist feeling bad: for example, in School Days, i actually hated Makoto, but nonetheless felt bad for all the girls.
P.S. I liked Makoto. He is such a bastard that he actually became a fun character to hate. And while there are times I thought the show was sympathizing with him, the anime ultimately got fed up with him, as it should have. You want an unsympathetic bastard that treats women cruelly AND the show wants us to sympathize with him. Watch Blue Flames. It's only 46 minutes long and that's all you need to hate that prick.
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Old 2012-06-17, 20:54   Link #15
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it seems like you're not willing to admit your own weak points
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This is only my problem tho, because i actually am too strict on this requirement. I'm actually working to get over this, but the more i encounter likeable protagonists, the harder it gets.
I am aware of this, and already admitted it. It's indeed one of my issue :/, but i have to know if it's just that or something else
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Old 2012-06-17, 21:02   Link #16
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i want to imagine to be the protagonist, but in order to do so, the protagonist has to be male and even fit my personality (because if he's a crybaby, or stupid, or an horny dog or a kid looking and "pure" boy, i'm not going to enjoy it).
This is going to be a real problem; unless one has to learn to be open-minded and able to try something different, it'll be hard to appreciate different genres in a wider spectrum far from the very few types of shows you really like.

About Madoka's character designs: it makes for a very sharp contrast to the situations they're placed in, and their very cuteness is what makes them vulnerable to possible emotional breakage.
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Old 2012-06-17, 21:07   Link #17
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I hope it's clear now; it's not that i can't relate with girls or things like that, it's that i want to imagine to be the protagonist, but in order to do so, the protagonist has to be male and even fit my personality (because if he's a crybaby, or stupid, or an horny dog or a kid looking and "pure" boy, i'm not going to enjoy it). This is only my problem tho, because i actually am too strict on this requirement. I'm actually working to get over this, but the more i encounter likeable protagonists, the harder it gets.
I think it's just a matter of perspective. Everyone has sorts of people and characters they have a hard time relating to, and yours just happen to have a lot more to do with gender than mine do. I grew up spending time mostly with my Mom and two sisters, and a lot of my friends growing up and at school were girls. So actually, for me, it's often easier to identify with female characters than with certain types of male characters.

Romance anime is one of my favourite genres, so I do know what you mean about being accustomed to a certain sort of male perspective in these works. Jumping to works that are told from a sharply different perspective can be a bit of a challenge. But I'm not sure how to overcome it except through experience. Here too, growing up I saw shows like Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors on TV (the edited version of Card Captor Sakura) so this is no doubt part of my base perspective. But I could probably relate to these shows growing up again due to the way I could relate to other people growing up, so it's probably all connected. I suppose all I can suggest is to keep working at it.
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Old 2012-06-17, 21:11   Link #18
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Maybe you could try empathizing with the main characters not as a man, but as a fellow human. As others have pointed out, it's not actually necessary to be the same gender to be able to empathize with a certain character.

There are many, many things that are shared across gender lines that one could relate to. For example, the happiness of simply being with your friends, the joy of achieving success, the angry feeling of wanting to get revenge after the murder of a loved one, or the feeling of jealousy when somebody else threatens to take your romantic interest from you. These are just a few of the many things we can relate to as a human, regardless of gender.
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Old 2012-06-17, 21:13   Link #19
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Classified Info - Maybe a good show for you to try would be Negima!

The lead character is male, but pretty much every other protagonist (and there is a lot of them ) is female. It also has similarities to magical girl anime in that magic-based combat makes up a lot of the show.

Negima! might be helpful to you in transitioning from the stuff you're used to liking to magical girl shows. Who knows, maybe while watching Negima! one or more of its female protagonists will 'click' for you, and you'll start to find it easier to directly relate to such characters. Until that click happens, you'll still have Negi himself there to live vicariously through.
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Old 2012-06-17, 21:27   Link #20
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I miss Haruhi
 
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
@Coldlight: Ye well, as i was saying before, this is where the problem lies: i like girls so much that if i were a girl, i would be lesbian; this said, even if i wanted to impersonate myself in the female character, i would find it very hard to have feeling of jealousy, if another girl happened to steal my "boy". I could surely imagine how bad she feels, but if i were the girl, i wouldn't be with a boy in the first place. I'm naturally only referring to the "jealousy" episode, but since i'm a fan of romances, this is one of the most common things. It's different if, as a boy, another boy steals my girl: there i not only feel bad for myself(the protagonist), but i also get insanely mad. I don't know if you ever read the manga "Onani Master Kurosawa", but that was one of the few titles able to make me feel any of Kurosawa's emotions, from happiness, to anger, despair and helplessness.

The main issue is that i'm not very emotional, so i really have to get into the story to actually feel something, and that's the reason of my strict requirements. I hope to lighten up my heart a bit, in order to enjoy more life and other animes aswell. Gotta work on this a lot :/

@ Triple R: I'll give it a try, it could actually turn out to be successful

@Relentlessflame: At this point i guess it's really a different perspective: when i was little, i also happened to watch some Sailor Moon episode in the morning, but after 3-4 episode, i seriously realized that it wasn't something for me. You had to feed me with stuff like dragonball and the kind, haha. As far as the environment is concerned, i also have sisters, but they are way older than me, so it's not like i spent much time with them. Most of my time was spent with my father, doing weird experiments or with my friends, so that's probably also the reason.
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