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Old 2013-05-11, 12:41   Link #41
SeijiSensei
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There are few positive representations of parenting in most of the shows I have watched. I attribute that to the demands of creating material for a largely adolescent and young adult audience. Most parents in anime, when they are present at all (like the absent Tsukamotos in School Rumble), are generally oppressive or indifferent, especially if their children are adolescents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R
Gender equality is definitely worth championing, but that doesn't mean we should frown on positive portrayals of parenting and people wanting to become parents.
Please don't construe my earlier comments as suggesting that I do not think of parenting as a demanding and rewarding experience. As perhaps the only person in this thread with two decades of parenting under my belt, I have a lot of admiration and empathy for Daichiki in Usagi Drop. For me, the themes of work versus parenthood hit very close to home. But it is also important to recognize that modern industrial society often makes us choose between work and home, and women face that choice much more profoundly than do men.
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Old 2013-05-11, 12:42   Link #42
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
There's nothing wrong with parenting being portrayed in a largely positive light (to argue that this is the same as saying that women should function as child factories is frankly the heights of ridiculousness, especially when the portrayal is rooted in a single man in his 30s raising a young girl... seriously...). There's nothing wrong with a female character who wants to be a mother some day. There's no reason for an anime and/or its characters to be crudely insulted in a very excessive way just because of these portrayals.
Ok, I was exaggerating, but this is not what it was doing. If you bothered to read the linked articles, you would know it was actively shaming the childless and those who had the slightest troubles with kids, in-laws and just handwaving away the weight of a family. Sometimes it was so propagandistic it wasn't credible at all.
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Old 2013-05-11, 12:52   Link #43
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I didn't realize reevaluating and analyzing the definition of family is somehow opposed to gender equality or realization of the complexity of human nature, but... this is why I asked for examples of what does work, otherwise we get silly hyperbolic nonsense.

It's not black and white. Just because something isn't "progressive" doesn't mean it's inherently regressive. I hope you guys realize there's a gear on most vehicles that says "park". It's the forced pigeonholing of roles and denial/defamation of choice that causes people's rights and lives to suffer.

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Oh, lighten up. I just wrote a satirical representation of the plot that made fun of the unrealistically perfect characters and sentimental nature of this type of drama. I doubt the writers took these works so seriously themselves. It's not meant as criticism on a child wish or on families.
The relationship might be idealized itself, but there is nothing unrealistically perfect about the characters you described, though. If anything, they have plenty of character flaws.
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Old 2013-05-11, 12:55   Link #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
I just wrote a satirical representation of the plot that made fun of the unrealistically perfect characters and sentimental nature of this type of drama.
... How the heck does one go from "mentally challenged, emotionally dependent, chronically ill" to "unrealistically perfect"?

In any event, I didn't see anything "unrealistically perfect" about Tomoya and Nagisa. In fact, as you yourself point out, they're from very middle class (or less) and humble origins. Neither of them are great students, neither of them are brilliant or especially talented. I felt and continue to feel that both are fairly believable and realistic as characters.


Quote:
A lot of anime have a tendency to portray love interests to a main character (regardless of gender) as dependent beings who live to only gain the affection and approval of the MC, without much of a life of their own.
Spoiler for Clannad comparison:



Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
There are few positive representations of parenting in most of the shows I have watched. I attribute that to the demands of creating material for a largely adolescent and young adult audience. Most parents in anime, when they are present at all (like the absent Tsukamotos in School Rumble), are generally oppressive or indifferent, especially if their children are adolescents.
Sadly, this is true. Which is why I found Usagi Drop so refreshing.


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Please don't construe my earlier comments as suggesting that I do not think of parenting as a demanding and rewarding experience.
I didn't. My comments weren't directed at you.



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Originally Posted by scineram View Post
Ok, I was exaggerating, but this is not what it was doing. If you bothered to read the linked articles,
I'm well aware of the anime blog Moe Sucks, and I have read it on many occasions. I had long ago read "the articles" you linked to. You can read an argument without agreeing with it. I do not agree with the argument that Moe Sucks made about Usagi Drop. I felt that the way Moe Sucks interpreted Usagi Drop was somewhat off, and if you read some of the replies to those linked blog reviews, you'll see that I'm not the only one who disagreed with those interpretations.

Moe Sucks is just two or three anime fans commenting on anime just like the rest of us. They are no more an authority on anime than you or I are. Anybody can start up an anime blog, and give opinions on anime. I myself once did.


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you would know it was actively shaming the childless and those who had the slightest troubles with kids, in-laws and just handwaving away the weight of a family. Sometimes it was so propagandistic it wasn't credible at all.
I completely disagree with this assessment of Usagi Drop. I think this constitutes a wild misinterpretation of the work, and what it was aiming for. I don't think that Usagi Drop was aiming to be "propagandistic" at all. And, in fact, if you read the manga to its end, this becomes increasingly clear, imo.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:04   Link #45
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
The relationship might be idealized itself, but there is nothing unrealistically perfect about the characters you described, though. If anything, they have plenty of character flaws.
I described a dark interpretation of the plot. The cast in the anime is capable of handling whatever get thrown at them with kindness and forgiveness as if events left no emotional scars (except for the Ushio bit) . School Days, while excessive, gives an interesting alternative to what broken or less 'perfect' characters could do.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:09   Link #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
I described a dark interpretation of the plot. The cast in the anime is capable of handling whatever get thrown at them with kindness and forgiveness. School days, while excessive, gives an interesting alternative to what less ethical or 'perfect' characters could do.
That's simply not true.

Spoiler for Clannad:


Spoiler for Clannad After Story:


It is anything but what you describe, considering one of the characters clearly did not just handle everything with kindness and forgiveness, which in fact defines, a key portion of one character.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:21   Link #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
I described a dark interpretation of the plot. The cast in the anime is capable of handling whatever get thrown at them with kindness and forgiveness as if events left no emotional scars (except for the Ushio bit) . School Days, while excessive, gives an interesting alternative to what broken or less 'perfect' characters could do.
No. School Days is plain and utterly stupid.

It's mocking an already stupid stereotype.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:26   Link #48
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
Spoiler for Clannad:
I felt the character was written as a bit of a rebellious teenager. Not a kid from a broken home whose future had been destroyed by a trust figure.

Quote:
Spoiler for Clannad After Story:
Spoiler for Clannad After Story:


I'll leave it at a difference in interpretation. I'm not overly interested in pursuing this tangent based on a non serious remark to emphasize the concept of idealization in anime. We're drifting far OT.

Last edited by relentlessflame; 2013-05-11 at 17:36. Reason: added spoiler tag
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:30   Link #49
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Originally Posted by Bri View Post
I felt the character was written as a bit of a rebellious teenager. Not a kid from a broken home whose future had been destroyed by a trust figure.
Well, that comes with the territory. But considering he angsts over it in a way that doesn't get glossed over, and stays with him to adulthood, I don't think it's that simple.
Quote:
Spoiler for Clannad After Story:
Which also has nothing to do with the point. Sure, chalk it up to bad writing and contrived plot instances-- you may even call it a bad anime that lacked a logical conclusion, but even if I accept this, your initial premise of the characters will never reach the other shore. The story itself might be idealized, which may or may not not be used as a strike against the anime.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:33   Link #50
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I'm well aware of the anime blog Moe Sucks, and I have read it on many occasions. I had long ago read "the articles" you linked to. You can read an argument without agreeing with it. I do not agree with the argument that Moe Sucks made about Usagi Drop. I felt that the way Moe Sucks interpreted Usagi Drop was somewhat off, and if you read some of the replies to those linked blog reviews, you'll see that I'm not the only one who disagreed with those interpretations.
Well, sorry then. These things came to me immediately watching the show, and this was like the only time ever that I agreed with E Minor. I was only trying to present it as an argument, so I guess we can only take note of the disagreement.

Quote:
I completely disagree with this assessment of Usagi Drop. I think this constitutes a wild misinterpretation of the work, and what it was aiming for. I don't think that Usagi Drop was aiming to be "propagandistic" at all. And, in fact, if you read the manga to its end, this becomes increasingly clear, imo.
I didn't mean that was its aim or even the main theme, but oftentimes I found its heavy-handedness really troublesome.
The point I tried to make is that Usagi Drop has little to do with the theme of this topic. There was no sexuality in it and concerning gender roles, with what I was bitching about above, I didn't see much progressivity in it. Single parenthood, including fatherhood, has existed since time immemorial, so it was just something unusual and new in anime, but had nothing to say about gender.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:34   Link #51
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I don't think that Usagi Drop was aiming to be "propagandistic" at all.
I do think it was propagandizing on behalf of non-traditional families and family roles in Japan and for the need to support people in those families and roles. Like you, I don't see Usagi Drop as "shaming the childless."

Coincidentally, I just watched episode four of Otona Joshi no Anime Time, and the complexities of marriage and motherhood are a central aspect of that story. This series also displays a mature attitude toward adult sexuality throughout.
Spoiler for mild ep 3 spoiler:

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Originally Posted by scineram View Post
Single parenthood, including fatherhood, has existed since time immemorial, so it was just something unusual and new in anime, but had nothing to say about gender.
Single fatherhood has yet to garner much support or respect here in the US, and I suspect that is no less true in Japan. I'm speaking from experience here. Though we number some 1.7 million US men, that's still just a couple of percent of all families, and still much less common than families headed by a single mother.
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Old 2013-05-11, 13:49   Link #52
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Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
But it is also important to recognize that modern industrial society often makes us choose between work and home, and women face that choice much more profoundly than do men.
I'd add that it's somewhat unfair to expect something radically feminist from anime when women in real life haven't quite figured the best compromise between career and family: Why women still can't have it all.

It's an important topic and, as such, it deserves attention in media. It's very much a gender issue, one that is not limited to Japan. While, it's generally true that Japanese society still expects women to put aside their careers once they are married and become mothers, male attitude towards women (Why male Japanese let their wives control the purse strings) are changing.

Compare this to the way Japanese families of the 1960s were portrayed in various anime. In Ghibli's Only Yesterday, the protagonist's father was the typical patriarch of yore — strict, stoical and absolutely authoritarian. In sharp contrast, the father of contemporary Japan is often portrayed as someone who takes a more active role as a husband, like the wolfman of Wolf Children.

Usagi Drop's Daikichi may sometimes be presented too unbelievably as the paragon of fatherhood, but even if one disregards him, there are still a number of smaller, less in-your-face examples of active parents. In Tari Tari, for example, there was a father who, upon realising that his daughter was dead-set on becoming an equestrian athlete, went all out to plead her case despite his initial objections.

My point is that it's not as simple as people think; anime is not necessarily relegating women to the role of child factories, even if married women in anime do seem to be mainly portrayed as housewives and contented mothers.

The dilemma is dealt with most poignantly in Planetes, for example, where one of the protagonists chooses to stay at home — not because she was forced into it, but because she understands the importance of her role as an emotional anchor for her space-faring husband.

Therein lies the difference: Choice. Women in today's Japan aren't necessarily forced to be housewives if they marry. For those that do, not all of them necessarily regard it as a sacrifice. Or, even if it were a sacrifice, some see it as something worthwhile.

Hataraki Man's Hiroko, on the other hand, chose the other direction, throwing herself into her career like any man would, only to come in the end to same realisation as Anne-Marie Slaughter. Hiroko may have persisted with her job, but not without being a little wiser about what she's giving up in exchange.

Because, make no mistake, there's always a price to pay.

In short, I find that anime to be mirroring trends in Western media in its portrayal of women. Their roles as the managers of the home and mothers are no longer taken for granted. Even if those are the roles they continue to play, a lot more respect is being accorded to them, for taking on what is now usually portrayed as a thankless but necessary task. We even have anime that show sympathy for the burdens they bear, like in Colorful and A Letter to Momo.

That such anime reflect mainstream views of gender roles doesn't make them any less progressive. Like others have pointed out in this thread, it has to be seen in context.
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Old 2013-05-11, 14:01   Link #53
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Wow, that's a lot to take in, TinyRedLeaf.

You pointed out a really good point in here:

Quote:
In short, I find that anime to be mirroring trends in Western media in its portrayal of women. Their roles as the managers of the home and mothers are no longer taken for granted. Even if those are the roles they continue to play, a lot more respect is being accorded to them, for taking on what is now usually portrayed as a thankless but necessary task.
This is the kind of stuff I find intriguing-- when supposedly traditional roles are no longer being taken for granted and simply expected of someone solely due to how they were born, but actually giving people respect for the choices they make.

The element of choice, and letting an individual define themselves, is key to this.

And thanks for bringing up men more in this too.
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Old 2013-05-11, 14:45   Link #54
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post

The dilemma is dealt with most poignantly in Planetes, for example, where one of the protagonists chooses to stay at home — not because she was forced into it, but because she understands the importance of her role as an emotional anchor for her space-faring husband.
Iirc the deck was heavily stacked against the female protagonist. Her husband had a once in a lifetime opportunity for a unique and important mission, partly based on his talent and his families' reputation as spacefarers, a chance she would probably never have, even though she wanted to be in space herself. In some ways a representation of the glass ceiling in society.

How much is it really a choice, if the odds are so heavily in favor of one outcome?
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Old 2013-05-11, 15:12   Link #55
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How much is it really a choice, if the odds are so heavily in favor of one outcome?
To the world, nothing.
To one's own self, everything.
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Old 2013-05-11, 15:36   Link #56
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Iirc the deck was heavily stacked against the female protagonist. Her husband had a once in a lifetime opportunity for a unique and important mission, partly based on his talent and his families' reputation as spacefarers, a chance she would probably never have, even though she wanted to be in space herself. In some ways a representation of the glass ceiling in society.

How much is it really a choice, if the odds are so heavily in favor of one outcome?
To be sure, the entire anime was about the unfairness of it all. The social injustice that arose from the tensions between the haves and have-nots was not limited to gender inequality. Don't forget that it was this sense of unfairness that drove the other protagonist. It wasn't enough that he was talented. He had to be better than the best in order to even stand a fighting chance of being selected for the historic mission.

But in so doing, he came close to losing his grip on what's important. You may recall the pivotal episode where he had an epiphany, when he realised that his worth as an individual depended heavily on the links he maintained with the people around him. This is not an unfamiliar theme in anime but, in Planetes, the concept of enishi was given special significance.

Specifically, the idea is to accept one's role in life. That should not be interpreted as resignation. Rather, the key is to understand that the way you perform your role will have an impact on others around you. So, whatever role one chooses, it must be carried through in earnest, not half-heartedly.

The point was that if Ai Tanabe had reservations, she shouldn't have taken the choice. But having made a choice, she would see it through no matter what. By the same token, Hiroko of Hataraki Man also faced a similar choice, but she chose work over personal life. She faced the same glass ceilings as Ai, but having made her decision, she'd charge head on regardless.

Both are strong women. The circumstances do not make a difference to the significance of their choices and their commitment. And, again, the importance of their decisions has to be measured in the context of Japanese traditions, which differ from those of the modern West.
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Old 2013-05-11, 16:27   Link #57
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Progressive Portrayal of Gender and Sexuality in Anime

ETA: Tiny Red Leaf's last post wasn't there when I typed this one up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
Iirc the deck was heavily stacked against the female protagonist. Her husband had a once in a lifetime opportunity for a unique and important mission, partly based on his talent and his families' reputation as spacefarers, a chance she would probably never have, even though she wanted to be in space herself. In some ways a representation of the glass ceiling in society.

How much is it really a choice, if the odds are so heavily in favor of one outcome?
That's the thing with choices: you make them in the real world, and something the very social structures are "against" you. I haven't seen Planetes yet (though a bought a boxed set about a year ago), but if I go from Tiny Red Leaves quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiny Red Leave
The dilemma is dealt with most poignantly in Planetes, for example, where one of the protagonists chooses to stay at home — not because she was forced into it, but because she understands the importance of her role as an emotional anchor for her space-faring husband.
then the question becomes one of whether "emotional anchor for her space-faring husband" is gender sensitive or not. That is: would a woman have the same expectations of her husband? Would a husband who stays at home even be able to function as an "emotional anchor for his space-faring wife", or would a typical woman, maybe, feel too guilty?

A choice has two aspects: personal and social. A choice that is the best possible outcome for you may also contribute to keeping the strictures alive that make the alternatives undesirable.

What, for example, if the husband would derive no emotional benefit from a stay-at-home wife? It's not a simple either/or. As a woman, you might actually feel that - while you get to pursue the career of your choice - you actually lose something. The idea of a woman supporting her husband might be very involved in your romantic outlook that getting rid of it might leave you with a sense of loss as well as a sense of new-found freedom. The personal constellation is complicated, and the choice is yours.

But that you have to deal with the choice in the first place and the terms under which you view it is a social issue: whether you should have to deal with it in the first place is a question indepentent of any actual decision. A feminist might think the answer is "no, I shouldn't", yet still make a choice that perpetuates the structure perceived as restrictive. Others may embrace the role, never questioning that those choices are gender-skewed.

Gender issues go way beyond personal decisions; they're very pervasive and influence what types of decision you're typically confronted with in the first place. But viewing everything through a gender lense causes a distorted image as well:

Take, for example, Ai Yori Aoshi: gender, traditon, money... All that works together to create a social background that gives meaning to individual decisions. This show, to me, also shows how the term "progressive" can lead you miss a lot: I was so biased against arranged marriages that it took me a while to "get" the story; watching this one has been a very interesting cultural experience for me.
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Old 2013-05-11, 21:28   Link #58
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At the top of my head, Kashimashi mentions Hazumu's sex-change a few times after the fact but it's an otherwise straightforward yuri triangle that's about the triangle itself and not anyone's sexuality. Anyway if I were trying to take the progressive portrayals of sexuality and sex in the context of anime today as a whole I could point out a few of them. But limited to my own perspective I feel as though I've seen enough portrayals and counter-portrayals to make any kind of "norm" non-existent.

More on my second point, Yukino Miyazawa from Kare Kano comes close to what you'd be thinking of for sex.
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Old 2013-05-11, 22:55   Link #59
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I for one hated the ending of Planetes. While I agree that feminism is about choices what choice does the female protagonist have when it is a male writer dictating her decision?

Now I realize that sounds silly and it is but I think it is silly to say her choice was really important in the story


Spoiler for Planetes:



Contrast this with Only Yesterday where the main female character also leaves an office life to
Spoiler:


But the important difference between Only Yesterday and Planetes is Only Yesterday is very much about the female character's choice & why she made that decision. She is the focal point here.
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Old 2013-05-12, 00:28   Link #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bri View Post
I described a dark interpretation of the plot. The cast in the anime is capable of handling whatever get thrown at them with kindness and forgiveness as if events left no emotional scars (except for the Ushio bit) . School Days, while excessive, gives an interesting alternative to what broken or less 'perfect' characters could do.
You're right that extensive Clannad discussion is probably off-topic for this thread, so I'm not going to delve much more into it here.

But I'm going to make a general observation here that can apply to Clannad and many other anime shows as well - I think that sometimes we underestimate reality itself, and hence may be too quick to throw the "unrealistic" criticism around.

I personally know some people who have faced hardships no less than what any Clannad character has faced (I know one woman in particular who lost three close family members to cancer), but some of them (including that woman) continue to be generally kind and forgiving souls. Some people are very kind and forgiving people even if they've faced a lot of lost and suffering in their lives. In fact, in my experience, many of the nicest people I know have "sad backstories". Going through a lot of emotional hardship can make a person more empathic to others who experience hardship.


I pretty much agree with SeijiSensei on Usagi Drop.
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