Originally Posted by NoSanninWa
Indeed. It does seem like the absence of sexual reproduction removes about 50% of all human motivations. It's something I just have to suspend disbelief about to accept the show. Without such drives, it seems that the resulting people would be some sort of alien who are both emotionally and sociologically very different from ourselves. Yet they are not aliens. I just have to accept that they are inexplicably the same as us, all the way down to considering it an atrocity to kill women.
It really makes me wonder why the author decided on some bizarre method of sexless reproduction if she wasn't going to try to factor that into the mentality of her characters. Surely she could have found a better way for Yoko to be on our world?
Well, just because women no longer carry children in their bellies doesn't mean traditional values were removed all together. It was shown that sexual activity indeed takes place still, though purely for entertainment purposes. And you still can't have children unless you are in a married relationship. This is interesting, because whether or not someone can have children is not dictated by priests or law-makers, but the actual Divine Will Itself.
(I guess you can still have kids if you are single or in a same-sex marriage, but it would depend on what the Gods feel like. Pray harder, I guess.)
And it was obvious, from the fact that Yoko needing to disguise herself as a man to avoid unwanted questions, that women are not normally lone travelers.
One thing one has to realise, is how the entire 12 Kingdoms came to be. Here is my theory: (theories are theories, feel free to disagree)
The Deity/deities overseeing the 12 Kingdoms universe is actually the same one as the one that created our own. Somewhere along the line, our universe was created. The big bang, the hydrogen and helium atoms, stars, solar systems, planets, Earth, Evolution, and so on. The deity was present during all this time, but didn't do anything but wanting the world grow and human civilizations flourish.
The Deity liked the universe, but want to tinker with it. But its too messy to tinker with the entire universe. So It picked the most advanced civilization at that specific
time, that of the Chinese civilization, and created a replica in a parallel world.
(This explains why the world seemed frozen in time; it was the style
God picked, so it stayed that way.)
This new world isn't actually a new China; rather, it's like a small garden on a balcony compared to a rain-forest, or a fish-tank compared to the Mediterranean sea. Unlike a rain-forest or an ocean, the 12 Kingdoms needed constant maintenance; the world's weather isn't caused by Earth's spin or forest cover or El-Nina, but directly controlled by the Deity. There is no evolution, due to the requirement of controlling the population size of all
life; solved via the pod-trees that decide when and where new life will originate. There is no erosion, because land masses don't change.
Ironically, this world, though evidence of God's work is all around them, has no faith; In fact, there isn't even an afterlife. If you work hard, you may be granted immortality. If you abuse your immortality, you will lose it.
How is this relevant to gender roles?
Well, one thing that wasn't animated from the novels, was Yoko asking Rakushun if chickens hatch from eggs.
To which he replied:
"Don't be silly. Who would dare to eat eggs if that was the case!"
So why is there eggs from chickens? Simple, because the culture transplanted from our Earth had eaten chicken eggs. Just as a garden or fish-tank might imitate a natural environment, and yet be fake, so would the 12 Kingdoms. This is God's playground.
Women still act like, and get treated like, women. Some things stay the same, as fake as it looked, simply because it didn't evolve from scratch. 12 Kingdoms never had a Stone-age; it just popped into existence with all the laws written in.