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Old 2020-09-18, 08:08   Link #21
0cean
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@Tenzen
All the characters you mention are only female so they can offer fanservice and be a potential love interest for the protagonist. The reason they are strong is because they fill a traditionally male role, which in these examples is the role of the warrior. It's the whole shtick of amazons. They are warriors, but they are hot. (But of course, they aren't actually a match for real men.)

It's not "here is this strong girl, so she's going to fight", it's "we need someone that's able to fight, but we need fanservice, so make it a girl". That's the sole reason Saber and Celty are girls. It's the reason why strong girls in anime are pretty much always attractive, because that's their purpose.

Also, I'm interested in hearing about your counter examples. Please list as many as you can.
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Old 2020-09-18, 11:21   Link #22
Tenzen12
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I did and pretty much any other fighting character fit. Pretty much every character you menationed is actually counter example. Maybe except Arthuria. Do you want double that list or tripple? It would be pain in ass, but I can provide. Not to mention another hundreds character that are strong but fighters

Let's pick some as they come to mind: Lucy/Myu, Shirke, Saeko, Kagome, High Elf Archer, Kamazuki Suzuno, Revy, Integra, Balsa, Nanami Yasuri, Medaka.

First of all you have to realise we are used to see people of both genders in our daily lives, that's why mono gender stories are outlier as they mirror reality. If you see every strong female as mere fanservice, then problem is probably on your side.
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Old 2020-09-18, 15:32   Link #23
BWTraveller
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One problem with this line is that it's focusing purely on the combat strength side. For one thing, as I said before, a woman with real combat strength is certainly in keeping with Japanese ideals of womanhood, so it's not as out there as people think; the ideal has them staying back home and defending family and friends and the household rather than charging into enemy territory to defeat the main threat, but it most certainly does support the concept of a woman warrior (and in truth, a whole lot of the girl fighters I've seen in anime are motivated as much or more by those points than boy fighters). For another thing though, there's far more to strength than just "she has a sword and knows how to use it". Physical strength may be more "masculine", but things like an ability to stand up for what one believes or a dedication to achieving one's dreams are much more universal.
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Old 2020-09-19, 04:10   Link #24
0cean
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All girls in anime for men are fanservice. Otherwise they could put ugly girls in without that being an issue. But the only anime with an ugly girl as a protagonist I can think of is the family movie Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi. And there, the girl is physically a rather weak character and it takes the whole movie for her to grow, so I'm not sure if she can be counted towards the "strong female characters in anime".

@Tenzen12
Again, most of those girls are there for fanservice. At least if you meant Lucy/Nyuu from Elfen Lied, since I don't know who Myuu is supposed to be. She's parading around naked half the time for exactly this purpose. Schierke from Berserk just knows some magic and is otherwise rather weak. She's pretty much the token Loli that got added to the group. Pure fanservice. There are so many Saekos, that I'm not sure who you mean. The one from City Hunter? Mai-HiME? HotD? I don't remember much about the one from City Hunter, but the one in Mai-HiME was there for Yuri fanservice and the one form HotD was there so her tits could jiggle.

It's true that Kagome from Inuyasha doesn't provide much fanservice, since that's not a show geared towards men, but more towards women, what with the protagonist already having had a relationship prior to the main girl and there basically being no fanservice at all. It's walking a fine balance, though, as to not turn off the male audience too much. Didn't help much: the fandom is predominantly female.

High Elf Archer from Goblin Slayer is fanservice again and so is Kamazuki Suzuno from Hataraku Maou-sama.

Revy (Black Lagoon), Integra (Hellsing) and Balsa (Seirei no Moribito) are good examples again for male roles filled with girls for the sole purpose of fanservice. With Integra appealing to the fantasy of being dominated by a woman. Balsa is the only one of them that got her role heavily modified to be more than a girl doing a guys job and has basically zero fanservice other than being a woman to look at. Which ironically turns the whole anime into one that appeals more to women, since they got an easier time to identify with her than men. Personally, I didn't like that anime very much, exactly because Balsa is too much of a real women. If she was someone like Revy instead, I'd have enjoyed it a lot more.

Yasuri Nanami from Katanagatari isn't a protagonist. She's a story catalyst. But the reason she is female is for fanservice. It wouldn't have changed anything in the story if she was male instead. Her character would have worked the same, just without the eye candy.

Medaka from Medaka Box is again pure fanservice.
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Old 2020-09-19, 05:28   Link #25
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And? You are saying there are in for fanservice, which is wrong. Providing fanservice and existing for fanservice is different matter. Each of this character is either not fanservicy or wouldn't make sense if it was replaced by male.

Shierke: doesn't just "know some magic". She is Guts equal power wise, numerously saved his life and sanity and do more work then all other supporting characters in party combined, which includes two guys.

Saeko: Yes she is one from HSoD, she fanservicy, but she cannot be replaced by guy, because her sensuality is essential part of her character.

HEA: cannot be replaced by male, because she fill "big sister role" to both GS and Priestess. If she was guy it completely change dynamics. That she also provide fanservice is unrelated.

Revy: She is psycho, which is completely turn off and negate any fanservice. She is female because woman psycho is more impactful then male psycho. Also if she was guy, it would make Rock female instead so amount of potential fanservice wouldn't change.

Integra: Isn't fanservice at all. It doesn't matter she is woman now, she is woman becuase she started as cornered desperate little girl, which led her became what she is now.

Balsa: couldn't be man, because her role is not just of warrior, but also that of surrogate mother to Chugum and her relationship with him as "single mother" is meant to draw pararel to her past being raised by "single father" figure.

Nanami: isn't fanservicy and story would change significantly if she was male. She is mc big sister who basicaly raised him and twist of her being imensely powerful despite being "sick and frail" wouldn't work same if she was guy.

Medaka: Doesn't matter if she is fanservicy. If she was guy, Zenkichi would be girl instead and amount potential fanservice wouldn't change.

Lucy: Is female because girls are more often seen as innocent and pure, which is put into contrast to her "real" personality. It wouldn't work same way if she was guy.
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Old 2020-09-19, 22:25   Link #26
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As for ugly girls, you've seen Kuragehime, right?
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Old 2020-09-20, 12:09   Link #27
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Sometimes they have always been. Go Nagai kinda made history not only with making Mazinger Z the first robot piloted by a guy but also a female partner who has to put up with all the $hit Koji makes. Still, Nagai's characters are a bit inconsistent depending on media as Koji is more caring in the manga while Akira Fudo was changed for Devilman Crybaby too. Not to even mention Nagai wrote manga centered some really strong female protagonists
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Old 2020-09-20, 14:20   Link #28
BWTraveller
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0cean View Post
All girls in anime for men are fanservice. Otherwise they could put ugly girls in without that being an issue. But the only anime with an ugly girl as a protagonist I can think of is the family movie Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi. And there, the girl is physically a rather weak character and it takes the whole movie for her to grow, so I'm not sure if she can be counted towards the "strong female characters in anime".
Yeah right. Never mind that fact that the guys are almost always good-looking too. Frankly, the looks of ALL characters, male or female, love interest or side character, are largely irrelevant and thus could be called "fanservice". Heck, even if a girl were made unattractive you could call it "fanservice", only it'd be pandering to people with less common tastes and the idiots that get so upset that there aren't enough ugly people in art (and here it's not just anime and manga TV and movies are at least as bad regardless of where they come from). As Tenzen said, having fanservice play a role in the character doesn't make them "there for fanservice". Same thing goes for women placed in "male" positions. They may have characteristics added for fanservice purposes, and fanservice opportunities may be exploited, but that does not make them "there for fanservice". If you're going to expand fanservice far enough to say those sorts of things, basically fiction by its very nature is usually "there for fanservice", with every character designed to fit a part in a fantasy. I'd avoid expanding terms that far, since making a word mean too many things tends to make it mean nothing at all.

As for Elfen Lied, we'll have to disagree about the fanservice stuff. Frankly I find it hard to see anyone finding appeal in a naked girl, however pretty, with cold, dead eyes who's casually slaughtering people in progressively more horrific ways. I'd say it's more a matter of contrast, beauty and attractiveness in an individual who inspires nothing as much as horror.
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Old 2020-09-20, 20:35   Link #29
mangamuscle
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Originally Posted by 0cean View Post
Not all girls in anime are strong, but the ones that are usually fill a role that traditionally would have been the job of a man. Like Akane from Ranma 1/2, who is supposed to inherit a Dojo, when traditionally girls never were allowed to do something like that, as far as I know.
Not true. I am a Ranma 1/2 fan (I have the OVAs blu-ray collection) from back when it was still airing on japanese TV, so I can tell you Soun (Akane's father) NEVER told his daughters he needed one of them continue his dojo, which if you hadn't noticed is dead broke, there is no one taking lessons (and therefore paying them money). Whether Akane asked her father to teach her out of a personal desire to run the dojo, admiration for her father or desire to be strong is just as unknown as is if her father teach her out of boredom or because he thought Genma's son would like strong females (Nodoka is fearsome!). But the very first day Ranma appears he point blank tells him(her) to choose one of his daughters to marry and continue the dojo (more like, make it profitable on the near future).

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Or Saber from Fate/ stay night, who is a male character from history.
It would have been a safe bet to portray Saber as a wimpy "king", it would be more moe and since Fate at the time was first produced as an "adult" visual novel, wank material in other words. Also, she is the principal character, not a side character you unlock after ending the game. But instead of being another visual novel to be forgotten, FSN is now a franchise and Saber is their cash cow (they admit it).

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Or Celty from Durarara, who is a Dullahan, which is a traditionally male monster.
The only reasons these characters are female are for eye candy, fanservice and so that straight relationships will work. Yes, these characters obviously also have femininity, but they fill a traditionally male role.

Nowhere is written that monsters have only one gender and if they do but are purely mythological, there is no reason that can't change in a work of fiction.

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Most of the series I'm referring to involve fighting and battles, so the girls have to be strong in order to be part of the story. Basically authors need characters that can fight, provide fanservice and be love interests for the protagonist, so they end up being strong females.
No, they do not NEED them to be strong and the most obvious example is Dragonball, each and every female fighter is relegated soon as they have their important fight. #18 fighter at the end of Dragonball super, but it was not about how strong she was but about how much she loved her family.

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All the characters you mention are only female so they can offer fanservice
I am tired about hearing this again and again. TBT said can be said about male characters (no homo), they are muscular, handsome or cool because those traits are what their fanbase wants to be or admires. Only in some hentai anime you will see the protagonist as a fat, ugly and uncool bastard who gets (as in rapes) the girl.

The sad thing is that 3D females are they own enemies. They have been taught that muscularity in a female is a big no no and there is a recent trend to also reject aesthetical female bodies "because they are not real". Yes they are real, but they are high to attain ideal, just as most males wlll never be heroical, muscular or famous as All Might from My Hero Academia.
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Old 2020-09-21, 01:27   Link #30
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No, they do not NEED them to be strong and the most obvious example is Dragonball, each and every female fighter is relegated soon as they have their important fight. #18 fighter at the end of Dragonball super, but it was not about how strong she was but about how much she loved her family.
Dragon Ball isn't a series I would consider an example of having strong female characters. The only one who could put a fight with the main cast before Super was Android 18 and she still was arguably the weakest of the androids, she wasn't the main villain in the android arc and then she was quickly turned into a housewife.
In general, shounen battle mangas are usually series aimed at boys with a male dominated cast and one or a few token female characters. I don't think these series show a particular love for strong heroines from Japanese readers, and they aren't the ones I'm referring to.
The series I'm talking about are the ones when the majority of the cast is female, and/or the strongest characters are females. Sometimes it's even an explicit part of the setting that females are inherently better at fighting than males. These series (at least the ones I read that are aimed at males, not the ones like Sailor Moon that is targeted to girls) are usually ecchi and harem, and that's the reason for the unbalanced cast.
I hope this will make more clear my point of view, otherwise I'll try to explain it better.
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Old 2020-09-21, 11:18   Link #31
SeijiSensei
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The series I'm talking about are the ones when the majority of the cast is female, and/or the strongest characters are females.
Juuni Kokuki ("Twelve Kingdoms") is an excellent example with its feminist trio of women standing together in the final battle.



All three ladies had grueling backstories before arriving at this point. I've always liked Shoukei more than Suzu. Yes, Shoukei lived a pampered life, but that meant she had farther to fall and farther to pick herself up from than Suzu. I found Suzu's self-effacingness annoying. I kept yelling in my head for her to show some gumption.
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Old 2020-09-21, 13:31   Link #32
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This is an interesting subject, and I wish I had more time to contribute better-developed thoughts about it.

Ideally, I'd much rather employ some Google-fu to see if I can dig up some relevant academic research. I'm fairly certain someone must have studied the issue to greater depth, if not on a statistical basis, then most certainly on a comparative basis. Feminism in Japan is not quite the same thing as in the West, and it takes only a quick scan of the responses here for me to note that, really, all we're doing is taking a stab in the dark.

What we have here, collectively, are some of the answers, that don't add up to a satisfying, comprehensive answer. A bit like the three blind men offering to describe an elephant by touch.

1) I agree with many of the answers here: Anime objectifies women. It's very hard to argue against this, when it's very clear from the design of female characters that they are mostly meant to attract and hold the male gaze.

2) "Strong" female characters are also very often hypersexualised. Production I.G has come up with various iterations of Motoko "Major" Kusanagi, but virtually all of them portray her as highly attractive, while also being badass at the same time. I would argue, in fact, that Production I.G has been on the whole more progressive than the original author of the Ghost in the Shell, which sexualises the Major even more than in the anime movies and TV adaptations. In short, the "strong" women we see in many anime, especially shounen titles, are not so much for benefit of female viewers, but more so for the excitement of its target male viewers.

3) And yet, at the same time, it seems somewhat unsatisfactory to reduce this trend to mere gratification for the male gaze. Unsatisfactory, because it fails to account for the sheer diversity of female characters across all anime and manga. I would argue that Western cartoons, especially those produced in North America, are more lacking in terms of diversity than in anime. Disney may be introducing us to more princesses with spunk and tomboyish initiative — but the narrative remains very much the same: These women are destined to grow up to be pretty princesses who fall in love with a dashing hero and live happily ever after. It's a rare cartoon or animated feature that tries to break gender norms like the Legend of Korra has, for example.

=========

Take those three points together, and what does it say? I think the situation is a little bit more complex than it seems at first glance.

A) Regarding Hayao Miyazaki and his preference for strong female characters — not just those who are warriors like Nausicaa and Lady Eboshi — but also strong young girls like Chihiro in Spirited Away or Kiki in Kiki's Delivery Service. He has said that he's been asked about this multiple times, and he got so tired of answering the same type of questions that he has settled on a simple answer: He likes women.

If he deigns to explain it a little bit more, he would say it's because it's easier to make a female character special and remarkable than it is for a male character.

So, two things here: Miyazaki is implicitly saying that he recognises the gender roles that men and women are expected to fill. But, when a woman takes on a male gender role, that automatically makes her a more fascinating character. And it's far easier to have an interesting story about a remarkable female character, than to have a story about your run-of-the-mill male hero.

What does make Miyazaki, then? A conservative or a progressive? It's actually a bit of both.

B) Now, if you keep this duality in mind, and look at some of the strong female characters you see across the entire range of anime, I think you will find that first-and-foremost, "strong female characters" are just simply so much more interesting as a concept to begin with, because of their sheer rarity in a male-dominated Japan.

So, yes, there is a bit of escapism at work here, but not necessarily in a pejorative sense. A strong woman often commands respect and fierce loyalty from her fellow male characters; think Balalaika in Black Lagoon, for example, or even Tanya from the The Saga of Tanya the Evil. This is pure escapism: No woman in contemporary Japan can even get close to such an idealised scenario.

But at the same time, it doesn't feel like the male ego is being bashed in some feminist crusade, which is how the issue tends to be framed in Western media.

So, is this progressive or conservative? Again, I don't think the matter is so straightforward. I think it's more the case that the average Japanese boy or teen is quite likely to find strong women admirable and even possibly a good role model. An "elder sister" type of character, for example, which I think is a character archetype that doesn't quite exist in Western media.


Basically, I would say that, tempting though it might be, it's never a good idea to look at anime from a Western cultural lens. Feminism in Japanese culture and history is a complex subject — the ancestral god of the Japanese pantheon, Amaterasu, is after all a woman. And some of the best and more revered authors in Japanese literature are women. Amid all the misogyny that is modern Japanese culture, there is also paradoxically a concurrent acceptance of strong women in Japanese society.

This duality, as I suggested earlier, is probably a better way to look at the issue, then to arbitrarily divide it between exploitative and progressive lines.
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Old 2020-09-21, 14:56   Link #33
Tenzen12
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I don't think there is much point separating western and japan "cultural lenses". Political climate may be different, but not actual sensitivities. That's why western "progressive" movies and comics actually failing so often and anime and manga actually taking over audiance. Western creators just failing understand sensitivities of western audience.

Well, it's true that not all character are equally popular in both fandoms, but it's close enough.
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Old 2020-09-21, 16:28   Link #34
BWTraveller
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Originally Posted by Lex79 View Post
Dragon Ball isn't a series I would consider an example of having strong female characters. The only one who could put a fight with the main cast before Super was Android 18 and she still was arguably the weakest of the androids, she wasn't the main villain in the android arc and then she was quickly turned into a housewife.
In general, shounen battle mangas are usually series aimed at boys with a male dominated cast and one or a few token female characters. I don't think these series show a particular love for strong heroines from Japanese readers, and they aren't the ones I'm referring to.
The series I'm talking about are the ones when the majority of the cast is female, and/or the strongest characters are females. Sometimes it's even an explicit part of the setting that females are inherently better at fighting than males. These series (at least the ones I read that are aimed at males, not the ones like Sailor Moon that is targeted to girls) are usually ecchi and harem, and that's the reason for the unbalanced cast.
I hope this will make more clear my point of view, otherwise I'll try to explain it better.
This is why I talked before about different definitions of strength. The initial question didn't seem to be that focused on physical strength or combat prowess, and if you're not too determined to only use that definition for "strong female characters" not only do you get a lot more women who defy traditional views of femininity (especially traditional Western standards, as like I said before the traditional ideal of feminine beauty did include strength). DB and DBZ are great examples. Bulma may not be able to put up a fight against anyone else in the show, but she's a brilliant inventor who's managed to become the most wealthy person in the world by several orders of magnitude and even Vegeta can't defy her. The entire Saiyan race has an instinctive love for strong-willed women.

And yeah, if a woman is included in a story they're likely to make her attractive, the same way they're likely to make the guy cool (or at least relatively good-looking), because people tend to like watching cool-looking people. And of course, if they have an attractive female they're going to try fanservice with her at times. But that hardly means that strong women are just there for fanservice or to satisfy some sort of fetish. Just look at My Hero Academia for example. The heroines are far from pushovers and they grow stronger throughout the story. It is true they're not given quite as much attention as Deku and Bakugo, which makes sense since the main targets are indeed boys, but they still work hard on the girls' stories and give them far more to their characters than just nice boobs and ship teasing.

One other thing I think may be the matter of uniqueness, a simple way to give a character a trait that makes them noticeably unique and possibly leads to increased conflict. Take shogi for example. Two of the three shogi-centered series I know are largely centered on girls with incredible talent. This makes the girls stand out quite a bit, since to date no woman has demonstrated sufficient maintained skill to rise into the main professional leagues; one could make lots of arguments about the reason, though I doubt it's entirely a matter of chauvinism or anything since they do everything they can to keep each other down too, but it might not be all a matter of skill either. Either way though, this also creates potential for conflict since, while many wouldn't care as long as she's strong, she would be stepping into a "man's world" that's very different from the lower levels and some of the men would take less than kindly to a woman's entrance.

Ultimately, yes there are some strong women who only exist or only exist as women for the sake of fanservice and shipping, but that's hardly all of them and it's kind of insulting to the authors who in many cases put a ton of work into every character to make them shine. In other words, while women are certainly sexualized in many anime, just about as much for male-targeting anime as men are sexualized in female-targeting anime, the degree of care and depth given to many of them makes it hard for me to say they're "objectified".

Last edited by BWTraveller; 2020-09-21 at 16:39.
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Old 2020-09-21, 18:09   Link #35
Mad Pierrot
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Sometimes I wonder about the female cast of Gintama. They are not part of fanservice but there are scenes that felt like Sorachi is claiming "Hey, I'm writing strong women!" when they are fighting at the cost of making every male character look ridiculous. They even got popularity poll where the female cast find themselves as less popular character than the male ones. The only female characters who made it to the top ten are Kagura and Tsukuyo who aren't feminine at all in most arcs.

Then Yoshiyuki Tomino sure has a history with women. Probably his two best creations are Sayla from the 70s Gundam and Emma from Zeta who has a big connection with the series' most recurring antagonist Char. Sadly, she doesn't make a big role in the story other than providing support. Meanwhile, Emma is more active than Saiyla and often acts as a mentor, often resulting in she beating up Kamille or anybody who is not working appropiately.

However, Victory Gundam's female characters.... I'm not touching that. There is also Char's Counterattck but the focus on romance in an entire film is kinda ridiculous. Everybody is driven by some love triangle.
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Old 2020-09-21, 18:22   Link #36
mangamuscle
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Ideally, I'd much rather employ some Google-fu to see if I can dig up some relevant academic research. I'm fairly certain someone must have studied the issue to greater depth, if not on a statistical basis, then most certainly on a comparative basis.
I can bet you a beer no one has written a paper on this subject, not in english, japanese or chinese. IMO strong woman is a taboo even in 2020. But not the kind of taboo that makes people avert their eyes or make them yell "think of the children!". For males saying out loud they like strong women is reason for many people to say or think they are gay (which is ironical since no gay men is interested in women). Yeah there are a few women that are known to go "where no woman has gone before" like Margaret Thatcher or Angela Merkel (to name a couple strong women of the non muscular kind), but they are beyond rare, you have higher chances of meeting on the street an albino than of meeting a female intentionally known for her strength.

As for the role models the feminist on the west are pushing on movies, my uneducated opinion is that they are pushing marie sue's (Captain Marvel anyone?) and not solid role models. But I am no psychiatrist so YMMV.
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Old 2020-09-21, 21:11   Link #37
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I can bet you a beer no one has written a paper on this subject, not in english, japanese or chinese. IMO strong woman is a taboo even in 2020.
Maybe not on feminism in manga and anime per se, but there would certainly be papers out there about the state of feminism in Japanese culture today. A cursory search of the Interwebs throws up articles like this ("Feminist scholar calls Japan's gender problem human disaster") and this ("Women of Japan unite: Examining the contemporary state of feminism").

The point is that the awareness is there, even if the needle hasn't moved as much in terms of substantial change. Japan, like other East Asian societies, is dealing with much stronger cultural inertia than in the West. So, it's hard to expect the same kind of revolutionary change.

Besides, beyond academia, there are other resources. Again, a simple search throws up examples like "Anime Feminist: Tackling anime's gender bias", published in The Japan Times.
Quote:
UK native Amelia Cook, 35, who describes Anime Feminist's mission as "providing anime analysis through a feminist lens". Cook acknowledges that many series fall under the category of what’s referred to on the internet as the "problematic fave", which is more or less what it sounds like.

That's where the site comes in, providing analyses of anime that help identify which elements align with feminist values and which do not.

"We're always careful to say,'it doesn’t matter if you like it or not, it’s not good or bad, the point is to explore, to discuss,'” Cook says.

THE JAPAN TIMES
And then there is this other site, The Artifice, where I found this article: "Can Manga and Anime Contribute to Feminism and Gender Studies?"

These aren't your usual anime/manga blogs, and they definitely appear to be several cuts above the kind of content put out by wannabe "influencers". They're worth a read, I would say, if this were the kind of topic one wants to study further in all seriousness.

I found this article on The Artifice, about gender politics — as portrayed in Made in Abyss — an interesting read. The article was evidently well-researched, and peppered with footnotes to its source reference material. That's a rabbit hole I can easily lose myself in, if I had the time to dedicate on the subject.
Quote:
Made in Abyss does provide characters in a wide range of genders and roles. However, the actual story these characters tell ends up being surprisingly traditionalist, and even reactionary–to the point it often seems as though the series is trying to make the case against, rather than for, freedom of gender expression...

At first glance, it might seem strange that a series so clearly aimed at mature audiences would feature such a youthful main cast. However, one of the most common arguments reactionaries make is that the adults who benefit from the current laissez-faire culture willfully ignore its negative impact on children.

By taking the focus off of adults and revealing the world through the eyes of a child, Made in Abyss is able to give its audience a sense of its lead characters’ vulnerability and, by extension, the vulnerability of all children in a harsh world full of selfish adults.
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Old 2020-09-21, 22:21   Link #38
mangamuscle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
Maybe not on feminism in manga and anime per se, but there would certainly be papers out there about the state of feminism in Japanese culture today.
IMO feminism and strong females are not the same thing. Are they related, yeah, but "correlation does not mean causation". IMO feminism speaks about the problem (gender inequality) and strong females is an answer to said problem. I am no influencer, from my little viewpoint feminism nowadays (don't know if this has also been in the past, to me it seems like a recent development) seems about getting even, getting revenge, attacking everything the hive mind deems to be toxic to women. Again, in my opinion that is not a real solution, since "an eye for en eye will make the whole world go blind".

But as I said before, many females (even feminists) attack said strong female role models just because they are too beautiful or too "macho" or too popular and push the "fat is beautiful" and similar mantras.
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Old 2020-09-22, 00:36   Link #39
TinyRedLeaf
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Yes, you're right. "Strong female" representation in anime and manga is not necessarily the same as the broader topic of feminism but, as you also rightly concede, they are closely related. I don't see how we can talk about the incidence of strong female characters in anime, and not wonder about what it represents in the broader context of female emancipation and empowerment in Japan. This query was implicit in the OP's post:

"It seems at odds with what I've read about Japanese society which seems to be quite conservative and where, I'm told, women find it difficult to get top positions in the workplace."

I also agree that feminism in the West has, unfortunately, taken a militant bent, with its most prominent speakers focused on force-fitting women into male gender roles ("leaning in", so to speak), and refusing to compromise on that front.

Which is why I recommend giving one of the articles I linked above a read. Mitsu Tanaka was quoted in the Japan Times article as saying:

"...measures such as burning bras or refusing to wear makeup did not interest her because the domestic women’s liberation movement focused on how to be yourself.

"'It's never black or white,' she says. 'Sometimes you might want to wear makeup, other days you might not. We were ordinary women just trying to live our lives truthfully.'"

Which is to say, I think some Japanese women have a more accommodating view of what it means to be a woman free from misogyny. I think it's quite likely the case that "strong women" role models in Japanese pop culture don't necessarily have to be ones who take on male gender roles. An independent woman who is confident about her feminity, and who exerts power from witihn a female gender role can also be a strong role model -- and the Japanese anime audience is, I would argue, actually quite familiar with this character archetype. These are the "clan matriarch", "elder sister", "determined mother" roles we often come across in anime.

They're not the kind of role models that bra-burning feminists in the West would embrace. But, as I have argued, feminism in Japan should not be viewed through foreign lenses. The Japanese are not necessarily against having strong females in power, at least as far as popular media representation is concerned. There are plus points to commend, even as we acknowledge that, by and large, "strong women" in anime serve as some form of escapism, and panders to the male gaze.
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Old 2020-09-22, 03:52   Link #40
jdennis007
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Because it wasn't always the case, even going back to the 80's females served the role of protagonist's girlfriend. The anime Dirty Pair helped to change that, yes their outfits were pure fan-service but they were supposed to be that way. The last episode (number 26) shows very clearly how Japanese viewed women at the time. I mention that show because there is no male lead in it and they are not just someone's girlfriend.
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