Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rant: Women in Manga/Anime/Comics

The credentials for a good female character are no different than those of a good male character. Why? Because aside from actions involving the unique genitals of each sex, women and men can do the exact same things. There aren't feelings only women can feel, nor are there any physical actions men can do that women cannot. As such, there shouldn't be some huge checklist of traits that a female character should have. While it may seem sexist to say this: a good female character more than likely could be turned into a male and there should be no major differences in how we view the character as a good one, and that same can be applied to male characters. Women can fight, they can bleed, they can be hot-blooded, they can get angry, and they can kick ass, and yet creators everywhere feel they have to take all of these precautions when creating female characters, when they should just focus on making a good character who simply happens to be female. Just look at Hayate X Blade with it's huge all-female cast composed of very unique and very diverse characters.

Now, that's not to say that unique female characteristics do not exist and can be implemented well into a character. A superb example of this is Izumi Curtis in the manga Fullmetal Alchemist who was a strong and loving person in her own right, but had unique character traits due to her maternal characters. Much of her character was developed through the execution of her as a mother who had been through tough hardships as a mother. These types of characteristics are something unique to her character as a female, because as a female, she is the one who gave birth to her child, and must personally deal with the fact that she will not be able to give birth again. However, she finds happiness in the Elric brothers, and how she became a motherly figure to them, and how she saw them as her sons. This is a perfect example of how to make a great character who must be female. A man in Izumi's positions would not be able to have the same character traits, due to the maternal characteristics of her as a woman.

Now, to move onto the poor executions of female characters, which basically come down to the simple action of a creator having a female character for the sole purpose of showing off T&A or simply having them present as something for men to have sex with. I find the worst example to be the latter, so I'll begin with that. If you look at a series like Queen's Blade, where there are solely female characters, sure, there is a lot of T&A, but its never for the enjoyment of some other character, rather its simply there for fanservice purposes. But when you get into series that present men and women, many times the situation comes up where the women are simply objects for the men to ogle and harass, or even have sex with. I see this as just exploitation of the female character, even when they are prevelant chracters in their respective manga/anime/comic. Just look at every Gainax anime, where the women are simply present as a means to an end for the male character(s) of each series to look more manly by seeing these female characters naked, touching their breasts, or being aroused by them. In other series, we see instances of male characters having sex with (often nameless) female characters simply for the sake of making them look more manly; an example of this being the character of Agon in the manga Eyeshield 21, who would have sex with and consistently date many nameless female characters throughout the series for the sake of just making him look more manly. Why do this!?!? Having sex with a lot of women does not make a man "manly". Being strong, responsible, and a good leader is what makes a man "manly", not how many women you've had sex with. It's a shame, because this whole "manly" image created from having a lot of sex is in practically every sitcom, drama, and soap opera on TV (at least here in the United States), and I'm guessing it's no different throughout the world considering this type of execution of "manly" characters is prevalent throughout all entertainment media aimed at older teens and above. This is what happens when men dominate creative media, and yet I've seen many women's creations have similar executions of character, even on the female side, where women have pride over how many women they've had sex with. So, I guess this is just something I just don't understand; both in why creators consistently create these types of characters as well as why so many people enjoy these types of characters.

Like I've said so many times before: sex is for porn; keep it there.

The next situations arises from just using women for T&A in general. Look, in manga/anime/comics, where men are the often the main source of readers and men are the majority of the creators, I can see why there is T&A; however, there are right and wrong ways to go about this. Quite simply, don't use women as objects that are simply made to be gawked at. Make them good characters who simply happen to be sexy; just look at One Piece, which has many attractive female characters, but I guarantee you that if you ask any fan of the manga to say what they think about them, the first thing they say will not be that "she has big breasts" or "she's sexy". But when you get into manga/anime like Fairy Tail (or any of Mishima's works for that matter), you just get female characters who are simply present to be "sexy for the camera" and harassed by the male characters so that not only more sex appeal can arise from the female characters (the female character's respect and characterization be damned) and for the male characters to look cool and "manly". If you need further examples of the exploitation of the female body in the form of a female character see any harem manga/anime or American comic. In fact, American comics may be even more guilty of using female characters simply for their "sexy bits" than even manga/anime. At least manga/anime are often clear from the very beginning that "this is going to be an ecchi series; so don't show the kids!", but when looking at American comics, it's often something thrown into the comic because it's on some checklist every comic artist has. I was really surprised at how many female characters in comics were, for lack of a better term, sluts.

This all just annoys me. I've got nothing against fanservice, but it can get to the point where I just get pissed off really quick. I had to stop reading Fairy Tail for the reasons above. Things definitely aren't getting any better, but at least there are still a lot of manga that still keep it classy or keep their fanservice on low levels and just let the fan-artists and doujin creators do their work.

I know that I may have looked over certain things throughout this post simply because this was just a rant I felt like writing after learning about the contents of the newest Fairy Tail chapter, but I still think I made a point in all this. I really just want to point out that a good female character doesn't have to be sexy, nor does it mean a good female character can't be sexy. A great character is developed out of their actions, and if you make your female character a slut, there's no good that's going to come out of that (see Gainax's Panty and Stocking anime), nor does having a man have sex with a lot of female characters doesn't make him "manly" nor does it do anything good for the image of females in your creative work. Develop a character out of their actions, make us love the character out of what they do and who they are; if that character happens to be female, that's fine, if she happens to ooze with sex appeal, that's fine too, just treat her with respect. That's all I ask.

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