Monday, June 24, 2013

My Problems with Sex in Shonen and Seinen Manga/Anime

NOTE: Don't take this post too seriously. Though it isn't a joke.

I really don't like sex to be in shonen and seinin manga. Heck, I don't like it in pretty much all media that has a story to it, but for this post I'm going to focus on shonen and seinen manga. Also, since this is a pretty touchy subject, I'm going to try to keep this pretty concise.

So, here's my problem: I hate the way sex in used in shonen and seinen manga. And here are the reasons why:

My main problem comes from the fact that sex is always used to simply make a male character look more manly. Now, often this doesn't involve the main protagonist, but that doesn't change the fact that I hate when its done, as it is still a weak and stupid way to portray a man's "manliness". Sex determining "maniliess" is for the animal kingdom, not humans who have the ability to see the "cheapness" of the way sex is portrayed. One of the first examples of this I came across was in Eyeshield 21 with the character of Agon being introduced before the game between the Devil Bats and the Nagas; he's introduced on a bed getting dressed while a girl in a towel is cleaning up int he bathroom. Agon is also constantly portrayed flirting with many, many women throughout the series; all of them falling for him without a second thought. This leads to my second problem ....

Sex in shonen and seinen manga demeans women a great deal. Almost 100% of the time, we don't know who the woman/women are, and they are present simply for the male character to have sex with and nothing else; usually just getting tossed away right afterwards. It shows that the male character(s), as well as the mangaka, simple see the women as sex objects and nothing more. It comes across as childish and just a really weak way of telling a story; even if the tone of the story is dark. Even when a manga/anime's tone isn't dark, this type of action where women are basically seen as objects so a man can look more manly can be found in acts that aren't sex; most often, it's seen through the sexual harassment of female characters, often main female characters; this can be seen a lot in the manga/anime Fairy Tail and Rave Master.

On the subject of the women, this leads to the next point: sex in shonen and seinen manga/anime is never consensual. The woman is either being used by the man for sex, being raped, being forced into the act due to being a servant, or simply being a slut. All of these situations don't create any type of situation I would find necessary for a story or being good for character development. It's just smut, and smut's only place is in porn.

Now let's flip the coin, where we have extremely promiscuous women. The most recent that come to mind are Panty from "Panty & Stocking" and Zero from the soon-to-be-released "Drakenguard 3". These types of characters do nothing for story or character development; they are simply sluts. Why have such a character? To prove a point? With Zero, I can see the developers try to create a dark and depressing story for the character of Zero, but it will still feel unnecessary to me. And the reason for that is ...

Sex in shonen and seinen is unnecessary. Sex never brings about character development, even when dealing with adult characters or dark tones; it's always done simply to portray a male character as "manly" or a female character as "slutty", or create a dark tone or atmosphere. Such things can be done in much better ways through actual story telling and use of dialogue and actions, as shown by the many great manga which have no such elements of sex. As a result, I can only see the existence of sex in shonen and seinen manga to be for the factor of fanservice and smut; that's what it ultimately be viewed as, either that or simply to create a terrible feeling of dread in the reader/watcher, and if that was the case, there are far better ways of doing that.

And, I suppose that's where I end this. I realize this may sound hypocritical since I enjoy several fanservice series. But fanservice does not equal sex. To me, sex is a level that is reserved only for porn; it has no place in good story telling. Though, I will say that several series come close to crossing the line between fanservice and sex, such as the aforementioned Fairy Tail. Now, I realize this is a rather fickle subject to talk about, as I avoid series that have such sexual content, and there are far more series that don't have sexual content than one's that do. Perhaps that's why I get so worked up when I see such series, especially when they gain such popularity. Though I can see where the smut factor comes into place there.

::sigh::, I know, I know; this was a stupid post, but I've just been seeing too much smut lately. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm rewatching Nichijou.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Should "fun" be a requirement for videogames?

As I watch playthroughs of The Walking Dead and The Last of Us, the same thought keeps popping up in my head: why would I ever want to play this?

I thought about why I think this, and I believe it's because I don't see a shred of fun in either game. And this got me to thinking: should "fun" be a requirement for videogames?

Now, of course, there are videogames that have less-than-stellar game design that result in them no being very fun, but at least the developers intention was to have the game be fun. But, with the games: The Walking Dead and The Last of Us, they look, imo, to be made intentionally not to be fun. Now, this lack of fun is to drive home the horror experience and help deliver the heavy themes of the story home better; I understand this execution, and I also respect it, as both games deliver very impactful experiences. However, was it "wrong" for the developers to do so with a videogame? Well, according to every professional videogame critic on the internet: no, but here's my interpretation ...

Videogames are an artform, but they are a specific type of artform, just as movies, paintings, music, etc. are a specific type of artform. Each of them has specific factors that they must contain to be part of their artform; for example, paintings need a canvas, music needs sound, and movies need film (I know there are exceptions to this rule, like that silent orchestra thing, but bear with me). And videogames, at their core, are games that need to be played. Perhaps I am too narrow minded, but I feel that the concept of "play" directly coincides with "fun"; and thus, videogames should require some sort of fun factor. A factor I just don't see in The Walking Dead and The Last of Us. The reason being that both games directly go out of their way to make sure you understand how heavy the themes of the story are and that your actions should be taken seriously; whether it be seeing the consequences of your actions play out in often gruesome fashion in The Walking Dead, or Ellie's consistent disgusted reactions to Joel's killing of people; there is no "fun" element to be found.

Other videogames that go for the "visual experience" execution of gaming have similar ideas; such as how Yorda shrieks in fear when Ico gets hurt, or how Snake will throw up if he's killed a lot of soldiers in MGS4. But the difference between these games and The Walking Dead/The Last of Us, is that games like Ico, the MGS series, Odin Sphere, Journey, Shadow of the Colossus, and Killer7, is that, despite having an execution that drives home various heavy themes, they are still all very much videogames; as they have elements such as puzzles, combat mechanics, collecting, etc. Things that make them feel very much like videogames; things that give them a "fun factor". And while The Last of Us does have elements such as combat and collecting, they aren't present to neccessarily reward skill, but rather push the player to kill in a different manner; simply a means to an end to drive home the tone of the story.

So what does this all mean? Well, both The Walking Dead and The Last of Us have been not only universally praised, but hailed as new steps in gaming. And if I were to ask myself why these games were being praised as such, I'd think it was because of they'er lack in fun. Because, without that "fun factor" both games have achieved something else, something beyond simple gaming. I suppose I'd say they may have transcended the videogame artform and become something else. A fusion of videogame and film perhaps? A videogame that can actually criticize and judge on its own merits perhaps?

Whatever these two games accomplished, its impressive. However, was it worth it? Is it worth losing the factor of fun, the core essence of videogames, to become something greater?

This laid-back guy says "No!". I know I'm just a simple guy, so my opinion means close to nothing, but I'd just thought I'd put it out there. Videogames can be amazing experiences, but, at their core, there should always be some fun to be had. If not, then I feel that the videogame loses what makes videogames so unique.  An experience that brings us joy and entertainment through means that no other artform can provide: fun and immediate interaction.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Favorite Character Designs - Round 3

Oki (Okami)

Okami is full of amazing character designs accented by the superb art style. Oki is one of the more striking character designs in the game thanks to his color scheme, tall stature, and silver sword. His appearance just gives off the aura of a strong warrior, and that's why I love it.


Makoto (Street Fighter III: Third Strike)

Makoto is one of my favorite character designs from the Street Fighter series for two reasons: first, she is a perfect example of a striking yet simple design, as she wears a simple karate gi accented by her trademark yellow choker, and two, she actually looks like a real fighter. That's not to say other characters in the SF roster don't look like real fighters, by Makoto stands out as one of the few female characters in the series who isn't wearing bright colors or use sex appeal; she's just hear to fight, and her character design really speaks that.


Scratchmen Apoo (One Piece)

Man, I fell in love with this character design the second I saw this guy. He's got a chinese martial artist look to his clothing combined with a musical theme to his face, all on top of being a member of the long-armed tribe. All-in-all, Apoo is one of the most prominent examples of Eiichiro Oda's great skill at making unique characters. Just so much creativity in one character; I love it.


Baiken (Guilty Gear)

Baiken's character design has always stood out to me, even among the creatively designed cast of Guilty Gear. Like Sol Badguy, she just gives off an aura of "cool". Her pink color scheme also works to her advantage, as it contrasts with her violent attacks. However, in Japan, the color pink can be seen as the color of death, so that works out too.


Fran/Vieras (Final Fantasy XII/Ivalice Alliance)

I really like the Viera race in the Ivalice Alliance games of the Final Fantasy series, but for the sake of focus, I'll choose Fran. The rabbit ears, long hair, and tall, slender bodies give the Viera race an aura of beauty and grace. They are the resident amazon tribe of the Ivalice world, and that gives them a sense of mystery and the exotic. Speaking specifically of Fran, I love the design of her armor, as it looks like lingerie turned to armor, which has a cool sexy style to it.


Valentine (Skullgirls)

By all accounts, Valentine's character design shouldn't work. After all, she's just a busty ninja nurse with spiky anime hair. And yet, she's one of the coolest characters in the SG cast. Surprisingly, the fusion of ninja and nurse works very well together. Her surgical mask works like a ninja mask, the bone saw is her ninja sword, and her surgical outfit exposes the same amount of arm and leg that a kunoichi's outfit would (well, at least in other material with the same tone as SG). Also, both ninja and nurses are around blood and death in their professions, which leads to Valentine's blood theme. It all comes together superbly; I love it.


Hero/Heroine (Dragon Quest IV)

I love a lot of Toriyama's designs from the Dragon Quest series, and one of the ones that stands out the most to me is the Hero/Heroine design from DQIV. First off, green is my favorite color, so with green being the main color scheme of these characters really helps. I also love how big and detailed their hair is. And, finally, I love how battle-clad they are while still not looking like the typical knights seen throughout the DQ series.


Xianfei (The King of Fighters series)

An uncommon choice, especially from a series with such amazing character designs, but I've always liked something about Xianfei's character design. She has the chinese female fighter look to her, but she's also just so ... bright. Xianfei is always smiling, eating, or just showing enthusiasm, and that what I love about her. In fact, most of the female characters in the KOF series are always smiling, and that's what really gives them an approachable look and personality, and Xianfei's smile is the biggest in the series.


Aino Heart (Arcana Heart series)

It's the love theme. That's why I love Heart's character design. Her pink hair with one piece that forms into a heart has become a symbol of the series, and her coolest design piece: the red ribbon wrapped around her hand, which accents the fact that she mainly punches and puts a lot of passion into her punches. Her design is simple, but it works superbly because she is a rather simple character: a fighter for love.