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.


  1. I enjoyed reading your post. I am equally disgruntled with the *smut* that is present in much manga that I would enjoy otherwise. Do you have any recommendations for decent manga without this kind of stuff? It's not that I can't read manga with ecchi, I just need a break.

    1. Thank you for the kind words.

      To be honest, the amount of manga I read has gone down drastically since a few years ago, so my main recommendations are One Piece, Hayate X Blade, and Onepunch Man. Both series have very little fan service, unless you count wearing bikini tops as fan service. Attack on Titan is also a pretty good one. And if you like well-written suspense and mystery manga, try out anything from Naoki Urasawa.

      There are actually a lot of manga that don't have excessive fanservice and smut, it's just that a LOT of the more popular titles do, especially seinen manga. Try out some of the lesser known stuff and you may be surprised. That's how I discovered "Pluto" from Urasawa, which is an alternate retelling of one of my favorite story arcs from Astro Boy.