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Chicks On Anime - Women in Comics and Manga


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littlegreenwolf



Joined: 10 Aug 2002
Posts: 4794
Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 3:39 pm Reply with quote
Princess_Irene wrote:
All of this talk about appearances and feminism, plus an afternoon with Rose Hip Rose has made me wonder - how should/do we look at women in action series? Or more specifically, in girls with guns series. I'm thinking of characters like Kasumi and Natsuki from the aforementioned manga, Revy from Black Lagoon, the heroines of Burst Angel, and the Dirty Pair - busty women who wear little and carry a big gun. Are they offensive? On the one hand, they clearly have a lot of agency, can take care of themselves, and kick major butt. On the other hand, they're male-oriented eye candy bouncing and wriggling their way across the page or screen accompanied by upskirts, downshirts, and plenty of open-leg shots. Can we overlook the one for the other? Are they examples of feminism or of chauvinism? Anyone have a thought?


Going with the typical big breasted anime girl with gun stereotype, I think of them as chauvinistic, and put them together with the typical big breasted superhero women of American comics. They're designed to be pin-ups because that's what the targeted audience wants, and they don't usually demand much in terms of personality.

In a way they could be considered feminist because they've empowered themselves with their sex appeal AND kick butt, but it all comes down to your definition of feminism. I don't find them offensive, but I don't look to them as potential female role models for little girls, which is something feminist typically want for the next younger generations: strong empowered women with a brain.

Some of those big breasted, gun toting women don't have much of a brain, and I'm sure there are exceptions, but I can't think of much. One I do think represents the feminism idea is Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. She may have huge breasts, but you can't deny the intelligence behind her, nor that she can take care of herself. She's in a command position in a man's world, and even when she's nude in anime I don't see it as at all overly sexualized, because if you're a guy enjoying a naked, muscular android chick in a fight pulling her own arms out of the sockets you may have some odd opinions of what sexy is.

I don't read much of gun-oriented manga so I can't think of other examples, but I can state several example of characters from action manga I think of as embodying feminist ideas. They just don't really have the boobs...

Some of my faves:

Sakura Haruno
from Naruto. I HATED her when I first got into the manga. She was useless, whiny, cried a lot, was an easy target that needed to be saved a lot, and was just basically a boy crazy ditz more concerned with her appearance than actually being able to defend herself and stand on her own. She was what the comic gave the readers as THE female character, she was a horrible in personality, if not a bit insulting to the female gender. Appearance wise, as 12/13 year old girls go, the author admits she was about as un-cute a female character as he could get. Then she got her eyes opened, realized appearance doesn't really matter, and started to get more rugged and taking the whole ninja thing seriously so now she kicks butt and can stand on her own without the boys. Now her character is around 16, and she's forgone the girly dress and hair for more tom boy features, and thankfully doesn't have huge breasts. I'm now a huge fan of hers, and think she'd be a great role model for any little girls currently reading Naruto.

Claire from Claymore: She starts off as a mindless drone, gets a brain and starts thinking for herself all the while hefting some serious physical power. But then again, you can pretty much label any of the women of Claymore as this because if you think about Claymore, it's one seriously crazy feminist world. A lot of the women are gorgeous, a lot look like men. They're powerful and feared, yet some are still very feminine and help each out and have strong friendships with other girls. And then they're controlled by an outside source that is actually using them until they start to smarted up.

Orihime Inoue
from Bleach: I'm against liking this character because of how much of a ditz she is, and her huge scary breast, but when it comes down to it I really can't help but love her. She's got heart, doesn't necessarily rely on the boys, and somehow is some sort of genius in class, all this while keeping a very feminine look and personality that would satisfy the French Feminism idea. Rukia of course is another excellent female character from the series, but I'm posting Inoue because of the large breasts and how it's relevant to what your talking about.

I'm interested to what other action girls people will start posting.

Now if you want to go the American comic route, you have a very wide selection of big breasted women you could chose from, I just can't think of much that use guns. But still... they have big breast and kick butt.

Wonder Woman: The Amazon scares me, but she's the comic book role model to some feminist, especially with the whole "Men are evil!" She of course has suffered at the hands of chauvinistic writers because of how long she has been around, but DC has been more often than not getting women writers to write her and she's all the better for it.

Cat Woman: When I was little I adored Catwoman from the 60s tv series, to the early 90s cartoon, and that adoration increased when I came across her own comic book. Yeah, she was a "villain", but she had so many layers to her that it wasn't just one of those black and white good guy or bad guy things with her, she was in the gray. She kicked butt, occasionally made Batman putty in her hands, had brains, and looked good doing it.
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LordRedhand



Joined: 04 Feb 2009
Posts: 1472
Location: Middle of Nowhere, Indiana
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:46 pm Reply with quote
In terms of Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell, I personally find her odd that she while strong pretty much walking around "almost naked" most of the time, at least in the first anime series. It just really didn't mesh well with me. Also one of my friends suggested the idea that Major Kusanagi was a he and not a she, based on certain conversations within the series, and considering the Ghost in The Shell universe it's not totally impossible to have a male "cyber-brain" in a female-android body.

Now into comic representations my collection is a little limited, but at least I believe that a strong female character to be Storm from the X-men, mainly because of her leadership abilities. Also she is normally linked to DC's Wonder Woman (although not the best example) AS to superheroic woman who are not perpetuating that modern outlooks of beauty are a little harder to find, mainly because of the target audience of comic books in general. But Mary Jane Watson or Clea from Dr. Strange, although normally they are seen in supporting roles they also come into their own in alternate universes (Like Marvel Mangaverse or 1602 respectively) or take a more central role (like Spiderman loves Mary Jane for example http://www.marvel.com/catalog/?book_id=4430)

Would also add Mina Harker as characterized in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as one of the ironies is that she is the leader of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


Last edited by LordRedhand on Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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doctordoom85



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Posts: 2019
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:50 pm Reply with quote
littlegreenwolf wrote:
Sakura Haruno[/b] from Naruto. *description*


I agree completely. Even as a hardcore NaruHina supporter for life, I actually admire Sakura more between the two girls (though 437 may have put Hinata back in the lead), as she got more developed. I imagine this was intentional on Kishi's part, present us with someone so shallow and selfish at the start that almost all the readers would hate her. Then slowly have her develop a more caring side and also realize she can't simply rely on others all the time and has to develop her own inner and outer strength. And once we have a timeskip, she's holding her own in battle, and is able to act more emotionally mature to the challenges she and her teammates face.

Also, I think she actually became more physically attractive (from my viewpoint) when she STOPPED focusing entirely on her appearance (referring to her "haircut"). Ironically, Ino pretty much says the same thing in a flashback (referring to Sakura trying to hide her forehead), "stop trying to 'pretty' yourself up and just be you".
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ArthurFrDent



Joined: 05 Aug 2008
Posts: 466
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:41 pm Reply with quote
Princess_Irene from your Burst Angel example...
Jo and Sai are polar opposites within the Anime, where Jo is flat but is the most physically dangerous, and Sai is gravity defyingly stacked, but also the brains of the operation, and also deadly in her own right. Akane is also pretty small, but is also formidable.

Also, Chauvenism is 3: an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex ; also : behavior expressive of such an attitude...
so it's gender neutral, until you add the gender of the user...

That being said... shows aimed at guys are going to have something that draws to the chest, EVEN IF it is just to show that the heroine isn't endowed and has a problem with that... do they show her getting past that? Post Male Chauvenism to realism? Maybe.
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ANN_Bamboo
ANN Contributor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:04 pm Reply with quote
bazeye wrote:
Two things i found interesting about the discussion the girls had on ANN about beauty in the media.

Firstly their use of the term "loser" to describe certain men, i hate that term, when you analise it its so subjective and demeaning, also it always seems to me to be something that women say specifically about men, something to do with social Darwinism i expect, sorry girls but you are definately re-inforcing sexual stereotypes in my opinion.

Secondly the avatars they use were cute, thus reinforcing the idea that there cannot be ugly women in the cartoon world.....more re-inforcement ?


I think there's a difference between reinforcing ideas of social Darwinism, and truthfully describing subsets of people. One can say, "This man (or woman) would not be considered successful by many of his or her peers" without championing the ideas of social Darwinism. I don't think we're reinforcing sexual stereotypes by saying, "Hey, this guy is a loser." We might be reinforcing societal expectations of how success ought to be defined, but I do not believe it is social Darwinism at work.
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Princess_Irene
ANN Reviewer


Joined: 16 Dec 2008
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Location: The castle beyond the Goblin City
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:36 am Reply with quote
ArthurFrDent wrote:

Also, Chauvenism is 3: an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex ; also : behavior expressive of such an attitude...
so it's gender neutral, until you add the gender of the user...


Thank you, I should have been more specific. Embarassed

littlegreenwolf wrote:
Now her character is around 16, and she's forgone the girly dress and hair for more tom boy features, and thankfully doesn't have huge breasts. I'm now a huge fan of hers, and think she'd be a great role model for any little girls currently reading Naruto.

I'm hoping to see a similar transformation (or at least the equivalent in comedy) for Lucy of Fairy Tail. She has her moments, but I'd love to see her do a little more. Nami from One Piece stands out as another girl from an action series who has a lot going for her, particularly in the fight with Califa during the Enies Lobby cycle. There's a really interesting contrast between the two women during that fight, with spoiler[Califa basically using her sex appeal to defeat Sanji and Nami being the only one who can take her down. When Califa accuses her of being "uncute" (perhaps that could be taken as "unfeminine?"), Nami responds "If being cute means letting yourself be defenseless, then sorry...but that's not my style!" I thought that was a terrific statement and worthy of emulation.]

I feel so sorry for all those buxom anime/manga/superhero women - what back problems they must have.
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littlegreenwolf



Joined: 10 Aug 2002
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Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 9:11 am Reply with quote
Princess_Irene wrote:
I feel so sorry for all those buxom anime/manga/superhero women - what back problems they must have.


Indeed, they look like they have insane sizes to begin with. Good thing most of them have super strengeth.

And then you have artists, usually male when I notice it, going about drawing these giant breast incorrectly. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a manga/comic and have had to stare at screwed up anatomy with where the breast are placed and how they're reacting to gravity. Breasts can only do so much by the laws of physics! Rolling Eyes
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 14095
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:19 am Reply with quote
littlegreenwolf wrote:
Princess_Irene wrote:
I feel so sorry for all those buxom anime/manga/superhero women - what back problems they must have.


Indeed, they look like they have insane sizes to begin with. Good thing most of them have super strengeth.

And then you have artists, usually male when I notice it, going about drawing these giant breast incorrectly. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a manga/comic and have had to stare at screwed up anatomy with where the breast are placed and how they're reacting to gravity. Breasts can only do so much by the laws of physics! Rolling Eyes


Silly muggles, everybody knows giant breasts have internal built-in anti-gravity. That's why they have to be of size and don't sag! Laughing
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animeboy12



Joined: 15 Sep 2008
Posts: 160
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2009 2:58 pm Reply with quote
littlegreenwolf wrote:
Princess_Irene wrote:
I feel so sorry for all those buxom anime/manga/superhero women - what back problems they must have.


Indeed, they look like they have insane sizes to begin with. Good thing most of them have super strengeth.

And then you have artists, usually male when I notice it, going about drawing these giant breast incorrectly. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a manga/comic and have had to stare at screwed up anatomy with where the breast are placed and how they're reacting to gravity. Breasts can only do so much by the laws of physics! Rolling Eyes


I think one of the weird thing about most characters with big breasts in fiction that people try to put real world logic into the breasts, ingoring the other anomalies. I don't know how many series I've seen too where a character punches through a steel wall and still someone comment "man, how is she holding those things up." "they sag when she gets older".

Anyhow, as far as female and male character design in anime going, I think most of the most it's just gotta look good or marketable.
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