Why Are All of My Favorite Anime Sexist?

Well okay, it’s not all of them, but saying “most” or “some” just isn’t as catchy a title.

sexism-progress

Whilst shifting through all the complaints I’ve been hearing recently regarding the female exploitation in stuff like Kill la Kill, Kyoukai no Kanata, and Monogata… – actually I think everyone has accepted that last one by now considering that despite having as many fans as it always had, it’s become surprisingly easy to avoid – as well as looking at the whole Samurai Flamenco debacle involved with a girl stomping people in the nuts, I’ve come to realize something: most of my favorite anime are sexist as shit.

Yes, there are anime I like that have strong female leads, but for the most part they fall under the “not sexist” category when they’re not setting feminism back by 50 years. Now, I think anime as an entire medium is sexist for reasons I am not qualified to explain, but some anime really like to showcase it in some “not so subtle” ways. That very sexism has bothered me too at points (I couldn’t stand the Rurouni Kenshin manga for example, and do I need to bring up Sword Art Online?), but I’m pretty sure that when I wrote about Mnemosyne, one of the things I praised was how misogynistic it was. That’s not to say I support misogyny of course. I’m not that evil. But if it’s required to tell/enhance the story, and if you actually are aware of what you’re doing, then I say go for it. Mnemosyne wouldn’t have been nearly as great without its abuse towards women (although did you really need to show that many sex scenes of the little girl?). Same thing as violence, sex, drugs, and all that other stuff in some pretty good flicks.

And it’s not just Mnemosyne of course. Most of the stuff I dig is really mean to certain genders and all that. In fact, let’s take a look at some of them. 

NinjaScroll

For example, I present to you the ultraviolent movie, Ninja Scroll, and its main hero duo of Jubei and Kagero. The movie is basically about how Jubei is blackmailed into doing a job for a creepy old man and Kagero helps him out at times whilst getting into that old love/hate relationship with him. Whilst not nearly as crap as the ninja girl from the first Ninja Gaiden game (seriously, what the fuck did she do in that thing?) because she actually does pull her weight at certain points and even saves Jubei in one scene, there are many points in the movie where she has to be saved by him because he’s the “man” and all that stuff. First time we meet her, she couldn’t defeat a stone man who nearly got to have her way with her before Jubei sliced him in half. But of course, as I said before, she pulls her own weight at points, so she’s not entirely useless or anything.

But in the end – spoilers by the way- Kagero becomes pretty damn weak to the point that she kinda renders her strong female lead status void. When she learns that Jubei is dying of poison and the only way to cure him is to have sex with her (not gonna bother explaining this), she pretty much does what you’d think. And then when Jubei refuses to take her, she basically goes and gets herself mortally wounded, cures Jubei of his poison with a kiss (turns out that the sex was a lie), and dies in order to get him angry for the final battle. Add in the lustful way angles the show can treat her and such and…yeah this movie is not kind to any woman, let alone its main one. Still, I love it greatly. Because when you take into account the era, the situation, and the fact that it’s a really great movie, the stuff I mentioned above is pretty much a necessary evil to be what it is.

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Next we have Air Master, which I guarantee will cause any feminist who sees the thing to riot. Yes the main character is a really tall and strong female who wins fights practically all the time and shit, so it’s not like we don’t get a healthy dose of females sticking it to the man in really creative ways. On the other hand, this show has Julietta. And the comedy mindset that you can have the guy attempt to rape a girl and have it be “oh so hilarious when he fails”. Specifically that scene in Episode 5 where Maki just loses all her will because “he’s that intimidating” – which he is – and that sleazeball fighter basically rips her clothes off in a manner that’s clearly meant to be a joke, but looks disturbing. Especially when you account for the fact that the art to Air Master is fucking ugly.

The thing about Julietta is that maybe the rapey stuff that is associated with him would be tolerable if he got his just desserts in the end or something. And indeed, he gets beaten up by Maki an episode or two later. What happens to him after that? Why, he becomes best friends with Maki’s father – a guy he assaulted and nearly killed when Papa said “no you can’t go near my daughter” – and continues to pursue Maki in more “humorous” ways whilst assaulting anyone who so much as looks as him funny. Including women, although this isn’t often the case. It’s basically one of those “defeat equals friendship” things from most shonen anime, except it applies to a creepy guy who hasn’t really changed his stalkerish or sex offender nature. Air Master is still one of my favorite anime ever of course, but I can’t blame people for not digging it due to its many many flaws. Julietta’s existence being one of them.

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So far, so “sexism against women in order to further the show’s ends”. Let’s take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum with Urusei Yatsura’s fifth movie, The Final Chapter. Rumiko Takahashi anime by themselves are pretty cruel to the male race because “girls attacking boys is funny”, and Urusei Yatsura is not much different, although it never gets to the levels that Ranma did at times. But The Final Chapter, which acts as the finale of the series, is pretty unfair to either of the men involved in relationships there. Particularly that new guy, who is supposed to be the bad guy (the dark-skinned, blonde dude in the picture above), since Ataru brings most of his problems on himself.

You see, the main bad dude wants to marry Lum because of arranged marriage shit, but he’s being pursued by his childhood friend (the dark-skinned, white-haired girl in the picture above). Why doesn’t he ignore Lum and marry the girl he’s more familiar with, you may ask? Well, it turns out that they were good playmates at first, but when the dude casually brought up his arranged marriage as a child to his friend, she immediately (and I do mean immediately) started abusing him out of jealousy. And since this is the Urusei Yatsura universe, the abuse involves rocket launchers and feeding the guy to the sharks, all in the name of love. And the thing is, we’re supposed to take this romance seriously too (mostly in the second half of the movie), so you can’t just dismiss it as “oh they’re being so funny”. Oh, and did I mention that around the movie’s closing, the two basically get together because they love each other in the end and all despite the years of psychological abuse? Hahahaha, wait.

Still a pretty great finale movie for my favorite anime comedy, and I’ll talk about why I think that way sometime, but…

So yeah, a bunch of my favorite anime are sexist. And let’s be honest, a bunch of your favorites are in the same vein (do I need to bring up Death Note or what some Berserk detractors have brought up regarding Casca?). Does that mean we should suddenly hate them? Of course not! It may differ from person to person, but I wouldn’t be a fan of the exploitation genre if I couldn’t deal with a little misogyny, a fan of Takahashi comedies if I couldn’t handle “female sending males to hospital” slapstick, nor a fan of noir stuff if I couldn’t handle a little sleaze. In my opinion, it’s all about “showing” the sexism rather than “exploiting” the sexism. And I can handle the latter a bit if it’s used for something I care about. For example, I could have handled Girls’ Bravo’s constant abuse of Yukinari and clothes-ripping off females if it had better animation, voice-acting, writing, humor, charm…

12 responses to “Why Are All of My Favorite Anime Sexist?

  1. How do you know it’s actually sexism? The anime hasn’t hurt anyone and they don’t have an agenda. I haven’t seen those you mentioned, but is it possible they’re also sexist (assuming they are) also to males?

    • What’s the difference between “Sexism” and “Actually sexism”? Does it have to be intentional? You don’t need to have a conscious agenda in order to be sexist, read up about institutionalized sexism, just acting according to “status quo” can be sexist.

      As for those that are hurt by it, how do you know no one is hurt by it? Lots of other people said many words about expectations, which fantasies we’re allowed to have, etc.

      As for “Who is it sexist towards?” – It’s sexist, I’ll translate it to “Who does it hurt?” – Sure, everyone’s hurt, the boy who’s told he’s girly as a put-down, the girls whose gender is now a derogatory term, everyone living around here whose loved ones of either gender suffer for it.

      And we didn’t even talk of anime here.

      “How do you know X is true?” – That’s a non-argument argument, assuming we can ever know something, and doesn’t really lead anywhere. A better question is “Assuming it’s sexist, how can it be made better?” or “What effect do these things have?”

      I’m rambling. I have some other things more I want to say, and some things less I want to say, but that’s what we’ve got for tonight.

    • Pretty much what Guy said. Like racism, sexism doesn’t have to be intentional to be sexist. For example, I’m sure Jeff Dunham doesn’t actually believe the things he uses in his comedy skits, but they’re still racist and suck hard because he’s not using that material in a clever or funny way.

      Also, I said that the fifth Urusei Yatsura movie was sexist to males and why I felt that way.

    • This is earth, where anyone arguing that men have been, or even could be, victims of sexism in the way women have should get a swift boot to the head. And anyone suggesting institutional sexism in media has no real world effect needs to look at the research. Short answer: yes it does.

  2. Isn’t Obama’s image in that meme more reflective of racism than sexism?

    P.S. Kyoukai no Kanata is sexist as hell, BUT I am giving it a pass because the sexist characters are being portrayed as clowns, which serves as a counterbalancing force.

    • Uh, dude, are you saying that Obama’s image shows racism just because he’s African descent? Why would you put his picture to show some kind of racism in a forum that talks about sexism?

  3. People criticize female characters much more than male characters. If there are moments when a female character is weak, the aduince thinks the character’s atomatically weak (even if the character does overcome it’s flaws throughout the course), but doesn’t mind it if it’s a male character. In reality people are asking for female characters with little flaws and male characters who have flaws that overcome them, without ever pondering as to what makes a character good.

  4. The thing about anime in general is that it actually portray female characters as “damsel in distresses”, but rather like male characters who start off bad but get better, but people criticize female characters for having flaws. However, there’s no denying that in a majority of anime while the female cast is actually good (having flaws, depth, development, etc), the issue is that their roles in the story is usually secondary to the male characters, or there just aren’t that many female characters.

  5. I get really annoyed when cartoons that focus on the actual story decide to throw sexual content at our faces like it’s attempting to make the female cast most like sex objects rather than characters that are portrayed in a positive way.

  6. Theres a fine line between sexism and adopted gender roles. Women in modern society can place themselves wherever they wish and change whatever they want. Whether they want to do that or not thats up to them. A good example is skateboarding, it’d be sexist to say skateboarding is a mans sport but then again most women wouldn’t necessarily want to because of what goes along with that. Rurouni Kenshin while seemingly sexist isn’t necessarily full blown sexist. Something to consider is the Era that the anime is based off which was a time when gender roles were different, but even with that said you still have women like Megumi Takami who is smart enough to take advantage of situations. I do have to say that the main female love interest does bug but even she isn’t completely brain dead. Personally I like seeing tough realistic female characters but at the end of the day some animes just want to take the Knight in shining armor route and I wouldn’t say thats all that bad depending on how they go about it.. The important thing I think is just that woman have room to be important and not just seem as objects of value. If we were honest with ourselves for second then we would see that both genders can’t be 100% equal simply because they’re not. A man is a man, a woman is a woman; testerone vs estrogen. Its not the same. What should be important is not overvaluing one over the other and making baseless statements of a person solely because of gender.