If I had more free time (and maybe a bigger brain), I would write multiple giant essays about women in anime. Female characters in anime can be such a mixed bag – compared to other media, anime has more female main characters, but those characters are also more likely to be ridiculously titty-licious. Of course, showing female sexuality onscreen isn’t always a bad thing, but it is problematic if she only exists to be gawked at, lacks any real personality, or gets trapped in a harem plotline where they’re reduced to nothing more than “potential girlfriend #3.”
At the same time, there are also some insanely great female characters who subvert those aforementioned expectations. I could write a whole series of blog posts on that but…well, like I said – no time, small brain.
LUCKILY THOUGH! Moyatori tagged me in this 9 underrated female characters tag many moons ago, thus giving me the perfect chance to attempt to gather my thoughts on anime ladies. She brings up some really excellent characters in her post – I was super excited to see she had Ilena from Claymore listed – so make sure you check it out.
- Please PINGBACK to me at Kate @ Melting Pots and Other Calamities. Or just Kate. And PINGBACK TO A SPECIFIC POST OF MINE. I won’t see the post otherwise, and I’d like to see it.
- Answer the questions.
- Choose female characters from books, movies, TV, anime, Webtoons, etc.
- Tag as many people as you want, but at least one person.
- Have fun!
1. Name a heroine you like, but whom you feel is always overshadowed by the male characters in the story.
Though she is technically the one driving the series’ main plot, Samurai Champloo doesn’t give Fuu that much to actually do. My main qualm with Champloo was that it didn’t really hook me on Fuu’s “samurai who smells of sunflowers” mystery. I’m a fan of its self-contained episodes, for sure, but those episodes usually focused more on Mugen and Jin. When Fuu did get screentime, she was usually getting kidnapped or just nagging Mugen and Jin. It’s been a long time since I saw the series, but I can only remember one instance where Fuu really ever got to save the day – in one of the very first episodes, she hides some bombs in her titties. Which was great, but I want to see my girl chop someone in half, dammit!
It’s frustrating, because Fuu was an otherwise great character. She was the glue that kept the group together and was surprisingly clever – despite the series throwing her so many damsel-in-distress situations where the guys have to come save her. Still, I do have to give Samurai Champloo props for not overly sexualizing or overly infantilizing a fifteen year old girl. That’s more than I can say of most anime series!
2. For that matter, name a heroine whom you feel is always overshadowed by the other female characters in the story.
I recently finished Zombie Land Saga and was SUPER upset that Yuugiri didn’t get her own back story episode. I mean, come on! She’s a zombie courtesan from the Meiji era! Sure, she gets some fun moments, like when she plays the shamisen during Franchouchou’s rap battles. She also slaps the other girls in the face a few times, which is awesome. But we never get to see any scenes from back when she was alive, which is unfortunate.
Granted, I guess they had a lot to squeeze in about the characters in only twelve episodes. I LOVED that they gave Lily such a good backstory, so I’ll forgive the series for neglecting Yuugiri…for now. Hopefully there’s more Zombie Land Saga coming that just focuses on Yuugiri and The Legendary Yamada Tae.
3. Name a character who had potential but was greatly underutilized in her story.
Oh, this one’s easy. I wrote a whole rant about the ninja with the poisonous vagina from Ninja Scroll. With a superpower like that, she could have been a seductive succubus or a sexy femme fatale, but no. She just gets raped a bunch. LAME!!!
4. Name a female character who you either find better in her book than her movie, find better in her movie than her book, or whose portrayals you find equal.
This was a tough question because I haven’t read a lot of manga or light novels. So instead of answering this the more traditional way, I’m going to go the spin-off route. Tsubasa Chronicle is a spin-off of Cardcaptor Sakura – well, sort of. I don’t know what you would call it, honestly. It’s an amalgamation of different CLAMP works that establishes that all the characters from Cardcaptor Sakura, xxxHolic, and beyond exist concurrently in parallel universes.
Truth be told, I found Tsubasa Chronicle to be…really bad. Enjoyable at times, but bad. It was utterly confusing and didn’t seem to know where its own plot was going most of the time. Worst of all, the series demotes Sakura Kinomoto to a supporting character who literally ends up being asleep or in an amnesiac stupor for most of the series. As much as I love Syaroan, I love Sakura a lot more, and seeing her get damsel-in-distress’d regularly seemed to undermine all of the Girl Power vibes that magical girl Sakura had going on.
But then, there were also multiple other Sakuras who were a bit cooler, like this one with a gun, so at least there was that. Then again, one of the Sakuras got permanently frozen in time in another dimension and forgotten about? I lost track. Point is, the singular OG Sakura is from Cardcaptor Sakura. Sorry, CLAMP!
5. Name a character who you want more backstory on.
All of the girls on the Gekkostate were so good, but I especially loved Gidget. I remember there being a Moondoggie-centric episode in Eureka Seven, but there wasn’t nearly enough Gidget love. I just loved her, and wanted to know more about how she made it onto the Gekkostate. After all, she must be about as young as Renton, right? She’s a teenager who ran off to join a bunch of bohemian rebels, so there MUST be a really neat story there. Where’s her family? Is she an orphan? Did she meet Moondoggie on the Gekkostate, or did she already know him? I’VE GOT QUESTIONS, DAMMIT! Instead of the trash heap that is Eureka Seven: AO, Studio Bones should have just given me some Gidget OVAs.
I also love her outfits, and would have liked to see some ray=out magazine covers with her posing in different fashionable outfits.
Bonus: I also wish I could have seen a better backstory from Asobi Asobase’s Aozora. You know, some stuff about her sneaking into the school, and maybe some things that weren’t vaguely transphobic/trans-panick-y. She was an evil mastermind and apparently a master seductress, and the series didn’t even fully close up her storyline! Yeah, it’s a gag comedy, but I want more side character story, dang it!
6. Name a character with traits you feel are sadly overlooked by everyone.
Everyone loooooves Asuka and Rei, and Misato has her fans, but where is the love for Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s Ritsuko??? She has a fascinating backstory with her mother, is a computer genius, delivers tons of bitchy lines, and she has a sexy mole!
It will forever frustrate me that fans fixate more on Asuka and Rei than they do Evangelion‘s adult women. Though the girls are certainly fascinating characters in their own right, Ritsuko is complex and rife with analytical potential. I mean, her feelings for Genji and her relationship with her mother would have sent Freud into a tizzy. Where are all the essays about her, huh??? (Note to self: Write a big essay on Ritsuko when you rewatch Evangelion in a few months.)
7. Name a morally grey character (Villain or anti hero!).
Calling her an anti-hero might not totally fit, but let’s go with Cowboy Bebop‘s gambling femme fatale, Faye Valentine. She primarily acts in her own self-interest, but with a tragic past like hers, who can blame her for having some edge? Faye’s the first anime woman who I genuinely felt emotionally attached to – prior to watching Bebop, I had only seen Naruto and YuGiOh! and basic stuff like that, and they didn’t really have any particularly great female characters for me to glom onto (sorry, Sakura, you suck!). Because she was one of my early favorites, she’ll always stick with me. I get emotional thinking about the “Speak Like A Child” episode regularly.
On a separate note, I would gladly marry her even if it meant taking on all of her debt and having her steal from me constantly!
8. A character you’re stunned isn’t more famous.
I guess Boogiepop is a bit niche, but I can’t believe I don’t see more love for Kirima Nagi. She’s a badass! I should be seeing figures and fanart of her everywhere! Hopefully, the new series will bring about some more Kirima Nagi appreciation…she hot, yo.
9. A character from a piece of fiction you’re amazed isn’t more famous.
HOW HAS EVERYONE BEEN SLEEPING ON MICHIKO AND HATCHIIN??? It’s got action. It’s got badass women. It’s got style, it’s got Sayo Yamamoto, it’s got Shinichiro Watanabe…truly, where are my Michiko Malandro stans at???
This series is so very good. It has flaws, but watching the series is worth it just to see Michiko kick ass. Her character plays into that “feisty Latinx woman” stereotype a bit too much, but the fact that there’s a Black Brazilian female main character in an anime at all should be talked about more, even if it’s not a perfect depiction. Michiko is badass, and watching her save Hatchin from an abusive family and slowly become an unconventional mother figure for her is really a treat. Go watch Michiko and Hatchin!!!
Great, now I really want to rewatch a bunch of these series. This happens every time I do a tag meme! Anyways, let me know what underrated female characters in anime YOU want to give a shout-out to.
Since this tag meme is old as hell, I’m not going to formally tag anyone…but you’re welcome to join in on the fun if you’re reading this. 🙂