Ooo! I still have time to write another entry!
I guess I have to say I'm a fan of Anime. I don't ususally think of myself that way. Bill is REALLY into it, so when I compare myself to him, I'm relatively uninterested. But there are some series that I really appreciate, not only because they are good stories, but because they're refreshingly different.
A few that I really like:
(especially the character Lina Inverse
(and other stuff by the same director like Totoro and Castle in the Sky)
And while these 4 stories (and characters) are extremely different from each other, they all have something in common that I really like: the main characters are women/girls, they are all well-rounded characters and they all have more important goals than pining after a man. (In Azumanga daioh, there's only one distinct male character, and most of the time, everyone is trying to get away from him because he's creepy and perverted.) In "The Slayers", the main character is a type I have never seen a woman play in any American movie or T.V. show. She's tough, not really "good", not particularly "sexee", but very quick-witted/street smart and wins the day every time.
I don't think of Anime as some kind of bastion of feminism. First, there is big-time sexual objectification of women and girls (though I haven't yet decided if it's worse or the same as most Western stuff). Second, the series that I highlighted here are a few among tons of different series (talking about Anime as a genre is like talking about Hollywood film as a genre). Third, I have occasional "sexism-detector" type issues even with my "favorites".
On the other hand, there are aspects that are nice just because they're different
, from a feminist perspective in particular. I remember a discussion on the Ms. Boards where some people were suggesting that powerful or independent or "wild" women in movies (or Western stories generally) are always cut down to size in SOME way. Even, when you think about it, in movies like "Thelma and Louise" or "The Piano". In fact, in the midst of that discussion, no one could think of any
movie where a woman was both independent and powerful (or gained independence in the course of events) and did not a) become romantically attached to a male main character (with the distinct sense of losing her independence), b) die tragically, c) have a comeuppance of some sort, or d) act as a sort-of side character with little real significance.
"The Slayers" series in particular turns this pattern on it's head. And I loved watching that. It made a difference for me, even as an adult, watching a silly show, to see myself and my own possibilities differently. It's almost like having a nutritional deficiency of a particular vitamin and then being presented with a food that's mostly junky but just so happens to also have that nutrient your body really needs. And the shows I mentioned are also quite enjoyable in and of themselves, not just feminist soap-boxes.