Saturday, January 01, 2005

Anime

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:

Noir
Azumanga daioh
The Slayers (especially the character Lina Inverse)
Spirited Away (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.

2 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

I like anime too. We have a friend who LOVES it and she's always referring us to new stuff. Like you, I too really like Miyazaki(?)'s stuff (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro) although I didn't care for Castles in the Sky because it was a little too whiny-girl-needing-to-be-rescued-by-boy for my tastes. Have you watched the Haibane series? That was VERY interesting to me, so much to speculate about and all the characters are girls (except one who makes only a brief appearance). It was neat to watch the series and then see what people were saying online, what their theories were about who the Haibane are, etc. If you watch it, you'll know what I mean.

We also recently watched Kiki's Delivery Service, which I thought wasn't too bad. And Tokyo Godfathers, which was certainly entertaining and quite holiday festive.

4:08 PM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Barbara Preuninger said...

Yes, I did watch the Haibane series, and really enjoyed it. I assumed that they were all people who had died with things in their life that were still unresolved. And that any "black" on their wings was caused by self-destruction (i.e. suicide)

I also liked "Witch Hunter Robin" - though the main character does pine after a man...

2:10 PM, January 04, 2005  

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