Gender and Gender Relations in Manga and Anime

4069 Words17 Pages
Manga and Anime, as inviting and open as they may seem, are at heart the products of Japan's culture. Despite its technological advancement, Japan somehow manages to retain much of its historical character, in addition to blending in the overwhelming influences of the West. The Japanese treatment of gender and gender relations has taken many turns over the last millennium, and manga and anime reflect those changes. Still, at the core of the culture lies certain fundamental beliefs that are proving difficult to change. Recently, too, there is growing controversy over gender roles in Japan. An American friend recently complained bitterly over the pervasiveness of sadistic, (heterosexual) male-oriented Japanese pornography in Japan. She says that the message that women are sexual objects has become almost epidemic in Japanese culture, and that male chauvenism is everywhere. Many career women in Japan seem to be so disgusted with things that they refuse to marry. And too many men are expected to sacrifice themselves to their jobs, to the point of having no family involvement. When a man retires, he sometimes becomes trapped in a family he doesn't know, with nothing to do, and he tends to die soon after from his sudden lack of purpose. I am not an expert in this topic; however, maybe I can provide some insight into Japanese culture and its reflection in manga, as well as some recent trends in manga. I am writing, by the way, from the point of view that individuality is more important than one's gender --- and hence to stereotype genders and to force people to conform to those stereotypes is not a good thing. I personally think we'd all be better off if each of us picked up the stereotypical strengths of both genders, if, say, men w... ... middle of paper ... ...s, it seems, is to make Ranma prove that he loves her. (In Takahashi's Urusei Yatsura series, Lum would make herself bait in order to watch Moroboshi come rescue her --- proof to her that he did love her). However, unlike a truly helpless heroine, over and over Akane must come to Ranma's rescue after he has come to hers. Without Akane's help, Ranma would have lost many of his battles, as much as he hates to admit it. Akane is a key part of a team; either person could not possibly succeed alone. (Interestingly, though, this partnership is down-played in the TV shows; it only truly shines through in Takahashi's original stories). Even in some of the more stereotyped manga, there is some partnership and friendship between the sexes. And isn't partnership --- mutual respect, caring for each other, helping each other --- the most important thing in any relationship?

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