So I want to clarify a few things- that dude isn’t really worth any more of my energy, but it did make me realize there are a few general things about this project I’m doing people may not be aware of.
This project originated because when I was into superhero comics, there were a lot of resources devoted to promoting girl-positive, feminist friendly comics. Because those were hella rare. However, while looking on google for the fun, I could not easily find such resources like that for anime and manga. The closest I could find was a blog that occasionally did reviews, and it sort of roundly dismissed the magical girl genre so.
I wanted to make a resource for people like me. Because I really like girls. This is apart from being a feminist- I just love well done female characters because I freaking love ladies. Since age 3, I’ve loved girls and looked for good female characters. I always related to the female characters more. I know not every girl is like this, but that’s always been how it was for me.
You can turn your head and run into some media about a bunch of dudes doing the same old thing. But a story with a well written, huge variety of female characters? A story that focuses on women? That’s different. That’s not standard. It’s not the same old same old. And I want people like me, who really like women and want to see more stories focusing on them, to find those stories.
I also admired the reviews done by feminist disney where she did in depth reviews of Disney from a feminist perspective- obviously the majority of disney scores pretty low on that, but her reviews are really interesting and valuable because they make people thing about all the different components of our media- really think about the messages being sent.
I wanted to do something similarly in depth, but I wanted to simultaneously promote stuff I liked and get reccomendations for more stuff I like. I wanted to take the anime I’d watched that I thought presented interesting female characters, or better yet actually had lady protags, and see how it measured up with analysis. I’d simulateneously be exploring what was good and unusual about series I liked, warning people for stuff that might bother them on any level in those series, and promoting series I loved and female/queer/etc characters I loved!
When I say “Great feminist anime and manga”, what I mean is feminist friendly and girl-positive anime and manga. Because I think it’s the same diff in what a feminist looks for in entertainment. We just want to see female characters with agency leading interesting lives. We don’t want to actively be punched in the face with how little the narrative cares for female, queer, dark-skinned characters. It’s sad this shit is so rare, but the fact is that it is.
I can’t say for sure that most of the anime I review actively sets out to make a feminist statement- Revolutionary Girl Utena definitely did and statements Naoko has made about wanting to send the message girls are strong (not to mention the “down with sexual discrimination!!!” episodes and stuff) confirms Sailor Moon did to a degree, though I have no idea if Naoko would even be familiar with feminism as a term. Stuff like The Twelve Kingdoms definitely includes sections that very obviously criticize gender roles.
But there’s stuff I’ve reviewed like A Certain Scientific Railgun that I’m absolutely certain did not at all mean to send a feminist message or even know what feminism was (as demonstrated by how hella problematic it was in other parts), but just happened to focus on really dynamic and kickass ladies and their bonds with each other. Maybe they did it because it was different, maybe they did it to appeal to sweaty dudes who want to perv on little girls (actually i’m pretty 100% sure this was a factor), maybe to bring in a female audience. But the fact is, regardless of intent, it is rare enough to find lady characters who drive their own stories, really good fun series that have good female characters and/or focus on women, that women like me can enjoy, that I want to promote the hell out of those. And I also just like analyzing series I like. Intent doesn’t matter. Who cares? It’s what you take from the series, and what you enjoy about it.
And if a woman has written that series? Yes, that’s important to me. Because if a woman is writing a series that has a variety of active female characters that make their own choices, she’s drawing on her own experience to write them- because you do that for all your characters. Which means she is telling her story, she’s drawing on her own view of women, including herself, being active and powerful.If she’s writing something not-standard, that means she has a non-standard view of womanhood, and for a woman to express that is powerful. Because women are encouraged to hate themselves. And women are encouraged to be silent about themselves. They are encouraged not to tell their stories. They are encouraged to marginalize themselves.
So when Hiromu Arakawa writes a shonen series where women are powerful and active and influential and important? Yes. That is fucking feminist. Because she is working in a male-dominated genre, and still telling a story where women like her are important. Because she is refusing to hate herself or represent her gender as unimportant. And if you don’t think a woman has to make an active effort to do something like that, has to push against the tide to do so, I dunno. That doesn’t line up with my experience as a woman. It’s pretty damn hard to be a woman and not be aware the standard is unimportant female characters, that the standard is sexism. I think you probably have to make an active effort not to be aware of that(and society certainly encouraged that). So yeah, you always have to make an active decision “guess what I’m not going to do that”. And that probably means you as a woman want to refect your reality, that you believe women can be powerful and strong, that you want to improve how the worldview of women and put some of that out there. Just a little. And a woman speaking out for herself, speaking about the strength of her gender, the complexity of her reality? That’s the definition of feminism.
If you don’t know what the hell im talking about when I say my review, here:
The Great Feminist Anime and Manga Review
tldr; this is review of stuff I consider girl (and/or other stuff) positive from my perspective as a feminist and the feminist messages I take from that review. THAT’S why it’s called “the feminist review” and if you’re gonna get in a snit about that, the door’s that way.