I suppose this might be “opening a can of worms” as you Americans might say. But I’ve always wondered about the portrayal of women in anime. When I was a young teenager, I was baffled enough by the exotic story telling and the animation quality to just accept it as Japan’s “mature”. However, going back to a lot of it in adult age, it just feels like misogynism. By misogynism, I mean T&A, to be blunt. Objectification might be a better term to use. Some call it fan-service.
I do realize that there is a lot of anime that is perfectly fine and I also believe the more children-safe kind of anime has gotten more and more popular in past years. Studio Ghibli films are practically mainstream, for example. Still, to me it raises an important question of the cultural values tied into the products that we support. Racist outbursts in anime wouldn’t hold water, but objectification of women gets a free pass for some reason. Even a critically acclaimed series like Cowboy Bebop (in many people’s opinion the best anime of all time) can’t help but throw in fan-pleasing camera angles of Faye Valentine from time to time.
I guess what I’m after is: does anime get away with stuff in popular culture that wouldn’t be okay in US or Europe simple because of being Japanese? If so, is that really legitimate?
You should be asking about misogynism in Japanese culture, not anime.
Weaboos are willing to gobble down a LOT of trash that comes from Japan. If it’s Japanese it’s got to be cool, right? If Japanese stuff was more mainstream you’d probably see more complaints. But the only people who watch anime are the same ones who wouldn’t dare insult the glorious Empire.
Misogyny exists in every culture. The US is the exception, not the rule. Misogyny still exists, but women have enough power in American culture to go batshit insane in retaliation. Japan is maybe the only other culture that I know of where men need legal protection from women. There is also a men’s movement in India. In nearly all other cultures though, women have a far lower social status than men.
I think that a lot of what is produced is intended for an audience that isn’t particularly mature (either by age, or develpmentally) and largely male. Immature males tend to not have very healthy or realistic attitudes towards women.
Stupid question. Why would ‘T&A’ = misogyny (hatred of women)? Or is that just a typical US misuse of a word? ‘Exploitation’ I’d understand, but ‘misogyny’? Why would liking to look at nekkid women make you a woman hater?
When I’m watching pornography, for example, I don’t really care about the subject’s nonsexual characteristics. I like going on violent rampages with the help of my 360, too, but I’m not a sociopath. In the real world I’m perfectly aware that women are more than just their sexual attributes.
Some of it has to do with style. There are certain “types” that are commonly drawn when creating female characters. Rarely are any of them what we would consider unattractive. When you DO see an oddball character physically speaking, she is usually a monster, a robot, an alien, a weird foreigner etc… Part of that has do with the fact that the Japanese are more physically homogenous than westerners in terms of basic build. Add to that the fact that anime sort of grew out of the woodblock print tradition and it is not that unusual that you see mostly pretty girls. That type of art has always been a leak in the social dam of sexual repression there.
I’m not certain the you can draw a bright line when watching anime between “I Love boobies” and “women are only good for sex”. Most heroines are quite sexy for example, and are usually more powerful than everyone else. They often have to save their male counterparts.
I get your point. Still, you have a genre where female characters of any kind might be expected to show tits at any given moment. Even if it’s “style” or only about display, the net effect is disrespect. At least from where I sit. I understand that the Japanese mentality is different from ours, but at least to me it’s difficult to see it any other way.
Some anime say horrible things about the people that made them. The mere fact that one has T&A does not. Take Black Lagoon, for example. Considering how many of the series’ most competent characters are women, it would be silly to suggest that it is misogynistic just because Revy isn’t wearing as much clothing as Dutch.
Couldn’t it just as easily be that it’s not okay in the US or Europe because some people are prudes? Or somewhere in between?
But that’s an arbitrary conclusion based on your cultural background. Japanese people (including Japanese women) wouldn’t agree.
Regarding your initial question, “does anime get away with stuff in popular culture that wouldn’t be okay in US or Europe simple because of being Japanese?”, I’m going to answer “no.” American comic books, video games, TV shows, etc., all have plenty of “fan service” in them.
I’m aware of that. I just don’t think the “they think differently in Japan” answer is satisfying, since what we get is the end product which we consume on our own terms. What if, for instance, anime had a lot of homophobic or racial slurs. We might still explain that by saying that Japanese have a different take on homosexuality and ethnic diversity, but it feels like a cop-out in a way.
I understand your point but you are falling into a trap of ethnocentrism.
The only motivations which truly matter are those of the writer/ directors. Do the character’s motivations mean nothing? Let’s take an example. In Tenchi Myuo, a harem comedy/space opera, We get to see a lot of all the female characters. Now the nudity is viewed differently by the character’s themselves. Ryoko shamelessly flaunts herself to tease the male lead, and annoy her female counterparts. Ayeka on the other hand is fairly prudish, freaking out when she’s caught in a state undress. Sasami is too young to be traditionally viewed as a sexual object so generally she is always covered in a towel. Mihoshi who is arguably the “stacked” character of the group is seemingly unaware of the effect her body has on the males, and is equally oblivious of the annoyance of all the other females.
The net result is a rather full spectrum of female sexuality and some seriously funny comedy. The characters have plenty of depth, competence and emotional involvements. Part of the fun of being adult is enjoying sexual interactions and comedy, anime caters to that. Is the fan service unnecessary? Sure. Would it be as fun without it? Not really. Think of it like a show on HBO like True Blood where nudity is used to the same effect.
I was not expecting the thread to be about portraying the females as visual sexual consumables. I was expecting it to be about how the females are so often portrayed as giggly airheaded little girls while the males are portrayed as level-headed boys or even as adult males.
You haven’t seen enough anime. I’m not a big anime fan, but I’ve seen plenty of stuff that I find truly revoltingly misogynistic. There’s a world of difference between things that are virtually rape fantasies and the T&A you decry.