Many movies under Studio Ghibli have been lauded for their strong, complex female protagonists. Chihiro from Spirited Away, San from Princess Mononoke, and several others come to mind immediately. Hayao Miyazaki writes “brave, self-sufficient girls that don’t think twice about fighting for what they believe with all their heart. They’ll need a friend, or a supporter, but never a savior. Any woman is just as capable of being a hero as any man”.
However progressive Studio Ghibli may seem, the representation is nowhere near perfect. Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura has gone on record to say that women are too realistic to direct these fantasy films, and “men on the other hand tend to be more idealistic—and fantasy films need that idealistic approach. I don’t think it’s a coincidence men are picked”. But many Studio Ghibli films are movie adaptations of stories originally written by women. Diana Wynne Jones wrote the original novel “Howl’s Moving Castle”, Ursula K. Le Guin was the original novelist of the “Tales from Earthsea” books, and Eiko Kadono wrote not just “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, but also five sequels to it.
It might also be worth looking at some character portrayals from a folkloric perspective. It is certainly true that many young female protagonists are brave, independent, and heroic. But many Studio Ghibli villains such as Yubaba and Suleiman are magical women and fall into the “old hag” archetype of Western folklore, which Miyazaki has taken inspiration from countless times. These women are characteristically old and thus “ugly”, or not conventionally attractive, and they serve as antagonists to more conventionally attractive, younger women. Meanwhile, magical men such as Haku and Howl are often portrayed as heroic and noble—not without their own character flaws, of course, but there is still a distinct contrast. As progressive as Miyazaki is with his portrayal of women, he still relies on archetypes such as these, whether intentionally or not.
This topic is open to any discussion regarding portrayals of gender in any Studio Ghibli film, whether positive or negative.
Interesting!! I think that part of it may stem from the fact that Japan seems to have a lot of myths about 'old hags' or women/female-appearing demons who are evil. However, as I am not Japanese nor know Japanese myths well, I cannot say for sure. Regardless, this is an interesting problem, though perhaps a bit West-aligned. – FinallyHome2 years ago
Discuss how tropes and the way they are used in the story affect the plot itself and the viewer’s experience and opinion on the story.
Let's take the 'character gets amnesia' trope as an example. This trope is usually disliked because it's often used to explain away an element of the story doesn't make sense and because of how convenient it is. If the trope were used better in a story, would it add to the plot or does it take away just by virtue of being used in the first place? – brightasgold2 years ago
An analysis of various representations of transgender women found in Anime. What worked, what didn’t, and what made people go "eh, good enough."
The article might specifically bring up the prevalence of characters who are addressed with he/him pronouns by other characters but still refer to themselves as women (IE: Hibari Ōzora from "Stop!!! Hibari-Kun!" or Grell Sutcliff from "Black Butler"), or characters who are referred to as ‘crossdressers’ (Ryoji Fujioka from "Ouran Host Club" or Chihiro Fujisaki from "Danganronpa"). It can discuss where these characters are harmful or helpful.
It could also discuss characters who are canonically, unambiguously trans women (such as Lily Hoshikawa from "Zombieland Saga") and how well or poorly that representation is handled.
Other discussion points might be the context of which these characters are included, how impactful they are on the plot, whether their portrayal is sympathetic or predatory, and why these portrayals occur.
How do you define "what worked, what didn't, and what made people go "eh, good enough.""? Do you think this would be the same as stereotyping transgender women in Anime? – Ka Man Chung2 years ago
Grell is a very strange character in a very strange series.
By any chance, are you going to bring up Nitori from Wandering Son? – OkaNaimo08192 years ago
I haven't watched Wonder Egg Priority (and don't plan on doing so), but I've heard there's a bit of good representation for trans characters. I know there's a canon trans boy, and I believe Momoe is a gender-nonconforming trans girl? I think there's something to be said about trans representation that doesn't adhere to strict gendered fashion or dress (all good things). I believe Momoe is regarded as good trans girl representation but I could be wrong. – Alyss2 years ago
I would love to read this article! I have watched Wonder Egg Priority and I want to point out that Momoe is not a trans-girl (or at least not yet canonically stated as such), but a girl who struggles with her feminity due to being mistaken as a boy. However, Momoe meets Kaworu, a canonically trans boy, who helps her come to terms with her gender struggles. Also Magne from My Hero Academic is a transwoman and Tiger is a transman. – cyborgtheory2 years ago
Ones ‘dreams’ is a central idea in Eiichiro Oda’s ‘One Piece’. Every Strawhat Crew member joins Luffy in pursuit of their individual ‘dreams’. The One Piece story ultimately revolves around Luffy and his dream of becoming pirate king. However, in doing so, Oda includes the varying dreams of the other members as well as that of the villains. Throughout One Piece the idea of dreams is conveyed over and over and the important question of "what makes a dream or goal good or bad?" arises. There is clearly a noticeable discrepancy between the portrayal of say, Crocodiles dream of creating a utopia versus Luffy’sdream of becoming pirate king. What makes them so different? How does the way in which characters in One piece pursue their dreams differ? Should one have a seemingly unattainable dream?
I think this is a really good point, however I feel that Oda gives these characters dreams is simply for plot and character development. I do not believe that the question "what makes a dream bad or good?" really arises but rather who is going to fight for their dreams the most. The crew members join Luffy to fight for their dreams and they collaborate until they reach Raftel or complete each of their dreams. – MazerBlade2 years ago
The NSDAP under Hitler is rightfully considered to be one of the most terrible regimes in modern history. Thus, it is unsurprising that regimes like the Nazis are depicted throughout mediums including anime notably Amnestris in Full Metal Alchemist, the Empire in the Saga of Tanya the Evil, Gamilas in Star Blazers and the Principality of Zeon in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. Are these regimes merely similar in form (with titles such as Fuhrer, Supreme Leader or uniforms mimicking the SS ? Or are they similar in essence as well with regards to ideology? It would also be interesting to examine the depictions of characters in Adolf Hitlers mold both in these anime and others.
You could also mention the Nazis from Hellsing:Ultimate. The Major especially...that speech he gives where he says "Friends, I LOVE war" is chilling. – OkaNaimo08192 years ago
I second looking into Hellsing Ultimate because the depiction of their ideology is interesting and a little mixed, especially when going against the Hellsing Organization (Anglican England) and the Catholic Church. Though they are depicted as unambiguously evil, which makes sense, it seems like their motives are more about war (the Major's speech) and defeating Alucard rather than perpetuating fascism and anti-Semitism/the killing of specific groups, which aren't brought up much with the exception of mentioning the teeth and items stolen from Jewish people killed in the camps. I'd be interested to see how it compares to other animes. – Emily Deibler2 years ago
I feel like some of the fondness for Nazis in anime is an attempt to deflect attention away from war crimes perpetrated by the Japanese during World War II. In other words, they're fine talking about atrocities committed by others as long as they don't have to fess up to their own. – Debs2 years ago
Japan has an ambivalent relationship with the military with the necessity of militarisation due to its proximity to hostile powers and trying to master its dark militaristic past as a colonial power.Many popular anime such as Full Metal Alchemist and Code Geass depict the military as either conspiratorial or incompetent continuing in the tradition of Miyazaki’s movies . On the other hand we have series such as GATE and Star Blazers which are filled to the brim with military characters who are fighting the good fight. Analyse the accuracy of the military tactics, strategy and organizational structure in anime. Does this accuracy increase or decrease with the military’s position in D&D Alignment Axis ?
Many are likely familiar with well-known anime like Sailor Moon or even Cardcaptor Sakura. But, how do these anime, and others in the magical girl genre, counter (and support) existing gender roles? Are they empowering or do they support existing beliefs? Answering these questions, with available resources, would be an important part of any article on this topic. Such an article could also compare and contrast with Western animation, showing the differences between those animated shows and anime. In any case, this topic is broad enough to allow for a litany of articles, of various types, on this subject, no matter which one the writer chooses to follow.
I think this topic is actually really interesting. I think that looking at gender roles in such a specific context is a really good way to go about it. Good job! I hope someone picks up this topic! – RheaRG2 years ago
I like the idea of comparing it to western animation. I think another interesting angle could be to look at the cultures they've come out of, and how they reflect cultural stereotypes/gender roles – ArthurHolly2 years ago
Anime has such a wide variety of subjects that it explores. There are two animes, Deathnote and Neon Genesis Evangelion that have both subtle and obvious allusions to religion/spirituality. They both posses theological elements, which can be interesting to write about.
Think about these questions: How do they use various theological elements to add to the overall meaning of the anime?
What seem to be the most interesting symbols and why would you consider them as such?
Does one anime use the symbols in a more effective manner?
I was going to add as a suggestion. There's an older anime by Shinichirō Watanabe, the creator of Samurai Champloo, called Kids on the Slope. It doesn't suggest anything religious until the end. You find out that one of the kids becomes a Catholic Priest. It might be worth analyzing as well as the anime you've already mentioned. – Passerby2 years ago
Death Note's scene where L washes Light's feet is one of those scenes that actually is a great reference to Bible showing Light as a God. – eeshasharma2 years ago