sonyaya

Contributing writer for The Artifice.

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    Why can't Oda, the master storyteller and plot artist of One Piece write good female characters?

    Why can’t Oda, the master storyteller and plot artist of One Piece write good female characters?
    Eiichiro Oda is one of my favorite mangaka of all time and the proclaimed writer of the epic over 900 chapter-long, continuing manga, One Piece, the current top-selling manga. He continually astounds readers with his beautifully interwoven story arcs, character development, and unique artistic style and yet one aspect of his work persistently falls short of the mark — his writing and designing of female characters.

    Oda has displayed an immense array of designing abilities, drawing influence from artistic and regional styles from all over the world and yet all of his female characters have the same face and body shape. Vivi, Nami, Robin, Rebecca, Shirahoshi, etc. All of these unique characters would look the same if you gave them the same hair and eyes, something that would not work for the male characters who display many different kinds of eye shapes, hair styles, body types, nose shapes, etc.

    In terms of writing as well, even characters who are supposedly "strong" like Rebecca (a freaking gladiator), are swept up and saved by male heroes. Oda doesn’t seem to like to give his female characters proper adversaries to fight, a necessary component to completing a character arc in the world of One Piece – all plots lead to a final showdown of some sort. And yet the female characters only face off against other villainous female characters of the same caliber (Nami vs Kalifa/Miss Doublefinger) whereas Luffy and Zoro are always given stronger and better challenges.

    Oda doesn’t seem to respect a woman’s ability to battle a man on equal footing; its a logic that doesn’t seem to exist in the narrative. Throughout the series Oda betrays a serious awareness of historical and political issues regarding human injustice, inequality, authoritarianism, colonialism, etc. And yet why is it that he utterly fails in turning this critical eye to gender?

    • "Oda doesn’t seem to respect a woman’s ability to battle a man on equal footing"Because it doesn't really exist. It can happen, given some circumstantial factors, but overall its a fallacy created by the more moden concept of equality. Of course the concept itself is righteous and necesary, as both men and women should be respected equally and given the same opportunities. But like with many other things, this causes a large part of the masses to confuse and misunderstand some aspects.And before this possibly devolves into me getting called sexist (because it tends to be the "easy rebuttal" button for some people), for pointing this out, lets clarify one thing: I AM a woman, but that doesn't make me blind to some very obvious facts that a lot of people seem to be intent on forcibly denying no matter how clear they are.Men and women are equals, but they're not "the same". We are fundamentally different in many aspects, which includes the physical one, and no amount of self-righteous denial will change this. It has been proved time and time again that in all disciplines involving physical strength and speed, even the top female athletes tend to fall far behind their male counterparts. The same can be said from women in military combat positions, who always get outperformed by men in similar circumstances (meaning, with similar amounts of experience and training). This is an undeniable fact.Oda doesn't often put female characters fighting on par with male characters, because in the real world that IS how it works 99% of the time. Of course a woman with extensive fitness and combat training can beat a man with much less of both, which gets represented in scenes like Kalifa steamrolling through countless strong male fighters from the Galley-La company, but the point is, when both men and women have a similar level of preparation, the intrinsic physical advantage men hold over women comes to play in full force, greatly tilting the balance in their favour.Again, it has nothing to do with sexism, but with being realistic. – CarmenDia 1 year ago
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    I really think the GoT show-runners appeal, whether consciously or unconsciously, to a male fetish for violence against women. There is no reason why multiple instances in the book needed to be warped into sexual assault. And yet its a pattern that only continues as each season is developed with no sufficient reason or added value to the plot or character development. Sure, this did happen in wars throughout time/women are always bear violence at the hands of men/historical accuracy yada yada but why is this “historical point” reiterated so much more than anything else, such that almost every prominent female character in the show is victimized by it? I’m sick of male directors enacting violence against our bodies for the sake of “art” and subversive “grittiness.”

    Why do the Women of Game of Thrones Suffer So Much?

    Aliens (1986) is another unusual but definitely applicable example of everything you describe. Interestingly, it is a science fiction, far future story exemplifying exactly these same fears of women’s power, desire and single maternal childrearing but exacerbated by fears of where feminism will take us in the future. This appears in the form of the alien Mother Queen alien whose sexual insatiability and virtually limitless asexual reproductivity is so grotesquely androgynous through all of its vaginal imagery and yet phallic and penetrative through its ability to essentially rape humans. The result is a truly horrifying femininity which can only be defeated by the nuclear combination of Ripley, Newt and Hicks.

    Maternal Horror Films: Understanding the 'Dysfunctional' Mother

    The non-linear storyline of the game is actually my favorite aspect because it gives more agency to the player who can tailor the gameplay to their style and in the order they prefer. For example, when I played Breath of the Wild, my interest lay more in world-building and exploration than in the main quest and so I spent the bulk of my time running around and collecting items and solving shrines before tackling the main quest. I can see how many players might be frustrated by the lack of linear direction but it made the systemic game design more immersive and real as a result because it leaves the direction to the player. In a sense, this aspect made the main quest ultimately more compelling, because every supposedly unrelated quest, like the celestial dragons or Satori Mountain for example, made the world more expansive and beautiful and therefore worthy of being saved. Furthermore, the centrality of Hyrule castle and the ugly red smear over it, glimmering constantly in the distance serves as a reminder of the main quest, even while the player is engaged in a less important but no less fun task of say, collecting mushrooms.

    Systemic Games: A Design Philosophy