Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good Women

It's impossible to do a piece on the Good Guys, even though I should balance out my Bad Guy post. Still, everyone that's not a Bad Guy is by default a Good Guy. That covers a LOT of characters. How can I possibly talk about everyone. Or even narrow the list down to several hundred favorites. It's like trying to decide on my all time favorite series. Muri! So I'm tackling something easier. The females!

For a long time I thought that there weren't that many really strong female characters. Maybe I was watching the wrong anime because when I started looking, I was surprised to discover that there are many .... and some of them are among my favorite characters. Of course, there are a lot of anime in which women are definitely an afterthought. They end up as either window-dressing, with essentially no plot involvement, or the series will have one or two token females inserted into the cast. At best they may have minor roles that don't make much impact, or minor roles specifically to make an impact - like a death at the appropriate time. Kyou Kara Maou is pretty much like this. The women in the series are almost extraneous. Bleach does a little better, but beyond Rukia, only Matsumoto has a strong role, and given the size of that cast, that's not very impressive. Tytania, Kuroshitsuji, Chevalier D'Eon and Hikaru no Go have no women at all worth mentioning. PeaceMaker Kurogane has one, who is killed splashily to make an impact. The list goes on. And I'm purposely leaving out reverse-harems where the actual intent is to have one woman and a bunch of men.

Anyway, I got off track here. The point is, there are some incredibly strong woman characters out there. Three names that spring to mind are: Balsa (Seirei no Moribito), Kou Shuurei (Saiunkoku Monogatari) and Nakajima Youko (Juuni Kokki). It's actually amazing to me that I would include Youko in that group because I hated her character in the beginning. I detest poor-me-the-world-is-out-to-get-me-I'm-so-miserably-unloved characters, and when they're crybaby whiny it's even worse. Youko had that role DOWN. That I consider her one of the all time great female leads is a testament to how well they developed her character in the series.

Other characters I consider strong female roles include Rukia (Bleach), Nodame (Nodame Cantabile), Mireille and Kirika (Noir), Sakura (CardCaptor Sakura), Hachi (Nana), Michel (Glass no Kantai), Robin (Witchhunter Robin) and Kyoko (Skip Beat). Actually, the more I think about female characters, the more good ones I recall. Shana (Shakugan no Shana) and Honoka (The Third) were strong characters also, as were Real (Ergo Proxy), Talho (Eureka Seven), Kagura (Gintama) and of course Ranka and Sheryl (Macross Frontier).

There are also a fair amount of strong female characters in lesser roles once you start looking at the women. For example, Best Actress in a Supporting Role I would give to Lenalee (D.Gray-man) or Izumi (Fullmetal Alchemist). And of course it's impossible to completely ignore the harem combinations. Best Harem Leader goes to Haruhi (Ouran High School Host Club), with a strong second by Tohru (Fruits Basket). Strongest Female Role in a Normal Harem goes to Taiga (Toradora). Greatest Comeback from a Whiny Start goes to Youko, but Saya (Blood+) is second, followed by Miyaka (Fushigi Yuugi).

Okay, I'm not sure when this post became an awards show, but it just goes to show that there are a lot of pretty awesome female characters in anime series. Still, the really popular anime series tend to have male leads, not female leads. Ichigo in Bleach, Ed and Al in Fullmetal Alchemist, etc. Series with a true female lead are often about that character, and are named for her, i.e. Nodame, Shana, CCS, Karin, Kaitou Jeanne, Nana, Shion no Oh. See what I mean?

Luckily my favorite anime movie director has no problem with strong female characters. Miyazaki Hayao's films tend to have strong female leads: NausicaA (NausiccaA of the Valley of the Wind), San (Mononoke Hime), Sophie (Howl's Moving Castle) and Chihiro (Spirited Away). *laughing* I'd have to add Chihiro to the group of Comeback from a Whiny Start though.

Just in case I've given the wrong impression with this post, I don't consider myself a politically correct person who's concerned about the "Role of Women in Anime Series". I'm just commenting on things I've noticed. Personally, my very favorite characters are pretty much all male. I do like to see a great woman character though, and there are definitely some out there.


  1. I'd give Tohru the award over Haruhi any day. Tohru actually had to deal with alot more problems (there is no equivalent to Akito in Ouran).

  2. Too true. You know who I left out though? Yoruichi!! Bleach does have another strong female character. I can't believe I forgot about Yoruichi. And I guess SoiFon and Unohana aren't slouches either. Nor is Ururu. What was I thinking? I suppose I'll have to take back what I said about Bleach

  3. LOL Yeah, Yoruichi is all kinds of amazing. It's just so easy to get blinded by Orihime's complete uselessness in Bleach.