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Gender in anime: The unloved, or, how I learned to trust fandom and love tsundere. September 10, 2007

Posted by bettynoire in ABC, anime, code geass, community, miscellaneous, zero no tsukaima.

Though I actually planned on participating on time with everyone else, I’m ending up posting much later all by myself. >.> It’s enough to make a girl sing Celine Dion (not really).

I should probably also mention that I’ve joined Owen’s blogging experiment crew, mostly because automatic blogging fodder + intelligent and occasionally humorous discussion = awesome. Yeah yeah, tail between my legs for ranting about the first try a few posts ago yadda yadda whatever it seemed like a good idea at the time. Foot, I’d like you to meet mouth. Oh, I’m sorry, you’ve already met? Well, saves me the introduction, anyway.

Moving right along, thanks to some accidental linkage/reccing I felt compelled to actually put some of my own thoughts up here on the newest ABC topic — gender in anime. Other posters on this topic are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I have an issue with talking about gender, so, although I had plenty of ideas when it was mentioned as an effort to come up with the new group topic, I had an issue with actually picking something to write about. I think what best illustrates my stance on gender (though not without explaining) is that when my Literary Analysis professor asked the class whether anyone in the class was a feminist, I was the only one who didn’t raise their hand.

Let’s clear something up real quick here, I am all for women having the same rights as men, yadda yadda. I am NOT, however, for the concept of “feminism”, persay. I don’t believe that the concept of femaleness or maleness, outside of a purely procreational/physical basis, should be considered relevant to a person’s worthiness for a certain task. When looking for a person who is good at baseball, and presented with a skinny pale dude and a sporty girl, I will likely pick the girl because she knows the damn sport. All things devided on an idividual personal basis. Gender is irrelevant unless the topic at hand involves sex organs (and even then half the time it shouldn’t matter). Terms like feminism piss me off, because I’m not for women any more than I am for men, pardoning the fact that women are just plain nicer to look at. Gender, in my opinion, should be irrelevant. And I refuse to call myself a feminist because, to me, even acknowledging that term as acceptable for the movement is self-defeating.

Of course, gender is not irrelevant, and probably never will be, unless everyone in the world acknowledges that they are at least a little bisexual. But enough about my personal idea of Utopia.

The problem, when I was considering a topic, was that gender is something I consider to be largely irrelevant, and therefore no matter how interesting the topic I thought of, the more I just kept thinking — so what? However, upon reading my fellow bloggers posts I found myself a bit inspired. Though I may find gender itself largely irrelevant, I do find porn to be relevant. I mean, wait, start over. I do find personal tastes in character love relevant.

I was sort of inspired by the last and first of that link orgy up there. DS‘s post on the idea of “safe” women and their appeal in anime sort of tied in with Mike‘s closing ideas regarding the appeal of helplessness or a soft side being preferential in a female character got me thinking about the less loved female characters, at least in terms of fanart that may or may not be (but most likely will be on the sites I frequent) porn.


One thing that seemed consistent among the entries that mentioned it, is that tsundere characters get a lot of flack for being all soft in the end, despite putting up a hard front (which, duh, they wouldn’t be tsundere if they didn’t). The entire appeal of the fetish is that a resilient woman can still be won over — but it made me think about what exactly is so appealing about that. It’s a balance of two opposing but complementary types that each make the other better. It’s the peanut butter and chocolate of personality types! We love badass babes — we love soft, winnable babes that love us. But both of those on thier own? Pure and undiluted?

Hell no. They get next to no love.

Take for example, Cornelia of Code Geass — as compared to any of the other Code Geass girls, it’s more than slightly challenging to find much fanart of her. It exists, for certain, but proportionally the ratio is way out of whack. And, hell, the woman has a fucking awesome character design. She’s not lacking in sex appeal in a physical sense at all. But a mental sense? Apparently. Because a powerful woman is a threatening woman, if not immediately considered unattainable. And Cornelia definitely is a powerful woman. Despite being a woman in what is apparently a patriarchal government, she attained not only the position of Governor, but a Governor General, and on top of that, is a highly accomplished pilot. This is, of course, disregarding Euphemia’s obviously ineffectual “position” (figurehead much?). In contrast to Orange-kun’s immediate diss and dismiss from Kallen’s far superior mech, Cornelia not only survives Kallen’s initial attack as well as Lelouche’s surprise attack (in the process losing both mech arms) but continues to fight. And then there’s the fact that she is fighting in battle at all.

All other male government officials shown, are highly inactive. Cornelia puts herself into the battlefield with her men, and not only leads them, but enters the very center of battle herself, knowing that she is thier most valuable asset on the combat field. This personal risk says two things, in my opinion. She is a government official — government officials are never placed in harm’s way, much less do they seek it out themselves. And yet, Cornelia is. The answer, to me, is obvious. She’s allowed to do that because, to the higher ups, she’s expendable, because she’s a woman. The the further down’s, she’s admired because she defies her expected role, and not only that, fights along them, at once an equal and a superior. She commands a respect that according to typical patriarchal monarchical systems, by virtue of her gender, she shouldn’t deserve.

Despite being such a symbol of a strong, in my eyes, desirable, admirable woman… there is pretty much no porn of her. Other strong female characters, Balsa from Seirei no Moribito, Balalaika from Black Lagoon (though her character design deters sexual thought), much of the cast of Claymore, Tatsuki from Bleach, others that are probably better examples that I’ve missed. What does this say about the audiences desire for a strong, independent, driven woman? I’d say the general consensus is “No thanks — she doesn’t need us, we don’t need her.”

Flip side of the tsundere coin we have a woman who is soft, inviting. Kirche from Zero no Tsukaima is certainly… “soft.” And she certainly doesn’t hide how “inviting” she is. Contrary, perhaps, to logic when one is considering a totally hot character that would be the easiest thing in the world to bone were she a real human — there’s relatively no fanart of her, especially in comparison to Louise. Though Louise may be the main character in a technical sense, this hasn’t exactly stopped hentai from porning the hell out of hot side characters. And yet even Tabatha gets more love than Kirche. Apparently, pop culture lies. No one likes a slut, or as Mike put it, pure lust breeds an instinctive hate in the audience. Though I haven’t exactly sensed a hate for Kirche, I’ve certainly noticed a general indifference.

Alone these aspects do little to excite someone. The unattainable and the easily attainable have an obvious lack of appeal in comparison to tsunderes, though the easily attainable has the edge over unattainable (it’s good for one pop, anyway). Tsunderes, in contrast, are a happy medium. They put up a fight, are their own person (the well done ones, at least), and still have a vulnerable side that makes them appealing and attainable. Out of all the fetishes in anime fandom, I’d say this is the most exemplary of the dual desires of the romantic ego — conflict and resolution. There’s no intrigue without a fight, but if there’s no resolution, no one wants to finish the story. And a resulotion without build up is unsatisfying. Funny how many things parallel literary necessities.


I waxed a bit poetical about Cornelia didn’t I? o.olll Pardon, I didn’t mean to babble.



1. Gender and Anime: Turn around! Stick it out! Even white boys gotta shout! « tsuntsun: Marmot’s animu blog - September 10, 2007

[…] Published September 10th, 2007 ANGER , ETC LITTLE IN THE MIDDLE BUT SHE GOT MUCH BACK~ Yeah, baby, when it comes to females, Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my […]

2. Marmot - September 10, 2007

Cornelia’s pretty awesome. I’d let her conquer my battlefield IF YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYING.

3. bettynoire - September 10, 2007

Oh I know what you’re saying. And damned if I don’t LOVE IT.

Basically this post happened because I want more Cornelia porn, because she’s awesome, dammit. Someone make this dream come true. T_T

4. Gender in Anime: A Double Take of Sorts « Drastic My Anime Blog - September 11, 2007

[…] musings Let’s do this again. Other perspectives are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and […]

5. Anime Diet » “I’m Only Interested In 2D Girls!”: On Lust, Animated Desire, and Gender Expectations - September 11, 2007

[…] articles about anime and gender across the blogosphere. Visit here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (for now) for what others […]

6. TheBigN - September 11, 2007

The tsundere is interesting, because if played to extremes, it can be hella annoying. What springs up to mind is Naru from Love Hina for me, though I’m not sure how accurate that is as an example in this case. I can be turned off pretty easily to the tsundere aesthetic when things are off on either side; either the person is too tsun or too dere, and it’s hard to find a right balance. The best tsunderes for me are probably the ones where it’s not made painfully aware of the duplicitous behavior. But each person’s preferences vary with that.

And I’d like my significant female other (if I ever manage to be so lucky) to be able to take care of herself, especially when life gets rough. We can get through it together, but if need be, we can get along just find by ourselves. That sort of thing~

7. bettynoire - September 11, 2007

The exaggerated tsundere can also be awesome, though. Louise in Zero no Tsukaima, for example, is like 90% of the humor. Agreed for the most part though. Tsunderes are best when mixed thoroughly, which sounds delicious even without my chocolate/peanut butter metaphor, har har.

Entirely dependant women is not something that I understand the appeal of… I mean. People want a lover and a companion, not a child, or something similar. Even having just typed that I realize I’m being too optimistic about people. *sigh*

8. Hige - September 11, 2007

The thing about tsundere characters going soft never bothered me, and I am prone to teeth-gnashing feminist moments (though, like you, I’m more about generalised equality rather than being one sex is better than the other). Because, when tsundere is done properly, the character is demonstrating human insecurities rather than being the cold, hard face of Empowerment. I never really feel betrayed when the inevitable soft moment comes because tsundere characters never have that much ‘feminist merit’ (urgh, hate that phrase) to start with. They’re more about defences we put around ourselves out of fear and insecurity. There’s probably a lot to be said about it always being female characters that are tsun-tsun (or perhaps the lack of a male equivalent label) but I barely watch enough anime with those archetypes to start with.

9. omo - September 11, 2007

My theory is simple:
No one likes bitches, but bitches bring revolutions. Sometimes you just gotta be a bitch to get things done.

In that sense, it’s a great and admirable feat to serve alongside one–because you believe in the cause and understands this double-edged necessity. I believe that is why Cornelia’s knights are so badass and that is why Utena drives like a dream.

But not every story/anime is about getting things done. A silly show like Zero is, well, fantasy-escape porn, and it doesn’t pretend to not be something else. Of course when you stick a bitchy character in a porn it’s to broaden the appeal of your porn, although one may wonder if that is a moot point in Zero’s adaptation. Kirche probably made a lot more sense in the novels, I’d guess (not having read them).

10. omo - September 11, 2007

Oops, double negative there. Zero no Tsukaima is lol pr0n fodder in its anime form.

11. Gender in Anime: Galge Archetypes at PinkuBentoBox - September 11, 2007

[…] member of some kind of underground intarweb secret society who all blog about the same thing on the same day. Anilluminati. Or maybe Moejestic 12. Anyway, the current discussion is interesting so I felt […]

12. Karly! - September 25, 2007

I didn’t get to read this whole thing because I have to shower for class, but this:

“Of course, gender is not irrelevant, and probably never will be, unless everyone in the world acknowledges that they are at least a little bisexual. But enough about my personal idea of Utopia.”

made me laugh my ass off. So subtle, yet so perfect.

From a psychological point of view, gender is actually quite relevant. Why else would a man who feels like a woman (gender) trapped inside of a man’s body (sex) feel so encumbered by his sex that he would spend huge amounts of time and money to become the sex that matches his gender?

Gender is a very important, very complex part of an individual’s personality, whether that gender identification is masculine, feminine, or androgenous.

Also, the fact that you’re not FOR women anymore than you’re FAR men basically makes you the best brand of feminist ;) The kind that aren’t psycho and actually want EQUALITY. Some feminists try to set women on a pedestal, but one’s sex/ gender does not make them worthy of worship. In the purest sense of feminism, I beleive that you are a feminist. Much like I would be a communist if the purest form of socialism could actually survive. People take good concepts and pervert them. Pure feminism is simply the belief that men and women should be equal.

Also, feminist is more about equality of the sexes than equality of the genders. If anything, feminism seeks to shatter the gender roles that have begun the norm. Thus, true feminism also disregards gender.

I’d almost go as far to say that sex is irrelevant, but sex is so often the outline for gender that I don’t quite feel safe saying that.

omg I miss debating with you.

13. The Poetics of Genderbenderism, The Cacophony of Gender « “Lelangiric”, or so they say… - May 17, 2008
14. “lelangiric” » The Poetics of Genderbenderism, The Cacophony of Gender - June 27, 2008
15. Odette - September 22, 2014

Hurrah! In the end I got a blog from where I be able to genuinely obtain useful facts regarding my study and knowledge.

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