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  • “If I Was Born As A Girl…”: Transfeminine desire in Stop!! Hibari-Kun

    Stop!! Hibari-kun treads plenty of expected ground when it comes to teenage romantic comedy because, at its core, the narrative is cut from the same striped cloth as Urusei Yatsura. A boy is faced with a strong-willed girl, but resists her feelings for some convenient narrative reason. Said boy tries his best to not fall for the girl, as an eccentric supporting cast cause mischief and lay down narrative contrivances. Over time, the boy comes to love the girl despite himself, and has to hide how much he actually does like her.
    However, Hibari isn’t an alien in a bikini or a widowed landlady—she’s a trans teenager.

  • My Fave is Problematic: Golden Boy

    Although Kintaro’s respect for women toes (and occasionally crosses) the line into objectification and some of them get more respectful treatment than others, the series overall gives these female characters more agency and regard than other anime of the same genre. 

  • Digging Under the “Strong Female Character” Surface: The exploitation of women in Claymore

    Going into it hoping to experience an underappreciated classic, I was met with a series that routinely undervalues the very women that define its main appeal, to the point of ritualistically torturing them on-page and treating what makes up their person as disposable.

  • Zeno Robinson, My Hero Academia star, talks favorite roles, fighting harassment, and voice actor unionization

    Discussion about wages and working conditions have exploded to the surface of the anime industry over the past few years. Anime Feminist had a chance to talk with Zeno Robinson, acclaimed actor and vocal supporter of the unionization movement, at Otakon 2022.

  • Queer resonance and critiquing heteronormativity in SPY x FAMILY

    Spy x Family is a great example of how a story might have queer resonances and queer themes even if it cannot be classed as queer fiction.

  • Comedic Highs and Objectified Lows: The girls of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K

    The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is a hilarious supernatural comedy in which a cast of teenagers tries to live ordinary lives amidst extraordinary shenanigans. The female characters are three-dimensional and compellingly written, often just as expressive, funny and absurd as the boys. Although this potential is often well-utilized, narratives on the show that involve male attraction often sacrifice the depth of the girls, for the sake of sexualized scenes and lazy punchlines.

  • Strength Unsaid: How Moribito’s main characters normalize gender equality

    The roles and characterization of main characters Balsa, Tanda, and Prince Chagum make gender equality seem natural, and therefore powerful, even if their story takes place in a patriarchal system.

  • Death Notes on Camp: Repurposing a classic

    New layers and new ways to appreciate the series emerge when it’s considered as a campy melodrama rather than the brooding thriller that writer Ohba Tsugumi intended it to be.

  • Moriarty the Patriot’s class war is far from history in the UK

    In the anime, Moriarty’s seamless assimilation into British high society makes an inadvertent mockery of the idea that you can simply be born “better” than others. The reality is anyone could get into Moriarty’s position with the right opportunities, but not everyone would choose to share the resources they gained to support those they left behind. It’s no exaggeration to say that to many, classism still feels so deeply ingrained in the UK it seems like the country would collapse without it.
    This begs the question: how effective is Moriarty’s plan to burn everything to the ground, and what does the UK (both in fiction and reality) need to do in order to destroy class inequality for good?

  • “I Can’t Wait Around Anymore”: Civilian women’s agency in My Hero Academia versus Fullmetal Alchemist

    The emotional strain a woman experiences in a relationship with someone who’s so often in danger yet doesn’t communicate is rarely treated as a real issue. A woman’s opinion apparently doesn’t count if she’s not involved in combat. In fact, it’s almost implied that she doesn’t count.

  • I Like Your Style: How The Prince of Tennis helped me shape my butch fashion sense

    I studied storefront displays too, the Aeropostale mannequin sporting the same dress as my lab partner. What did my peers see in these clothes that I couldn’t? I didn’t know, but I hated it: clothes, fashion, school, my classmates, all of it. I was better than the other girls. Fashion was shallow. I’d stick to tennis and The Prince of Tennis instead.
    Toxic thinking? Absolutely. But in 2006 I didn’t know better.

  • Choosing to “Remain Strong” Against Female Criticism: The vindictive storytelling of Oda Eiichiro

    While One Piece looms large in the present and past, conversations about how Oda treats women have often taken place on a surface level. Oda started his career by including women in prominent and active roles in his stories. But as time went on, he began responding to criticism by taking it out on his female characters and fans alike, undoing the good work he had done in the series’ early days.

  • Gearing Up or Dressing Up? On female fighter equipment

    When it comes to a particular category of battle-related gripes, I think I’m less the annoyingly fastidious critic nobody wants to watch a show with, and am actually harping about something genuinely important: female fighter equipment, which too often sacrifices realism and practicality in favor of sex appeal. In anime, this issue manifests in three major forms: “boob armor,” high heels, and “chainmail bikinis,” all which hurt the dignity of not only the characters who must wear them but also the female viewers who must endure the real-world effects of such normalized sexualization of womens’ bodies.

  • The Dead Mothers of Shounen

    To be a mother in a shounen series, especially of a male protagonist, is often a guaranteed death sentence. It also means a lack of characterization outside of her role as a caretaker. Even otherwise highly acclaimed series are guilty of these tropes, and I can’t help but wonder why they continue to persist.

  • Jujutsu Kaisen star Anne Yatco on the fight for casting equity and what shounen can learn from Nobara

    Anne Yatco is a longtime actor with a varied and fascinating career. She entered the world of acting after spending four years as a full-time forensic scientist, worked with the all-WOC sketch group BAE*GENCY, and co-starred on the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Station 19. She’s recently pivoted primarily to working in voiceover, where she’s best known for playing Nobara in the English Jujutsu Kaisen dub.

  • When the Most Precious Diamond is Not a Piece of Jewelry: MAJOR 2ND and female baseball players’ struggles in a male-dominated sport

    Although Daigo’s teammates and rivals are mainly male in the beginning of the series, as time goes on, the female cast becomes increasingly robust, to the point that Daigo’s middle school team is majoritively formed by girls. This is big for the sport anime genre as a whole, as it represents an important step towards gender equality and the media visibility of women in sports.

  • My Fave is Problematic: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

    From 2007 to 2011 or so, Kyoto Animation’s multimedia juggernaut dominated most aspects of Western anime fandom. Whether getting stormed by a “Hare Hare Yukai” flash mob at a con or debating the “correct” viewing order online, you couldn’t escape the series’ sizable cult of personality. When watched today, it’s still easy to see why the small show left such a big impact. Yet for all of its still-endearing charms, Haruhi is plagued by foundational cracks that consistently threaten to undermine its core strengths.

  • She’s Fighting for Him: Black Clover and battle shounen’s male-centrism

    Women in shounen battle anime and manga have traditionally been sidelined, even as it became more and more common to include women as fellow fighters. When the guys go in to fight the final boss, the girls stay behind to help with some B-plot battle no matter how competent they may seem. In a new era of shounen, we’ve seen some of these tired tropes be turned on their heads. However, even when series like Black Clover make some strides, they still end up repeating tired cliches.

  • My Fave is Problematic: Yu Yu Hakusho

    The lovable characters have kept me hooked on Yu Yu Hakusho for the past 18 years, in addition to the “fight your enemies head on and defeat them through raw power and sheer force of will” storyline that will always be a guilty pleasure of mine. Although these elements make it worth the rewatch even now, my love for this anime hasn’t completely blinded me to its flaws. Yu Yu Hakusho, unfortunately, overtly and subtly fails its female characters time and again.

  • Non-Binary Orochimaru and the homophobic legacy of queer-coded villainy

    From their first appearance disguised as a young woman to their dangly earrings and lilting English dub performance, Orochimaru carries many of the unfortunate hallmarks of a queer-coded antagonist, one whose most terrifying power includes the ability to inhabit the bodies of others in a bid for eternal life. Their portrayal, already mired in queerphobia, is complicated by the franchise’s later decision to portray Orochimaru as a character with a non-binary gender identity, the first canonically LGBTQ+ character in the franchise.