English Composition 121

sexism in anime

I had trouble in choosing a topic for this blog post. I wanted to first focus on my reaction to other feminist and interpret that in a third wave feminist critique, since I will be focusing on that in my paper, but as I was watching Netflix, I started to wonder about the representation of women in tv shows and in the media. I liked Keri’s project and how it focused on women who are surrounded by these men who refer to themselves as nerds and the struggle of that. I wondered where do I see that the most and it hit me: anime.

I love anime and have always loved it. From the first one I saw to the one I was watching two minutes ago. However, when I tell people that they are often surprised. There’s seems to be a misconception on the people who watch it and this misconception is especially strong in the people who actually watch it and refer to themselves as these “nerds”. Many are sexist and anti-social and I was wondering why. In order to do this, I will analyze an anime and see how women are portrayed.

I will be analyzing some episodes of Hunter x Hunter. One thing to note about this show is that there are no main female characters, in fact, there are barely female secondary characters. One character that I did think was a woman, was actually a guy (reminding me of greek plays were every single role was played by a male). The two women who I do remember in the show are the aunt, who acts as the main characters mother and the grandmother, other than that I can’t remember a single one, unless I start to think about it very hard. In the show, when women do show up, they play two roles: the caretaker or a sexualized object.

In the first season of the show, the main goal of the characters is to become Hunters and to do so they have to take a rigorous exam. They are challenged by current hunters throughout the exam. Not only are there barely any female contestants, but there is only one woman who is an examiner. She is overly sexualized and at one point the commander looks at her boobs and is seen not paying attention to what she is actually saying. This scene is two seconds long, which makes me think why was it necessary to spend money to animate a whole scene that has no plot purpose. The character is already sexualized, it made no sense for her to be subjected to that treatment. Since animation is expensive and each episode is only around 30 minutes long, many scenes do not make it. So I am surprised that they spent time and money on a boob shot scene, when any other scene could have made it in.

Other than that, in the end all the people who pass the exam are men. Although, there were a few female contestants, they all were eliminated. One character was actually used as a prop in order for the main character to succeed. This is almost hinting that women are only seen as a way to help men, but they can not be successful. This anime portrays them as just a stepping ladder, that men use in order to move on to better, while they are stuck in the same or even worse situations.

There is a season, in which three (a lot) women are part of a powerful gang, however, they barely get lines. One even is used against the gang and ends up dying in order to serve the gang. They barely get any lines and are always in the background, even when they have better powers than most of the characters.

Using this show as an example of an anime, you can clearly see that women are portrayed in a very sexist way. The funny thing is, that if it did have more female characters, it would probably be more sexist. Many animes have women, but they are  sexualized and have no character development other than helping the men. In a weird way, maybe it is good that there are no more women in the show, because that would be more women to objectify.

As a women, I watch this and I can see through it and I can point out the sexism, but many of the “regular” audience is men who do not know. They think that this is right and then start to treat women like this in real life. I am not saying to stop watching anything, but please look at it more clearly and realize its bias.

One thought on “sexism in anime

  1. Dhipinder Walia

    Thanks for the share Xhesika. In fact, your point about more women in anime leading to more sexism is accurate– a bunch of the research I’ve come across deals with hyper sexualization of females in anime and manga. Take a look at this article if you’re interested: https://the-artifice.com/manga-anime-feminism-gender-studies/. I wonder how anime’s limited depiction of women in the shows you reference here are bound up in the history of the genre.

    Though this isn’t completely related to your project, the framework is, so I imagine it’ll be useful. You might also use questions of representation in your project in the same way you do here.


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