So for the past four years, Scotland has held this “festival” of sorts called Scotland Loves Anime. Basically there is an anime board that joins up with the film and creative industry governing bodies in Scotland, and they show rare anime movies for a week in theaters. Guess who bought four tickets? This girl.
For those of you not interested in anime, stop reading …………………………………………now.
For the rest of you who’ve made it this far, congratulations. Let’s move forward into a world of endless possibilities.
Tonight I saw Evangelion 1.0. This is a huge anime franchise I’ve heard a lot about but have never seen a second of.
Here I sat, alone in a large theater that was almost completely filled with men. Not sure what to expect from this film besides robots fighting aliens. A ruined Tokyo, a young boy with some serious Freudian issues, and women whose femininity only ran skin deep…
I found myself highly distracted by the gender roles presented in this film, and not just this film, but in a lot of anime. It seems like there are two kinds of characters in anime: over-emotional characters, or ice-cold stoic characters. There is nothing in between, and rarely anyone who switches between the two extremes.
Now of course, this is not true of all anime, and is more prevalent in adult anime, but let me just generalize about stereotypes here.
What I noticed is: the over-emotional female characters tend to be emotional about trivial things, and most of their emotional outbursts stem from excitement or over-stimulation. The over-emotional male characters are suicidally emo (as the main character in Evangelion) and deeply troubled about their past or circumstances beyond their control, and their emotional outbursts come from violence, or in the form of violence.
The stoic female characters tend to use their bodies as tools and their brains as weapons of mass destruction. The stoic male characters tend to be protective, gentle warrior types.
As I watched Tokyo being repeatedly bathed in blood (okay, it wasn’t blood, just some thick red liquid that spewed forth and drowned the city every time an alien died), I looked around me in the theater. Most of what I saw was men with long greasy hair, sitting clumped together in little flocks. Occasionally they were accompanied by a female or two, who usually looked bright, inconceivably happy, with artistic hair. There were very few groups of just women, and even less women on their own, like me. In fact, when I entered the theater alone, I felt more watched than usual.
I won’t get into the representation of female bodies in anime…you can do a Google search and figure that out for yourself.
What I’m wondering is…what in Japanese culture lends itself to the existence and perpetuation of these stereotypes? What in Western culture receives these stereotypes, or dismisses them? And how do they affect generations in the future?
Yet, I still enjoy anime. Now I’m seriously wondering why. Of course, most of what I watch is way more kid-geared than Evangelion. But I feel like I just opened the door to a whole wide world of symbolic culture. And if I go to Evangelion 2.0 and 3.0 showing later this week, I might get into the interesting use of Christian symbols in the story.
My curiosity has been piqued. We’ll see what the rest of my anime movies this week hold in store.