This is part of a series of articles about anime and gender across the blogosphere. Visit here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here (for now) for what others think!
This essay is also available as a Microsoft Word 2003/4 file.
Introduction, by way of a hilarious example
When Hayate made the remark in the title to his would-be girlfriend Nishizawa, he was actually lying: he said it as a way to avoid having to deal with her affections and all the complications that would ensue. But did he know the way he said it would be taken as such a huge rejection–of her as a woman and as a real partner? Sure, she might come to “hate” him, as the narrator says, and that was his intent, but going nuclear? Was he too naive to figure out that the average person cannot help but be deeply, deeply hurt to have been passed over in favor of something fundamentally unreal?
Perhaps he had been spending too much time with hikkikomori otaku Nagi, who clearly prefers the 2D world, period, and had begun to lose perspective. Or, as the narrator says comedy anime guys just never get dumped with dignity.
Hayate was lying, but the barely covered profiles of the SOS-Dan tell another story–this scene is funny because, for the otaku who get the full weight of the reference, it might actually be true on another level. Is this a problem? Is this why there’s always a certain kind of fan service (the sexual kind, I mean), aimed at the young otaku male, no matter how couched in irony and self-reference it’s been in recent years? Why exactly do we find animated 2D girls, in other words, objects of actual genuine lust?
This is my attempt to organize some thoughts on the matter.
Madarame Teaches You Aesthetic Theory
Why are 2D, drawn people sexually desirable at all? There’s a justly famous portion of Genshiken where Madarame, confronted by the “normal” woman Saki with a picture of an underage anime girl, proceeds to explain just what it is certain (mostly male) human beings find sexually enticing about anime and manga.
Madarame says it right–the key is not the drawing itself. That is, on one level, merely here or there (he uses simple line drawings of a smile and a female body to illustrate). It is really just a portal for the imagination to start its flight into the experience that it represents–whether it cave drawings of animals replicating the experience of hunting and nature, or, in this case, animated characters in various states of undress replicating the experience of titillation, foreplay, and intercourse. The imagination is the root, not the drawing, though the drawing itself is a product of imagination. That’s why burqas in some countries are, ostensibly, designed to simultaneously protect and control female sexuality as well as male desire–and why that fails to stop such things as rape and sexual assault entirely. You don’t strictly speaking need pornography or exposed flesh to feel desire so long as you have imagination.
In short, animated sexuality is a projection, a screen on which the desires of the audience can be shown simultaneously on one’s computer and one’s inner mind theater. This is true, of course, of all artistic work, particularly storytelling, and I really don’t think it’s an accident that even hentai sometimes strives to have a “plot,” no matter how contrived. Desire is so much more fulfilling in the context of a story. I don’t think anything I just said is terribly controversial, but Madarame, in the heat of the argument, takes it one step further:
Madarame, of course, is wrong: they’re not wrong, just different. Everyone’s turn-on will vary. But the jacking off part is a lead in to my next section–the objects of anime lust or at least desire.
Servicing the Fan: A Poll Analysis of Moe
The sexualized images, especially of females, is not something which has escaped mainstream attention. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial cited it as a key reason why Japan should not use manga and anime as cultural ambassadors. Friends have told me how strange and even discomfiting it is to see naked or near-naked women portrayed so casually even in relatively non-sexually charged anime like Ghost in the Shell. My guess is that some of these people would have a heart attack if they saw the fruits of the “moe” trend lately, or any random harem comedy. Point to as many counterexamples as you like–Studio Ghibli films, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, whatever–but the truth is that fan service is here to stay, and, beginning with Evangelion’s infamous episode previews, celebrated. What exactly serves as turn-ons?
Let’s use the recently concluded “fanboy fetish” poll on this very website as a starting point. What was the clear winner in all the non-miscellaneous choices? Yuri, of course, with 22% of the total vote, and that proportion has changed little over time. And it’s no surprise–because yuri is porn, the most explicit out of all the choices in the poll, offering the most nudity and the most sexual acts. This wouldn’t surprise, I suspect, even people like Dave Chappelle (“I like lesbians,” he admitted on one episode–and not because he’s gay-friendly). Some of the other unsurprising choices are less explicit but also clearly sexual–panties, chest size–but what perhaps is somewhat revealing is that they all lost to a three-way tie between three things: cat-ear girls, glasses girls, and, yes, little sisters. It doesn’t take much explanation to see why big-breasted, thigh-exposing women (sometimes with guns) are appealing, live-action or animated. We see it in Western media all the time. But all that other stuff? What gives?
First, what do they all have in common? They are all traits of the moe trend. Different moe girls have cat ears, glasses, and have a habit of either being actual younger sisters or call their older male peers “onii-chan” anyway. The last is a key: much of the moe-ness of a character actually depends on the girl NOT being supposedly sexually alluring, at least not physically, where it’s not supposed to be an issue. Or at least it reminds one of a time when it wasn’t an issue: why else are “childhood friend” characters so popular in harem romances, other than it representing a default girl who already likes you and thus you don’t have to work for? Sex is not the appeal on the surface, in fact, at first glance, it’s just the opposite. What do cat ears and glasses and sisters have that are inherently sexual?
So it seems, at least in more mainstream non-hentai examples. And so it probably remains for many, if not the majority, of its fans. But all you have to do is look at the reviews of hentai games at Something Awful to realize that, actually, a subsection of the otaku population does in fact sexualize–sometimes violently–these cute lil’ portraits of childhood innocence and sweetness. I’m fairly convinced this only appeals to a very small minority of fans, as it’s really indistinguishable in many ways from pedophilia, if it can even be called that since it has very little to do with the love implied by the word philo. But let’s not pretend that sexualizing underage characters or even “little sisters” is not an undercurrent even in some more mainstream moe anime, from Moetan where the duck drools over Ink-chan’s petite body to Chokotto Sister, which itself was a takeoff from Chobits. And let’s not forget the original moneymaking scheme Gainax developed, the computer game Princess Maker. These shows are not about having a romantic relationship so much as a brotherly or even fatherly one, the fantasy of actually raising a cute little girl, but with the promise of additional nudity here and there. I don’t know what reality they’re from if they think parenting or being a sibling of a kid, even a cute one, is ever sexually appealing in any long term stretch. They say familiarity breeds contempt for a reason, and as usual, Genshiken tells the truth: such fantasies could only have been concocted by someone who didn’t have a younger sister. (I’d love to take a poll to see how many who are seriously turned on by imouto actually have them.)
Actually, I don’t think it’s incest, or the lack of sexual markers, that’s really appealing about these kinds of chracteristics. It’s the dependence and helplessness that little sisters and little-sister-aged characters represent in the imagination. Helplessness, I suspect, is the key to moe: clumsiness, stumbling over one’s words, smallness, a propensity for tears. It is what is appealing about it. It engages the male instinct to protect and defend and to receive, in return, unconditional love and gratitude which families are supposed to have. These are legitimate and even fundamental desires for most anyone of either gender, and that they spill over into actual sexual turn ons for underage characters is, well, a perversion–in the original sense of the word, a taking of something good and true and twisting its ends for something it was not made for and which, exercised in real life, causes no end of pain and harm. And, again, it is the imagination at work, sometimes with a hentai push but even without it–like in purely non-sexual moe shows like Lucky Star and Manabi Straight–whatever is unclean, as Jesus once said, comes from the inside, not the outside. The show is never primarily to blame, especially when the show’s content (as in the two examples above) hardly supports the kind of fetishizing projected on it.
Helplessness–is that what some fans want from their girls and women? This leads me to the final part, which is about what this all might mean for gender expectations in anime.
Gender Roles in Animated Souls
Let’s be honest: give your local gender studies or cultural studies feminist professor a gander at a lot of anime of the wrong kind, and he or she’ll probably have a heart attack at how utterly unashamed the sexism a lot of this sort of stuff implies. Female helplessness is perhaps even more offensive to them than ordinary sexual porn or semi-porn, because it is the stereotype which justified so much discrimination of women in the past. Either helplessness or cheerful, unthinking subservience–I think of the beginning of Shuffle! where Kaede plays a housewife even a 1950s man would be surprised at (wry complaints about the “lazy husband” have always been an acceptable outlet even in patriarchal societies, but Kaede, at least at first, has none of that), and Nerine spends an entire episode trying to learn to cook an “omelette of happiness.”* I have no doubt that there are some women who actually do want something like this–the desire to please one’s love is a universal human desire, and I do believe that there can be a joy in devoting one’s life to serving others–but I have also no doubt that most women today would not want to be judged and treated by the standard of those who do and nothing else. Or live in a society governed on that assumption, or with a man who desires it when she does not.
One curious semi-exception to that is the whole tsundere phenomenon, but even that collapses into eventual submission. Yes, I admit, this is my fetish. Watching Louise get mad at Saito with a whip in Zero no Tsukaima is funny. I notice that tsunderes of that type very rarely show up, or at least express themselves the same way, in shoujo and josei fiction. I wonder how much of it is a somewhat guilty reaction to the above; it’s a way of being slightly “feminist,” however thin, in giving the girl at least some measure of initiative and control over the relationship–at least before the dere side shows up and she’s as sweet and pliant as any. (This is not a new plot–Taming of the Shrew anyone? It’s about turning, at worst, a one-dimensional character into a two-dimensional one.)
Or maybe it’s just more sublimated S&M desire. 🙂 As Zero no Tsukaima has pretty much admitted, with relish. Though one of the most interesting moments in the recent episodes was when Saito, at last, responds with Louise’s usual accusations of dallying with a counter-accusation of her own fooling around–to which she blushes and equivocates in the same way he did a moment ago. They both yell at each other the same. The score, at last, is even.
Admittedly, if that’s the closest some anime gets the sexual equality, it’s pretty sad. Luckily, there’s always Ghibli films. 🙂
I would say that the key to respecting anyone regardless of gender, whether in real life or even in fiction, is to get to know the person as a person–fears, desires, quirks, etc. Most of the shows that people would probably find objectionable the most are so because the female characters are little more than vessels for male desires for service, gratitude, and sex. The thing with fiction, unlike real life, is that the writers and creators have some control over how they tell a story and characterize. Simply telling stories with well-developed (not necessarily THAT kind of developed!) female characters who actually resemble real human beings would go a very, very long way. Idealization is not necessarily a bad thing, within reason; I like Makoto Shinkai’s Byousoku 5 cm, which is about the contrast between an idealized childhood romance and the regret-filled present. Idealization is part of real life, too. The point where it crosses over is, for lack of a better word, when the ideal becomes just an object. Objectification, in other words.
Borrowing an insight from Flannery O’Connor, I would like to provocatively suggest that sentimentality–ie, sentimentalized shows of young girls who are always good to their “onii-chans,” harem shows where the girls are just eager to serve and/or bed the hapless guy, and other similar sorts–can function to the mind in the way regular porn functions to the libido. Like porn, it seems harmless at first, and once or even twice probably doesn’t too much lasting damage. Most can probably keep it cordoned off to a certain section of their lives, clearly distinguishing reality from fantasy. But it’s about a whole, well, anime diet of it. A setting of a pattern of what one enjoys and expects, and the resulting disappointment at the contrast between that and real life–or being upset when the formula is broken clumsily.
I remember when I was thinking I was dating someone and the relationship just not “clicking” that it hit me that I had been watching too much anime and TV–I had thought the relationship would go a lot faster and more smoothly than this, not these long, boring stretches of relative uneventfulness. Why wasn’t it like that, and why did I think it might have been that way? I think we all know the answer, and it’s not just inexperience; it is about the forming of expectations. Yes, it is true, as JRR Tolkien once said, that the people who are most concerned about escapism are jailers, but it is also true that it all depends on what one is escaping from–from real people and family? From real women and girls? Especially when it is the fantasy which begins to dictate, perhaps subconsciously, what one expects from them? I am not talking about enjoying a show because it’s simply “funny and cute and innocent.” It’s possible to enjoy even the most moeriffic show that way. The problem has always less been with the shows themselves, as I stated earlier on, it’s the imagination that feeds on them. It’s their use.
A Judeo-Christian sexual ethical moment here: I think it’s funny what School Days, for all its unbelievable situations and increasingly lurid happenings reveals. It reveals that when pure lust rears its head–in the person of Makoto–fans instinctively hate it. We call for Makoto’s blood. I’ve seen some who defend him mostly by saying, that’s the way high school males are–which may be true but is hardly justification. Most sense that there is something deeply out of order in the way Makoto feels little hesitation in bedding multiple girls when the two main girls, at least, are expecting devotion and faithfulness from him, when he has even said that he loves them. I somewhat regret the hopeful statements I made earlier about the show’s possible complexity and depth, but I still find it as oddly moralistic as I did then.
We are repulsed by naked lust. We know it’s wrong, not just because someone told us it was, but because we can just feel it in our bones, that adultery in particular is odious. Makoto promised love. And we know that sex is supposed to be accompanied by something else, at the end of the day; the teasing, the fan-service, the moe works precisely because they only serve up hints, the promise. It is the promise itself that allures, because as creatures made for hope, what the imagination projects onto even the tawdriest of boob and panty shots is, in the imagined world where such things actually happen, the hope that she also says the accompanying words (spoken or not, temporary or permanent): “I love you.” Maybe just with the body, but “love” is enough. The temperature, and perhaps something else if you’re male, and the heart, rises. They are not as disconnected as we suppose.
We have bodies and we have hearts, and neither lives without the other.
Note/disclaimer: you notice I’ve mostly been talking about fan service and sexualized images in anime that appeal primarily to heterosexual men. That’s, of course, because I’m one myself and I don’t have nearly the same kind of experience or authority to speak otherwise, to say the least. There’s plenty of fetishes available for the heterosexual female–everyone knows about yaoi, uke, seme, and the like, or just watch your favorite episode of Ouran to see it both satirized and celebrated–but I can’t claim any detailed knowledge of them. So please excuse me, fangirls: I do not mean to exclude you, I just mean to keep my mouth relatively shut on matters I know little about. 🙂 The same goes with anime and manga aimed at homosexuals of both genders. *Yes: I am aware that the show becomes quite different later, serious even, but I haven’t seen the later parts of Shuffle yet. Please don’t spoil it in the comments!
21 thoughts on ““I’m Only Interested In 2D Girls!”: On Lust, Animated Desire, and Gender Expectations”
Probably the best of the gender-related blog posts I’ve read so far. You’ve hit quite a few nails on the head here. Kudos.
Excellent post. I can’t relate with all of it because I’m female, of course, but you gave some great insight into male perspective on fanservice. I don’t know much about yaoi since I don’t read it, but on the girls’ side there are a lot of the same issues of gender roles, particularly in some smuttier shoujo manga which feature submissive/inexperienced girls and sexually aggressive bad boys. I’ve read a few articles on how dangerous these can be when increasingly younger girls take in too much of the same message, and your post evens out that spectrum of opinions a bit. Thanks ^_^
You nailed the definition of moe exactly; it is all about the feeling of helplessness guys feel from girls and the wish to comfort them. Mix this in with the moe business, which is designed to sell these images of helpless girls to lonely otaku, and it’s a dangerous mix. We can at least definately say anime is in no way gender equal, and maybe in the end that’s just a reflection of Japan as a whole.
@mirrinus: thank you. It took a long time to write!
@Senna: my original intent actually was to discuss both genders, but my lack of experience and knowledge made me change my mind. I do know though that yaoi fans often very unrealistic ideas of what real homosexuals are like, to the point where actual gay couples at cons will get hounded by fangirls itching for some making out. That’s worth its own discussion thread but unfortunately I can’t necessarily contribute to that. 🙂
@Demian: it may or may not be a reflection of the whole. I’d say it’s a reflection of this particular subculture. Real, dangerous pedophilia and fetishization of underage girls I don’t think is tolerated any more in Japan than elsewhere, though, I do know that even some Japanese women in their 20s often feel the need to be excessively “kawaii” and maintain their innocent girlishness way beyond their years. That may be one byproduct of all this stuff, or at least a reflection of it. (We Americans tend to want to grow up too fast as teens on the other hand, with fashion even for pre-teen girls looking more and more like streetwalkers.)
I like how you tackle moe here, since the term is hard to define, since it means different things to different people, which is why you can get annoyed when someone like Anime News Network’s Answerman sees it one way and you can also get annoyed at how Ken Akamatsu sees it.
“What do cat ears and glasses and sisters have that are inherently sexual?”
Which is why fetishes can be fun times, since anyone can find something sexual, though others wouldn’t understand why. Which relates to the idea of what’s imagined adding to lust.
Great post. 😛
Great post, as expected. :-p You quite inspired me, actually.
It’s funny how so much of sex determines someone’s preferences in something. Thinking about things like what kind of mindset is behind the sexually found in anime and produced in it is startlingly relevant to personality as a whole. The reason stuff like fanservice and moe works is because sex and sexual ideals are so tied into ideas of acceptance and being wanted and loved. You really captured the essence of that.
Good work, Mike…a truly epic post that goes really in-depth, sometimes reaching bravely into pretty shady territory! I agree with pretty much everything you said, but especially how Japan should be aware of foreign perceptions of them through their popular media. The country strikes me as quite aware of the importance of one’s image overseas but even so I don’t think it should be under-estimated…there are a lot of knee-jerk type reactions from newspapers and television here in the UK, which goes a long way to explaining why it’s taken so long for anime and manga to be accepted. Things are changing but the stereotypes you mentioned are still being taken seriously, setting the whole medium in a pretty negative light.
Jeez, my follow-up post to all this is going to be a challenge and a half…
Job well done–not at all hesitate to say I like your gender essay the best out of the rush of articles this past 24 hours. I am totally on board about the evils of objectifying and I think that is what killed mainstream “otaku” anime in the late 90s and up to probably the past couple years. (Worse, it’s still plaguing “moe” anime today–we have great parodies like Genshiken and NHK only because these things are major, ongoing problems.) When we deconstruct and reconstruct characters and plot ideas in such simple and, dare I say, inhumane way, it just isn’t entertaining — it’s like trying to fap to the letters w, x, and y.
You sort of beat around the bush in the middle and jumped home in the last section, so I’ll just comment about one thing:
Quote: “Some of the other unsurprising choices are less explicit but also clearly sexualâ€“panties, chest sizeâ€“but what perhaps is somewhat revealing is that they all lost to a three-way tie between three things: cat-ear girls, glasses girls, and, yes, little sisters. It doesnâ€™t take much explanation to see why big-breasted, thigh-exposing women (sometimes with guns) are appealing, live-action or animated. We see it in Western media all the time. But all that other stuff? What gives?”
I think the key element here is missing. It’s really the simple cultural gap. Why does Japan want to use anime and manga as ambassador? Because those works, generally speaking, are as Japanese as they come. In a real, 21st century everyday life kind of way. Which is why Japan, as observed by many, is a culture fascinated with “cute.” In the West generally eroticism and cuteness are not mixed, but in Japan this is just not the case.
Many of the other comments hit some good points. The following was quoted by omo, but I have a different take.
>> â€œSome of the other unsurprising choices are less explicit but also clearly sexualâ€“panties, chest sizeâ€“but what perhaps is somewhat revealing is that they all lost to a three-way tie between three things: cat-ear girls, glasses girls, and, yes, little sisters. It doesnâ€™t take much explanation to see why big-breasted, thigh-exposing women (sometimes with guns) are appealing, live-action or animated. We see it in Western media all the time. But all that other stuff? What gives?â€
I had a conversation with a friend about Asuka fans. He basically narrowed it down to two characteristics, breasts and assertiveness. People doesnâ€™t settle for â€œgood enoughâ€ when it comes to ideals or fantasies. Your comments on Zero no Tsukaima exemplify this. Hypothetically, if Louiseâ€™s love interest was not Saito, I think the general opinion of her would change a bit. To use a sexist term, she would just be a violent whiny bitch. But, instead we get our otaku fetish of a girl that is totally in love with Saito but also beats him down occasionally, which in itself is another fetish.
I think simply counting the fetishisms inherent in the Zero character would show why she is appealing. She basically covers a lot of area.
I totally agree with your comments about imagination. For that matter, itâ€™s been one of my blogs core themes, which is that the viewers are part of the experience of anime or any other art. The emotions and experiences of the viewer play a large part in interpretation.
>> “And, again, it is the imagination at work, sometimes with a hentai push but even without itâ€“like in purely non-sexual moe shows like Lucky Star and Manabi Straightâ€“whatever is unclean, as Jesus once said, comes from the inside, not the outside”
That was an interesting Jesus reference. It has been used for kosher laws and also the nature of sin. Totally coincidentally, I wrote this a while back about lolis as a food source: A Modest Proposal â€“ To aid in the reduction of the production of lolis and the consumption by the otaku culture
Wow quite an impressive post… As much the size as the contents…
First, I completely agree with just the imagination thing. I mean why else are there so many fanfictions written? Also it is a lot more exciting to build your own fantasies, because if everything that was suggested and not actually enacted, I’m sure most people would be disappointed because it was not what they wanted or what they imagined…
Anyways I’d just like to give in my imput:
(For starters I’d like to remind anyone reading this that I am a girl who likes girls generally more than guys especially in anime. And I haven’t reached yet the age of majority in my province (which would be 18), what I might say though might be inacceptable to some coming from such a position but I’d ask you not to judge or to keep it to yourself)
Surprisingly, the moe-type girls as described here the ‘helpless types’ are even I have to admit, cute. However they aren’t the ones to spark my imagination… Because as you said imagination is the keyword… No, I think (but this is probably because I’m a female myself) that the characters that I usually like the most and that usually get my mind racing are the ‘oneesama’ or ‘sempai’ girls… I’ll cite three that are defo my top faves: Fujino Shizuru, Hanazono Shizuma and Himemiya Chikane. Ultimately it would be interesting to analyze the personalities of each ones of these characters that are similar in many ways but to sum it up; They are all generally older than their interest (or in the case of Chikane strike us a more mature), they all have a flock of fans that would do them any day on their heels (often girls but Chikane-sama is very popular with the boys as well) yet are only interested in the one thing that they cannot have the way they want (that’s a classic storyline in good real heartfelt Yuri (SP put slightly aside..)), which I wonder is simply because of the odds or because of human nature that makes us want what we cannot have or a mix of the both. It probably depends from one girl, one show even to another but I digress. Furthermore if we look at Chikane and Shizuru, they KNOW (or think rather) that their feelings are wrong and unacceptable and can ‘never be returned’ which gives a humane, realisitc aspect of the thing. Shizuma on the other hand, having literally been a ‘queen’ all her life and possessing her own personal harem (i.e. St-Miator) and having lost the only thing she ever wanted, is stumped when Nagisa gives her a hassle.
Why do I prefer these characters over their partners (Himeko and Nagisa being the helpless innocent corruptable girls XD)? Probably because as a female, I can RELATE to them and I look up to them. My few Yuri fangirl friends usually like theses types of characters better as well… I don’t know their reasons but I can only speculate: we probably fancy a partner like them, as we are females our protective instinc is directed to our offspring first, then towards ourselves, not our partners (and I’m talking about more feminine (psychologically) girls with a more maternal instinc). Therefore, dominant, protective deteremined types can only make us dream. Additionally in my case it’s a mix of a few things. Because I tend to be a more dominant personality in a relationship and I’ve gone through so much pain and devotion for an other girl (and that I’m a hopless romantic XD), not only do I think they would make fine partners but they represent things I want, things I am or were, things I’ve been through and more importantly things I want to BE. Chikane is very knightly and noble in her way of just wanting to protect Himeko’s happiness, sacrifing her own, even helping her with Ogami. Yet at the same time it kills her to see it, it eates her from the inside, which is one of the reasons why she snaps (other than being highly intelligent and schemeing against the orochi) and becomes the 8th neck of the orochi. Too add icing on the cake, Chikane is portrayed as a ‘cool beauty’, long black hair, deep cold blue eyes, pale white skin and an air of distance which is enough to make any fangirl go crazy. Shizuru in a similar way is calm collected but very sharp, playfull and teasing. She became Kaichou just for Natsuki’s happiness and benefit and she’s alwasy protected her from the shadows. However wether she lacks the same amount of self-control as Chikane, or wether her libido is just higher and too hard for her to contain, she also kisses an unsuspecting Natsuki in her sleep (Chikane was performing CPR and past live meory flashback, she has an excuse :P) and we see superfluous images throughout the last episodes of her silhouette derobing and lying next to or on to a sleeping Natsuki. Some speculate it is only in Natsuki’s mind others think it really happened but if so ‘what’ happened. The she snapps. Mai HiME in general portrays an exorbiting amount of angst, which is perfectly realistic in teenager terms (in my story anyways) but Shizuru shows potrays what happens when you keep that angst, those feelings etc. to yourself, bottled up inside. Your psyche eventually becomes very fragile and the smallest thing can throw you int to a temporary, if not permanent, state of insanity, believe me I almost pissed my pants when I saw Shizuru’s psycho face as I have experiences various psychosis and fits of insanity. She rampages and kills, wiping of the fac eof the earth anything that would “bother Natsuki”, she loses her, finds her and yet again kills an innocent. She is so lost in her pain, blinded by her own hate at the cruelty of unrequited love, that she thinks Natsuki’s ‘omoi’ which gives power to Duran, is powerful hatered. Also one of the cutting differences between Chikane and Shizuru, is Shizuru’s unrelenting zeal to ‘possess’, to ‘own’ Natsuki wheras Chikane was willing to let Himeko fly away if that was her wish (truely noble and remarkable). But Shizuru once again is a beauty not in a ‘fluffy’ or ‘princessy’ kind of way but more like a Queen or noble kind of way. Plus her Kyoto-ben and her voice are so damn sexy it should be illegal (I have yet to hear an other voice like Shindou Naomi performing as Shizuru) and her natural grace and skill with her naginata really make her a human, realistic role model for me. Shizuma is an other bucket of oats, as she really is a treat, a fantasy. She’s omgawd so hawt I would rawr her on the spot if she were real. However she is so blown out of porpotions (physically AND mentally) that I cannot portray her as a real human being since. However things I admire form her: her guts to walk up to any girl stare at her and kiss her LOL, her ultimate PiMPEttE-ness and her general sophistication. Otherwise she is not very respectable or believable in her playgirl-ness. Where I can relate to the story and personality and look up to Shizuru and Chikane, Shizuma lives ina world were every girl is a potential lesbian which greatly eases her task of conquering the object of her desire. Haruka-SailorUranus is a good example of a woman who I admire and who I’d like to resemble in many ways (not all though), but who doesn’t sexually encite my mind. However Haruka-Michiru as a couple represnt to me the superior equilibrium, the superior feelings etc. which is why I have to crown them HIM Empress Haruka and HIM Empiress Michiru of Yuri (Her Imperial Majesty of Yuri) and Shizuru-Natskui (whose depth of relation takes time to realize but after getting to know them through various mediums you understand how deep it is) HIH Crown Princess Shizuru and HIH Crown Princess Natsuki (Her Imperial Highness). I’d like to give special admiration or ‘kakkoii’ mentions to : Noir (Mireille, Kirkia, ChloÃ©), Nadie-Ellis (Ellis which reminds the classic loli type and is clueless but howeve ris not helpless or whiny) and Hatsuki who went through a series of trials and dimensions and worlds jsut to find the one girl she loved and doesn’t even have a happy ending.
Okay so I covered my personal tastes and WHY these characters spark up my imagination and sometimes my sex-drive (lol). Now before moving on to the second part of my input it would be interesting to note how many girls (bi or lesbian or diehard yuri fans) prefer the oneesama, distant, ‘older’ types that are cool and handle almost every situation without messing up their hair, versus how many guys (straight or bi) would like them. I’d be guessing ALOT of girls would say ‘yes’ to them wheras the boys probably would go for their partners, usually the helpless, clumsy, innocent, ‘oneesama, why (are you doing this(to me))?’ type that everyone adores (Nagisa) or on the contrary everyone hates (Himeko) (which would give an additional element of helplessness) but that’s a theory, from my own observations that come from lesbian or bisexual girl’s points of view.
Okay secondly, I know this issue wasn’t very explored or stressed in this post but I have something that’s important (to me) I need to say. Okay Fanservice, ecchi and Hentai. Personally the whole panty-shot and boob-shot or accidental 69 (High School Girls lol) thing usually doesn’t make the cut for me. Unless it’s turned in to something humorous. Here’s some bad examples: In the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (which regardless is still one of my fav shows) the way they exploit Mikuru’s chest when for example she’s dressed as a maid, and have Haruhi undoing the top to have ‘sexier’ shots really just strikes me as purely perverted and doesn’t make it for me. Second one: shots of Chikane walking around in her room wearing a corest and garters reall made me go T_T;, I don’t know a single sixteen year old that wears garters, or camisoles or petitcoats etc. I know one girl who owns a corset but it is for the good of her sizable chest *cough cough*. Or having the maid put the measuring ribbon around himeko’s chest and going pu-ll! was not very tasteful. Good examples now: Having older Mikuru wearing a shirt that reveals an impressive cleavleage line BUT getting Kyon to go “Super size me!” made it ridiculous and funny. Lingerie now… Natsuki collecting lingerie and having the ‘monster of the day’ be a lingerie burgular. It 1-turned Natsuki in to an element of laughter and 2-Ridicules in a way lingerie. I think overall in Mai HiME there is lot of fanservice that is used to embarass and ridicule the charachters which shows it is not taken seriously. Personally I wouldn’t even consider this (however some do) ‘fanservice’ but what really makes me happy on the inside are girl x girl kisses. Because really I think it’s easier to approach it in amny ways. Sure it can be perverted, but to me a kiss is the most intimate act between to people and there is something actually romantic and sentimental about it.
Okay now I’m basically trampling the line of Ecchiness which is what I would consider midway between fanservice and hentai as I usually have little regard for it.
Hentai now. When it comes to the animated variety, I’ve tried watching episodes of various ones but it basically is just wrong in every sense of the term. It makes me shudder and want to puke though I will give it bonus points over regular porn for usually having good VA’s and is somewhat more believable (human emotions-lust kind of way).
Now the manga variety ; I haven’t read any manga that was meant to be hentai as an original story. I have however, read Doujinshi and my favorite (from the few I’ve seen and read) are the Doropanda TOURS Shizuru-Natsuki ones. Because not only is there lots of time and dedication given in to the art; there is also humour, personality and real feelings in the characters. It’s not just ‘cheap pr0n’, in fact I’d say it’s more ‘erotica’ than porn. Also the fact that manga is something which is read (believe it or note guys, but women are usually more aroused by an erotic well written text than literal pictures or motion pictures) and that the pictures don’t move, it gives me time to savour every word and every image and let my imagination run wild, it gives me time to pause and fantasize, daydream, savvy? Also, it’s easier I think for a doujinishi author to put in real genuine feelings of love in to his favorite characters which to me is a definate turn-on. Because it puts in a ellement of romance and an other something which I cannot express through words.
And lastly fanart. Like doujinishi manga, it is easier to put feelings in to his art. I own perhaps one or two pictures of ShizNat that I would consider Hentai (because fo their overly explicit material) and though initialy shocked, after a second look, I found that there was still an expression of love exchanged between the two. I’d rather quietly stare at either of these pics or read a TOURS doujinshi which have emotion, than watch a porn or hentai flick with bad moaning and even faker emotions. What drives me nuts especially from the few that I have seen (usually against my will) is the ‘fake lesbians’. You know that lusty perverted look the have? What they miss is a backdrop of real love which I’m afraid most porn actresses aren’t capable of enacting. The action then becomes souless, perverted, almost evil.
Whew that turned out way longer than I expected but I thought it would be interesting to give an insight in to my mind as a more girl-oriented, female ‘otaku’ (really I don’t like that term that’s what Oniichama would call me as a kid but not in the anime way just in ‘you’re a freak’ way. ;_; (both my older borthers speak japanese becuase of their grandparents, I didn’t learn much besides family terms)) since I think the only thing this post is missing to be quite complete is the points of view of actual girls and perhaps homosexual males? Saa….
This was a really great piece. I’ve read a lot of bloggers’ attempts to dig into this same subject, but usually in a radically defensive way, which I find a little off-putting. I liked how you managed to incorporate your faith into this without leaning on it in a way that would make it inaccessible to nonbelievers. These are issues that fans of every faith and non-faith must deal with, and when they have the potential to affect our personal relationships (present and future), they’re certainly worth taking seriously. Thanks for writing this.
You’re welcome, Joe! Thanks for your kind comments. I try my best, I wish I wrote more articles like this now. 🙂
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