Despite what the title may seem to say, I�m not questioning the ability of girls to kick all sorts of butt. I have, on occasion, risen up and mightily kicked plenty of booty (just humor me, please). What this is referring to is a post on the Funimation blog from a couple of weeks ago regarding the company�s participation on some sort of a thematic video offering on the Playstation Store. I could barely believe it when I clicked on that link, and found a post that pretty much celebrated the fact that Funimation has a habit of picking up trashy, questionable properties that feature women fighting each-other while wearing very little in the way of clothing.
I�m not going to deny the fact that many of the characters from the featured series are good at what they do and exhibit plenty of fighting prowess. But why is it that so many series that feature women of considerable physical power also have to undermine this aspect of those very characters by putting their bodies on display? My theory has always been that perhaps the creators of these series see women�s power and their potential ownership of their own sexuality as a very dire threat to some archaic social order, and so it�s an example of their reassurance to their viewership � �don�t worry guys, they might be able to beat you up, but at the end of the day, their bodies are all ours to do with as we please.� This, of course, doesn�t assume that everyone watching these shows has this sort of thing on their minds, but the fact that I rarely hear much outrage (or even many minor complaints) about it means that it�s not something that many people take into consideration, and that in-and-of-itself makes me sort of sad.
What also bothers me is that Funimation has plenty of series in their library that feature kick-butt women who aren�t reduced to sexual objects (or, at least if they�re considered sexy, they own it, and there�s nothing wrong with that). Their inclusion of Claymore on the list is a definite start; while almost the entire cast of that series is made up of female warriors, it�s never a question of the characters being on display for anyone. Lia de Beaumont of Le Chevalier d�Eon comes back from the dead to avenge her own death. Ogata Rin of Rideback helps to lead a government revolution, for crying out loud. Maka Albarn of Soul Eater punches a Kishin (read: really powerful evil being) right in the face (and lives to tell about it!). Frankly, this could have been an opportunity for Funimation to take the high road and feature some very good series that treat their female characters with some modicum of respect and dignity. They completely missed said opportunity, and decided to spend even more time promoting anime that feature large, unrealistic breasts as major selling points (I mean, the Sekirei ad campaign featured the tagline �boobies for the win!� after all), while also promoting an anime that features the woeful climax of having a now-brain-damaged female character reduced to eating dog food off the floor of a warehouse (and no, that doesn�t link to a video, but rather to the very review that tipped me off to how horrendous Master of Martial Hearts truly is).
Unfortunately, the anime fandom can be really hard to navigate for those of us on the lookout for interesting, well-balanced characters of any gender. There are plenty of glistening bishounen and buxom, bouncing bijin � easy stereotypes that appeal to broad audiences. Try to find someone who�s more than that, someone who can be human while also being superhuman � I�ll wait. It�s definitely a tough proposition and it�s so rare to find someone who really fits the bill. But there are so many better choices than some of the ones that Funimation came up with here, and it frustrates me that they seemed to take the low road, and gleefully so. I�ve mentioned a few here, but feel free to share any female characters (Funimation catalog or not) that you find particularly interesting in the comments.