We’ve talked a lot about masculinity since our first class. My understanding of this word is the characteristices a male should have, ideally. There are variety of characteristices go in to the word masculinity depend on different culture backgrounds, different genders and different personal thinkings. The masculinity showed in manga is also ideal and is quite different from the societal definition.
In the article SLIGHTLY OUT OF CHARACTER: SHŌNEN EPICS, DOUJINSHI AND JAPANESE CONCEPTS OF MASCULINITY, the author states that the socially ideal role of masculinity is best showed as salaryman, which relates to the ability to provide financial support for the family and spends a lot of time on working, while in manga, male characters are more about saving the world or becoming “one piece”, which relates to loyalty, recklessness, and having strong physical strength. In my opinion, there are a lot of people in Japan do not agree with the salaryman social norm, so that they try to change others thoughts on masculinity by making such mangas that depict their ideal masculinity. Although salaryman is still accepted by some people in the society, I believe there are people who are affected by waching manga, especially shōnen manga.
Shōnen manga is very popular and prevalant worldwide. Although it is made for young men, there are a lot of females who also enjoy watching Shōnen manga, include me. Some stories really appeals to me, and I also like the masculinity in Shōnen manga. As Harrell states in the article, masculinity showed in Shōnen manga are associated with loyalty, recklessness and physical strength. I can see these charateristics in Attack on Titan. Attack on Titan is one of my favorite animes, even though I did not read the manga, I believe it does reveals the ideas in manga well. Allen is the main character, he is recklessness, he sometimes making decisions quickly without thinking in depth. He is also loyalty, he wants to join Survey Corps and fight off the kyojins. He is also strong, he has energy to change to kyojin. More than these characteristics, I also see one feature that most Shōnen mangas have when they depicting masculinity, it is the process of growth. In Shōnen manga, the authors show how the main character grows instead of just showing all of the positive features one has, which is totally from characters in Marvel. In Marvel, they are super heros at the beginning, they beat all the enemies one by one. And the movie I watched are all about fight off the bad guys. However, in Shōnen manga, I see more about growth. In Attack on Titan, Allen is weak at first, he does not have strong physical strength either, he is reckless and many time he is saved by others. Then, he grows up, he becomes stronger and stronger, and can also take responsibilities, he can also protect his friends. In many Shōnen mangas, the female characters are stronger than the main ones. My opinion on this is that the authors want to suggest that both men and women have masculinity and femininity, it is okay that female is stronger than male sometimes and it is also okay that male has some weakness and want to cry. In addition, having this in a manga can form the contrast of the main characters with the others, so that his growth is more obvious. Coming back to Attack on Titan, we can see this between Allen and Mikasa. Sometimes, the main character is not the perfect or strongest, such as Allen. There are others stronger than him such as Levi, the captain of a group in Survey Corps. I think this also shows that nobody is perpect. Although we give many characteristics or definitions on masculinity, nobody can become just like the ideal one. But by the way, I do like Levi better than Allen 🙂
In the real society in Japan, people have a norm of salaryman for a male. We can see this from the episode we watched before: Train Man. The main character is poor and does not even has a steady job, so that his life is awful. And he also does not have a good relationship with his family members. We can know that having money and a steady job is very important if you are a male in Japan. Although many people argue with this social norm, I want to say that this norm is not wrong. The real world is different from manga. In manga, the world is different, some people have super powers, and they need to fight for their home, so that physical strength and other characteristics are important. However, in the real world, money and job are important. I do not fully disagree with salaryman, but a ieal man does need to have some characters depicted in manga. Thus, in my opinion, the ideal masculinity could be the combination of the one depicted in manga and also the social norms. Again, there is no right or wrong answer on the definition of masculinity, all people have different opinions on it.