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It’s a Man’s World: The Precarious Situation of Women in Shounen Anime

Shounen Anime has been praised in recent years for slowly but surely integrating female characters into the main plotline, shifting them away from their firm position in the background of the classic shounen before them (each of the 2000s-era “Big Three” of Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach feature at least one prominent female character in their main lineup of characters—Sakura, Nami, and Orihime, respectively.) The next generation rising up to replace those anime is largely undefined, although Boku No Hero Academia is at the moment the clearest contender for this spot, and not accidentally has a very large female cast, most of whom are on a comparable power level with their male classmates (except for Midoriya and Bakugo, who as the main characters are naturally a cut above by necessity of the genre.) Compare this to the classical shounen epics of Dragon Ball and Inuyasha, where the female characters are, to be blunt, decoration. Bulma is introduced by crashing her car into and subsequently shooting a young Goku, all of which is utterly ineffectual, and the remainder of the series follows this pattern. Her other contributions to the series include: flashing an old man for material gain (she “very humorously” does not know that she isn’t wearing panties for this encounter,) flirting with a desert bandit, and generally throwing herself around like a piece of meat to solve any problem which Goku cannot punch. Continue reading