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5 Fabulous Feminist Anime Worth Watching

Often times we scroll through countless options on Netflix, searching for something new and exciting to watch. Whether we decide to watch a movie series or a TV show, it’s all about what appeals to the eye of the consumer. Recently, I discovered that in my personal favorite medium, anime (Japanese animation), there are a few shows that showcase feminism, gender equality and overall girl power. Since I have been pushing for the equality of all people, I was so happy to find shows that really exemplified these issues. Listed in no particular order are shows with cool storylines that tackle big social problems-generally too controversial for American television. Some anime are dubbed in English, while some have English subtitles. But don’t worry, the characters talk slow enough that you’ll be able to enjoy the show without too much stress about reading and watching at the same time!

1. Wandering Son (2011)

Hourou Musuko, also known as “Wandering Son,” is an anime about a boy in middle school named Shuichi Nitori. He has never been comfortable with doing the activities expected of little boys, like gaming and sports. Shuichi hates the “boyish” clothing he is forced to wear. Ultimately, Shuichi wants to be a girl. This anime delves into the life of a transgender boy who meets a girl named Yoshino Takatsuki. She is tall, lanky, and loves being the opposite of what he is: “boyish.” That’s right, Yoshino wants to be a boy, and the two find comfort in each other knowing that they’re not alone in the world due to their similar situations. When Shuichi first sees Yoshino, he admires that she wears a boy’s uniform. Middle school is a time that children often begin discovering who they truly are. Shuichi has always hated being considered a male, but now that he’s in middle school, he begins to get teased since people realize there’s something different about him. This coming of age story shares how age can play a huge role in the establishment of gender roles within this film; this anime tackles gender identity in such a beautiful way. The watercolors are soothing to the eyes, giving a realistic feel to the story. The characters are down to earth and lovable. You’ll have no problem feeling a bond with the characters, even if you don’t identify with their situations on a personal level. This anime presents a difficult social issue, however, it showcases it in a way that shows that stories like this are normal and don’t always have to be a grand affair.

 

2. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Ouran High School Host Club is a story about a “commoner” who studies at the prestigious and ritzy Ouran Academy on a merit scholarship. Meet Haruhi Fujioka, the blunt and independent heroine of the show. After Haruhi knocks over a vase when wandering into the club room, she is mistaken for a guy and is forced into becoming part of the school’s host club-a place where the handsome club members woo the female patrons to pay off her debt. After the boys of the host club finally realize that she’s really a girl, she says, “I don’t really care if you guys recognize me as a boy or a girl. In my opinion it’s more important for a person to be recognized for who they are, rather than what sex they are.” Haruhi spends her time with the host club and keeps up the acts as a handsome host, being genuinely kind to the patrons regardless of if the patrons believe she is a boy. Haruhi’s refusal to conform to gender norms is one of the main outstanding points of this anime; this anime challenges classism and shows how friendship can grow through tough circumstances, which I find empowering and endearing. All of the characters portray certain tropes and stereotypes, however, Haruhi is able to see through them and discover the personalities behind each of the individuals. Each episode is full of hijinks and silliness and the show is regarded as an anime classic. The silly characters are memorable and easy to fall in love with. Ouran High School Host Club is definitely an anime that will warm your heart and have you watching it on multiple occasions.

 

3. Princess Jellyfish (2010)

Princess Jellyfish is the story of a college-aged young woman named Tsukimi who lives in an all-female apartment building. The women in this apartment consider themselves to be a part of a sisterhood of “otaku,” a socially awkward person who becomes so devoted to something that they rarely leave home.  Their entire lives are consumed by the things they love most. Tsukimi has loved jellyfish since she was a little girl, hence the title. Princess Jellyfish plays on the “otaku” stereotype, showing the women as unfashionable and socially uncomfortable. Everything goes well until Tsukimi unintentionally befriends Kuranosuke–an outgoing young man who enjoys crossdressing to get away from his family. This story has some romance and love triangles, although it doesn’t take away from the main driving points of the anime; it shows that it is never too late to make changes in your life and use what you love to support yourself. Something particularly awesome about this anime is that it’s got ladies of all different shapes and sizes. I’d say that Princess Jellyfish gives an excellent and realistic portrayal of your average, geeky woman. The show gave me a lot of laughs and is overall an incredibly fun anime to curl up and watch.

 

4. Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)

Revolutionary Girl Utena is a “magical girl” series which tells us of the story of Utena Tenjou and her dreams to become a prince. When Utena was young, she met a prince. This made her decide she’d rather be a prince than a princess. She pursues this idea without any fanfare, and it plays itself out as the basis for the storyline. The story is rather deep and intricate and really requires you to watch it (sometimes more than once) to understand it. The main underlying theme of the story deconstructs gender roles and criticizes misogyny. Revolutionary Girl Utena is filled with awesome fight scenes and magical transformations that will make you wish you too were a magical girl. At first glance, the men in the show are stereotypical playboys, but the show doesn’t romanticize that notion whatsoever; it shows the emotional pain that these men put the women through. Utena shows that being manipulative, deceitful and controlling are not things to be romanticized. There are also both male and female antagonists in the story. There are a few queer relationships that show acceptance of LGBTQA+ individuals in their community. And honestly, I’d say that even though Utena is an old show, it was definitely revolutionary for its time (see what I did there?)!

 

5. Bodacious Space Pirates (2012)

Moretsu Pirates, or Bodacious Space Pirates is pretty off putting by the title. However, the anime is very feminist friendly. Meet Marika Kato, a young woman who lives on a planet called, the “Sea of the Morningstar.” This tale is set in the future, so if you’re looking for a space age feminist anime, this show is definitely for you. Although you may imagine being a pirate is rowdy and full of battles, Bodacious Space Pirates takes a look at the daily life of a girl who just happens to end up being a space pirate captain. This tale unfolds as she tries to discover if life sailing through the stars is a life she wants to live. Marika is all about leadership and tactics. She isn’t overly serious, but is smart and confident. The cast of Bodacious Space Pirates is dominated by strong women, and it focuses on their relationships and bonds through space. The romance is centered around the relationship between two of the lady crew members who are prominent characters in the series.  They are accepted by their peers and it is seen as normal on the ship. There are also multi-racial characters in the show-something that is generally a novelty in anime. This anime is one I’d definitely recommend if you’re just looking for something fun and light to binge watch on the weekends.

 

So whether you decide to watch space pirates kick butt or the silly antics of a host club, there is an anime out there for you. And feminist themes aren’t limited to just these anime! You can search all over the web and discover new shows every day. So kick back, curl up into your favorite jammies and get ready for a marathon, because once you start, you won’t be able to stop (I know this from personal experience).

 

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