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Why Are Females Portrayed As “Weak” In Anime?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

How over-sexualization, gender inequality in Japan, and the domination of male protagonists over females have been reflected in Anime.

Anime has been a massive part of Japanese culture that every nation enjoys, inviting and opening to all people. However, as female empowerment has had an enormous development in western culture, Japan hasn’t been implementing these values of gender equity and non-gender inferiority in portraying their characters. It has been a growing controversy that Japanese culture has continued to add no uniqueness to female characters and rather sexualize their characteristics to the eyes of male watchers. As a female anime watcher myself, I can see why many female watchers may be disgusted by these stereotypes. The tricky part is how Japan can change these roles to get views and conform to pick up stereotypical strengths of both genders.

Gender Inequality in Japan

Throughout Japanese culture, men are superior to females. Females were not always submissive when it came to literary circumstances, such as Lady Murasaki, who wrote one of the first novels. Empresses ruled even many monarchies. Women only started to feel inferior as second-class citizens in war, fighting, and combat. Women were still trained to become samurai and ninja, unlike women in the West who were primarily nurses or housewives. However, women samurai were never given honorable priority in their weaponry. It was manly to use a sword while it was “feminine” to use a naginata as it was portrayed as a disgrace for men to handle it or they would be considered “weak.”

It is normal to see men portrayed as the strong, macho stereotype in the present day. Men are known to order the wife around, get hired first, and conform to societal expectations. Sexual harassment, uncommon in the West, is a normalized occurrence in households and would be disregarded.
Pornography is something that men can be pretty open about, even in public! In Japanese society, naked women are being plastered all over the city in advertisements, billboards, and magazines. An American family living in Japan put it this way: “At first the kids would stare at the TV set [because of the prevalence of female nudity], but after a while, they got used to it.”


Anime has completely unrealistic sexually proportioned cartoon women. Underwear shots and protruding cleavage have become a trope in anime media because of the industry’s constant attention to sexualizing women. Cartoonists from Japan have been subject to this trope of emphasizing feminine body parts.

We all love enjoying action scenes, suspenseful plots, and the variety of complex characters anime has provided us. However, the women in many of these anime series tend to serve no purpose; they only sit there and look pretty for men to enjoy.

For example, Nami from One Piece started with regular features, emphasizing her skills as a thief who loves money. She had short hair and wore a fitted t-shirt. Once the show progressed, the show aimed to gain viewers, so they increased her breast size and even putting her in a bikini.

The Anime industry may traditionally have a bigger male audience; however, anime shouldn’t objectify women to attract more “perverted” males. Many women are still active members of the anime fan base and should not be subject to unrealistic body standards.

Men Ought To be stronger than Women? My Final Thoughts…

The anime industry has brought out a strong theme among their creations that sum up the gender inferiority of females. I conclude that a large portion of the plot surrounds men with more knowledge, power, and strong suits than women. Here are the categories of this revelation that has brought women down

  1. girls are damsels-in-distress
  2. males help women go from a weak to a normal state of power
  3. girls romantically obsessed with a guy
  4. males go to women for emotional support

In the end, I can conclude that the anime industry doesn’t hate women, but they would instead appeal to their male-dominated audience. Increasing relatable female characters will attract a more substantial woman fan base and even males who want to see strong, powerful, and independent women. Examples of these animes include Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer, and Jujutsu Kiasen. The Anime industry should learn from these famous creations to finally put an end to degrading, hypersexualized women in anime and manga. I hope in the future that my fellow female anime watchers don’t have to deal with these anime tropes and crazy body standards.

Sophomore at University of Georgia. I am a Majoring in Pre-nursing and have a passion writing about media issues that involve women of all ages and background. My hobbies and interests are fitness, fashion, music, and anime!
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