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Manga means comics in Japan. Anime refers to animated characters. The presentation of anime in manga literature and displays is a motivator of actions in individuals’ behaviors in the world today. The proliferation of this literature has been witnessed due to the increase in technology, and the development of information minded economies. The manga for women is varied in terms of girls and older females. The concern of girls’ manga, also known as Shoja manga, concentrates on relationship, romance and sex.
The Shoja manga is more fantastic and less realistic than the adult women manga that gives more realistic and sometimes brutal honesty on romance and sex. The adult anime and manga for women deals with issues of women at work or in offices, marriage, family sagas, and in-laws.
The writers of the manga, known as manga-ka for adult women, have a tendency to explore the dark, exotic sexual territories. This paper will look at the role that manga and anime has on Japanese women in society. The manga meant for adult women is known Josei Manga (Brenner, 2007).
Manga and anime influence on Japanese women
According to Brenner (2007), the gender reading of manga literature is blurred since at a number of times girls are found to read Shonen manga. For adult men, there is also a tendency to read Shoja manga, although this is only in America. The difference between American and Japanese manga lies in the interpretation of various words and views due to different cultures. However, in Japan, manga has influence on women gender roles in society. Manga and anime’s use of the word picture combinations has a recapitulation of traditional Japan.
The turn of 1970s heralded the influx of women manga-ka who felt that the men oriented Shoja manga lacked the sentimentality needed and expressed by a female audience. This process led to about 400 creative women. Therefore, it signaled the challenge of patriarchal point of view in the Japanese society. Gravett (2004) observes that manga provided the most powerful and female empowering forum for communication.
The plight of women deteriorated during the Mejji era where women were considered of lower class than men. At this age, imperialism and militarism eroded egalitarian ideals of the traditional Japanese wife, daughter, and mother. Resonating in other countries like America, the society has come to recognize and change the injustices against women. Japanese women started to change the differences between women and men as illustrated by Murasaki Shikibu.
Therefore, this strength found echoes in these women who had become scripter of what the woman felt and thought about the world. Thus, the panel took the form of the heart emotions and displayed by either fading or withering flowers.
This was meant to softened rules on borders, as well as overlapped or merged sequences into collages (Gravett, 2004). They used expressions on faces to communicate feelings and thoughts that ranged from fear, terror to confusion, and intoxication also reigned with a hand stroke of the creative women manga-kas.
The creation of what the female world looked and saw things in manga from these women used a plethora expressionistic effects and textures. This emphasized on facial and body posture that geared to capture the characters psychic auras.
In the end, artwork emphasis would disappear in place of dialogue balloons. This led to connection with the reader emotionally and thus Japanese manga-ka stood a chance to focus on genres like science fiction, exploration, social problems, and the issues surrounding women.
The presentation of gender boundaries and forbidden love were some of the early hits of manga-kas. For instance, Riyoko Ikeda was a mangaka whose work, “The Rose of Versailles” in 1972 set the ball rolling towards this important form of art. In this manga, two women are depicted loosing their true feelings for the sake of duty at the height of French Revolution. One lady, Queen Marie-Antoinette, is married to a Crown Prince since childhood and longs for a Swedish count.
The second girl is raised as a nobleman in order to satisfy her father’s need and wishes for a son. Oscar becomes Captain of the Royal Guard. However, she later resigned in order to follow her love, Andre, who is below her in terms of positions in the society. She joins in a battle and dies stressing the importance of women being free from the trappings of feminist.
In the same manga, the relationship between Andre and Oscar, disguised as a male character, explains the idea of women’s view on men. To a great extent, it illustrates that women are interested in love that is pure as represented by beautiful boys depicted in the manga.
The manga are consistently read by females, especially those who view themselves as related in a sister form of relationship. The presentation of aesthetic homosexual figures of manga boys presented the search for love in women who became apparent and ardent readers. Many women mangakas illustrate beautiful symbols that show that the examination of identity and self acceptance, personal fulfillment families, ageing and dying are the main concerns.
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In the absence of love, manga reveals situations that young girls would take in various activities like bullying, depression, lesbian attraction, self harming, parental abuse and divorce, and pupil teacher scandals, suicide attempts, and conspiracies to blow up things. The effect of these Shojo manga as revealed in the study by Gravett (2004) that indicated that issues demonstrated by manga found resonance in the actions of women in society.
A female proclaimed that her departure from Japan to London was encouraged by Shojo manga by mangaka Moto Hagio and others. This mangaka had illustrated that people who were brave would chart new courses alone and survive successfully on successive repetitions.
The role of Shojo manga and anime to the Japanese women in the society probably is strongly illustrated by analysis of their influence to contemporary style of women’s writing. Shojo manga had an influence on the novels ‘Cobalt Series’ that can be compared to harlequin romance. Nonetheless, it was written by a man whose theme focused on teenage pregnancies.
The teenage girls were advised through the moral lesson to avoid such pregnancies in order to live life fully. However, the start of the 1970s saw the entry of women writers who composed their work in first person, just as was the case with the anime that got their material from manga.
The use of direct speech in both genres of manga and writing represented the real, lifelike verbal communication. The considerable use of onomatopoeia played a crucial role in representing the adult’s daily use of language to pass emotions and messages that mattered to them.
This was essentially true by comparing men’s writing that never indicated the use of first person. Nevertheless, the men writing made use of a third person, less of use onomatopoeia, and use of difficult to tread appearances that were not meant to create a personal relationship with the reader (Homem & Lambert, 2006).
What also came out as influence in writing was the thematic concern of these women writers. The depiction of sexual scenes through confident female sexuality illustrated by an adult woman showed that women were not to be confined in the traditional precepts of women. In the intentional refusal to portray motherhood and children, the writings copied from Shojo manga expressed the positive sexuality of the female gender in the society.
The use of narrative appeal writing style led to the presentation of family ideals, where Yashimoto works underlined the need fro teenagers to be supported by the family. Therefore, the family was a source of love as a testament of personal ideals in regard to the concern of women and influence in the society (Homem & Lambert, 2006).
On the contrary, other authors observe that the presentation of gender roles in manga depicts the mainstream way that conforms to the patriarchal society. Kinsella (2000) noted that manga and anime forms of expression had been recognized as part of cultural identity of the Japanese society.
Therefore, it is important in the cultural expression medium. As a result, they do not have any difference from the mainstream depiction of the position of women. In this regard, they remain in their traditional gender roles in this form of art.
However, on a different note, a study on Sailor Moon and Crayon Shin-chan reveal that the presentation of women is not a traditional picture. The female character, Sailor Moon, is only seen as a sexual allusion images that are liable for re-contextualization by men and other readers in the society.
Kinsella (2000) observed that manga is the sole reason that feminine consciousness has increased in the Japanese society leading to many female artists. This is because they read, watch, and come up with their fantasy stories. It is possible to understand and analyze manga through the presentation of traditional roles of women on television in Japan.
The depiction of homosexual figures in manga by the female meant for female audiences is a representation of confusing gender roles. The female readers, as well as mangakas, may be an illustration of the problems with female personality.
Therefore, such women might be expressing their discontent in their sexual orientation. Again, this may be as a result of negative presentation of the female gender by the television thus creating the feelings that men are superior to the women whose place is at home.
Although manga sales do well in Japan, and most are authored by women; the participation of women in manga and anime has not peaked as it remains a male dominated field. Most manga are concerned with violence and victory expressions that are typical of male artists and readers.
These forms the largest number in the field of manga hence continues to form the anime. On another level, the liberal presentation of sexual desires and graphic contents in manga, which is also in anime, has affected the generation of the modern female audience reader.
Traditionally, the woman’s respect and honor in Japan’s society lay in her not revealing such issues in public. Indeed, the prospect of making public sentiments like those was not a feat for women, but rather for the males who dominated the society (Kinsella, 2000).
Today, women have the liberty to stand in public and declare their stand on issues concerning intimacy. This is as a result of various changes in culture and ideologies that find encouragement in manga and anime forms of art. In terms of politics, the Japanese women are able to exercise power from the lowest grass roots level up to the national status level.
This has influenced their view of daily perspectives of life, and changed the social position of women in society. The manga and anime as genres of art and representatives of culture as cited by the government reproduce what is distinct in the society. In this process, the political power and the demand for equality, as proposed in the constitutional reform after the World War II, have seen women rise (Kinsella, 2000).
This is depicted by the household dominance of housewives in the increasing vacuum of working fathers and husbands. Manga and anime may not contribute to such themes directly, but its influence to the gender thinking based and guided by female mangaka presents a powerful correlation to the above.
Therefore, Shojo manga took the point of enlightenment and involvement since most creators of this genre were of the same age just like their fans. In the process, they joined in one speech that identified pressing issues that females were faced with and how to go about them (Lebra, 1984).
In conclusion, the role of manga and anime in gender issues among Japan women is present and rife. The number of sales of the female intended manga and anime reveals staggering statistics of the number of female consumers of this form of art. It is not only for women, but also for boys and men who consume the largest literature of manga and anime that addresses male themes of violence, sex and women bodies.
Brenner, E.R. (2007). Understanding manga and anime. Road West, West Port: Libraries Unlimited.
Gravett, P. (2004). Manga: sixty years of Japanese comic. Russell Street, London: Laurence King Publishing.
Homem, R.M.G.C. & Lambert, M.F. (2006). Writing and seeing: Essays on word and image. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Kinsella, S. (2000). Adult Manga: Culture & Power in Contemporary Japanese Society. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
Lebra, S.T. (1984). Japanese Women: Constraint and Fulfillment. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Macwilliams, W.M. (2008). Japanese visual culture: explorations in the world of manga and anime. New York: M.E. Sharpe.