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Monday, January 09, 2006

Women in Manga

In a thread on Comics Worth Reading, I ended up mentioning briefly that if I'd made this blog three years ago, it would have ended up all about manga, now it's definitely not.

The basic reason is that I think we tend to get tired with what we start with and our interests tend to move outward. Most folks start with American comics because they're a lot easier to get, but I've always been weird. :-)

As I said on the blog, I think it's only that every genre/medium has its particular stylistic quirks that get old after a while. I still love manga, but now it's more about specific stories and authors than the field at large.

See, ironically, what I grew tired of with manga is its portrayal of female characters, which in its own way I find is no less (and no more) sexist than American Superhero comics.

In my experience women in Japanese comics all tend to fall into a few groups:

1. The Bishoujo (beautiful young girl): Usually a school girl in a uniform that has a cute long skirt that inexplicably floats up to flash a glimpse of undergarment toward the reader. She's young and undoubtedly innocent. She's usually ditzy if she's the main character, with a good heart. And is occasionally surrounded by friends who can be classified in terms of: the Brainy One (always with either short hair or cute glasses...I never knew glasses could be a fetish before going to Japan), the Tough One (who is often very tall and gets into fights like the boys), and the Aloof One (who is beautiful but colder).

The good thing about the Bishoujo is that she's empowering in a sense. The Bishoujo is not the smartest or the strongest girl around. She is the everygirl. She succeeds because she is pure-hearted and determined. Often, compared to actual girls in Japanese society, she is more outspoken and forward.

The bad thing is that the Bishoujo is very rarely proactive. Because she is innocent, she can never really be the instigator of romance except in childish ways, for example (and for the rarer, older Bishoujo, she must always answer sexual advances with "Iie! Dame yo!" The notion that good girls don't is very prevalent in Japanese society even moreso than here.) The virgin/whore dynamic is in full swing. And it is a pet peeve of mine. Her rivals might be sexually aggressive, but her role in a romance is usually to coo her boyfriend's name, giggle, and possibly hug him (especially if he is a particularly taciturn character.)

And as for the plots, while she shows herself to be strong and determined, she is always in a situation never of her own making. She is thrust into a position of prominence and has no idea what to do. She falls into an other world, she is presented with a magic wand by a talking cat, she is attacked by a monster without knowing why. She's being made to dress as a boy to attend school because circumstances mean she can't attend as a girl. Now I don't really have anything against the normal person in extraordinary circumstances plot, but very rarely do you see a character that's chosen to be what she is without being somehow pushed into this. (Lina Inverse from Slayers is a notable exception, being a female main character that's on her adventure because she wants to be and is a powerful mage because she wants to be. But I would say most are not so dynamic.)

And if there's ever a situation in which two girls, one scholarly and ambitious, one dim and ditzy and reluctant end up as pseudo-rivals, the heroine is always the dim, ditzy girl. The ambitious girl is usually an enemy (whether duped or of her own will)...(see Fushigi Yuugi or 12 Countries for an example). If both girls for example believe they are the proper leader of the group or a reincarnation of a princess, or whatever, it doesn't matter how talented, smart or regal the ambitious girl is, the "chosen one" will turn out to be the dim, ditzy "normal" girl.

The Bishoujo is 95% of all female main characters. Very rarely will you have a main character female that is an adult or a career woman. I won't say it can't happen, but it's very rare.

2. The Mother: with variations such as the Older Sister. Her sole purpose to the story will be to act as the wise female maternal influence on the main characters. She will rarely, if ever, get plots beyond this, unless they are romantic subplots in which she becomes an older (but still beautiful) version of a Bishoujo.

On the plus side, the Mother is usually a wise and influential character. On the minus side, she's rarely significant to the plot.

3. The Femme Fatale: She's evil usually. Sexual, beautiful, spirited. The Femme Fatale is usually the most interesting female in the whole bunch. Thus she's usually evil and denigrated in shoujo manga (manga directed toward girls). She is always in very revealing clothing.

In shounen manga (manga directed toward boys), the Femme Fatale might end up in a love-hate attraction with the hero, and even seduce him. The hero and the femme fatale will (almost) never settle down with one another though.

If there is ever a situation in which the Bishoujo and the Femme Fatale are fighting over a man (and this happens a LOT), the Bishoujo will always win. And the Femme Fatale will always be evil, resorting to unfair cheating and dishonorable plots. (Usually to show why this supposedly sane man would choose a simpering, ditzy twit over a vibrant, beautiful woman).

The manga/anime Cowboy Bebop's Faye Valentine is one of the few main female characters that is a Femme Fatale rather than a Bishoujo. She does not end the series (anime at least, I don't recall if the manga has ended) with a male character. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, mind you, but Femme Fatales almost never win in terms of romance and if they do end up in a relationship, they usually end up subdued and unrecognizable compared to their former selves.

On the plus side: Femme Fatales are usually great characters: willful, intelligent, competent, ambitious and sexual.

On the down side: This is usually portrayed as a bad thing.
Now there are always exceptions to this. There are exceptions to everything after all. But I don't really think the Bishoujo's panty shots (especially in cases with supposedly middle school girls) are any better than Vicki Vale's ass.

Now really, I'm sure you could put all superhero comic heroines into similar arbitrary categories and say similar things. I don't really think one is better or worse than the other. But me personally, I'll take the Birds of Prey, Powergirl, Stargirl and Wonder Woman any day. Your own mileage may vary.

(However, I still love Faye Valentine)


  • At January 09, 2006 12:24 PM, Blogger CalvinPitt said…

    I think you're right about the sweet girl being common, and usually winning the guys heart (Kaoru in Rurouni Kenshin comes to mind). Still, one Femme Fatale who was a main character and might have won is Ryoko from the Tenchi series. She definitely had that whole Faye Valentine 'sex' thing going on, always trying to seduce Tenchi.

    Of course, her main rival (Ayeka) wasn't really 'Bishoujo' as much as she was 'crazy, sexually repressed girl', but she at least tried to put on the air of innocence around her.

    Still, I don't think the creator ever had Tenchi decide which girl he liked (personally, I root for Ryoko).

    I liked this post. I'm the more typical person in I went from American comics to anime (Dragonball Z Whoo!) to manga, though I'm not huge into it, besides Trigun, Hellsing and Kenshin.

  • At January 09, 2006 5:40 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You've got a point regarding Tenchi, though I'm not sure I'd count any of the females in that series as "main characters" so much. That's just my own interpretation of course.

    I really do like manga, there are a lot of great series out there. But it definitely has its annoying quirks. There are definitely some very notable exceptions to what I posted, and those tend to be a lot of fun. :-)

    In general though, when it comes to women, I prefer superhero comics, spandex, inexplicable sexual assault in their backstories, midriffs and all.

  • At January 09, 2006 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I know you went out of your way to clarify that you didn't mean "all manga", and I do appreciate it, but I have to take issue with you lumping Twelve Kingdoms into the same category as Fushigi Yuugi.

    For one thing, Sugimoto in the original novel was a minor character that never went to the Twelve Kingdoms. She served to show not that Youko was "pure of heart", but to show that Youko was so caught up in what other people thought of her that she would join in alienating the class "loser", even when she KNEW it was wrong.

    Twelve Kingdoms is about a weak little girl growing into a strong young woman that can control her own destiny. (Well, at least Youko's part of the series is about that) To compare it to the melodramatic Fushigi Yuugi does the series a great disservice.

    Now, while you're wondering where on earth the rabid Twelve Kingdoms fangirl crawled out from, I'll leave you in peace.

  • At January 10, 2006 12:00 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I have nothing against rabid 12 Kingdoms fans. In fact I actually do like the story. Infinitely better than Fushigi Yuugi even.

    But the point's still illustrated that when a proactive girl and a reluctant girl are vying for a position, the reluctant less ambitious girl is the one to be the right choice. The story is about her growing up, the comparison still stands even with Sugimoto's limited role. :-) She's still the one who loses out.

    It's a nice story about a girl growing up, and I do like the story. But really most manga about female characters are much the same in that sense. :-) It gets tedious occasionally.

    Oh and welcome, thank you for commenting on my blog!

  • At January 10, 2006 1:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I supose the issue I have is with the idea that Sugimoto was somehow "not good enough" BECAUSE she was proactive. I just don't think it's as simple a case as you're making it out to be, considering that within a matter of six eps (out of a total of 45) Youko was just as proactive as Sugimoto was, and then some.

    Youko isn't "rewarded" because she was reluctant in the beginning, she was rewarded because, unlike most of the heroine-types you named, she was dynamic enough to adapt to the situation and come out the better for it.

    As an aside, I think part of your problem with manga might be some of the titles you're reading. I don't know if you read Japanese, so maybe I'm completely off base, but the bishoujo type you mentioned usually tends to happen most often in stuff written for young girls.

    I tend to prefer my shoujo manga with male protagonists, so I suppose I've kind of circumvented the issue somewhat, and I have to say that you are pretty on the ball in general with your "female types".

    However, if you go beyond the "ShoComi"-ish stuff and delve into the manga aimed at older women, you tend to come across a different type of spectrum. Right now, I'm reading a series about a young woman who works in her parents' liquor store as a delivery girl. She's tough, loves her boyfriend very much, and has a lesbian friend whose personality doesn't revolve around what gender she enjoys sleeping with.

    I just got done reading a series about two girls who go around to various schools to get rid of delinquents. And the one before that was about a member of a female gang, written by someone that actually used to be in a gang.

    As I said before, you're right, what you lined out IS the general norm, especially as published in the US. But I really have absolutely no problem finding series off that beaten [to death and them some] path. These are not "unknown" series either, all three of them are/were exceptionally popular and have volume counts in the teens. I'm really not sure it's so much a problem of manga getting stale as it is you've probably outgorwn the genres your reading.

    And, hey, that's good. Because I started there too, and there's no looking back for me, I'll tell you.

  • At January 10, 2006 1:53 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    :-) I don't think the pattern is intentional. There were many reasons Sugimoto wasn't suited to the role she wanted. As there were for Yui in FY. But the fact is, you don't tend to see proactive, ambitious girl characters get ahead.

    At the risk of well...being a little arrogant. I've been reading manga for about 5-10 years. And I'm a Japanese Language and Culture major. There are definitely exceptions to what I say here. Just as there's some really horrific pornography (and let me tell you, there's very few things creepier than riding the Tokyo-Yokohama train in the evening and glancing over at the Salariman next to you's giant manga phonebook and seeing a woman gang-raped with tentacles.)

    I still like manga really, as I said, and should I be accepted as a JET this coming year, I intend to pick up a lot more. (I'm 3 years behind G-Defend! That's like 9-10 Tankouban! ;_;) But definitely when it comes down to it, I like American superhero comics better.

    hmm, one of these days, I should post about the manga that I do like. :-) We could share manga recommendations then. :-)

  • At January 10, 2006 2:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nah, I don't think you sound arrogant at all. :) I was trying to tread carefully, since you never know who can read the language and who can't, or what they're basing their opinion on. If anything, I apologize if I came off too self-righteous, since it wasn't my intention.

    I grew up with superhero comics, and I think a part of me will always love them. (And I've been dipping my toes back in the water recently, with good results) But I think in a lot of ways, they didn't deliver what I wanted when I was a little girl, so I got that from manga instead. I've been reading it for about half my life, in one lagunage or another, so boviously I'm incredibly biased, but I do understand why you feel the way you do.

    And, yes, I'd love to hear what you recommend. :)

  • At January 10, 2006 2:18 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You weren't self righteous at all, either. :-) The internet's one of those places where one has to be a little...cautious.

    (Anything by Morimoto Shuu usually has awesome women by the way. They're rarely the primary characters-she tends to write male-dominated borderline seinen-ai sort of stories, but they're usually very strong, competent, intelligent and beautiful. Especially Nasha in Jinjuu Houretsudan who's one of the five core characters and definitely a woman that transcends the usual "labels".

    For more male-oriented action comics, I've always liked Get Backers. Himiko, Hevn and Natsumi are great females too. And Ginji and Ban are just suggestive enough to make me snicker like a perverted twelve-year-old.)

  • At January 10, 2006 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know, I'd swear I've read something by her, but nothing looks familiar. Must be the art style. I'll definitely give G-defend a go next time I stop by Book-Off. (I saw a picture, and anything with that many guys that's supposed to be good is a must-read for me [/shallow] :p)

    Now, GetBackers, I'm familiar with. I have to admit (::cringe::) I was never big on Natsume, but I really enjoyed Himiko...and Hevn's always fun. Haven't read the entire series, though.

    I'm a huuuge 70's shoujo fan. I'm sure you already know all the big names, though. You might want to check out "Star Red" by Hagio Moto if you like sci-fi. I'm not done with it, so I can't say if it has a terrific ending or not, but I like Sei a lot as a protagonist.

    As for shounen stuff, I'm a huge, huge Kurumada Masami fan. I think he's written more of my favorite girls than any other shounen author. I was kinda iffy on reccing him to you, since he's not exactly perfect in that regard sometimes, but, hey, I love the fact that Kiku can KO Ryuuji with a single punch AFTER he's beaten up Gods...and not in that "hahah, let's have our invincible hero be afraid of the girl because it's FUNNY" way either.

  • At January 10, 2006 6:30 AM, Blogger Diamondrock said…

    I'm just curious: where would you fit characters like Shakugan no Shana's Shana and Bleach's Kuchiki Rukia into your paradigm?

    They're both extremely capable young women who equal (or exceed) their male counterparts in every way. They are naive only in the sense that they don't understand the "real" world (being from alternate realities). They don't fit the typical bishojo stereotype (they even have small breasts, a shocking change from your typical bishojo heroine). They also are most certainly not the "bad girls." So I'm curious where you'd fit character like that in.

    Because I'm seeing them more an more (indicative of a change in Japanese society?)

  • At January 10, 2006 7:33 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Actually, most bishoujo heroines do have small breasts. if you notice. It's often something that sets them apart from their femme fatale rivals. (something that the femme fatale will often use to mock the bishoujo). Many comics with bishoujo heroines do end up having said characters at some point complain or feel inadequate about their breast size. (For an extreme example of this, Mahoromatic will suffice)

    That said, I do think Shana and Rukia do still largely qualify as Bishoujo heroines, though are likely representative of a slowly changing/modernizing trend of the genre. Which is a good sign. Their competence and self-containment are definitely good developments. Unfortunately I would probably still consider them "exceptions that prove the rule" at least thus far.

  • At January 10, 2006 5:24 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    I'm sure some kinds of characters are more common than others , but is it as endemic as you suggest? I'm not saying it isn't, just asking. Miyazawa from Kare Kano seems to break the mold. Smart, pretty, and largely in control of things - at least as in control as anyone can be in a world with other independently driven characters (I think any realistic book would portray all characters as somewhat victims of circumstance). Nausicaa also portrays a strong heroine who takes the story with her while the men mostly trail behind begging her to wait, or choose a less dangerous course of action.

    And it may not fit (being a guys' comic and all), but despite the blatant and overt sexism of Love Hina, the heroine, Narusegawa (the smart, pretty, dynamic, violent female), is only ever the viable choice for the hero, despite the presence of a sweet, demure character (Shinobu) who is, in all likelihood, more pleasant to be around.

    Still, I think you make good points and I'm glad to have been directed to this article.

  • At January 10, 2006 5:48 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thank you for commenting! Miyazawa is a special case too. Kare Kano, in a lot of ways, is the closest portrayal of actual Japanese life (at least from what I've seen while there), that I can remember ever seeing in a comic book. The academic pressure, social pressure, Miyazawa's initial strive to be seen as perfect clashing with her real nature is something a lot of people in Japan (and here too, for that matter) face everyday.

    Nausicaa has a great story and heroine, don't get me wrong, but I still think she qualifies as something of a Bishoujo. It's still circumstance as much as her own will that puts her in the position to be such a great character. Which isn't a bad thing on it's own, but it gets tedious that such a scenario exists in 95% of all manga with a central female character.

    Love Hina has it's own problems gender-issue wise. :-) The harem-type manga, like this, Ranma, Tenchi, et al, probably deserves its own analysis. Naru ends up with Keitaro, yes, but she's largely an unpleasant character. She's smart and pretty, but the violence and anger and unreasoning jump to conclusions tend to take away from that. (Akane from Ranma 1/2 seems to suffer from this too...I think maybe I should add an Angry Bishoujo archetype. :-)) The only quality that tends to make her remotely likeable is her prettiness. Which is a shame. This isn't to say that her anger is entirely justified...but it's often portrayed as though it is, which I suppose amounts to the same thing.

    When she and Keitaro finally do get together, she's much more subdued, I think. It's rather a manga version of "The Taming of the Shrew"...which is fine I suppose. But honestly I always wanted to slap Petruchio. :-) I'm touchy that way. :-)

    Personally, in my experience, it is pretty endemic. It's also primarily unconscious, I think. It's improving somewhat, but still very prevalent. And's really hard to think of any main female character over the age of 20, isn't it?

  • At January 10, 2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    Hmm, the more I think about it, the more I agree. Except for maybe with Nausicaa ;) I think that in her case, she acts proactively despite the circumstances that threaten to drive her - I know it's a threadwidth's line between that and your treatment of her place in the story, but... After all, even before her nation gets embroiled in the largescale political conflict, she's off in forest discovering things on her own, fighting off monster insects, and defending weary travellers. Even after she gets involved due to circumstance, she doesn't allow circumstances to drive her like they would a lesser character (and in, do drive every other character in the story - save perhaps Yupa, the older warrior type).

    Still, your point is taken and the only main female characters I can think of over twenty are Kushana (from Nausicaa) and Rachel (the love interest from Eagle), and both of those are probably still under 25. Oh yeah, and there was that adult woman who helps out Kay and gets the worm-infested wound in Akira. I suppose it's telling, though, that I can't remember her name ;)

  • At January 10, 2006 8:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    :-) I should clarify that I really don't mean to attack manga here. I enjoy it. There are many characters I'd call "bishoujo" that I love. It's just that after a while, I start getting annoyed that it seems like that's all there is.

    And that suddenly I'm being asked to look at it like it's somehow more empowering/less sexist than American Comics. When really, the portrayals of women are two sides of the same coin here...both of them are problematic, both of them need work, and both of them are slowly improving. :-)

  • At January 10, 2006 8:50 PM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Yeah manga is pretty simplified as far as genre-characters go for the most part. You can only go so far story wise with Sailor Moon (sorta the archtype of Bishoujo style manga/anime it seems, since it is afterall int he title). The anime was prolonged much furthor with the monster of the day idea than the manga, which in turn seemed more focused on the characters last time I read it. Yes, I'm a guy and I read/watched Sailor Moon - it had its good moments in the anime, though you have to skip a season or two. Live action version of SM is a whole different area, but remained true to the bishoujo genre.

    I really like Lina Inverse as a character, and not just for her character type. What she lacks in some areas, she makes up with other things. She knows she is powerful, she knows she look younger than she really is. She takes advantage of everything she can and lives for the adventure/meal. Her sidekicks makes up the rest of the bishoujo gang, with their own twists on the routine.

    Even Naga is modeled after a femme fatale, but falls short in the intellegence area. She has a huge 'frame' and wears revealing black armor with spikes to look evil, when she is really only forcing Lina to compete with her.

    Exceptions in my mind also include Faye from Cowboy Bebop, who tends to become her own character in the series, with her own slightly tragic story (nothing like tragedy to add depth of character).

    On a similar note, Caska in Berserk also is a somewhat strong female character that doesn't really fall into any of the categories when she really comes into her own - until she has very tragic event happen to her. Afterwards, she still doesn't fit into those categories, for a whole different reason.

    Just my 3 or 4 cents...take them for what the conversion rate currently is ^_-

  • At January 10, 2006 8:53 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I agree with you. Caska's awesome and defies categories. But she's pretty rare and not really the primary character of the manga. However, I can't deny she is an awesome female.

    Lina and Naga are basically a satire/parody of the bishoujo/femme fatale conflict. Both are very cool, but still largely fit into the categories even with their exceptions I think. :-)

  • At January 10, 2006 9:12 PM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Well, I would see Lina and Naga more as parodies of the categories, but that logically still put them in those categories.

    And yes, Caska is a rare breed of female character.

  • At January 11, 2006 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good points!

    However, I would say that the most popular shoujo comics right now are a study in opposites - whenever I read "Fruits Basket", I am completely frustrated by Tohru's passivity and servility. On the other hand, there's Yazawa's "Nana", which subverts a lot of those expectations you've listed. One Nana (the one eventually called Hachiko) is the bishoujo you're looking for. But the other Nana is something else, a borderline Femme Fatale who will, through the course of the story, become extraordinarily successful on her own terms.

    I think, as Japanese society becomes more progressive, you'll see more manga that subvert these expectations. But to begin with, they'll be aimed at an older audience before they filter down to things like "magical girl" stories that are really aimed at slightly younger kids.

  • At January 11, 2006 12:06 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thank you for responding! I think that comics, no matter their country of origin, are definitely an evolving medium. It's very possible that in a few years, this rant won't have any basis at all anymore.

    I'd probably still like Superhero comics better though. :-P

  • At January 20, 2006 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm surprised nobody's brought up Utena, which has to be one of the weirdest anime shows (I haven't read the manga, though) ever when it comes to gender roles.

  • At January 20, 2006 4:33 PM, Blogger Bob said…

    I have to bring up Alita/Gally from Battle Angel/Gunnm only because that's my favorite comic of all time. Still, would you consider her an acception? I was also thinking about Masamune Shirow's female characters (Ghost in the Shell, Appleseed, Dominion)? His female characters usually seem to be much tougher than the males. And maybe Saki from Genshiken (though I'm not totally sure if she would be considered an acception or not). Not that you're not correct in your assessment, I was just trying to think of acceptions...for my own sake really.

  • At January 20, 2006 4:49 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Hi guys, personally, I think Utena still applies, in a weird sort of way. And I agree that a lot of Masamune Shirow's series have exceptions. :-) The replies here contain a lot of other exceptions too. :-)

    (That's the nice thing about manga, as there are thousands of series, my post could be accurate for 80-90% of manga, and still leave a good few hundred exceptions. :-))

  • At January 23, 2006 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Concerning Shakugan no Shana. I suspect the term bishoujo caused a bit of confusion there as many fans consider it to mean any beautiful woman. Flat-chested heroines aren't necessarily bishoujo by that definition.

    In any case, it would be interesting to see an analysis of Suzuka based on your definition of bishoujo heroines. In some regards Honoka fits your stereotype fairly well though with some important exceptions. Meanwhile Suzuka seems to ignore most of the rules for how a main female love interest should behave (crudely put she's busty, focused and disconcertingly moody).

  • At October 13, 2006 2:56 AM, Blogger Romanticide said…

    What about Integral and Heinckel from Hellsing? They are too old to be bishojos. and they just don't fit in the femme fatale cathegory. They are true kickass women in their own right

  • At December 11, 2008 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I really don't care about acceptions to this rule as other people seem to, as I've only seen one acception. I've really gotten into manga lately and every single one I've read so far seems to have the same male and female characters!

    The male lead is arrogant, rich, popular, and egotistical (which is wierd because this is not the common personality for Japanese men). The females are always insecure, just plain dumb, clumsy, niave, and have a "naughty librarian" personality (Ex: "No please! Stop!" While thinking "Why does this feel so good? Why don't I want him to stop?"). To me, saying "no" and not really meaning it is horrible. That's what men call a "tease". I have gotten so sick of these characters and it's making me question manga! I just want a character I can relate to. The average girl for me is sensitive, independent, caring, smart (gets good grades), but still has her negatives with jealousy and vanity. At least this describes most of the girls I know. I don't know many sexually repressed doormats who suck at school.

    It is so frusterating to read about these female leads and at the same time be thinking "get a backbone!", "Just be honest with the guy!", "stand up for yourself!", "don't let him say that to you or tell you what to do!". I guess I can't relate to these characters because I was raised to be an independent American girl and not a repressed Japanese girl, but still, if this is how girls have to act in Japan, then it makes me feel bad for those girls. (And yes, I've actually been to Japan and the girls are very timid and quiet, but the men kind of were to).

    I think more Westerners need to write manga, because then I'd actually be able to relate to the characters (like Avatar: the last airbender- I actually loved and really related to the female lead).

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