I often find it annoying that, while I’m searching for manga at the library, I overhear other patrons talking about just how awesome and thing-I-am-not-allowed-to-say-in-polite-company-kicking their favorite male characters are. As a girl otaku (manga and anime fan, for the uninitiated) I find this rather disappointing. Now, I’m not saying that male characters are bad (you won’t find a huger Edward Elric fan in all of Pittsburgh than me. Well, probably) but where’s the gender equality? Way back in the early days of manga, Osamu Tezuka (yes, THAT Tezuka, the one they call the God of Manga?!) revolutionized the hero archetype with his comic Pricess Knight, featuring a heroine who could handle a sword just as well as any man. Where’s that spirit in today’s comics, I ask?
If you’re a reader of shonen manga like myself (yes, guilty as charged—you can shoot me now!) you’ve probably noticed the main character archetype: a fiercely loyal teenaged boy with THE OVER 9000 UNTAPPED RESEVOIR OF POWER (which goes by many names depending on what exactly you’re reading.) And you’ll also probably recognize the female archetype: Weaker. Usually given healing powers, or, at times, no powers at all. And generally just there to amass a fanboy following.
Okay, okay, maybe I speak too strongly. But it’s true that shonen manga needs a lotmore girl power. I thought Bleach’s Rukia was going to turn out great—she didn’t put up with any funny business from anyone, and could take care of herself. But then in the Soul Society arc (around volume 11) she simply… lost her awesome. Of course, being locked up in a jail cell for weeks is enough to make anyone lose their awesome. And don’t even get me started on Orihime. WHAT. THE. HECK. She’s the girlie-girl, idiot-savant, so-weak-it’s-almost-in-the-realm-of-parody type. And have you noticed, even if she does have an awesome power, SHE DOESN’T GET ANY FIGHT SCENES? Please, Bleach manga-ka, give us a scene of Orihime kicking someone’s butt. (I hope it’s Aizen’s.)
But the world of female manga characters still has hope. Here’s my list, as requested, of the Top Four Totally Thing-I-am-not-allowed-to-say-in-polite-company-Kicking Women in Manga. Let the revolution begin! (End overdramatization…)
Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist is without a doubt THE best sniper in the whole of the military. And possibly the best at training dogs, but this has yet to be tested.
Shihouin (who is not a cat, really… whoops, spoiler?) of Bleach can outrun anyone, but for some (mysterious) reason chooses not to fight alongside the Soul Society (at least at first.) It’s nice to see someone marching to the beat of their own drum.
from Naruto – or at least in the later plot arcs. Okay, okay, I don’t actually read this and yeah, Sakura has her moments of weakness, but she’s strong emotionally, doesn’t give up, and is fiercely loyal. Sometimes that’s what counts most.
4.Okay, sorry for the FmA overload here – what can I say, I’m obsessed? But for the last entry on this list, Winry Rockbell is a shoo-in. Sure, she doesn’t fight any monsters or carry a weapon (the wrench doesn’t count,) but she also has tremendous skill in fixing automail (FYI: that’s these awesome metal bodyparts made of awesome. Did I mention they’re awesome?) and is (usually) the voice of reason. Dunno about you, but I’m certainly impressed.