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Tiger and Bunny: Rad and Bad Anime Dads

Tiger and Bunny: Rad and Bad Anime Dads

Since its inception, the superhero genre has been the playground of the male power fantasy. With their extraordinary abilities, superheroes exert control in an uncontrollable world. They function outside the law and society, beholden only to an honor code they impose upon themselves. Instead of being limited by their tragic backstories, they rise above them and seek to right the wrongs the villains of the world committed against them.

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Attack on Titan: Mikasa Ackerman is Not a Feminist Heroine

Attack on Titan: Mikasa Ackerman is Not a Feminist Heroine

Attack on Titan has garnered a reputation as a feminist anime, one that I don’t believe is entirely deserved. It’s true that it has many feminist-friendly elements to it, but it is also deeply problematic in many ways. After so much build up, I admit I was disappointed by what it had to offer.

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Paradise Kiss: Modeling Agency

Paradise Kiss: Modeling Agency

Yukari’s success is due to her initiative, yes, but she is helped along amply by those around her, with no real obstacles other than her mother’s obstinacy. While this is preferable to a salacious soap opera where she is exploited at every turn, it all just seems a bit too glossed over. There is, on the other hand, a distinct advantage. Yazawa’s version of the fashion world is one dominated by women, allowing Yukari to meet and be mentored by accomplished women in her field.

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Paradise Kiss: Girls, Interrupted

Paradise Kiss: Girls, Interrupted

While Yukari’s story is a wonderful coming age story of a girl learning not to be defined by those around her, the female secondary characters, Miwako and Isabella, are not so lucky. Although they too are coming of age in their own right, their storylines are severely lacking compared to Yukari’s.

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Paradise Kiss: A Coming of Agency Tale

Paradise Kiss: A Coming of Agency Tale

Paradise Kiss could easily have been a standard “Girl meets boy, girl’s life is changed forever” narrative. Luckily, in the capable hands of Ai Yazawa, it instead becomes a beautifully drawn, thoughtful meditation on adulthood, ambition, and the ways we hurt the ones we care about. With the issues of agency, identity, and non-conformism front and center, Paradise Kiss has the potential to be a powerfully feminist narrative, and while not an unqualified success, it certainly succeeds on some levels.

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The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 4 Juri Arisugawa

The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 4 Juri Arisugawa

Juri is the only woman in a position of true institutional power in Revolutionary Girl Utena. By all appearances, she has everything: she’s beautiful, treasurer of the powerful Student Council, captain of the fencing team, and she has the respect and adoration of not only the student body, but the faculty and administration as well. And yet, rage seethes and simmers just under her placid surface.

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The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 5 Touga

The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 5 Touga

Despite their positions of power, the members of the Student Council are largely self-destructive. Saionji has no control of his emotions, to the extent that it leads to his eventual downfall at the end of the Student Council arc. Miki is so idealistic and naïve that it poisons his relationships with those who don’t adhere to his views. Juri’s cynicism blinds her to the potential in others. Utena is able to defeat them not necessarily because of her own talent, but because of their fatal flaws.

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The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 3 Miki

The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 3 Miki

Miki, the secretary of the Student Council, is in seventh grade and the youngest member by far. He is also the most “normal” (as far as that goes in this series) and likable of the student council, and throughout the show usually treats Utena and Anthy with dignity and respect. He is highly intelligent and sometimes serves as the innocent, virginal foil to his compatriots. But innocence can lead to black and white thinking and one being easily manipulated, as is the case with Miki and his virgin/whore complex.

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The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 2 Saionji

The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 2 Saionji

We first see Saionji through Utena’s eyes. Unnoticed, she watches as Saionji and Anthy quarrel outside of Anthy’s rose garden, until Saionji slaps her across the face. Utena is horrified as Saionji prepares to strike her again, but Touga catches his hand before he can, ending the confrontation.

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The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 1

The Four Horsemen of the Patriarchy: Part 1

Revolutionary Girl Utena is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite anime of all time. As a teenager, I fell in love with it for its beauty, its surreal story, and Utena’s incredible strength...I’ve come to realize that Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of the most honest commentaries on gender roles and agency I’ve seen in any medium, from any country.

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