Originally posted: Friday, July 11, 2008 on Blogger

Alrighty, I’ve stated in my previous post that I wanted to do this, so here it is, my comparison of Tohru against other female leads in manga. I will start out with Tohru, the perpetrator, who has strayed away, well at least in my eyes, from the female ideal of a kind female and has become the male ideal of a female. Yes, yes, this is going to be a rant and its subject will be Tohru. =P Afterwards, I will showcase other females; why they should be considered kind, and why they are not weak and submissive like Tohru.

Why I care and why you should too-
Its not just about a fictional character in a manga, it’s about the portrayal of females in general, which are seen by other females and males. And this is very important because the portrayal of females is basically the written rules of society on females. These rules are easily picked up by children, who will either internalize them or rebel against them. I happened to fit with the latter group of children. Furthermore, such characters serve as role models for young girls, if we have weak and submissive role models, we will have weak and submissive females. I truly believe girls should see themselves as active persons, no matter what they decide to pursue in life, be it a motherhood or a career life style.

Why Tohru?
Because she is the female lead of one of the most popular manga in both the States and Japan, making her one of the best known fictional heroines. It is she who is being seen as a role model and it is also she who is a weak and submissive female. This does not mean she is the only perpetrator, there are a few others in shoujo manga. I will make a brief mention of them at the end.

What about Shounen Manga?
Although shounen manga has its fill of weak and submissive female leads, it is written by males (and a few female authors) for males, so it is not at the top of my priority list. Furthermore, there are a surprising amount of shounen manga that actually have strong and positive female leads. In my counter examples I will mention some shounen examples of kind but active female leads. The shocking and ironic thing is, that the main perpetrator is from a shoujo title that is written by a female for females. So one would think that there should only be positive portrayals in this genre, but alas that is not always the case.

The Perpetrator: Honda Tohru
*From: Fruits Basket
*Genres: Shoujo, Romance, Fantasy
*Role: Main Character
*Female Archetype: Mother & Innocent/ Childlike Female
*Personality: Naive and Optimistic, Clumsy and Overly Kind
*Best Personality Trait: Optimistic, I have to say, her optimism is her only good point.
*Worst Personality Trait: Overly Kind, she apologizes for EVERYTHING, even when she doesn’t need to do so.
*Weak? yes. no athletic skills, nor any brains, she apologizes even when she is the victim. She never asserts herself, or makes a claim.
*Independent? Nope. she needs someone to be there, she can’t be her motherly self without them, now can she. But in all fairness, she seems to be able to take care of herself.
*Submissive? yes. she takes all abuse and apologizes even when she hasno reason to do so, she is constantly making sure everyone around her is happy, but never thinks about herself.
*Other: To clarify what I mean head over to this site

[Why?]
-because she is a doormat, plain and simple. She is portrayed as someone who is always worrying about others, but never herself, which would be fine, but it is taken to the extreme where she apologizes for other people’s actions, when it is she, who should be apologized to. Every time someone appears to be in trouble, she runs after them, which is fine, but she does it ALL the time, and it’s quite annoying, so much so, that she appears to be doing this ultimate mother figure act; I’m pretty sure that sometimes people need time for themselves. Furthermore, she not the sharpest knife in the drawer, since she needs Yuki’s help to answer even the majority of the questions on her exam. Not only does she lack intelligence, but also common sense; she doesn’t seem to understand that by acting especially nice to both Yuki and Kyo, she will break their hearts in the end. She should be nice, but she goes out of her way for the two of them, which would make anyone think she has romantic interests in them. Finally, she has no athletic talent at all, and the only talents she does have are all related to the domestic sphere, such as cooking and cleaning. Its nice that she can take care of herself, but the author should have given her more talents, not just things related to the house.

[Final Verdict] — Tohru is the perfect submissive wife, she will take care of all your needs, while submerging her own, and of her own free will too! Wow, boys I bet you’ve been searching your whole lives for this little lady, and ladies, doesn’t Tohru’s life sound so satisfying, to have your whole life revolve around a select few! But so sorry to burst your bubbles, ladies and gentlemen, she is but a fantasy. No one is so perfect of a wife, nor can there be someone with so little regard for themselves that has had a normal childhood. Not only this, but don’t expect not to be taken advantage of, soon you will realize that such excessive kindness is self-destructive.

First Counter: Nausicaa
*From: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
*Genres: Seinen, Political, Apocalyptic
*Role: Main Character*Female Archetype: Mother
*Personality: Strong-willed and courageous, empathetic and compassionate
*Best Personality Trait: She loves all life, from the smallest mold to the largest insect.
*Worst Personality Trait: None, I love everything about her.
*Weak? no. she has the whole world on her shoulders and she, herself made it so.
*Independent? yes! she does everything herself and doesn’t ask for help, but she does accept it when it is given to her without her having to ask for it.
*Submissive? no. if she thinks what you are doing is wrong, she will tell you and even stop you by ending your life.
*Other: What I find ironic and amusing is that Tohru was created by a female and Nausicaa by a male.

[Nausicaa vs. Tohru]

Where do I start? Nausicaa is the antithesis to Tohru, she has all the kindness of Tohru, but minus all Tohru’s weakness and submissiveness. Nausicaa loves all life, including humanity. Her closest archetype is the mother figure, since she is often portrayed as a mother, who saves and protects all life. The best example of this I find, is her saving the life of a soldier who breathed in miasma by sucking up his poisoned blood. All Nausicaa’s actions are portrayed as active choices she has made, not passive decisions she accepts. She chooses to save people’s lives, but she also isn’t a one sided character, she has her darker side, where she kills those who threaten her, those close to her, and her ideals. Furthermore, she is multi-talented, being both a skilled warrior and very intelligent; she also has many mysterious powers, like reading the wind and hearing into the hearts of all living things. As a warrior, she is exceptionally skilled with the sword, as she proved by winning a duel with a bigger and better armored solider. As for intelligence, she is one of the few who realize the sea of corruption’s true purpose and she is the only one to realize its true origin.

[Final Verdict]– Compared to Tohru, Nausicaa is a lot stronger, both physically, intellectually, and emotionally. Nausicaa is also a lot closer to reality then Tohru; where Tohru is a one sided character with only goodness, Nausicaa has both positive and negative tendencies, she saves lives and she destroys them. She also has a bigger heart then Tohru, for it extends beyond a few people to the whole of nature, yet she also feels anger and despair, something the one sided Tohru lacks. Nausicaa is one of the best female portrayals I have had the pleasure to see. She has not only emotional strength, but also physical and intellectual strength, and her compassion extends to everything; she saves both human and insect babies alike. Yet even with such a big heart, she also has the same negative emotions that the rest of us have, making her someone we can look up to and aspire to be like. Although Nausicaa is probably a hard ideal to achieve, she is not impossible, as long as you share the same ideals as she does. Tohru on the other hand is an impossible ideal, for she has no negative human emotions, the exception being sadness, which she displays once, and it is impossible for a person to only have positive emotions and never feel anger, fear, or jealousy.

Second Counter: Sarasa
*From: Basara
*Genres: Shoujo, Epic, Political, Apocalyptic
*Role: Main Character
*Female Archetype: Tomboy
*Personality: Strong-willed and courageous, kind and compassionate
*Best Personality Trait: Her growth as a character, she starts out very self centric and emotionally frail, but she grows as a person and becomes so much more stronger.
*Worst Personality Trait: None, I love everything about her.
*Weak? no. she has weaknesses, but she is not weak. She has moments of weakness, but ultimately overcomes them.
*Independent? yes. she carries her burdens on her own shoulders, even when her allies ask her to rely more on them. She eventually comes to rely more on others, but is still very much independent, often facing tough choices on her own.
*Submissive? no. she stands up for what she believes, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty, or raise up against the preconceived notions of female and male.
*Other: She is a lot like Nausicaa in certain respects, but she is also a lot different.

[Sarasa vs. Tohru]

Sarasa is another fine example of a kind female that doesn’t have to be weak and submissive in order to show some compassion. Sarasa is also a great example of a realistic, yet positive and strong portrayal of a female. As you read through the manga, you see Sarasa grow as a person; she isn’t a one dimensional character at all. She makes mistakes and grows stronger as she realizes the proper course she should have taken. She even has moments of depression, where she cannot momentarily overcome the mistakes she has made. Sarasa is strong physically, she can handle a fight or two. She is also intelligent; coming up with plans tooutwit her enemies, when she at a disadvantage. Emotionally, however, she is a lot more frail, but ultimately, she matures and becomes stronger emotionally. But best of all, she has a deep sense of compassion; she quickly realizes that the people she slays have families and loved ones too, and as a result, she eventually tries to kill as little people as possible. She is also very concerned with the wellbeing of her companions, often risking her own life to save theirs. Also, she is trusting and forgiving, as seen with Asagi and many of the mislead villains she meets, yet she isn’t naive. She knows that Asagi isn’t who he says he is, but she still decides to trust him. She can also be said to see the good in people, as with Shuri, Asagi, and all the misguided ‘villains’.

[Final Verdict]– Sarasa shows a lot of the kindness that Tohru does, like risking her life for the people she cares for, seeing the good in people, and being very trusting and forgiving. But the key difference is that Sarasa is a lot stronger then Tohru and has many talents that the latter lacks; such as swordsmanship, a sharp intellect, and a large pool of knowledge about many things, but in particular, plants. Nor is she trusting and forgiving out of naiveness as Tohru is, but rather out of the goodness of her own heart. But most important of all, Sarasa is neither weak nor submissive, and she is portrayed as an active, not passive female . In fact, she eventually accepts her feelings for Shuri, even through this is against the will of the people in her village, and in particular Kakuji. She also actively accepts, later on, her female aspects and her role as a savior, and not just as a fake Tatara. If you want to see a positive portrayal of an overly kind female, Sarasa is the one to look for, Tohru, on the other hand, is to be avoided.

Third Counter: Tenjou Utena
*From: Revolutionary Girl Utena & Adolescence of Utena (movie)
*Genres: Shoujo, Surreal, Psychological
*Role: Main Character
*Female Archetype: Tomboy
*Personality: Strong-willed and honorable, compassionate and innocent
*Best Personality Trait: Her strong will, this is what brings about the conclusion that we see at the end.
*Worst Personality Trait: Her innocence, it blinds her to the truth.
*Weak? no. even when psychologically wounded, she finds the strength to be herself.
*Independent? yes again. just see the ending. Also it is implied that she has been alone for quite some time, & she doesn’t let the school’s regulations stop her from wearing the boy’s uniform.
*Submissive? no. she stands up for what she believes and her love for Anthy.
*Other: Utena is the female prince, the whole show is a metaphor for feminism.

[Utena vs. Tohru]

Utena is yet another example of a female that has a lot of kindness, yet is strong physically, emotionally, and is intelligent. First, her physical strength is pretty apparent; she becomes the reigning champion until she reaches the final duel; thus meaning she can out duel anyone, and don’t think that this is due to the help of Dios. His ghost entering Utena is more of a symbolic image of her becoming a prince (this is clarified in the movie where Dios doesn’t enter Utena, but rather, Utena’s fencing match reminds Anthy of Dios, so much so, that she momentarily sees Utena as Dios). Emotionally she is also very strong, even stronger then she is physically, and we see the extent of this strength twice, first when she duels Toga for a second time, and then again at the conclusion of the show. The first time she duels Toga, she is emotionally weakened prior to the duel, as he used his underhand ways to confuse the innocent Utena into thinking he may be her prince. Her loss and the subsequent actions of Anthy shake her to her core, and she momentarily gives up and accepts her biological destiny as a female; in short she becomes submissive. She eventually realizes, thanks to Wakaba’s words, that this type of female isn’t really her and challenges Toga to another duel. In this duel, Toga pulls out all the tricks and continues to try and hurt Utena psychologically like before, however, Utena shows the true extent of her inner strength and defeats him. The second time is much more profound, and it not only shows her strength, but also her kindness. In the finale, Utena, deeply wounded, stumbles towards the door to revolution and with the sincerity and strength of her heart is able to open it. What takes place after she opens the door is a big spoiler, so I will only mention that the scene is very moving and shows the full extent of her inner strength and the goodness of her heart. Finally intellectually, Utena is also exceptional, in her first duel, it took her superior intellect to outwit the better armed Shouji. Furthermore, in one of the episodes, it is made apparent that Utena is very good at math; as she normally gets As, but in that particular episode, she got a horrible mark due to her preoccupation with duels. Now finally, how is Utena kind? Firstly, when she sees both her best friend and later Anthy being bullied, she confronts the bully (both times it was Shouji). Furthermore, after she realizes that Anthy really has no will, she doesn’t stop caring for her or trying to reawaken her will. The distance she will go for her loved ones is made apparent in the final episode, but I won’t spoil that for any of you who have not watched Utena (and you really should, it is a really good and thought provoking show!).

[Final Verdict] — Once again, Utena is both emotionally and physically stronger then Tohru, not to mention a whole lot smarter. Really I don’t see the appeal behind Tohru unless one is a misogynist; since Utena is a lot more honest and innocent with her feelings, not to mention she really cares about other peoples’ problems and after she looses her innocence, she is a lot less patronizing and a lot more genuine. Oh and by honest I mean that Tohru is in denial that she is bouncing around Yuki and the other Sohma family members for reasons that are less then selfless. She herself even states in volume three that she is happy to be blessed with the wonderful and kind princes of the Sohma family, which basically means she likes the attention they give her. Utena, on the other hand, knows and admits that what she does with Akio is causing a rift between her and Anthy. Sure she doesn’t do much at first, but she has the courage to admit to herself that what she is doing is selfish, unlike Tohru. Yes I do enjoy picking out the flaws in Tohru, because, she is one of the most flawed character creations and I just hate her little innocent act when she harbors such thoughts, but recreates them in her mind as something much more innocent.

Fourth Counter: Oscar Francois de Jarjayes

*From: Rose of Versailles
*Genres: Shoujo, Romance, Historical
*Role: Main Character
*Female Archetype: Tomboy
*Personality: Righteous and Compassionate, Courageous andIntelligent
*Best Personality Trait: Courage, she looks so cool in her duels, so much so that I want to start fencing! Also she isn’t afraid to state what she thinks, even if it puts her in danger.
*Worst Personality Trait: None, I love everything about her ^^
*Weak? no. she is strong intellectually, physically, and emotionally. She can handle her own in fights, she uses her intelligence to solve crimes, and she is able to overcome her unrequited love. In one word, she is awesome.
*Independent? yes. she does what she wants and does not let anyone control her.
*Submissive? never. she tells you what she thinks. She even leaves the french army and stands on the side of the revolution because she thinks that is the right choice.
*Other: This is the inspiration for Revolutionary Girl Utena.

[Oscar vs. Tohru]

I must be getting very repetitive, but I hope by doing so, I drill it into someone’s head that Tohru is a horrible portrayal of the female gender, and she really ruins what could have been an average but enjoyable manga. Ocsar on the other hand, is what makes Rose of Versailles such a good manga and anime; she is just so darn cool. Not only is she strong physically, emotionally and intellectually, but she does everything in style. It’s hard not to fall for her charm and enjoy her awesomeness, especially when she is being righteous. ^^ Now her physical strength is pretty apparent as she always wins duels, but its not just her physical strength that allows her to capture villains; she uses her intelligence just as much to figure out how to capture them most efficiently, and to outwit the smarter villains. Emotionally, the best portrayal of her strength lies in the unrequited love she feels for Fersen. She indulges in it once, but afterward when she realizes they can only be friends, she accepts it with grace and strength. Nor does she hate Marie Antoinette for loving Fersen, which takes great wisdom and strength, and in fact, her love (not romantic, but a friendly love) for Marie is constant throughout the series, even when Oscar deflects from the French Guards and later the French Army. She isn’t stuck up either, even through she comes from a very wealthy family; Oscar is very much aware of the plea of the French peasants, and at first she believes that Marie and her husband will be able to overcome and fix the problem, but she gradually comes to believe that more drastic action is needed to remove all the corruption that the monarchy cannot. The care and compassion she shows Rosalie, in particular, showcases her kindness very well.

[Final Verdict] — Oscar is the opposite of Tohru, where Tohru is a doormat, Oscar is an awe inspiring sword dueler. Oscar just oozes awesomeness, if you don’t think she is awesome, then you must be a misogynist, because Oscar is the female version of the traditional hero. She is righteous, but not to a sicking point; the fact that she has a big heart full of compassion really helps balance her as a character with a good sense of justice, yet the compassion to understand why others commit wrongs. Seriously, who is the better role model: the awesome yet virtuous Oscar, or the weak and passive Tohru, my vote is on Oscar =)

Fifth Counter: Kinomoto Sakura
*From: Cardcaptor Sakura
*Genres: Shoujo, Magical Girl, Romance
*Role: Main Character
*Female Archetype: Innocent/ Childlike Female
*Personality: Athletic and Honest, Innocent and Sweet
*Best Personality Trait: Innocence, she is just so beautifully innocent, so much so that she doesn’t realize certain things, like Ruka’s love for their teacher, and Syoaran and Tomoyo’s love for her, ect.
*Worst Personality Trait: Also innocence, sometimes I wish she wasn’t as oblivious as she is about Syoaran’s feeling for her. Although I find it cute nonetheless.
*Weak? no. she good with everything: sports, school,cooking, and magic, not to mention she is the sweetest little girl ever. And she always does what she believes is right.
*Independent? yes. there are quite a few times that she has to rely on only herself. Plus she is able to take care of herself when both her older brother and father are at work.
*Submissive? a little. sometimes she gets intimidated by Syoaran, but thankfully she always rises above that intimidation to shine again.
*Other: Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the most popular manga in the states, which warms my heart.

[Sakura vs. Tohru]

Sakura is a lot closer to Tohru then the previous examples, since both are childlike, but unlike Tohru, Sakura is childlike because she is a child, and she is far more of an active character then Tohru can hope to be. Sakura is the sweetest little girl I have ever met, (or read about. hehe.) but that doesn’t mean she is a pushover, or lacks a more spunky personality. True, she does get intimidated by Syaoran when they meet the first few times, but she eventually musters her strength and shows him that she too can capture cards using her own wits and powers. And her spunk is best shown when she is interacting with her brother (they are such cute siblings). Physically, Sakura is in top form; her best subject is gym and she often impresses her fellow classmates with her physical fitness and flexibility. Magically she is the star of the show and hence has the strongest magical power, and if not (since it debatable), then she is at least on par with Eriol. Emotionally she is your typical young girl, albeit a little oblivious, with a very cheerful demeanor and a sugary sweetness; it’salmost difficult to resist her charm. And finally, she has some brains, often solving tricky puzzles involving Clow cards (remember Watery to see what I mean). She is a much better choice if you happen to like innocent and childlike females, because she is more assertive then Tohru. Although, I am not a big fan of the childlike females, I do love Sakura, since she is a child and she is very much an active character.
[Final Verdict] — If you read the above, you know that Sakura > Tohru. Both are childlike, but Sakura is active, while Tohru is passive. Furthermore, Sakura actually has an excuse for being childlike, since she is a child; Tohru does not. I’m a big fan of CCS, but if Sakura had turned out like Tohru, I would probably hate it just as much as I hate Fruits Basket. And although Sakura is naive, a trait that I really hate, it is excusable since she is still a child and is a lot more assertive and active then Tohru.

Sixth Counter: Princess Sakura
*From: Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
*Genres: Shounen, Fantasy, Epic, Romance
*Role: Main Female Lead
*Female Archetype: Princess in Need
*Personality: Kind and Sweet, Innocent and Genuine
*Best Personality Trait: Genuine, she genuinely worries about syaoran and the others and tries her hardest to help them in some way, even when she knows that she can’t do much.
*Worst Personality Trait: Innocence, this is partly due to the loss of her feathers and the price syaoran pays to travel to different worlds with her. She is cruel without meaning to be, thus in a sense innocently cruel. She begins to change as the manga progresses and looses some of her childly innocence. I personally believe this is a good change.
*Weak? she is physically weak, but is emotionally and magically strong. She seems to have some common sense. At first she is really frail, but this is due to the lose of her feathers, and she will become a stronger character.
*Independent? somewhat. as with everything else about her, she gradually becomes more independent.
*Submissive? no. she always protests and tries to change what she feels is wrong, at the beginning, she doesn’t have much strength and is usually unsuccessful in her endeavors, but as the manga progresses she gains more strength and is able to do more.
*Other: At first I hated this incarnation of Sakura, but she grows up and gains more strength as a character.

[Princess Sakura vs. Tohru]

Of all the examples I give, Princess Sakura is the most like Tohru, both are soft spoken and physically frail, but they differ in the fact that Sakura-hime isn’t a doormat like Tohru, even if at first this seems to be the case. When we are first introduced to Sakura-hime, she seems to be very much like Sakura-chan from CCS: both are cheery and have a bit of spunk. But then the plot starts moving and our poor Sakura is left as nothing but a lifeless dummy (or doll if you prefer). When she does awaken, the majority of the time she is off looking into space and doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about what is happening around her. Oh yes, I was very upset about what they did to one of my favourite characters! By then slowly, almost without notice, there comes change. At first it is only a little: Sakura begins to show some concern and wants to do the work herself (but Syaoran won’t let that happen, he is too devoted). Then a breakthrough happens in Jade country, Sakura actually does something without the help of the others! Yes, it’s nothing too big, but its still a step forward. Then again in Puffle country she takes the cake by actually doing all the work necessary to gain a feather. All this builds up to the Tokyo arch, where the flood gates open and Sakura shows a iron will unlike anything before; she gets dirty, she kills, she hurts herself and comes back as a mess, but ladies and gentlemen, she gets the job done and oh boy, by the time this rolled around, Sakura had already left behind her frailty and became the Sakura I knew once more.
[Final Verdict] — If you like your heroines to be feminine, then TRC Sakura is the better choice. She is feminine, yet strong and independent. Tohru is feminine, but weak; not the ideal choice for a positive role model. Sakura is also very kind, as her interactions with the characters, and flashbacks prove. What is great about Sakura is that she eventually sheds the innocent and weak girl image she is made to bear. Its a nice twist, and I like it a lot. Sure, it is pretty hard to stomach the earlier parts of the manga, but my CCS nostalgia helped me through that a lot, and Syaoran is so beautifully in love and devoted to her that I can’t bring myself to hate him for rescuing her as much as he does. Plus he isn’t domineering like a lot of the male leads that save females are; he lets her do as she wishes, and only watches from the shadows. I actually quite enjoy the unconditional and understanding love he gives her, and the pain that comes with it. I think it is one of the reasons I love Tsubasa so much, and why I don’t mind the princess in need motif. The fact that she starts becoming more active soon after her awakening is also a nice bonus, even through I had to wait till volume 4 for something more concrete then worried pleas. The bottom line? It is a shounen manga, and it is a nice change for Syaoran to now be the main character. Sure it takes time for Sakura to develop, but the wait is worthwhile, and I love it when manga have evolving characters. And it doesn’t hurt that the plot is so interesting and complex that it keeps me coming back for more. Sakura is a good female character, even if she is a little more tame then her CCS counterpart.

Seventh Counter: Makino Tsukushi
*From: Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango)
*Genres: Shoujo, Romance
*Role: Main character
*Female Archetype: Tomboy
*Personality: Fierce and Strong-willed, Compassionate and Spunky
*Best Personality Trait: Spunky, she has an attitude and she will tell you what she thinks. Her spunky personality is why is a favorite of mine.
*Worst Personality Trait: Nothing, well maybe the fact that she is a bit indecisive, although it really isn’t annoying like with some characters. It has more to do with the fact that she likes someone she can’t have and she starts falling for someone she is suppose to hate with every fiber of her soul.
*Weak? nope. she doesn’t run, she stands up to the bullying. She is weakest, physically, but she still has a lot of physical strength. Her core strength is the strength of her person, which allows her to stand up to the bullying, instead of running away.
*Independent? yes. she works to pay for her own needs, she overcomes the bullying usually on her own.
*Submissive? also no. she stands up to the bullies and anyone who tries to buy her off or intimidate her.
*Other: Tsukushi, in my humble option, is the closest to a real female, she isn’t exceptionally strong physically, but she isn’t weak either. She is bright and she is strong-willed. She is your average Jane, but with a lot of spunk. And she has her flaws too, she isquick to anger, and a bit indecisive.

[Tsukushi vs. Tohru]

If only Tohru was like Tsukushi, a spunky girl with a big heart, then fruits basket would have won me over and I would most definitely be another loyal fan, but alas we can’t have everything we want. I am thankful however, that there are still female authors out there that consider Tsukushi a worthy ideal and leading character. Thank you Kamio-san, I really love Hana Yori Dango, it is a pure pleasure to read. I even like the parts where Tsukasa saves Tsukushi, and I usually don’t like the princess in need of rescue, so that’s saying a lot. But now on to Tsukushi’s assessment; physically, she is average, she isn’t afraid of fights, but she isn’t super strong either. I really like that about her, because it makes her much more human then those super heros or heroines. Emotionally, she is very strong, she does have moments of weakness, but again these only make her more human. Intellectually, she is also bright, it is implied that Tsukushi must have had good marks to get into the elite school since her family is very poor and doesn’t have any connections. Also, she often comes up with ingenious ways to avoid the bullies or get back at them. Now, Tsukushi doesn’t seem like a candidate for a kind female, but she is, and much more then you would expect. The earliest and best example comes in the form of Sakurako, who engineers a really mean prank in order to weaken Tsukasa’s feelings for Tsukushi. After her prank fails and Tsukasa believes in Tsukushi, rather then the photos Sakurako shows him, a rumor about Sakurako gets started. Tsukushi still defends Sakurako, even after what she has done to her, and the two are on friendly terms, even if Tsukushi is a bit weary of Sakurako.
[Final Verdict] — I wonder how Tohru would handle herself in Tsukushi’s place hmm? I don’t think I need to say anything else.

Eighth Counter: Sakura Mikan

*From: Gakuen Alice
*Genres: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance
*Role: Main Character
*Female Archetype: Innocent/ Childlike Female
*Personality: Spunky and Kind, Innocent and Understanding
*Best Personality Trait: Her spunk, I just love to see her get angry at being called ugly or a hag, she is so cute when she talks back.
*Worst Personality Trait: Kindness,sometimes she seems to care a little too much, and it just makes me cringe a little, but it has only happened once, so its not too big of an issue.
*Weak? at first, but she grows up, and does not whine and ask for help as much later on. She isn’t particularly strong in any one area (emotionally, physically, or intellectually), but she isn’t portrayed as weak either, she is just average.
*Independent? not at first, but she grows up and takes all the hard balls gakuen alice throws her; she can take care of her own room and seems to be able to get through the day without needing help from Hotaru or anyone else.
*Submissive? never. if she is being bullied or called names she talks right back. She does get intimidated by Natsume on a number of occasions, but that does not stop her from talking to him later.
*Other? I’ve only seen the anime and read the first volume, so keep that in mind when you read my comments about her. She reminds me of a more mouthy Sakura, both are favourites of mine.
[Mikan vs. Tohru]

I thought including Mikan would be a good idea, since both Tohru and Mikan’s smiles heal the hearts of troubled boys. However, unlike Tohru, Mikan has a lot more personality; I guess Mikan is what Tohru would have been, if she was given more spunk and portrayed as a more active character. Mikan isn’t portrayed as especially strong in any one regard, but she isn’t portrayed as weak either, so in a sense, she is average, both physically, and emotionally, and has an average level of intelligence. I am fine with this portrayal, because, unlike Tohru, Mikan has some attitude! She is also quite innocent, which is also all right with me, as she is still a child, and I find I don’t mind when little girls are portrayed as innocent, as long as they are not helpless. As stated before, Mikan’s overally nice disposition and optimistic outlook slowly defrosts Natsume and Ruka’s hearts, making her a nice direct comparison to Tohru.

 

[Final Verdict] — Mikan doesn’t wait passively for Hotaru to come back to see her, like Tohru would probably do in her place, she goes out and finds Hotaru herself. Nor does she take the abuse Natsume and his classmates give her, she talks back and accepts their challenges. Sure she gets intimidated by Natsume at times, but since she is a little girl, it’s more believable, and that doesn’t stop her from talking to him later. Mikan is what I would have liked Tohru to be, someone with some backbone and spunk, but alas that is not the case.

Other Noteworthy Kind but Strong Heroines:

*Ahiru from Princess Tutu
*Nakajima, Youko from The Twelve Kingdoms
*Shidou, Hikaru from Magic Knight Rayearth
*Haneoka, Meimi from Saint Tail
*Bellmont, Sherry from Konjiki no Gash Bell!!

Some Other Weak Female Leads According to Me:

(1) Narita, Hatsumi
-From: Hot Gimmick (Shoujo)

–she had potential to grow, but is left as a weak, air headed, and indecisive female lead. One of the worst offenders, she is even worse then Tohru, because she knows better, but let’s the guys overpower her. Stay away from this manga if you hate weak female leads.
(2) Yukimura, Aine
-From: Sensual Phrase (Josei)
–I haven’t read this manga, but based from what I can gather from summaries and reviews, Aine is VERY submissive. I guess it lends well to the erotic feel of the manga, but I for one really hate these types of female leads. The good news? Its a title for older women, so Sensual Phrase is more of a guilty pleasure then anything else really.
(3) Mikage, Aya
-From: Ceres: Celestical Legend /Ayashi no Ceres (shoujo)
-Alright so Aya isn’t the weakest leading female out there, but boy is she annoying! Yes, she has some spunk to her, but she is awfully weak against those of the opposite sex. Which seems to be a trait of Watase-san’s heroine’s. But don’t get me wrong, Ayashi no Ceres is very entertaining, just Aya is not. And her whole fixation on Toya, who is still a total stranger, is not cute, it’s very annoying and rather naive of her. Now Ceres, on the other hand, is pretty cool.
(4) Mizuno, Suzume
-From: Konjiki no Gash Bell!!(Shounen)
-I love Konjiki no Gash Bell, which should not be mistaken for the dub titled Zach Bell. The original is a lot more fun, since it has a lot of devious humor that the dub cuts out. Suzume is the shounen version of Tohru, air headed and just plain dumb, her fate is what Tohru’s should be in reality: the boys put up with her, but no one in their right mind would actually think of dating her. Thankfully, the anime (and manga) give us two other female characters that are A LOT better then Suzume: Megumi and Sherry (the latter which I have already mentioned under ‘other noteworthy kind but strong heroines’). Both of these characters have a lot of inner strength, especially Sherry, she is just plain awesome! And both of them are A LOT more intelligent then Suzume. Thankfully, Suzume doesn’t have too much air time after Megumi is introduced.

And that concludes this week’s extra long rant. As a closing statement, I will say I am not adverse to kind females in manga (I really like both Sakura and Mikan) as long as they aren’t helpless and dumb individuals who can’t do anything for themselves. Thankfully since I couldn’t think of as many weak female leads as strong ones, I am happy to say that the majority of manga has decent leading females, that or I just seem to skip over a lot of the ones which don’t have decent leads.
–SW
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