What HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD Says About Sexism in Anime

Topic started by No_name_here on Oct. 8, 2012. Last post by Luckybrum 1 year, 10 months ago.
Post by No_name_here (855 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff

You’re all about to get more Sam Weller in your lives. Remember, this is all just MY opinion. I don’t presume to speak for anyone but me. My hope is to spur some healthy discussion for our Vicers!

I’ve wanted to talk about the way that anime has affected me for a while now - - what it’s telling me about culture and characters and otherwise. I wanted a chance to talk about anime beyond its entertainment value and try to analyze - - in my amateurish way - - how it's changed my opinion as I’ve gotten older.

So I figured I’d start with the ladies of anime.

It’s important to note that I enjoy the entertainment value of sex in anime (if the harem episode of the Vice Pit is any indication). I’ve admitted to friends (not family) how “hot” certain characters are, and how that has greatly improved my enjoyment of a show. Sex sells, and by all means, I was buying.

So for these reasons, I was initially really excited about a show I watched recently: HIGH SCHOOL OF THE DEAD

I made the wrong call on this show, and I’m sorry about it. But let’s start from the beginning...

On that Vice Pit episode, I talked about how my friends and I would gleefully watch the adventures of the sword and gun toting (possibly back-pain suffering) protagonists of HOTD. Short skirts, inventive camera angles, and a great deal of over-the-top cheesecake and blood kept these girls safely within the realm of self-aware grindhouse parody.

Sure, they were sixteen-year-old's with impossible cup sizes... but it was funny, and ridiculous. The tone of the piece in places made it okay to laugh at their peril. In other words, I didn’t take it too seriously. Just like I had done with most sexy high school anime girl shows in the past. The action against zombies was the centerpiece, and while their mammaries bounced with abandon, characters like sword-swinging Saeko kicked ass as much as they showed it. It was okay for them to sexy as long as they had a Xena: Warrior Princess swagger!

But then the fun stopped for me about midway through the series. I considered how many times these women are yelled at, slapped, and in Saeko’s case, literally had their breasts twisted and mangled in a complete out-of-character shift by the main character, Takashi. There was a lot of it.

My jaw dropped. I could not believe how brazen and blatant Takashi’s misogyny became. Episode to episode, his motivation shifted from friendly to violent for no reason other than to have him beat on a woman. When Takashi’s friend Saya is lifted up by him in one heated scene, the camera angle switches so you can possibly mistake his action as him choking her...

Why the sudden shift in tone? Why did this show have to show this kind of violence towards women?

Takashi ostensibly does these outlandish actions to “snap the women out of it” and force them into action. Of course, he chooses to inflict violence instead of inflicting a cognitive discussion. More hurtful is the idea that Takashi is the character the audience is supposed to identify with as the leader and “hero” of the whole story. Blegh.

I stated that this show was “under-appreciated” in the past (this was before I finished the show) and I now wish to recant that statement. What this show actually is.... is misogynist and offensive. It's insulting not just to women, but also to me as a viewer.

But this sort of violent, “Hey women! Shut up!" attitude has been around for YEARS in certain places of anime. The scenes with Saeko and Takashi unfortunately brought to mind something similar that happened in FIST OF THE NORTH STAR; an equally macho show that was once one of my absolutely favorites as a fledgling anime fan.

In this clip, Rei attempts to pull Mamiya - - who has been shown to be a warrior in her own right - - away from an oncoming battle simply because she is a woman. And when words fail to sway her, he takes more direct action...

Setting aside the misguided YouTube comments that extol Rei’s “gentlemanly virtues” I couldn’t view this clip as just “how things were animated back then." Too much of what I find potentially offensive in classic anime still exists to this day, and it troubles me.

After watching HOTD with my friends (and my girlfriend) I came to feel embarrassed - - like all I'd done was reinforce the sterotype that anime is all big-breasted women jumping around and getting violated. I had done a disservice to myself and anime in general!

But how is it I’m only just now feeling a little sick about it? Haven’t bad representations of women always been around in anime? I had to seek out the truth. I had to find out if my attitudes towards women were just ignored in the past in the anime I liked, or if I wasn’t even aware of what was wrong in the first place. So I’m going to dedicate at least two more columns to this topic. I'll try to figure out if I’ve been a little sexist in ways I might not have noticed before by going back through some of the anime of my past.

As I make this journey, I encourage all who read this to make one of their own. Come to your conclusions, disagree with me, discuss among yourselves... however you want to express it.

Thanks for reading, and remember, it’s just MY opinion. Ganbatte.

NEXT WEEK: CUTEY HONEY, OR THE HENTAI EFFECT

Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow @cravesam

Post by Marshal Victory (2,124 posts) See mini bio Level 13

Heres the thing...one can project upon any work a sterotype, a disfunction or my fav your " this: or "that" by just watching this..Context can be forgoten or simply thrown in the trashcan to scew a view of a work.

Now that said if watching a antimated show of any type makes you abuse or view things difrent an or violent.. well your creator may have left out a few screws an not tightend the rest.To be clear saying this in general not about any one .

Years ago before most of ya were around i had go threw this crap with dungeon & dragons.It will cause you to comit suicide etc etc.Video games go threw similar thing with as well.Oh an music to.Its simple really.The owner of the finger that pulls the trigger is responsable .Bottem line or The Catcher in the Rye caused that nut to shoot John Lennon.

Also if Highschool of the Dead is misogyny personified um why this then ?

http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/high-school-of-the-dead-cosplay

Or are we to assume that they just dont know?They have mean people forcing them to cosplay?Now i get to crack out the dvd an go watch the parts you mentioned..memory doesnt serve me atm.

Post by sickVisionz (4,258 posts) See mini bio Level 24
Moderator

Interesting read. I haven't seen HotD in well over a year and honestly don't recall more violence towards non zombie women other than maybe a wake up call slap (I was more upset that the only black dude in the entire series was a psycho rapist) but I wouldn't be shocked if it was there. I always thought the whole point of the series was over the top gore, boobies bouncing, and the otaku dream that no matter how much of a loser you are, the hottest girls in the school will want penetration from you.

You didn't mention it but I feel the need to bring up the show in the article image: Sora no Otoshimono. That show is porn. It's porno. Undeniably porno. You didn't do it but pleeeeaaaase don't use porn as an example of something wrong with standard content. It'd be like saying western cinema objectifies women too much and then spinning Barely Legal Deep Throat Junkies 17 as an example of how your typical western film deals with female characters.

Post by FoxxFireArt (2,640 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

Just for the record, the HOTD anime made several changed to the story of the manga. It doesn't have as many obligatory panty shots, and Takashi doesn't lift Saya off her feet. He just grabs her by the shirt.

@sickVisionz:

The thug who attacked them in the gas station wasn't a black man. He was Japanese. There are some Japanese who have darker skin tone.

Post by Lurkero (405 posts) See mini bio Level 7

I ignore more than 50% of seasonal anime for the specific fact that they tend to pander to the same misogynistic tropes. It really annoys me that so many anime contain such "humor" and antics.

On the other hand, lots of anime also have the trope of the timid male that gets beat by the female whenever he does something awkward or stupid.

Post by Destinyheroknight (10,239 posts) See mini bio Level 21

Hmm, I didn't really notice the sexism in HSOTD. I guess it fly over my head or I just so used to it. Anyway, I see worster in other media *cough* Twilight *cough*

@sickVisionz:

Well, Sora no Otoshimono is a shonen Ecchi series. So it technically not a porno, but it look like it

Post by UltimateHero0406 (5,032 posts) See mini bio Level 16

I knew I wasn't the only one who thought that about the main character in HSTD. I remember the time that the girl with glasses was freaking out and he grabbed her breast soo hard and I think twisted it. It looked like it hurt and somehow, everyone else was ok with that. A little off topic, he also told a little girl to pee on his back and his friend also talked like a serial killer. But anyway, I do think that women are used as helpless sex objects a little too much in anime.

Post by sickVisionz (4,258 posts) See mini bio Level 24
Moderator

@Destinyheroknight said:

@sickVisionz:Well, Sora no Otoshimono is a shonen Ecchi series. So it technically not a porno, but it look like it

In Japan they call softcore porn cartoons "shonen ecchi" but it's still softcore porn cartoons.

@FoxxFireArt said:

The thug who attacked them in the gas station wasn't a black man. He was Japanese. There are some Japanese who have darker skin tone.

My bad, I should have said "I was more upset that the only Japanese person who doesn't look the least bit Japanese and looks 100% like a black dude in the entire series was a psycho rapist."

Post by Daniel_Newton (3,183 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator

I honestly didn't think much of the "violence" shown towards women while I was watching Highschool of the Dead, and generally chalked it up to the fact that it's the freaking zombie apocalypse and there's no time for characters to be hesitant or upset. I can understand why it could be seen an excessive, though, but I honestly don't think Takashi was written to be some kind of woman-beater.

As for the scene when he aggressively grabs Saeko's breasts... that was very specific to the situation and the character and shouldn't be taken out of context. For context, she had just told him about her past:

Four years prior to the story, Saeko was attacked by a man on her way home one night; however, she was able to easily overpower the man since she had her wooden sword with her. After severely injuring the man the police released her due to the circumstances, but after that night, Saeko found that she had a sadistic side to her and enjoyed killing.

If I remember correctly, the two were literally surrounded by zombies and Saeko was being hesitant and frightened for the first time. Takashi "attacked" her the way he did to unleash her darker side, and at the same time told her that he accepted that side of her and she needed it for them to survive. It actually brought the two closer and helped Saeko accept who she is.

@sickVisionz said:

You didn't mention it but I feel the need to bring up the show in the article image: Sora no Otoshimono. That show is porn. It's porno. Undeniably porno. You didn't do it but pleeeeaaaase don't use porn as an example of something wrong with standard content. It'd be like saying western cinema objectifies women too much and then spinning Barely Legal Deep Throat Junkies 17 as an example of how your typical western film deals with female characters.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with that. It's an "ecchi" show for sure, but it's hardly "porno" any more than Highschool of the Dead is. There are bathing scenes and changing scenes and panty shots (as there are in HOTD) but it doesn't really go beyond that. There aren't any sex scenes or even implied sex scenes. Drawing up a comparison to "Barely Legal Deep Throat Junkies 17" is kind of ridiculous. Also, FUNimation don't produce full English dubs of straight-up porn, as far as I'm aware anyway.

The image Sam used is from Sohara's dream and it's only on screen for a few seconds. Taken out of context makes it easy to get the wrong idea.

Post by Destinyheroknight (10,239 posts) See mini bio Level 21

@sickVisionz:

No, they just call it ecchi. I pretty sure that they don't have softcore porn in a shonen magazine (they usually in Seinen ones)

But what do I know, I haven't watch or read Sora no Otoshimono yet

Post by zaldar (1,253 posts) See mini bio Level 15

I approve of this discussion. How you got through this without talking about the scene where he literally shoots a gun using one of the girls breasts as a mount and the recoil makes her breast jiggle....I don't know.

This is the kind of deep intellectual discussion I like and wish we had more of. So good call on that. I will try to find some time to read through the comments and make some of my own.

High school of the dead though is by far not the worst offender and really is a grind house parody like you mentioned. You want to look at really bad stuff...go see puni puni poemi (and don't blame me when you gouge your eyes out with a spoon).

Post by Marshal Victory (2,124 posts) See mini bio Level 13

@UltimateHero0406 said:

I knew I wasn't the only one who thought that about the main character in HSTD. I remember the time that the girl with glasses was freaking out and he grabbed her breast soo hard and I think twisted it. It looked like it hurt and somehow, everyone else was ok with that. A little off topic, he also told a little girl to pee on his back and his friend also talked like a serial killer. But anyway, I do think that women are used as helpless sex objects a little too much in anime.

Um isnt that the part where their walking on a wali top with zombies bellow an he cant stop to let her down to or they could grab her an him.So your pointing this out cuase he ejoyed it.. oh wait he didnt.

See what happens is say some one posts something an others follow .. like the review on aint it cool an the guy was caling High school of the Dead just off the trailer ... Misogyny of the Dead.. an then were off to the races.Or seeing raceism where this is none.Or state things from something they thought they saw .. maybe.

Sam Weller your 1st watch of it you liked it for what it was.Now after watching it with others has their views become your opinion?Cause on second read of this i get that feeling.Its easy to post stuff but defend your opinion .Show it episode an time marks.Cause if this is anime = Misogyny i dont need the joke or the laugh.

Misogyny by definition means Hatred of women.An the only character i can recall in anime i have watched ,that actualy has that is

http://www.animevice.com/oscar/18-34376/

Post by UltimateHero0406 (5,032 posts) See mini bio Level 16

@Marshal Victory: Oh yeah, I forgot what the situation was there. But the rest of my opinion still stands.

Post by Marshal Victory (2,124 posts) See mini bio Level 13

@sickVisionz said:

You didn't mention it but I feel the need to bring up the show in the article image: Sora no Otoshimono. That show is porn. It's porno. Undeniably porno.

It is deniable it is porn.

Ecchi yes..Porn no.

Poor plot yes.. porn no.

Henti nope, porn still no

.Most sites list it as Comedy ,Ecchi,Romance,Sci-Fi , Shounen,Harem,Drama or a mix their of... no mention of porn.. a noticalbe lack of porn in the discriptions..

Watchable.maybe...Porn.. no.

Post by FoxxFireArt (2,640 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator

I'm still confused as to what that fan art picture of the PERSONA 4 cast is meant to be about. You don't even reference it in the article. Why are you dragging this series into the topic?

And there's going to be another article on this topic?? Not that sexism in anime isn't a topic worth discussion, but it needs three parts separated by the week? No thanks.

@sickVisionz:

How does he look 100% like a "black dude"? Not to mention that few look Japanese in most anime. To me, he looked like a Japanese dude with darker skin.

Post by sickVisionz (4,258 posts) See mini bio Level 24
Moderator

@Marshal Victory: @Destinyheroknight: @Daniel_Newton: It's like Girls Gone Wild with a storyline. Nudity, breast jiggles, panty shots, and things of that nature are a constant in the series. In many ways they are the entire point of the series.

Post by Destinyheroknight (10,239 posts) See mini bio Level 21

@sickVisionz:

I just flip through the manga of Sora no Otoshimono and read a review for the anime. In the manga they don't show nipples and what I hear of the anime, they don't either

It not Girls Gone Wild if they don't show any nipples

Post by konantenshi (12 posts) See mini bio Level 11

I don't really like this anime...

It's too heavy for me > <

Post by Daniel_Newton (3,183 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator

@sickVisionz said:

It's like Girls Gone Wild with a storyline. Nudity, breast jiggles, panty shots, and things of that nature are a constant in the series. In many ways they are the entire point of the series.

You could say the exact same stuff about Highschool of the Dead, I fail to see how one of these shows is more "pornographic" than the other. In fact, of the two shows HOTD is the only one to show nipples in the uncensored release, admittedly only Shizuka's are ever shown and only in one episode, but still.

Ecchi shows are not hentai; they're considered separate genres for a reason. To lump both categories together and call them "porno" is kind of silly. I'm not denying that fan service is used to titillate, obviously it is, but fan service doesn't equal porn or hentai.

If I were to to make a scale, where 10 is the "extremely questionable" zone (the border between ecchi and hentai) it would look like this:

Note: in the interest of fairness I'm comparing the uncensored versions of these shows.

  1. Dragon Ball (a little fan service, a few bathing scenes, mild nudity conveniently censored)
  2. One Piece (slightly more fan service, a few more bathing scenes, mild nudity conveniently censored)
  3. Fairy Tail (occasional fan service, mild-intermediate nudity conveniently censored)
  4. Binbogami ga!, Zero no Tsukaima (some bathing scenes, occasional breast jiggling, intermediate nudity conveniently censored)
  5. Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? (panty shots, breast jiggling, intermediate-moderate nudity conveniently censored)
  6. Highschool of the Dead, Sora no Otoshimono (excessive panty shots, more breast jiggling, moderate nudity mostly conveniently censored)
  7. Strike Witches (moderate nudity, excessive bathing scenes every 2 or 3 episodes)
  8. Sekirei, Queen's Blade, Samurai Girls (heavy nudity virtually every episode)
  9. Manyuu Hikenchou (breasts are literally the main plot point)
  10. Seikon no Qwaser, KissxSis (basically jump the fence into hentai-land every few episodes and then run back giggling without going too far)
  11. STRAIGHT-UP PORN DAWG (pixelated junk, full-on sex scenes, you get the idea; actual pornography)

You could make the argument that 9 and 10 on the scale are essentially "softcore" porn, for sure, but Highschool of the Dead and Sora no Otoshimono are several steps before that. I realize the list is limited to shows I've watched or know about, but it should be fairly easy for anyone who knows about most of the examples on that list to see how each one has more of a fan service/ecchi focus than the last. Dragon Ball and One Piece are probably the closest steps on there.

Of course, if you simply have something against Sora no Otoshimono and think it's a bad show for bad people, that's fair enough. In my opinion though, the show is about five steps away from legitimate pornography, and judging by comments from other users, I imagine most people would agree.

Post by Marshal Victory (2,124 posts) See mini bio Level 13

@sickVisionz: So you would consider Benny Hill porn as well ? See ya coments got me intrested in the series again an at least up to episode 6 theirs no sex in Sora no Otoshimono "Heaven's Lost property" .No nipple even.Gag comedy like Gintama an even Binbogami ga! which shows nipple! Tho i have to say Heaven's Lost Property " Sora no Otoshimono" got better after the 3rd one.Stil no where near others in its catagory for comedy cause i deduct for over use of chibi.So least i gota thank ya for makeing me give that seires a second look.For all the wrong reasons.

@Daniel_Newton: so um your saying its easy deniably porno :) also thats a good description on 10.perfect actualy.

@FoxxFireArt: Sam much like Lucy has some xplain'n to do.Part of this seems to be how anime is persived by people.My friends are adults mostly older than me ( 42 ) when i mention anime to them they think Pokémon, Robotech,or Voltron ( Beast King GoLion ) .They dont think omg that so full of Misogyny! Or its porn.Or even the cause of the worlds ill's.Which we all know is the Twilight movies.

Again any work can have a view aplied to it.One could make a argument High school of the Dead was about western infulance ( played by zombies) upon japan culture.People looking to far for a deeper meaning seem to lose objectivism an drown in a illogical view.But hey what do i know /shrug.

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