Way, way back when I first started writing for this site, I did an opinion piece commenting on how the aspirational body types of anime/manga are markedly different than those in Western media. Put simply, superheroes in America are almost uniformly big, beefy, manly dudes, while the superheroes of Japan are more often skinny guys (who, let’s be honest, can easily veer to the feminine side.) There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s worth noting that Kenshiro of FIST OF THE NORTH STAR is the exception to the rule in his own neighborhood, and he’d be the opposite across the pond.
I briefly reach back down into that rabbit hole of discussion today because this episode - - for whatever reason - - seems to have its mind on gender roles in one form of another. The second story is obviously a lighthearted, but still rather satirical, send-up of chivalry’s place in the modern world (or its anachronistic mirror, at least.) Even in what’s supposed to be a breezy goof fest, the show does make the fairly sharp observation that Tenten wants to have her cake and eat it too with respect to how she’s treated by the boys.
As hard as it is to believe, there does some seem to be some similarly-surprising commentary in the first half. See, a lot of the time, when you get a sub over a more natural-phrased dub, there are sections of dialog that raise certain unexpected connotations through the choice of words. In this case, Rock Lee spelling out his struggle as an attempt to “show that hard work can thwart a genius” instead of just saying he wants to show up the show-off. It, actually open a whole can of worms relating to nature, nurture and the innate qualities of talent.
Bringing it back to my spiel at the start of this, I can’t help but read a little into the gag about Lee’s body building and seeing a notion that’s even more absurd than it’d be over here. Almost like any degree of bulking up would be seen as being that excessive.
Am I on to something here?