Walkure Romanze and Too Many Women in Anime

A few days ago, I watched the preview to a new fanservicey show titled Walkure Romanze.  It must be admitted that seeing bevies of knightly beauties performing martial exercises and stretching afforded pleasure to my eyes.  Actually, the fact that they were knights was not apparent until I saw the women jousting in full plate later in the preview.  Until two other thoughts intruded themselves upon me, I contemplated adding this show to my watch list.  But, these two thoughts killed any desire for me to watch this show: 1) Could they not have animated Tactics Ogre, Vinland Saga, Gunka no Baltzar, or any other good war or medieval manga instead? Or remade Ivanhoe, Le Morte D’Arthur,  Parzival, The Mabinogeoon, any other medieval romance, or a viking saga into an anime?  And 2) Why do Japanese shows increasingly or even the greater proportion of the time place girls in roles meant originally for men?

Walkure-Romanze-Key-Visual

Here are two of the beauties.

My first complaint is more common: Why do animation studios lack the guts to do something original or unique nowadays?  (See this article for another blogger who piped up on this issue.)  Why rely on fanservice to carry a show when real women are always superior to anime girls?  The most popular anime have always been the ones which were original and unique–those which asked interesting questions and led our minds through undiscovered tracts of fantasy and science fiction.  Of course, the probability of failure is greater when one wishes to create something sublime rather than merely sensual–as reading Longinus’ amusing critiques of ancient poets and orators in his work On the Sublime easily shows.  But, I think that failing at creating a unique high story, as Geneshaft and perhaps Kurenai may have failed, is more respectable than achieving moderate success by way of the bosom.

Yes, another show with mostly female characters, but they have a good excuse.  Society had almost decided to eliminate men altogether until it was realized that men had better decision making capabilities.  So, the ratio of men to women was engineered to be 1:7.

Yes, Geneshaft’s another show with mostly female characters, but they have a good excuse. Society had almost decided to eliminate men altogether until it was realized that men had better decision making capabilities. So, the ratio of men to women was engineered to be 1:7.

Concerning my second point, certain people may claim that a sizable market exists for ecchi.  These people need new scenarios, such as seeing girls dressed up as knights, in order to achieve new highs.  ‘Tis a sad day when the ordinary sight of an attractive women no longer incites interest!  And if one needs to see an attractive woman on screen, why not feed the mind or soul at the same time?  After all, Bleach, Fairy Tail, and others provide plenty of attractive women, but not at the loss of an exciting story.  And often these female characters, like Narvi of Broken Blade, Faye of Cowboy Bebop, and Erza Scarlet of Fairy Tale, are rendered more attractive by their actions, because great deeds and good character render their possessors as attractive as those with beauty.  The combination of these traits proves irresistible.

Mad Bull 34.  The most awesome show I feel uncomfortable in recommending.  There's Sleepy on the left with his partner Daizaburo on the right.

Mad Bull 34. The most awesome show I feel uncomfortable in recommending. There’s Sleepy on the left with his partner Daizaburo on the right.

But, placing large female casts in bellicose roles has become cliche.  There are several old shows like Bubblegum Crisis and Dirty Pair, where the inclusion of largely female casts was exciting and original.  The constant overuse of this trope has rendered it simply eccentric.  I opine that seeing John “Sleepy” Estes of Mad Bull 34 or Dante of Devil May Cry displaying their machismo in defeating hordes of enemies delights my soul much more than even Erza Scarlet wiping the floor with her foes.  (But, I will confess, in Erza’s case, not too much more.)

Don't let that Sunday fool you!  Perhaps the most badass character of recent years!

Don’t let that Sunday fool you! Perhaps the most badass character of recent years!

So, send shows like Walkure Romanze to the trash heap.  Produce more works like Vision of Escaflowne, Blue Submarine No. 6, and Samurai Champloo.  Of course, works with mostly female casts can be quite good: Solty Rei, Dirty PairSoukou no StrainFreezing, and Bubblegum Crisis are some of my favorites.  However, the present trend causes shows with large female casts to be fanservice fiestas rather than attempts at making magnificent stories–so much so that the mere presence of this trope is enough to give me pause.  Enough of the ecchi!

This show has a boatload more of female side characters, but Roy has enough masculinity himself to provide balance to the cast! :)

This show has a boatload more of female side characters, but Roy has enough masculinity himself to provide balance to the cast! 🙂

I remember writing a similar rant earlier in my blogging career.  So, do my complaints go too far or do my dear readers notice similar trends?

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16 comments on “Walkure Romanze and Too Many Women in Anime

  1. japesland says:

    While I can’t say I disagree with most of what you had to say, one comment does stick out to me…

    “Why rely on fanservice to carry a show when real women are always superior to anime girls?”

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I know I’m not alone in saying that I find anime girls to be more attractive than “real women” (you can call me Katsuragi Keima now). Perhaps it’s an unhealthy mindset, but it adds some reason for such writing decisions.

    On another note, some of the swords on your background appear to be pngs that got messed up when placed on the plain blue coloring behind them. Not a big deal, but it would probably look cleaner if you tweaked it a bit 😛

    Like

    • I’ll take your advice on the swords. I did that background a long time ago, and remember my lazy self being quite pleased with it, but it is sloppy.

      I will admit that some anime girls are rather good looking. Arcueid Brunestud of Lunar Legend Tsukihime tops my list. But, Katsuragi, I can’t help but favor 3D girls. 😉

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  2. John Samuel says:

    Follow the money: Walkure Romanze is adapted from a adult end visual novel, and one that is clearly popular. I was…considerably less charitable when it came to assessing how watchable Walkure Romanze is likely to be.

    http://piratesobg.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/the-latest-anime-to-flee-screaming-from-walkure-romanze/

    In terms of gender roles generally, I’m generally happy to see female leads/dominated casts so long as it isn’t for the purpose of fanservice. For excellent examples of each see Balsa from Moribito for the former, and Haibane Renmei for the latter.

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    • I’ll have to read that blog. And I thank you for making me realize my spelling error. German Romanze, not Italian Romantica! 🙂

      I used to enjoy female leads much more than now. Now, I’m starting to consider it eccentric rather than unique. It could be that I’ve started to fall in the anime doldrums. Here’s one of my favorite posts on this site:

      https://medievalotaku.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/how-to-weather-the-anime-doldrums/

      Balsa’s a great character though! But, I want to see more Alucards, Mad Bulls, Demon Eyes Kyos, Roy Revants, Vampire Hunter Ds, Misters, and other tough guys in anime. We don’t see enough of this kind of character. If you have any recommendations for shows containing characters like that, I’d be glad to hear them!

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      • John Samuel says:

        I tend to bias towards shoujo/josei because I find these to have more interesting character interactions (I’m generalising here, many exceptions apply), and this often leads to female leads/casts.

        So I don’t really have a lot of recommendations of the sort you’re looking for. Planetes has a good range of characters, as does Patlabor.

        Another thing for me is a reaction against a Heinlein (and very male) dominated reading set when I was younger. I’ll find a balance one day, but for the moment I’m happy with female characters getting to shine as heroes. 🙂

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      • That reminds me that I need to watch Patlabor and Planetes. I do find shoujo and josei pleasant to watch at times, but I find myself more of a shounen and fantasy fan myself. Been a fan of fantasy ever since I picked up Terry Brook’s First King of Shannara in fifth grade, and fantasy animes are particularly fun to watch.

        I happen to have had schools force many poorly written books by female authors down my throat when I was younger and developed an antipathy toward tales with female leads and those written by female authors. I can still only count on one hand the number of female authors I’ve enjoyed: Baroness Orczy, Rumiko Takahashi, Akimine Kamijyo, Hiromu Arakawa, and J. K. Rowling. I’ve only just begun to amend this silly prejudice, though anime and manga have done much to fix it. Or is it that I mainly enjoy reading works by and about Japanese women? 🙂

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  3. MIB says:

    You can’t have an article on strong female leads in Anime without mentioning Revy from Black Lagoon! That’s just unforgivable! 😛

    Seriously though the ecchi issue will never subside as long as manga/anime exists and as long as fans lap it up. It’s the same with the current pop music “porn video” debate that is currently raging thanks to Miley Cyrus et al – dividing everyone through the “sex sells” maxim that is as demonstrably true as is it abhorrent.

    Like you I have found a series that is blighted by ecchi in the form of “Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!”. As a wrestling fan and knowing how Japan treats it more like a serious sport than the US does, I was disappointed to learn that this was just another vehicle to show off a super busty bouncing babe in a tight leotard, along with up close crotch shots for when she is tied up in a hold and the obligatory shower scenes. I wasn’t surprised by this however but I would have liked the focus to have been on the wrestling training and given light to showing people what is involved in training to be a pro-wrestler in Japan (for a brutal real life account see the excellent film Gaea Girls).

    But like above, sex sells so it seems that resisting the temptation to make this a fairly reductive piece of fan service fluff wasn’t a major concern here.

    Have you checked out Freezing 2 yet?

    Like

    • Oh, not including Revy was an oversight on my part! I suppose, I can only justify it by saying that she’s at some level higher than the other strong women. Demi-goddess, perhaps? xD

      I was very leery of the wrestling anime for that reason. Other bloggers have also called it a fanservice fiesta, so I decided to stay away from it. Of course, at the same time as I say this, I’m enjoying Freezing: Vibration. It seems like they’re covering the e-Pandora arc, which means that we’ll learn, once again, surprisingly little about the Nova. However, they are sticking close to the manga, and I found one streaming site which censors the nude shots in a most amusing way. In the anime, Elizabeth Mably likes bathing in the nude, so they have bright white light reflecting off her ample bosom!

      In any case, you might not be too interested in this Freezing arc because they still refuse to divulge much about the Nova–in a fashion rather reminiscent of NGE’s silence about the Angels. But, they do seem to promise a more plot oriented focus than the first season.

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      • MIB says:

        The old light strip is a favourite method of censoring nudity in anime on TV, which in some ways is a bit more acceptable than having logos covering the offending body parts as some do but still looks a tad naff depending on the situation. Then again when they censor violence they simply blacken off half the screen to cover the gore, so is some ways we’re getting off quite lightly! 😛

        I suppose if Freezing 2 gets a UK release and I get sent review discs I’ll watch it then otherwise I’ll stick with the already well populated list of new shows to be getting on with thanks very much! 😉

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      • Yeah, this season of anime has several awesome shows. I hope to be able to offer some impressions of certain shows in the near future. Freezing 2 is one of my favorites so far, but it’s easy to hook a fan of the manga as long as they stick close to the original story.

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  4. Zeonista says:

    This is a visual novel adaptation, so yes, it is harem-iffic. I haven’t given up on the show yet, if only because the setting is so different. The young ladies seem talented enough to make the grade as jousters. Note that it is stated that jousting here is a sport (-dou form martial art) rather than mounted combat training. As a veteran Rennie and anime fan that part doesn’t bother me, so it’s the story and characters that matter. I’ll give the show a couple more episodes to make itself worthwhile. If not, then I can ditch it without too much regret.

    The issue of having an anime where many male roles are filled by young women is a feature that has been steadily increasing in the past decade. One can shrug it off and say ’tis only pandering to the otaku in order to fill the Troper slots. But swapping guys for girls, down to the masculine speech and behavior patterns (Coppelion for one) is something more than pandering. It needs more consideration in its own post.

    Like

    • That’s the most positive perspective I’ve heard on Walkure Romanze. You almost make me want to watch it!

      You’re right that the a study of how women have adopted more masculine ways of behavior deserves its own post. I think that it comes down to the prominence of philosophies against Aristotelian ideas of purpose in nature and the view that men have been suppressing women in society. That’s something for me to consider in the future, especially since I have recently become focused on the themes of masculinity and femininity in literature and film. It probably started with this rather long post: https://medievalotaku.wordpress.com/tag/iria/. I hope that you can enjoy this post too if you have the time to read it!

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      • zeonista says:

        I suppose I will have to read that earlier post now. As a rule, if I am going to watch any show, I will have something positive to say about it. There is too little time in life to watch something I don’t like enough to say something good about it. Now, you may want to ask me about Walkure Romance again in another 2 weeks….

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      • I hope that you enjoy that post! I am especially proud of it, and very few have read it. Iria might be too old school for most viewers now.

        I certainly look forward to hearing about what you think of Walkure Romanze two weeks from now. I tend to be a cheerleader of a reviewer myself, but I occasionally indulge in criticism. I need to retain a balance, I suppose.

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  5. teh says:

    I’ve posted a few comments here and there about this very same subject a few times.

    It’s the reason I think anime (overall) sucks and why I don’t bother with it often. I -want- it to be good and I -want- it to change, but pigs being able to fly has a better chance of happening.

    I like the ‘tough guy/cool guy’ type of characters best, as well. Something like Vegeta or Saito is more of what I’d like.

    The most recent anime that I liked is Mushibugyo. If you haven’t checked that, you might enjoy that as well. I would prefer the ecchi not to be in it, but at least it’s not rampant to where it completely ruins it.

    Killing off boredom is a lifelong struggle for me. Oh, how I wish I was born hundreds of years in the future instead. :/

    Like

    • Thanks for your recommendation! I’ll be sure to check out Mushibugyo.

      The best way to find good anime is to see what shows are still noteworthy and popular after five years. I’d say that if people still want to watch a show older than that, there must be something to it. Also, anime movies and OVAs tend to be better than TV shows, so you might explore these high budget productions. In particular, I need to review five more movies to complete a series of articles. You might find some good titles there.

      You should instead wish to have been born 300 years in the past. xD In the old days, people needed to concentrate more on survival. Now that we can reasonably expect to live until 80 years old due to some risk being taken out of life, we become bored. People need a measure of risk in their lives to be happy. I pity the people 300 years from now unless another dark age hits us.

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