What My Hero Academia ignores with the absence of female mentors

7 thoughts on “What My Hero Academia ignores with the absence of female mentors”

  1. Hate to be that guy, but Best Jeanist was actually ranked 4th, not 5th. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s important, though at this point in the manga, we still don’t know who the #3 Hero is, though things have changed anyway. And we do have a female in the top 10, if that helps.

    I don’t disagree that female Heroes not getting representation is a thing, but a lot of it is arguably just based in that there are far more males in the industry. That doesn’t mean that excuses it, it just means that there’s that tendency to write what you know and males don’t necessarily have a lot of female archetypes to go for, or even necessarily consider. I’d say the series is getting better about it, but there’s always going to be more male focus just by the nature of it being shounen.

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    1. Yes, Best Jeanist it’s actually 4th, my mistake. I wanted to focus more on the anime here, but I’m up to date with the manga, so I’m aware. I too believe the series is taking some steps to get better with its heroines, although it’s not quite there yet.

      Sticking with what you know it’s reasonable and I don’t pretend to change the most basic nature of the genre. However, I’m able to cite works done by women for women that also features a compelling male cast that never gets undermined, while I have a harder time doing the same when it’s the inverse.

      Most entertainment industries are male dominated, I didn’t get into too much detail because it would have been to long. I’ll add this much though: that’s precisely why it’s a lot more difficult for women to get into those industries, and succeeding is even harder. Representation can give girls hope and strength, while it can help boys understand (and accept) women better. While things are better than they used to be, there’s no reason to stop working to get even better.

      At this point, Horikoshi has already proved that he has the ability to write compelling female characters. In the manga, he has also introduced some very interesting female characters. If we oversimplify my criticism, we could say that what I ask of him is to give those women and girls more spotlight.

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      1. The problem seems to be assuming that women will necessarily have this perspective merely because there aren’t as many when generationally, one would think it’s actually far more likely to find a female role model in general. And if it’s fine for females to admire male heroes but not for males to admire female heroes without it being sexual, then it seems like there’s still some double standard here.

        Not to sound sexist at all, but the pattern may still be that women just aren’t common in those industries to begin with, as in their interests tend elsewhere. Service industry, etc, versus creative industries that just have more men for one reason or another in terms of interest and skills.

        My only concern is where people will draw the line in terms of equality versus equity in terms of representation, because the former isn’t remotely the same as the latter.

        When your main cast is primarily male, giving females a lot of time is almost asking the impossible as Horikoshi still seems to expand major players in the cast as more often male than female (Inuarashi for instance)

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      2. Rather than assuming, I’m sharing my perspective; my point being that the media doesn’t really give us many female role models.

        Sure, things like skill and interest are generally part of what get you into industries. But is not always lack of them what holds women back. Here are some examples:

        https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/game-on-women-are-developing-new-video-games-and-a-new-culture/
        https://www.salon.com/2017/08/30/programs-meant-to-encourage-women-in-stem-may-be-backfiring-because-its-not-women-who-need-to-change/
        http://fortune.com/2015/10/06/women-directors-hollywood/

        Going back to My Hero Academia. Like I said on my post, I’m not really expecting Horikoshi to address those difficulties. I never implied getting female characters more spotlight means to give them more or equal “screentime” than the male characters either. Imagine getting an arc that reveals Jiro backstory for instance (just like how the tournament arc revealed Todoroki’s) and discovering there was a heroine that inspires her like Crimson Riot inspires Kirishima. It didn’t take much time or effort to give Kirishima that. I don’t really believe I’m asking Horikoshi something that he can’t give.

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      3. Of course there are going to be people who reinforce those negative stereotypes, but if we’re noting this in regards to My Hero Academia, are you suggesting that females who want to be heroes are similarly discouraged by society or shoehorned into stereotypes like the sex appeal Midnight and Mt Lady bicker about in one of the episodes of the second season? Or the obvious fashionable “women are all about appearances” Uwabami? Ryukyu, Mrs. Joke ( both of whom we likely won’t see until season 4 unfortunately) and Sirius from Tsuyu’s internship seem to be heroines who aren’t defined by being female so much as their Quirks and how they use them in general versus their image, thankfully.

        It’s not impossible, and even the side story Vigilantes seems to suffer from limited female presence, though Pop Step being a major focus of sorts helps, even if she seems to be treated in a somewhat similar fashion to Ochako/Deku with regards to Crawler, albeit that’s making it ambiguously romantic alongside the admiration of Crawler as someone who saved her. And in contrast, there is a decent female antagonist, though she fits into an archetypal female that’s a manipulator rather than Toga, who’s more proactive, even if her Quirk lends itself to female deception as a trend, even vampiric in a sense

        We did get backstory on Tsuyu, though people wouldn’t know it if they didn’t look through fansubs of the OVA released early this year or late last year that is in that ambiguous area of filler using manga material (albeit with Tsuyu and Habuko, that was more omake, not something we saw in the manga proper). But it suffered that stereotype of women being purely about emotions and friendship, not giving us any motivation as to why Tsuyu wanted to be a hero beyond helping her family, it seems.

        We also got a bit in regards to Mina alongside Kirishima’s flashback, even if she was meant to be a contrast. But it was a good one in how she wasn’t necessarily fixated on an idol so much as the general idea of being a Hero, which made it easier for her in a way, her major difficulty being a ditz (which could be objected to for encouraging that stereotype if we didn’t see that there were plenty of intelligent women to break that accusation apart)

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  2. I really appreciate this article. Thanks for the good write up.

    It kind of hits on why I can’t find myself loving Shounen anime overall. Even if the arcs are great, the powers are excellent, and the fights dynamic… I kind of just want to stop looking at the same male character archetypes again and again. I don’t even care if they replace them with women who have the exact same personality. I think it kind of becomes more and more apparent and grating as the years go on and shounen (and comics, Marvel and DC) keep forgetting that fifty percent of the population is, and has always been, women. Super powers should feel like an equalizer, but they never seem to be.

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  3. You describe exactly how I feel about MHA and the shounen genre in general. This is why, even though I love MHA, it’s not an unconditional situation for me (in the way it is for Haikyuu!!). The odd thing about anime is that, while there is an overabundance of male leads in certain genres, overall it is a lot better at producing shows with female leads in comparison to Western animation. That allows me to be stricter about what I view these days: if a season is too male dominated, I find an older series. Even Hunter X Hunter had a good, prominent female mentor. It’s not rocket science.

    When I see how well done the female students are in MHA it doesn’t make me want to settle, it makes me demand more. At this point, I find arguments that suggest “that’s just the way it is” and “at least there’s this one female character in this arc” inadequate. It can be done, it’s not hard, and anything else is complacency. Women have been doing it for years surrounded by male figures IRL, on the page, and on the screen. It’s time men get smart about it.

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