Lemon Water

Why I Am In Love With Soul Eater

I have a very big problem with manga.

More specifically, I have a problem with how girls and women are portrayed in manga. I love Furuba (Fruit Basket) as much as the rest of the fans, but unfortunately, I am tired of an archetype there in shoujo manga. (Shoujo is manga aimed at teenage girls). The main character is usually a ditzy, clueless, innocent highschool girl, who honestly isn’t very interesting. I’m not the only one who saw this trend either. I love the heartwarming story of Furuba, which is the only shoujo I’ve digested so far, but there’s something wrong here. Why are the main characters such… dull and typical girls? Where are the heroines, the strong women I’d like as a role model?

In Naruto, which isn’t shoujo, but aimed at boys, the three girls in Naruto’s year are dull dull dull. I can’t tell you how much I hate Ino and Sakura before they got older (Wait, I still hate Ino). Those two girls spent their time fighting over a boy, working on being pretty, and not on their strength or improvement. Hello, you girls are freaking ninjas- please be asskicking ninjas. Stop being the most disgustingly competitive and vindictive examples I’ve had of middle school age girls- honestly, I want to see better. They weren’t even good at fighting! Thankfully, they get better. Sakura is a highly intelligent girl who has a talent for genjutsu (illusion techniques) and an incredibly precise control of chakra. She becomes the apprentice of one of the Three Sannin, three legendary ninjas, (and while I’m dissapointed she went in the path of a medic, because it correlates to the idea that girls need to be nurturers, gentle healers, she does get a lot stronger), and she can freaking destroy boulders and create great cracks in the ground with a single punch.

After she got older, I quite like Sakura. Ino still seems the same vacant airhead, and Hinata the other one…

Well, I like Hinata. She’s a shy girl who fights incredibly hard against her fears and feelings of inadequacy, her father’s rejection and who still has a lot of potential and abilities to be explored. Unfortunately, most of her role in the story has been that she has a crush on Naruto. I loved how she stood up when she fought Neji, but I still feel her role is to have a crush on him.

So, I’m obviously not too happy with girls and women in manga.

However, I love Soul Eater, both despite and thanks to the girls.

I got into Soul Eater thanks to a friend on deviantArt (rzrdrgn) who linked me to the opening of the anime.

Just in case I don’t insert the video well, click here.

I fell in love with the wacky art style first, head over heels, dashing, falling. The style is AMAZING. I love how the artist plays with perspective, with characterization – it helps give all the panels a lot of movement, and keeps it interesting. The fun wacky style also is easy to look through, draws you in, makes the story flow. And the animation is smooth, amazing – I now agree with all who have told me that Bones is the best animating company. I mean, look at it.

I started reading the manga, which was up to 48 episodes. The first few were alright, if slightly confusing, and the style wasn’t the same- but I loved the idea. I got drawn right into our characters (Except BlackStar… he’s annoying. Take Naruto annoying times 13. Well, he gets better.), the story, the style- I was sold. It’s a fun story, drawing you through the stories. The story deals around technicians, who are working hard to make their weapons, human transforming weapons, into the stronger Death ones. To do this, the weapon has to eat 99 souls that have become evil, and one witches’ soul, and protect the innocent souls from these evil souls and the usually evil witches.

Despite the women. See, there is a lot of cheesecake here. If you don’t like it, don’t follow the links. There is the scene where BlackStar peeks into the girl’s bathing room. There is Blair, the magical cat, who just loves being perverted. There is the time when Death the Kidd (an obsessive compulsive character I love) walks into his two female weapons in a very… sexual bondage pose after they were attacked by a mummy’s bandages. (Warning, this scene is just very strong.) Oh God. The cheesecake, the blatant sexy poses and… boobs. And panty pulling. Spare me! They tone it down in the Anime, but it is still pretty blatant and forever present. *sigh* Why does this have to mar the story? Why must you inflict this to me again and again, when I see it EVERYWHERE? Ok. Stupid. I’m not going to go into the reasons why objectifying women through sexuality is wrong, why even having to portray women and girls as sexy as a must is so frustrating, especially so blatantly.

However, there is Maka.

Maka is the daughter of the best human-weapon, and the technician/weapon master that made him. We never see her formidable technician mother, but she is seen as a strong and amazing technician. Maka wants to live up to this ideal. Maka is a studious, serious and hard working soul who wants to make her weapon, who is ironically named, Soul, better than her father, a womanizer that cheated on her mother. (There’s a lot of humour in this… usually I would dislike it, but Maka’s father is so silly and determined to win his daughter back as he fumbles, that I can’t help laughing.) While I dislike that she wears a miniskirt, she otherwise dresses quite sensibly, with kickass boots and a cool coat. She’s amazing with her Scythe weapon. She’s kickass, strong, and doesn’t take any nonsense. And while she does become afraid, she fights her fears and find the courage to do so without resorting to bad, morally wrong measures. She fucking kicks ass. She’s a strong character, a strong female character that has an actual personality, whose attractiveness is secondary to who she is (although we get lots of jokes at her expense, on the idea that she is not attractive because she is flat chested and young.), and who keeps me interested. She is the one that works to get stronger of her pair. She is the one that loses it at some point, attacking a frikkin powerful magic user with her bare hands and pushes him off a bridge by throwing herself out of it too.

I know, I know, reckless- but for that moment, I was loving Maka so much, because she was being so much that I don’t get from female characters.

She saw that BlackStar, who was far more powerful, and worked hard at being strong, her own way, so she can protect the people she loves. Because the people she is fighting are doing things that are wrong. But I also love how I can identify with her. Maka is an intelligent girl who doesn’t want to be left behind, who wants to be strong, who wants to face her fears. She doesn’t do this out of some sexual trauma, she does this like a hero does and why he/she should want to; by facing her fears and to protect people. She makes mistakes, she can be a bit close minded, she is not the best, (if perhaps the smartest), not the strongest or most initially talented. But she is working hard at this, and damn if she isn’t going to kick ass when she does it.

The other female characters so far, are also more then just their sex appeal – Tsubaki is an amazing weapon with a sensitive, understanding soul. At the beginning, I worried she was too submissive- before I realized how strong she can be, when she decides to fight. However, I am reserving my opinion about the Thompson twins.

But at the end of the day, I want Maka to win.

Despite the horrible cheesecake, Soul Eater is made of win. Great story and characters, developments, art and style – enough to make me love a story. Perhaps if the girls were empty, I would not be able to look past said cake.

But with, strong individual females?

I love you Soul Eater. I love you.


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