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Post Reply Transgendered Characters in Anime.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 3 days ago
Japan seems to enjoy exploring gender norms in a way the west does not in it's art. Especially given it's own cultural norms. Even the typical anime heroine defies real world Japanese gender norms, which require women. especially young women and girls, to be submissive and silent. Some girls even do it deliberately as in Revolutionary Girl Utena, who wears a 'boy's uniform' and wants to become a prince.

The Japanese go further than that though. Going back to anime like Ranma ½ or the 3 anime the Carl Macek converted into Robotech. There have always been characters who cross-dress. Sometimes involuntarily (like the hero of El Hazard), sometimes because of tradition (in certain schools of Japanese live theatre females are played by males). Weather through magic (curses, magic items etc.) or through science fiction (alien races, genetic engineering etc) Characters who swap, or can choose to become either male or female are quite common. And then of course there are the 'traps' characters who are the gender opposite of their appearance. (useally a male posing as a female) in order to 'Trap' tmale viewers into going gay. I personally dislike this term.

With all this prologue what I'm actually interested in examining how anime treats actually Transgendered Characters. I've personally found three which treat the subject reasonably respectfully. There may well be more and I'm eager to hear if anyone has seen them or heard of them.

Before I go on in detail about those three anime, I should warn you that I'm NOT interested in posts telling me how Trans people or Trans topics are wrong in someway or lecturing me about biology or morality or human dignity. Posts in this vein will be ignored and if I consider them particularly off topic and/or Toxic I will report them for deletion. I'm bitter that I have to write this warning but I know how far too many on these forums react to the very subject.

Anyway Onwards:

First, I'd like to introduce you to Aoi Futaba of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.


She is a supporting character in the buddy cop/romantic comedy “You're under Arrest.” She is a Transwoman, unmodified by any surgeries. Originally trained as a decoy by the anti-molester squad she discovered: “My body is a man's but my heart is woman's”. Indeed she is guilty of 'trying too hard” to the point where one of her colleagues complains “you're the kind of daughter my MOM wanted.” Nevertheless she's treated as a woman by her compatriots Bokuto Police Station. Wearing a woman's uniform, using the ladies locker room and invited to all the 'girls only' events.



Being a comedy her status is often played for laughs. A would be groper getting a surprise, a 'real girl' jealous of Aoi's beauty and popularity, and the locker room issue wasn't immediately resolved. But mostly she is played as a sincere and respected person.

Then there are the two trans-ladies of “Shangri-la”. Momoko and Miko



To be honest, this was a rather forgettable anime but these two stuck with me due to my own bias. These two women were the owner-operators of an exotic bar in a city that fell to ecological disaster and now they are effectively refugees. The appear to have had sex-reassignment surgery. Momoko, a former olympic athlete, talks to the Main Character of the series about trading “male gold for transgender silver.” The are treated with respect by their community Momoko especially acting as combat support for the main character in several battles. The only 'deviant' thing about the pair is Momoko's excessive amourousness towards handsome men.

And Finally there is “Houro Musuko”, also known as “Wandering Son” in English.



This one will outrage the haters and might make some of you who don't understand the typical transgender experience of knowing you are 'wrong' since your earliest memories, uncomfortable. The cast are almost all pre-teens just starting junior high. The two main characters are mostly living their lifes (going to school for example ) in their assigned genders. But one is a trans-girl and the other a t-boy. They are mildly estranged friends who stick together despite some awkwardness over a past confession of love because they understand what the other is going through.



This anime deeply explores transgenderism but also gender as a whole as the two mains' schoolmates learn of their trans nature and start questioning their own ideas of gender. It would too long a post to detail all the ways it gave me feelings. But one moment stood out, where the trans-boy struggles with developing breasts and his (assumed fellow) girls saying "she's cute", and is driven to scream. A silent scream, hidden at the bottom of swimming pool but a heartfelt one the same.

It's a very respectful treatment of the subject and might give the less knowledgeable watcher some insight into what it is like to be transgendered from the inside.

Whelp that's it. Have any of you seen these anime? What did you think? Do you think the Japanese as a whole treat trans-folk better or worse than the west in their art? Do you have any more examples, good or bad?

Let's have a discussion.

---------------------------------------------------------
EDIT:

I am attempting to revive this thread because I have learned there is much more to discuss and new people who might be willing to discuss it.
I am also shifting the emphasis slightly.

I'd like to discuss two broader subjects:

One, How anime treats the gender non-conforming, and how the Japanese approach gender. (I'm told it's more of spectrum than our binary 'two state' paradigm)

Two, Allegories and other less explicit ways Anime invokes the trans narrative or at least tells a story to which Transfolk can relate.

Further details can be found on my post on page 7.
(link: http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-1008651/transgendered-characters-in-anime?pg=6#57707152 )
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
Japan is a great deal more overt in their representation, whereas the Unicorn Episode of The PowerPuff Girls and Steven Universe as a whole won't explicitly use transgenders, but feature identity conflicts that many surmise is representative or, or kept the idea of transgenderism in mind.

As a whole, this is the norm for cartoons.

For more adult oriented cartoons in the West, the need to be subtle is gone. For South Park, they have debated the issue, but in the more recent game The Fractured But Whole, sequel to The Stick of Truth, they have a seemingly touching, if humorous scene during the character customization, where you can choose both sex and gender, and while some of it is played for laughs, it isn't quite made fun of. Rather, the game mocks the inattentive nature of the general populace, in allusion to how character customization of the player character was just introduced in this sequel.

Whereas a few years ago, there was an episode called Mr. Garrison's Sex Change that was quite a bit less flattering in its representation.

Western either take a more subversive approach in cartoons, or an irreverent approach. Many do appear to support the general acceptance of transgenders, alongside the proposed solution by doctors and such. Of course, many networks are more willing to air more accepting programming these days in comparison to something like Mr. Garrison's Sex Change, but I think acceptance is becoming more of the norm in the West.

In Japan, it feels as if transgender are more marginalized in media, but again, in reference to cartoons for a younger audience, most of this is inference on what could be representative of the general issue concerning transgenders. You have your Hideyoshi from Baka No Test, but you also have the horrifc anime short Himegoto which is just offensive all around, featuring a male forced to cross dress by an all female student council and coerced into sexual situations, culminating in them attempting to film his sexual assault by two other men. (Which was luckily halted, but easily forgiven, despite being played for drama.)

Concerning this angle, it seems as if Japan is far less accepting.

May I also recommend, in the vein of Christmas, Satoshi Kon's Tokyo Godfathers? It has one of its leads be a transgender woman, but besides being overly romantic in her ideals concerning raising an orphaned child, she is depicted quite respectfully.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 2 days ago
Ya ma row
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
Cross dressing characters definitely do get more screen time in Japanese media than in the west, but I can't say they really get better treatment overall. Far too often they're treated as jokes, cliches, punchlines, etc. There's the whole concept of the "trap" that is far too often embraced in Japan. Not to say that there aren't respectful and respectable treatments out there but, taken on average, I'm not really a fan.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
Japan joined the progressive era of moderation for quite some time now. such as males dressing up as their favorite female characters with full body suits, to men not frowned upon because they want to wear a kimono or men who want to wear a dress. however, we must look at the culture as a whole, politics plays a large part, however, so does people accepting or being more open to ideas, new ideas, than closed minded people who fear change. this is also a country who accepts incest and marrying of objects.

but, yes, Japanese cartoons are filled with countless cases of cross dressing, homosexuality and the pros and cons of it. there have been cases where I've seen moments of attacks, gore, violence... but for the most part it is friendly moments, that happen all the time and no one cares either in live action, cartoons or even real life. in the end the Japanese people were always eager to embrace new and even exciting ideas from either western worlds such as America where they became "obsessed" with the post civil war era of style and so forth, to European and even further. once one looks past their racism (even if it isn't meant to be or "friendly" racism) it is still racism towards races, cultures and so forth. I have nothing against the Japanese people and what comes from Japan, but, sadly, some people freak out over such things. to me transgender is nothing, I've been cross dressing since I was three years old, it's no big deal. perhaps someday society will be more open to the idea of transgender as a whole, until then we can freely use "it's a trap" and a lot of people are going to get what that means.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
I tend to dislike them but Souta from Magical Girl Raising Project was my favorite of the whole cast. XD

Course I don't think of him as an actual transgender character; people insist he is but he's only a girl when he transforms and he acts and dresses like a boy the rest of the time so I don't think he's like Ruka from Steins;Gate....(I didn't mind Ruka that much)
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17

StriderShinryu wrote:

Cross dressing characters definitely do get more screen time in Japanese media than in the west, but I can't say they really get better treatment overall. Far too often they're treated as jokes, cliches, punchlines, etc. There's the whole concept of the "trap" that is far too often embraced in Japan. Not to say that there aren't respectful and respectable treatments out there but, taken on average, I'm not really a fan.


Disagree.
LOTS of crossdressing characters and many of them have great qualities. Ouran Host Club has the father, but despite being comedic, he's portrayed as a very good and loving father, and a mirror to the main love interest. The main character doesn't make much bother about gender.

You might be able to argue with the all female school members in that series, but even they do have positive qualities, it's more the threat to the main love interest and the allusions to a particular theater style of the country.. in fact cross dressing seems to have more of a cultural background in Japan than the US....

I give you one example, but it's not like there aren't many others. Generally the crossdressing characters are seen as, yes, a bit strange, but still fit into society in their own way. There was also the gothic loli character in Moyashimon.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 1/1/18
I'll probably check out houro musuko,
kind of in the same vein as transexual anime is the manga called "IS: Otoko Demo Onna Demo Nai Sei"
it is a manga about inter-sexed characters struggling with there gender identity and trying to be accepted and loved and it is a pretty good story

but on a whole there are not very many trans and inter-sexed characters in anime from what i have seen
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
Aoi Futaba is probably one of the best treated adult transgender characters in anime in my opinion.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
I don't know if I have anything to contribute to the conversation of how trans characters are treated, but I'm going to bring up something that I thought was particularly unique that didn't really get addressed.

In Punch Line, the main character is a dude, and we don't question this for like, 4/5 of the season. Then at the very end, it's revealed that this guy isn't biologically male. He's a victim of a body swapping accident, and the other victim goes missing, so he lives in a female body for ten years. Of course, no one believes him and the events of the accident basically leave him something like an orphan. He gets adopted by people who believe he's biologically female and wants to live as a male.

I don't know if it's because we're viewing it from the MC's viewpoint, but he's never mistreated, made fun of, and the people around him view him as male despite being aware of his body. The bodyswap is played for drama and superpower issues, but they basically never acknowledge either of the swapped character's gender problems. The whole thing was just kind of not paid attention to, like it wasn't really a big deal. Which in comparison to terrorists, time travel, ghosts, and the world blowing up, it really isn't.

It was just handled so uniquely and the circumstances around it were so strange that I still don't know how to view this. Does Yuta qualify as a trans character? No one in his life knows the person he swapped with, and the other party basically vanished, so he doesn't have any contact or connection with them like in conventional body swap manga. No one else thinks Yuta is anyone else, and they don't know Yuta as anything but biologically female.
It was just so weird. I don't know how to process this complicated development that doesn't play by the tropes.
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Posted 12/21/17 , edited 12/21/17
I've just deleted a post, and banned someone for being aggressively obnoxious about this topic's existence.

I agree there is some overlap between this and the "Gender confusion" thread started by someone else a month ago, but I think the focus is different enough to make it a worthwhile discussion on its own.

If you cannot respond politely and respectfully and stick to the focus on "how anime treats actually Transgendered Characters" then please do not respond in this thread at all.
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Posted 12/20/17 , edited 12/21/17
I just realized that OP spelled "bois"
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Posted 12/21/17 , edited 12/21/17
Fruits Basket almost made a trans character of Akito Sohma, who I guess ended up just being a cis woman by the end of the manga? I didn't actually read it so if someone knows better please correct me. In the anime, bizarrely, they made Akito a cis man. The creator expressed that she just liked designing gender neutral presenting characters for whatever reason and put no real thought toward any deeper gender identity. but that's the only instance I can think of apart from the common crossdressing cis male characters in multiple series.

Recent anime like Yuri on Ice have made me hopeful that respectful portrayals of sexuality actually -can- be popular and widely accepted, so I have to believe the same for gender identity as well, and I think we'll be seeing more examples of both as time goes on. Good thread! :3
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Posted 12/21/17 , edited 12/21/17

lorreen wrote:

I've just deleted a post, and banned someone for being aggressively obnoxious about this topic's existence.

I agree there is some overlap between this and the "Gender confusion" thread started by someone else a month ago, but I think the focus is different enough to make it a worthwhile discussion on its own.

If you cannot respond politely and respectfully and stick to the focus on "how anime treats actually Transgendered Characters" then please do not respond in this thread at all.


Nice.
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Posted 12/21/17 , edited 12/21/17


2nd Best Waifu of Fate series. Ok, he's not trans...I do wish Gays and Trans were less played as punchlines and jokes in Japanese media. That's my 2 cents.
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