Last weekend, I have watched Nostalgia Critic’s video on the princess hate. After watching it, I think he has a point since this trope exists in all types of media. The problem lies with Damsel in distress, which became a negative stereotype for females because it’s over usage. In particular, Disney Princesses tend to play this trope a lot, which is a bad representation of how women are portrayed in real life.
In Anime, it’s the opposite most of the time since some female characters take a bigger role. This is the main difference compared to Disney Princesses. (Image Source)
What is Damsel in distress and why it’s bad?
Damsel in distress is a trope where a character, usually female and young is portrayed helpless in a bad situation like getting captured by the bad guys. Then, the good guys, usually male have to save the day. The most famous example of this is the Super Mario series as Princess Peach getting captured by Bowser in every game in the series.
While it seems clichéd because a lot of shows use this trope, it caused a lot of controversy with females since it’s demeaning and it always happens to female characters and not male ones. There is where I have a problem with Disney Princesses.
While young girls tend to look up to Disney Princesses since they look innocent and pretty, the problem is that they are highly dependent on males. The power lies with empowerment and its important in all genders, which these princesses lack. Then again, would you like a capable woman who chooses which man she likes or one that marries a handsome man because he saved her? I think they should make their own choices because I believe in gender equality that no gender is better than the other.
What about Anime?
Compared to Disney Princesses, Anime shows a more positive viewing towards females not because of their stronger character development, but they look just as capable as males or even surpass them. Here are a few examples of this:
Bodacious Space Pirates – While this show has its flaws, Marika is a good example where she became a very capable Space Pirate that accomplished a lot such as recovering a royal ship and destroy a high-tech ship that decimated pirate ships. Not only that, there are princesses that are actually doing stuff!
Fate/zero – There are a few instances of badass females that are capable of fighting besides Saber. There is Natalia, which manages to save Kiritsugu and take down people who are creating vampires, In addition, Maiya, Kiritsugu’s sidekick is another example as she shoots down some people in the Grail War.
Most Magical Girl shows – This is pretty obvious as these are girls with magical powers that allow them to fight evil and their rivals. Some are more action orientated, which includes Sailor Moon, Nanoha, Madoka and the Cure series.
On the other hand, I feel that most of this has to do with male characters being indecisive or weak-minded in most slice of life or romantic comedies as shows want to place more emphasis on female characters. However, for other shows, both genders have equal standing
While Damsel in distress exists in Anime, it’s not used that often, gets subverted or the genders get swapped for the distress position. It’s just interesting that Anime treats its female characters better compared to past Disney animations. More females are taking on roles that are traditionally reserved to males, including piloting mecha. Ironically, Japan still faces gender inequality, especially with the infamous dating ban in AKB48 that caused much controversy after Minami Minegishi broke it.
With that, I leave some questions to think about: Do you think that Damsel in distress creates a harmful stereotype for females in general? Also, do you think that Anime does enough to show capable female characters? Feel free to share more examples of female characters from other shows.