I finished watching Backflip!! not that long ago. It’s June right now. I liked it. Maybe my review for the show is out already! There is one aspect of the show I didn’t talk about it much in that review. It’s not a very important part of the show. It’s about Asawo Kurikoma.
Asawo is the manager of the rhythmic gymnastics team and pretty much the only female character in the show. Sports! anime are sort of that way. But the thing that sets her apart in my mind is this one particular scene. She designs the performance costumes for the team and she had just brought the latest batch over to the guys. In their excitement, half of them begin the strip in order to try them on right away before someone points out that there’s still a lady in the room. At which point they all get terribly embarrassed and apologize profusely. Guffaws!
But in this scene, rather than shriek or get embarrassed herself, Asawo pulls out her phone and starts taking pictures of the attractive and buff shirtless dudes with unabashed enthusiasm. I get it, it’s part of the joke. Just a little throwaway moment.
And it’s never mentioned again. Nor is Asawo characterized as particularly sexually aggressive or anything of the sort. It’s just a normal little joke at the expense of the main cast with a normal supporting character. Nothing special at all. And it’s so special…
See up until recently, the only accepted standard would have been for the girl to scream in confused horror and maybe hide her face behind her hands. Run out of the room or stay rooted there in embarrassment. The moment would have been more traumatizing for her than for the boys. Because anime girls are pure, innocent and chaste and the very idea of a man’s body is terrifying to them. Otherwise, they are depraved perverts. No middle ground!
But that’s not what Asawo is. She’s a very normal girl that just happens to think hot guys are…hot. Like most other very normal girls. I’ve been waiting to see that in anime for a long time.
I mentioned it now and again when reviewing My Dress-Up Darling. Marin is another example of this slow evolution of female sexuality in anime. Admittedly, My Dress-Up Darling is based on a very ecchi manga. Marin’s interest and open mind with regards to explicitly sexual material is part of the ecchi appeal of the character. But in the adaptation, the ecchi parts were very toned down while Marin’s attitude remains generally unchanged.
Marin is aware of her own sexuality and rather than ashamed or scared by it she is excited and happy to explore. But she isn’t defined by that sexuality either. Marin isn’t just a sex-crazed pretty girl and she isn’t just a fanservice character. That’s one of the big reasons she appealed to so many anime fans during her season. Marin is a full-fledged character, a particularly charming and slightly too perfect but otherwise normal girl. She also happens to have sexual desires and both she and the show thinks that’s perfectly normal. It’s something we’ve always seen in male characters but when you stop and think about it, it’s fairly rare in female characters. At least in anime. I for one am really relishing in the sex-positivity.
I’m not saying there’s no place for pure female anime characters or for openly perverted ones. Quite to the contrary, I think the more variety we have the better. Both for representation and just for crafting diverse and interesting characters. But I can’t be the only one that has noticed that anime has a thing for purity… almost a fetish if you will. And girls in anime are often ridiculed or softly chastised by the narrative, when they don’t fit into that rigid pure framework. And that’s not very fun to watch. It certainly made it rather difficult for me to completely relate to any of them. I’m frekin delightful but I ain’t that pure. I have a feeling I never was. That’s some angelic shit!
So seeing Marin happily discuss her passion for eroge games was a breath of fresh air. Yeah, girls do like naughty games. And it seems like that’s a shocker for some people. Sadly, even for some people who aren’t anime characters.
And now, slowly we’re seeing ladies who are more comfortable and aware of their own sexuality even in shows where that has no bearing on the storyline. I am very excited about this. We have been in turn villainizing, ridiculing and mystifying female sexuality for way too long and it has put too much useless stress on young people for generations.
I’m hoping that this trend keeps up and becomes more prevalent if possible. I’m hoping that in a few years, it will be banal to have a sex-positive female character with a complete personality. So common that it’s not even worth mentioning. Until then, we at least are getting more examples!