Boys, what exactly are they there for?
July 8, 2011 1 Comment
As a perfect example of this exact topic, when trying to find some good pictures from shows that have weak male leads I could not in fact find any. So instead here are a set of pictures, mainly from harem shows that show us exactly what they are being sold on (usually cleavage, lingerie, swimsuits and breasts).
This post is going to be about male protagonists in anime, and more specifically what their place in anime actually is. We all know the classic setting in an anime; one guy, many girls, and yet what often happens is the male character is often sidelined and doesn’t play a particularly significant part in the story overall. This is very odd since a plot synopsis of any of these anime will often start with describing the male protagonist appearing, doing something and then meeting these girls. The male protagonist is often described as the ‘star’ or at least the lead role within the story and yet what we often see is the overshadowing of these characters by the variety of female characters that we find in anime of late.
We see this happening in many anime; Infinite Stratos, Shukufu no Camapnella, Sekirei, Rosario+Vampire, Princess Lover, Omamori Himari, etc. A large number of these shows are of course harem anime, so there is often a lot of screen time given to introducing and generally focussing on the various heroines. But essentially we have relatively weak male protagonists, and by weak I don’t necessarily mean physically, but more presence. They are often indecisive, get swept along by the plot and often the girls who have a stronger will than them, and there are times when they are absent for entire scenes or most of an episode. For all intents and purposes these male characters are, at times, play little more than a supporting role. And at times the male characters appear to exist for the sole purpose of setting up fanservice, looking up girls skirts, pulling at girls clothes, walking into the girls bath, etc.
I can understand that there are reasons for this. These shows have often been adapted from video games or light novels and the male characters are merely a convenient way of viewing the different girls. Furthermore these girls are the selling point of these shows, I am not going to buy a figure of Kei Kusanagi from Onegai Sensei, but I would buy a figure of Mizuho Kazami for example. The same goes for any number of anime, Ichiban Uishiro no Daimaou, Asobi ni Iku Yo, the list could go on, and with each one I would be looking at figures of the female characters or perhaps just simply looking at the female characters.
From a marketing point of view, unless an anime or indeed a manga or game is aimed specifically at women (Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 1000% would be a good example of a current show that is aimed at women with its reverse harem) then it will be the women or girls that sell it. And perhaps it is simply because many of these shows in recent time have been adapted from dating sims that we have such weak characters. After all, the reason for the game in the first place was to show off all these cute girls and the male character is merely background detail, being the player.
There are of course many examples where the male characters are not only central to the plot but are also strong and quite invidualistic. Rahxephon, Full Metal Panic, Cowboy Bebop, Ao no Exorcist, Dog Days, MM, Macross Frontier, again the list can go on. These shows have male characters with a strong presence. The show may have more in the way of action and giant mecha, Full Metal Panic and Rahxephon for example, it could be fighting demons or simply be a more grown up story, Ao no Exorcist or Cowboy Bebop here. Or perhaps it is more in the way of humour, MM, Dog Days, and even Nyan Koi.
While I don’t have a problem with these sorts of shows in general, and as I mentioned I do watch many shows that o not have strong central male characters. And while I do enjoy them and freely admit that I watch many of them for the female characters. I do think that there is a startling lack of strong or funny male characters that have a significant presence and impact on a story. I think that I would I would still watch and anime to see the different girls or women, however if there was strong male character to balance it all out, shows may in fact be better off. I would finally add that I dont necessarily think the shows I mentioned are bad, in fact I have watched them all and own them, I simply wish the male characters had a bit more presence.