Anime isn’t usually hailed as a feminist-friendly art form unless speaking about a very specific example. With images of illogical breasts floating around the internet at alarming speeds and subtypes like harem anime being some of the most popular and readily accessed genres, the apprehension is easy to understand. As a fan of anime, especially as someone who happens to like some of those Escher girl-esque harem shows, ignoring these things has become impossible. However, pointing out such obvious examples of poorly written or drawn representation does little to actually further the conversation outside of “wow, yeah, that’s bad.” Of course, there’s a time for these conversations with more obvious examples, but it’s perhaps more important to look at underlying elements in these narratives.
With two of my favorite anime/manga series, Trigun and X/1999, something always sat wrong with me in the way the series gave their male leads incentives to further the story’s plot. Namely, by killing off a female character. These deaths begin the series-long lament of the male protagonist over how they could have/should have saved her and all the fun times that come along with such thoughts. But the more I thought about it, the more the two deaths began to seem less similar, although they functionally serve the same purpose in terms of the male protagonist outside of plot progression—they give the protagonists some goddess-like martyr to aspire to.
Trigger warning for gore under the cut.