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05 December 2000 @ 04:37 pm
my FINAL FINAL  
This is my J pop essay that I wrote. It took along time to come up with this topic, because the prompts are so ambiguous&hard.

ok... here it is:

The Masculine Half
Chris Webster
Japanese Pop Culture
Noriko Aso
Merrill 108


The Manga Ranma1/2 is as diverse in its representation of Gender Roles and masculinity as it is entertaining. Masculinity comes in diverse forms, many of which are presented in the manga. Even within the first 5 books several very different interpretations of masculinity are presented in Staple characters such as Tateawaki Kuno, Ryoga, Happosai and Ranma himself. Although far from a list of all possible views of Masculinity, these 4 characters offer a diverse look at Masculinity in Contemporary Japanese Media.
Ranma is far from what is perceived as the typical male romantic interest in manga and anime, and this helps create an interesting plot, and it also makes Ranma stand out in a world of beautiful male heroes risking themselves to save the fair damsel. Even though Ranma does spend a considerable amount of time rescuing Akane, he spends just as much time insulting and fighting her than he does with her opponents.
Ranma is like a prepubescent boy. He acts like a little boy, constantly picking fights, and he hasn't found the appeal of girls the way characters like Kuno or even Ryoga have. Despite being 17, his voice sounds like it has just started going through puberty, which contrasts the more standard convention of giving male heroes deep adult voices. However the flip side to this prepubescent coin accentuates Ranma's female characteristics. The prepubescent nature is not only suggestive of a little boy, but of a gender-neutral child. By making Ranma a high-pitched, clean-shaven individual there remain vestiges of his female self even in his male body.
Ranma is most likely picking Fights and being bratty and selfish in an attempt to prove to the world that he is still very male, despite what his body might look like. He attempts to act like a stereotypical boy (as opposed to a man) in an effort to distance himself from all things feminine. His insistence on acting like a child as opposed to a man is explained by reasoning that an adult man shows an interest in females, and things like love and raising a family, which, in Ranma's mind are things that Girls like.
Perhaps we can infer from Ranma's exaggerated chauvinistic attitude the author's own opinions on what is expected of males in contemporary Japanese society. Ranma's fierce loyalty to his gender, and his aggressive attitude and selfishness closely mirrors the attitude of males in other Japanese popular media. Another important aspect of Ranma's attitude is seen in his relation hip with Ryoga. Ranma and Ryoga are most definitely Rivals, yet Ryoga is probably the closest Ranma has to a friend, and one of the few people that Ranma would inconvenience himself in order to help. For example, Ryoga would die of Shame if Akane discovered that Ryoga and P-chan were the same person. Ranma goes out of his way, and endures physical abuse in order to protect Ryoga's secret. Yet at the same time, Ranma wouldn't think twice about Pounding Ryoga into the ground. This sort of Friend/Rival relationship is surprisingly prolific in other manga as well. Kaneda and Tetsuo's relationship in AKIRA is far from civil, yet Kaneda risks his life to save "that fool Tetsuo." Another well-known example of Male friendship/competition theme is between Goku and Vegeta in Dragon Ball. Although Vegeta fights on the same side as Goku, there is not a moment that goes by in which Vegeta is not comparing him self to Goku, and longing for the day when they will fight each other again.
Ryoga is in many ways the stereotypical hero that Ranma should be. In fact, if Ryoga were in Ranma's place instead of Ranma, a great deal of the story's conflict would be gone. Much like Ranma, Ryoga plays out his male gender role through the constant battling with Ranma. However, unlike Ranma Ryoga has gentleman's qualities as well. Unlike Ranma, Ryoga is considerate of other characters, especially Akane, who he is very attracted to. It is this attraction to Akane, and Ryoga's sense of honor and chivalry which cause him so much grief when thinking about Akane discovering that he is P-chan. Ryoga has a more adult sense of responsibility then Ranma, rushing to rescue Akane, or feeling so much guilt that he sends himself into exile. These admirable qualities of sense of responsibility and self-sacrifice paint Ryoga as much honorable and much more mature than Ranma.
Kuno is as different from Ranma as he is the same. Kuno perceives himself as an honorable samurai whose mission is to protect and seduce the fair maiden Akane. This of course leads him into conflict with Ranma. It is important to mention that this conflict does not come about due to some Chivalrous notions from Ranma, (Ranma does very little to protect Akane unless he has some stake in it,) but from Kuno's perceived notion that Ranma is in competition with him for the hand of "beautiful Akane." Kuno is just as chauvinistic as Ranma, except he plays on the Adult side of the spectrum. Where Ranma is sticking out his tongue and acting like Akane has cooties, Kuno Insists that Akane wants to date him, but is too shy to admit it. Quickly we discover that Kuno's affection for Akane is only skin-deep, when he sees the cuter female Ranma. Kuno acts in the stereotypical male chauvinist way, and declares his love for the "pig-tailed girl." Kuno shows little actual compassion for Akane or any of the females he encounters, and despite proclaiming himself the upholder of morals and justice, is really the one that ladies should be protected from.
There is a stereotype through out Contemporary Japanese popular culture that depicts Old men as perverted and dirty. Usually the uglier and more revolting they are, the more perverted they are. Happosai fits this stereotype to a T. On the outset Happosai's only activity within the manga seems to be acting annoying and perverted. However on closer inspection it is revealed that Happosai serves a more important purpose. He is the only sexually oriented character in a world of platonic childhood crushes.
Happosai is less of a gender Category, and more of a gender Catalysts. He is the manga's puberty. Before Happosai's introduction, all talk of romance and relationship has been confined to the idea of walking home together, holding hands, and ultimately kissing. If anything more is suggested, like when Ranma discovered that P-chan was sleeping with Akane, Giggles from the girls, and elementary school exclamations from the guys were elicited. After Happosai became a part of the Tendo Household, issues such as Ranma sleeping with Akane, and Ranma not wearing a bra were beginning to be discussed more openly. Of course, most of this discussion came from Happosai himself, but he did serve as an avatar for the author to express her more "adult" views about what was happening with-in the manga.
The Gender roles presented in the manga Ranma1/2 are exaggerations of trends and stereotypes in contemporary Japanese society. The characters in Ranma1/2 are certainly not the norm, but the overlapping aspects help create a picture of how many view the masculinity of both themselves, and others in Japan today.
 
 
Current Mood: Finished!
Current Music: Top Gun - Kenny Loggins / Danger Zone (I turned my Sub woofer up all the way to celebrate!)
 
 
 
Siner Dsirnerd on December 5th, 2000 11:58 pm (UTC)
mr. giggles
yo yo you need gamepro.
Helenhelen on December 6th, 2000 03:45 pm (UTC)

awesome! you have amazing powers of insight. wish I shared them...