• November 29, 2021

Anime girls are more than ‘sexy’ thanks to the wave of new shows

Anime girls face a lot of expectations. Audiences want to see them be soft, sweet, funny, relatable, and of course super sexy. Their stories require them to be hyper-competent, hard to come by (but constantly pining for love), and, again, super sexy. Often they are expected to be all of the above and at the same time save the world. Is there no justice for the abandoned? When will it end?

Apparently now. A growing number of shows, particularly in the iyashikei or “healing” anime genre, they are finally freeing their female leads from these outlandish pressures and, better yet, taking their relationships seriously. In signature series for the genre, such as Flying witch Y Tamayura Hitotose, the focus shifts away from action and romance, in favor of meaningful connections with family and friends, and finds joy in the minutiae of life.

Iyashikei The anime is certainly not new, but you are watching a rise in popularity, thanks to its much-needed calming effect on viewers. The genre first emerged as a response to trauma after the Kobe earthquake and the 1995 Tokyo sarin attack, when audiences craved a sense of safety from fiction. While iyashikei can include works that feature action or fantasy elements, the focus tends to be smaller and more mundane, and there is a heavy emphasis on visually stunning settings.

Many of the quiet stories, although charming, are unfortunately dismissed as “pretty girls who do nice things”, as is often the case in the series. No no biyori. Other series are considered a fulfillment of domestic fantasy for men, such as Helpful Fox Senko-san. While a key part of iyashikei It is the sensation of serenity that it transmits to the spectators, relying on female characters to provide this emotional impact without giving them interiority, it subjects them to the same expectations that they face in other genres.

Flying witch
Image: JCStaff

The pressure to be cute and helpful won’t immediately dissipate for our two-dimensional protagonists. But series that allowed their female leads to calm down have been around since the 1990s, even if this particular kind of on-screen empowerment was rare.

While the powerful action-packed magical girl Sailor moon helped popularize anime in North America, 1998 Yokohama Purchase Register It provided a quiet counterweight, even if it was largely ignored by the Western public at the time. Studio Ghibli movies (particularly My neighbor totoro) over the years helped establish iyashikeiattractive, while demonstrating that stories about women’s lives have commercial viability. The low-key hangout anime series Azumanga Daioh brought these efforts back in the early 2000s, with a set of high school girls leading their (mostly) normal lives, with a heavy dose of surreal humor to boot.

With the foundations laid and the demand growing, it is becoming increasingly acceptable that programs allow their young women to safely explore life and find fulfillment on their own terms. Kuma Kuma Bear Kuma Y Adachi and Shimamura are two incredible examples that recently finished their first dubbed seasons. Relaxed camp (currently only available with subtitles) takes the cold vibes to the next level.

Kuma Kuma Bear Kuma (streaming on Hulu and Funimation) begins with a tried and true isekai plot where the protagonist, Yuna, is transported to the world of her favorite video game. But instead of struggling to get back to the real world or chasing influence in the game, just enjoy life and look for good food. Despite his somewhat selfish motives, his missions often improve the lives of other residents of the game, many of whom appear to be NPCs. Fun and sweet at the same time, the series has added appeal for anyone who loves found family tropes and deliciously drawn culinary delights.

Yuna in a bear-themed pajama outfit stroking two giant bears while wearing bear hand puppets

Kuma Kuma Bear Kuma
Image: EMT Squared

Adachi and Shimamura (in Funimation) is a more traditional part of life, with just a hint of romantic angst and a few surreal side stories to keep things interesting. The protagonists, Sakura Adachi and Hougetsu Shimamura, are two high school bums who strike up a friendship while skipping class. Little by little, their connection turns into something more. It is essentially the antithesis of classic anime. Inuyasha– There are no holy items to retrieve, no action-packed fights with powerful demons, and certainly no dramatic shouts of each other’s names during fights and love professions. Instead of, Adachi and Shimamura devotes multiple episodes to buying gifts in uncrowded shopping malls.

Relaxed camp (on Crunchyroll) is exactly what it sounds like: a series about girls going camping. It is effectively Azumanga Daioh in the woods, with even more impressive background art and serene, food-focused plots.

Without the drama of the forces of evil to overcome, or even the big troubled romances of fan favorites like Fruit basquet, some people may find these series boring. But the beauty is in the lack of conflict: knowing that everything is and will be fine for the characters creates a deep sense of relief for the viewers. Yes Fruit basquet It is the media equivalent of a crying crisis after the breakup, iyashikeiThe vibrations are much more like falling asleep under a heavy blanket next to someone you love.

Rather than having the plot based on constant drama as the story progresses, the focus is on the interactions and ideas of the characters. In Kuma Kuma Bear Kuma, this translates to Yuna solving problems for communities in a video game world while developing closer friendships than ever before in the real world. In Azumanga Daioh, the ensemble cast just lives their everyday lives, and the comedy comes from their interactions and interpretations (or misinterpretations) of those interactions. In Relaxed camp, the landscape is so beautiful that even with a fairly minimal plot, it is still a pleasure to see.

Nadeshiko Kagamihara and Rin Shima admiring the view of Mount Fuji at night in the relaxed camp

Image: C-Station

Stylistically, iyashikei it also tends to bright secondary colors, elaborate backgrounds, montages with upbeat music, and voiceovers used to get characters to reflect on their feelings, rather than reacting to their opponent’s latest fighting move. The character design shows a strong influence of the traditional. shojo aesthetic, with “cute” styles that focus on big eyes and trendy clothes, rather than unrealistic outfits or exaggerated anatomy. Communication also tends to be easier. There are still misunderstandings between the characters, but mostly for comic effect.

Instead of enjoying the most typical tsundere dynamic, characters are much more likely to softly and easily share their true feelings, whether they focus on friendship, romantic interest, or a more familiar love affair. While there may still be some build-up and heartache in these confessions, it is clear to the audience that the sentiment will be reciprocated and the characters must feel safe to express themselves.

While the high-stakes worlds of the most popular anime series are filled with epic battles and heartbreaking relationships, aimed at generating endless excitement and emotional engagement, sometimes the intensity is just too much. There is so much joy in just watching the characters live their lives. Enjoying peaceful scenery, pursuing slow relationships that develop in their own time, and genuinely reveling in the absurdity of existence provides a unique kind of escapism that is desperately needed in an overrated and overrated world. The moment is right. These calm depictions of women’s lives and relationships will only become more frequent and popular.

An open world is before us, one with stories that assure us that it is okay to just exist, appreciate other people, and take in the world around us. And one where anime girls can finally relax.

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