To the Editor: In the 11/11/05 "Otaku" issue of The Escapist, Shannon Drake discusses the rise of Japanese culture in the US, particularly the rise of anime and manga.
While I agree that this movement has definitely come into its own over the last five to 10 years, I wanted to point out that this movement has been a long time coming. Starting in the late '70s, but especially in the early to mid '80s, the American mainstream saw the introduction of a number of Japanese anime (Speed Racer, Robotech, Voltron, Thundercats, etc.) and other anime-inspired cartoons (Transformers, Go-bots, He-man, etc.). I remember "discovering" anime and manga in the '90s and thinking how exotic and new these films, shows and comic books were. Only in retrospect did I realize that I had been watching anime since I was a child!
One difference, however, between those shows and shows such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi Oh or Sailor Moon is that the shows in the early '80s were never billed as Japanese, while the Japanese status of modern anime seems to be one of their big selling points.
To the Editor: Sorry, but the article, "The View from Here" was a bit too one-sided if you ask me. I'm American and sometimes prefer games that are simple and fun than heavily realistic and online driven. With the success of the DS in America, it shows that gamers still care about games that are inventive, abstract and (most importantly) simple. Most of those console titles come from Japan unless you venture out into the Mac/PC shareware market. My tastes for gaming are a melting pot of genres and do not weigh to one or the other. I play everything from Metal Gear to Animal Crossing. In the end, it truly depends on what experience the player is seeking: "fun and adventures" or "serious and realistic."
To the Editor: I loved your article by John Tynes "The View From Here." I was beginning to think that I was the only person who thought this way, Nintendo just doesn't do anything for me anymore. The article made me laugh and gave me a sense of not being alone in this world. So thank you guys!
To The Editor: I am writing in response to Bonnie Ruberg's excellent article in Girl Power. Her ideas and conclusions about female monsters were very fascinating.
At one point in the article, Ms. Ruberg asks: "So what route is left for truly empowered female characters?" With regards to this question, I would like to point-out the recently released title Gunstar Super Heroes for the Gameboy Advance. This game allows you to play through as one of two protagonists, the creatively named "Red" and "Blue," on any of one three difficulty settings, hence creating six possible paths through the game. I had finished the game on easy and normal with both characters before I bothered to flip through the manual, at which point I discovered that Red was, in fact, a woman (based on that last sentence it is pretty obvious that I had always believed her to be male). I would like to put aside the obvious discussion about my own gender-related prejudices and expectations for a moment and consider the character Red in light of the above-mentioned article.
Ms. Ruberg outlines three possibilities for female videogame characters in survival horror (I feel these categories can be applied to any genre): damsels, heroines and monsters. In Gunstar Super Heroes, Red is clearly a heroine. However, she is quite different from the types of heroines the author describes (sex objects meant to be subordinate to the male player). As stated above, I would still believe Red to be male had I not read the game's manual. It is not that Red has a distinctly male appearance, but rather, she is un-feminized. Her clothes fit but are not tight, her breasts are unnoticeable, and the only showing skin is her face; she is simply androgynous.
So, we have an androgynous female heroine, which can be perceived in one of two ways: either the artist/developer has exerted control over Red's femininity and robbed her of it (assuming said person is male this could be taken as yet another example of male dominance); or in Red we have the female lead that a female could look up to: She is not a sex object, does not require saving and is equal to her male counterpart, at times even coming to his aid.
However, there is another aspect to Red that I have not yet mentioned: her personality. Remember that I mistook Red for a male simply due to my own expectations of how men and women look and behave in videogames. Red's personality matches her color: she is fiery, aggressive and passionate. She believes in what she is doing and is furious towards her opposition. Yet this personality is equally androgynous, as it is not distinctly male nor female. So the question remains: Has she been robbed of her gender identity by having no distinctively female qualities, or is she the long sought-after respectable, powerful heroine?