Posts Tagged ‘Sakura’

images-63What are the things that are most important to women? Well, if you believe what the media shows, it seems we think of nothing but fashion and guys. My eyes were recently drawn to an episode of a spin-off anime of Naruto, following the comedic adventures of Naruto’s friend and comrade, Rock Lee and others in short, mini skits. This particular episode featured a skit about “a maiden’s battle” and depicted four of the major female characters of the series, Sakura, Hinata, Ino, and Tenten so, I decided to check it out. (For those of you unfamiliar with the set up in Naruto, ninja are commonplace and most of the cast, including the girls I’ve just mentioned, are skilled warriors who aid in protecting their village and perform dangerous missions. Yet, as I’ve written about in other posts, the female characters are often given more traditional roles.) Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that this skit was a cess pool of stereotypes.

In the ten to fifteen minute skit, there is a big sale going on at a department store, the kind where hundreds of people line up in front of the entrance before the doors have even opened, all prepared to charge in and grab the best deals. It is revealed in a scene with Tenten’s two male comrades that she has gone of to a “women’s battle” instead of training as she usually does. What’s this “women’s battle,” you ask? Yes, it’s braving the mob and competing with fellow women for the best bargains at the sale. We soon find out that Tenten’s fellow female comrades, Sakura, Ino, and Hinata have also come and even powerful women like Tsunade, who is the leader of the village. This extreme shopping trip is compared to a battle and the women use ridiculous tactics to try to outwit others in order to get what they want.


I searched “shopping” and this is the kind of stuff that comes up. Look at how happy these white women are to be shopping!

So, what’s wrong with this? This is a comedy and I’m sure some people will think that I’m taking this too seriously. After all, while this is one of only a few skits I’ve seen from the show, it’s clear that all the skits play on the ridiculous. My problem with this skit is that the comedy lies in pure stereotyping of women. While the men train, the women participate in petty competitive behavior over a sale. Only one male character is suggested to be partaking in the sale while all the major female characters that live in that village are depicted along with the nameless mob of other shoppers who are depicted as women. By placing all these major female characters in this situation, it makes it seem like all women, no matter their different personalities, are drawn to “girly” activities like shopping. Not only that, but the characters and even the skit’s title verify that this is a “woman’s battle.” That phrasing bothers me beyond suggesting that mostly women show up to these things because to me it draws a line in the sand, so to speak; if shopping is specifically a woman’s battle, does that mean that serious things war, an actual battle, are supposed to be a man’s fight and some women just happen to be there as well?

There is nothing wrong with a woman who likes to shop. Even I like to do it sometimes. There is something wrong, however, with depicting only and all women shopping, especially in such a competitive fashion since that perpetrates the female vs. female stereotype as well.  While many cultures, including my own, label shopping as something women do and like to do, I’ll bet you there are men who like to do that as well. While this sale isn’t limited to clothing, in the United States, many stores will have huge sales on a day called “Black Friday,” just after our Thanksgiving Day and tons of men participate in that. And certainly there are some women who absolutely hate to shop.

Finally, as for this skit being a comedy, in this day and age when we’re trying to move away from stereotypes and be more progressive, wouldn’t it be more enjoyable for everyone to make fun of silly stereotypes like the ones I’ve discussed here? Anyway, if you’d like to see the skit for yourself, I’ve put a link to the episode it’s in at the bottom of this post. The skit starts after the second commercial break at the halfway mark. Watch it if you’d like and tell me what you think!


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Warning! Some minor spoilers for volumes 5-24 of Naruto!

Well, I’ve already blabbed about Tsunade and Sakura and how they unfortunately fall into some female character pit traps so, I thought it was about time I wrote something positive about the women/girls of Naruto. I don’t know about the rest of you Naruto fans, but when I think of the girls/women of Naruto I think Sakura, Hinata, Tsunade, and maybe Ino. But as I was writing last week, a character that I really never fully appreciated popped into my head: Temari. Remember her, the tough girl from the Hidden Sand Village that tags along with Gaara? She may not be the star of the female characters of Naruto, but she might just be one of the best representations in Naruto of what a good female character in shonen (boys’) manga looks like.

Art by Masashi Kishimoto

When Temari first hits the scene just before the start of a large-scale ninja exam called the Chunin Exams, by mere virtue of the fact that the group that she’s with is intimidating, she becomes a bit scary herself, but she fades into the background in the presence of her comrades (and brothers), Gaara and Kankuro. Kankuro comes off as the tough, scary guy who you don’t want to mess with only to be swiftly upstaged by the seriously blood-chilling Gaara. Temari, on the other hand, stands by coolly, occasionally offering her brothers warnings or plays referee. While her brothers do overshadow her in the beginning, her sit-back-and-bide-her-time attitude makes her look like the most stable of the three in comparison; Kankuro picks a pointless fight with a kid and Gaara ends up looking psychopathic. Temari’s rational and cool behavior also pays testament to what readers later see are some of her major strengths. Her first appearance also shows her as the fountain of knowledge that many shonen girls seem to be and she does do a little batting of the eyes at Sasuke, but she shows a bite to her character that sets her apart from characters like Sakura.

Temari really doesn’t get a chance to show off her skills until the later parts of the Chunin Exam arc. Readers get a hint of her strength when she easily defeats her opponent in a match that decides who goes on to the finals, making her the only girl to advance, but it is not until the actual finals that Temari gets to show readers what she’s made of. When she finally does, it’s an exciting match between her and the hidden genius strategist of Naruto’s friends, Shikamaru. I loved this match-up for two reasons: 1) It’s a match between a girl and a guy. Too often do story writers of all medias restrict women to go up against women and men to go up against men. No, it doesn’t always happen, but it’s common enough that I find the former scenario more unusual. 2) By pitting Temari against such a brilliant mind, it shows off her strategical skills as well. Despite Shikamaru’s muttering about how a guy can’t lose to a girl and a guy can’t go around hitting a girl, it ends up being an interesting match between two very keen characters.

Art by Masashi Kishimoto/Translation by Mangareader.net

Art by Masashi Kishimoto

 I want to stop here and bring up something up about Temari’s character: her ruthlessness. As Temari establishes herself, she comes off as tough and even ruthless toward many of the other characters. When I first read through the Chunin Exam arc of Naruto I wasn’t a fan of Temari’s because of that; however, looking at it now I actually like this aspect of her character. Temari has lived in a tough environment and, when all this is taking place in the story, she’s in the middle of a tough situation and Naruto and his friends are her enemies. (It would be strange to say the least if she had frolicked around, giggling and making friends with everyone.)  Temari is certainly not the only female character that takes on an antagonist role, but she’s the only one that returns as an ally to use her powers alongside Naruto and the bunch. This allows readers to see her toughness as an asset. Yet she isn’t one of those female characters we’re seeing more of in fiction where they end up feeling like the Terminator (aka a male stereotype) in a women’s body. She’s tough, but she’s also definitely a woman.

The other wonderful thing about Temari is she is the only girl so far to have successfully protected a guy in Naruto. Thank you, Temari! Because, seriously, if these girls are supposed to be comrades shouldn’t they be able to aid a comrade?

Interestingly enough, she comes to the aid of none other than Shikamaru who can’t help but make some remark about men and women. Temari has a few words to say on that matter as seen in the picture below.

Art by Masashi Kishimoto/Translation by Mangareader.net

Honestly, after I thought about it, how could Temari not join the ranks of my favorite shonen manga female characters? She stands on her own, undefined by the male characters around her, and doesn’t fall into any female character pit traps (if you want to know about some of those, check out my posts on Tsunade and Sakura.) She’s not the star of the show, but in the limited times she has appeared, Temari has managed to make a definitive mark amongst her fellow female characters.

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