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Gender Swap! My First Anime Experience

10 September 2007

TheBigN covers the compelling topic of gender in anime that I had a lovely time reading. However, it has been a while since I have considered gender roles as it applies to anime, if I have done it at all. Reading his piece enticed me to share my first anime experience of a surprising turn of gender expectations that I had of a certain character.

The character, Nuriko, from Fushigi Yuugi was my first encounter with what many on imageboards refer to as a “trap.” In other words, Nuriko had all the characteristics, mannerisms, reactions, etc. of a woman, but was discovered by Miaka to be a man. What makes this experience unique is that Fushigi Yuugi was the very first anime subtitled anime series that I watched in its entirety — I was just getting started in anime back then.

nurikoWhen I found out that Nuriko was a man, I was pleasantly surprised to be honest. I did not take this as an “OMG IT’S A TRAP/DO NOT WANT!” moment. I “embraced” this as what TheBigN states as “something extra, something awesome, something cool, something hot, something etc.” Nuriko became all the more fascinating and lovable as a character to me because he chose to gain an all-encompassing understanding of the feminine persona so that his twin sister could live on through him. And yet, he retained the body of a male out of necessity. What an amazing burden to carry, I thought. Though Tamahome was a great character model that I compared to myself, Nuriko had my heart from the start.

A few more gender encounters of a similar tone have crossed my path through the many years I have been watching anime. To be honest, I was all the more inclined to watch the following series because I felt a strong tugging of curiosity to see how these characters would live and survive in their respective predicaments. Megumi Amatsuka from Tenshi Na Konamaiki (Cheeky Angel), Mizuho Miyanokouji from Otome Wa Boku Ni Koishiteru, and even Saber from Fate/Stay Night are a few characters that I am inherently drawn to that struggle inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) with their own gender expectations, while, on the outside, having to broadcast a contradicting physique to society.

I suppose the fact that I have experienced some of this struggle in reality does allow me to be more accepting and open towards anime characters who just want to be who they are on the inside without having to be subjected, and possibly rejected, by “traditional” societal standards. To answer TheBigN’s question about “what’s traditional,” as it applies to gender expectations, what I believe it comes down to is two possible viewpoints that can be loosely compared to how family traditions are established and passed down through the ages:

  • 1) What an individual has come to discover and be taught by society as traditional for themselves is what, ultimately, becomes traditional [for that individual alone].
  • 2) What an individual’s beliefs and values are shaped by from a young age, and then built upon as they become thinkers, will determine what becomes traditional.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 September 2007 1:28:36

    I did forget about Nuriko from FY. I also liked his motivation for being who he is, and why he’s comfortable with it, though some can complain about how he did what he did out of trauma rather than because he felt like that was him.

    Interesting points about what’s traditional too. I’m wondering how what becomes tradtional for the individual becomes that for a community or even the whole of society. It’s very arbitrary if you think about it. But that’s something for another time. 😛

  2. fatestaysmart permalink*
    11 September 2007 21:18:10

    Ah, that’s great that you knew about Nuriko in the recesses of your mind. ^^ I really don’t think it was out of trauma, but a decision that he made for himself that was easily embraced no matter what anyone said. However, no one could say anything. We have to remember that though he pretended to want Hotohori out of jealousy, Hotohori wasn’t the wiser either. In a way, Nuriko was always in the androgynous closet to society, but completely open for himself. I doubt he was ashamed to share it, but held it as a personal issue that he clearly wanted under-wraps.

    Thanks for your compliment about my points. To be honest, I don’t believe it’s arbitrary, but a biological standard that a community tends to be programmed to. I believe the arbitrary aspect can only exist in those who must combat that biological standard within whatever community they are placed within, thus the issue. But yes, another time ^^;

    P.S. Thank you for deeming this blog worthy enough to link, even though we’ve just started! Much appreciated.

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