Shōnen manga, a genre of manga aimed at boys and teenage boys, has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide. Typically, Shonen manga features a formidable male protagonist, fighting, and winning battles using physical strength or magical powers. However, in recent years, a new trend has emerged in shōnen manga with the emergence of strong and inspiring female characters.
The Role of Women in Shonen Manga in the Past
Before we discuss the emergence of strong female characters in current Shonen manga, let’s take a look at the history of female roles in Shonen manga in the past. Most traditional shōnen manga tends to feature female characters in supporting roles or as romantic characters for male protagonists. They are often portrayed as weak, and dependent on male characters, or being the objects behind the story.
An example is Sakura Haruno in Masashi Kishimoto’s “Naruto”. Initially, Sakura was portrayed as a weak and dependent girl on Naruto and Sasuke. However, as the story progresses, Sakura becomes stronger and develops her abilities. However, his portrayal is still often criticized for focusing too much on the romantic aspect.
However, in recent years, we have witnessed changes in the way female characters are portrayed in shōnen manga. The emergence of strong and independent female characters has become a new trend that inspires many readers and exerts a positive influence on gender representation in the manga.
A vivid example of the appearance of strong female characters in Shonen manga is Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan”. Mikasa Ackerman, one of the main characters in the manga, is portrayed as a formidable and talented soldier. He has extraordinary fighting skills and is a source of inspiration for many readers, both men, and women. Mikasa not only relies on the male characters in the story but also plays an active role in facing challenges and taking the initiative in action.
Increased Achievement of Women in Shonen Manga Stories
The appearance of strong female characters in shōnen manga also provides a more realistic picture of women’s achievements in the fictional world. Female characters are portrayed as individuals who have the potential, ability, and power to contribute significantly to the story. They are not only the embellishment of the story or the object of love, but they have an important role in facing challenges
Positive Gender Representation in Shōnen Manga
The appearance of strong female characters in Shonen manga also provides a more positive representation of gender. In many shōnen mangas, female roles are often limited to stereotypical roles, such as weak girls who must be rescued by men or romantic characters who only exist to satisfy the love desires of male characters. However, with the rise of strong female characters, the stereotype is deconstructed, and more diverse and positive gender representations are shown.
For example, in Kohei Horikoshi’s “My Hero Academia” manga, female characters such as Uraraka Ochaco and Tsuyu Asui are portrayed as strong and empowered heroes, possessing their unique abilities alone, and be an inspiration to both female and male readers. They not only depend on the male characters in the story but also have a significant role in facing challenges and contributing to the struggle against enemies.
Conveying the Message of Empowerment to Readers
The appearance of strong female characters in Shonen manga also brings a message of empowerment to readers, especially female readers. The strong female characters in Shonen manga encourage readers to face challenges with confidence, develop their abilities, and dare to take action. They exemplify independent, persistent, and inspiring women, who can influence readers to face the world with their heads held high and determined.
For example, in the manga “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” by Koyoharu Gotouge, a female character named Nezuko Kamado is described as a strong hero who has special powers to fight the devil. He is also described as loyal and affectionate towards his brother, Tanjiro. This character gives the message that women can be tough fighters and has an important role in fighting the enemy and shows the importance of family ties and love between brothers.
Reflecting Social Change in Society
The appearance of strong female characters in Shonen manga also reflects social changes in society. In recent years, the role and rights of women in various aspects of life have been increasingly noticed and recognized. This is also reflected in shōnen manga, which are cultural products that are reflected by the society in which they are made.
Inspiring Readers to Celebrate Diversity
The appearance of strong female characters in shōnen manga also inspires readers to celebrate diversity. In shōnen manga, we can see a variety of female characters with different backgrounds, personalities, and abilities. This shows that women can not only be represented in one stereotype but also have diverse potentials and abilities.
For example, in the manga “Attack on Titan” by Hajime Isayama, the character Mikasa Ackerman is described as a strong and skilled soldier who has great fighting skills and a Strong determination to protect the person he loves. However, on the other hand, Sasha Braus’ character is described as cheerful and fond of the eating girl, yet has extraordinary courage and fighting skills. These two characters are different examples of facing challenges and facing different situations, yet both are equally empowered in their respective roles.
Encouraging the Creation of More Diversified and Inclusive Manga Works
The emergence of strong female characters in shōnen manga also encourages the creation of more diverse and inclusive manga works. As the number of strong female characters in shōnen manga increases, mangaka (manga authors) tend to present a variety of characters with different backgrounds and open doors for a more diverse story.
For example, in the manga “Jujutsu Kaisen” by Gege Akutami, there are strong female characters such as Nobara Kugisaki and Maki Zenin. Nobara is depicted as a girl who has great fighting abilities with her special weapons, while Maki is a tough warrior who has no magic abilities but is still strong with his courage and physical skills. These two characters play an important role in the story, as well as providing variety in the background and personality of the female characters in the manga.
Challenges and Constraints in the Representation of Strong Female Characters in Shonen Manga
Although there has been an increase in the representation of strong female characters in shōnen manga, it is undeniable that there are still challenges and obstacles in bringing out strong female characters in Shōnen stories.
One of the challenges faced is the existence of gender stereotypes that still exist in society. Some readers may still have a traditional view of female roles in stories and perceive strong female characters as unrealistic or inconsistent with expectations. In addition, the view of society that still tends to view men as strong protagonists and women as supporting characters or objects of love, can also be an obstacle in presenting character