Bad Girls of Manga
Gokusen , Tokyo Crazy Paradise ,
Oresama Sensei and Yankee-kun to Megane-chan
By McCamy Taylor
When you think of Japanese manga, what kind of women and girls come to
mind. Soft spoken, sweet natured Orihime from Bleach?
Maybe Hinata, the quiet shinobi who secretly loves the title character
in Naruto? How about the girls of Gantz,
sweet, shy and
big busted (except for Kai’s girlfriend, Tae who is just
sweet and shy)? Serena/Usagi, from Sailor Moon ,
who is obsessed with her boyfriend? Or Belldandy from Oh, My
Goddess ? Put these all together and what do you have?
soft spoken, sweetly shy women who love their men.
This week, I am not going to talk about girls like that. This week, I
am going to write about their bad sisters, girls
and women who
lead gangs or belong to Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) families. Girls who
could kick your butt. These bad girls are the stars of their own
manga---manga that is not licensed in the United States, presumably
because Viz, Tokyo Pop, Dark Horse and the others think that we want to
read about good girls.
Gokusen is an (underground) manga smash hit in
States. The anime derived from the series has been released in the U.S.
It even aired on television. It is almost always near the top of every
“Manga I would like to see licensed in America”
list. So, what has domestic publishers scared? Well, for one thing it
belongs to the josei category, meaning it is intended for young
women. U.S. publishers seem to have a phobia about josei.
They assume that boys (shonen), girls (shoujo) and young men
(senein) like manga and anime, but grown up women do not…
Have these guys ever actually been to an Anime Con?
Gokusen is about Kumiko, the
to a yakuza family, who must hide her past (and her fearsome martial
arts skills) in order to fulfill her ambition to become a teacher for
troubled kids. Her students are delinquents and deadbeats whom everyone
else has written off. Though Kumiko tries to be a good
she is invariably forced to resort to her old bad girl ways in order
save the day. A similar title GTO was licensed and
the U.S. years ago. Why not Gokusen which is
Your guess is as good as mine, but I think the bad girl heroine has a
lot to do with it.
Tokyo Crazy Paradise is also at the top of many
“Manga to license in the US” lists. The story is
set in a futuristic Japan, which is so violent that girls are commonly
raped and assaulted. Therefore, the police officer parents of school
girl Tsukasa have raised her as a boy. She is tough, smart and an
awesome fighter. When she and her brothers are left orphaned, Tsukasa
takes a job as a bodyguard for Ryugi, a classmate who also happens to
be a Yakuza boss. The results are hilarious. The author of this series
also writes Skip Beat which has
been licensed in this
In Oresama Sensei , Kurosaki was the head of her
before she got expelled. Now, she is at a new school, trying to create
a new image as a “good” girl. However, her best
friend is a teacher who also was a delinquent back in his
younger days, and his idea of setting a good example is attempting to
draw her into fights. Funny, funny.
In Yankee-kun to Megane-chan the glasses
(megane) girl of the
title is also a female gang leader in disguise. Adachi Hana puts her
hair in pigtails and wears glasses that she does not need in order to
pass for a quiet, studious girl in her new school. However,
she is drawn to and draws to herself all of the most troubled
delinquents and former delinquents at her school. And like the other
girls and women described above, she is often forced to resort to her
“bad” girl ways in order to save the day. This
manga is also hilarious. One of the most recent story arcs has the
“bad” student council lead by Hana visiting a rich
and extremely well behaved school, where the Yankee-kun (i.e. bad boy)
of the title guest teaches by showing the kids how to skip
class and hang out on the roof.
If the idea of girls and women who can kick the ass of any man they
meet seems implausible, remember the rules in oriental martial arts.
Women fighters are always stronger than men. Gays are even stronger,
and eunuchs are at the top. Why? Don’t ask me. Maybe it is a
repressed anger thing. Maybe those who have less to lose are more
likely to fight harder.
Each of the “bad” girls described above has a
“bad” boy (or boys) who loves her precisely because
she is so tough. While the rest of the world pressures them to put on
“good” girl facades, these bad boys
encourage them to be true to themselves, even when the emotions that
they are being true to are angry and violent ones. When people are
forced to repress their emotions---especially their anger---they tend
to develop self esteem problems. This is especially true for girls. So,
the message from these mangas is something like “It is ok to
be yourself. People will like you for what you are”,
something that girls and women in this country need to hear, too.