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Career Women in Manga

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pearlesque
Post #24669
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5:25 pm, Jul 8 2007
Posts: 94


Yo, I'm back after a brief hiatus. My entire manga collection got wiped when my hard-drive crashed, and as a result, I was in the midst of recovering my precious data. I actually didn't manage to recover it, because I couldn't afford to pay for professional data recovery. Damn it.

Anyway, enough of my angst. I've wanted to start this thread for a while... A few weeks ago, somebody posted a thread about strong female leads. That was great, but it didn't really mention the kind of female lead I like the best.

The career woman.

I don't just mean that I have an OL fetish (although I do have one). Ahem. I mean that I enjoy stories that don't treat women only as potential love interests. In every genre, be it shounen, shoujo, seinen or josei, women are treated primarily as romantic conquests. Romance is, apparently, the most important identifying trait for a female character, and also her most passionate concern.

With male protagonists, it's common to see them pursuing other goals with equal focus -- such as their careers or hobbies or sports, or even personal vendettas such as revenge or redemption. Female protagonists, on the other hand, are often depicted as being constantly absorbed in some sort of romantic predicament. They're hardly ever depicted as being equally serious about their work.

That's annoying. Don't get me wrong, I love my romance as much as the next girl, but I certainly don't think that it's realistic to depict women only as romance addicts. It would be good to read a manga in which a woman deals with other concerns as well. In which a woman has other concerns. Like a job, for example, or a sport, or politics.

In order to get the ball rolling, I'm listing a few of my favorite manga women below. They're all career women, in the sense that the manga emphasizes their professional ambitions over their romantic ones.

Hataraki Man: A workaholic editor is so addicted to her job that she barely has time for anything else. This story has the same sort of dry humor as Kimi wa Petto, although the mangaka is different.

Eternal Sabbath: It's good to see a woman do the world-saving for a change! Kujyou is an absent-minded but highly gifted scientist. She discovers a deadly secret that the government would rather keep hidden, and teams up with a telepath in order to prevent disaster.

Crimson Hero: Simply awesome shoujo, because the girl cares more about volleyball than she does about romance. Basically a sports manga, with a look at the behind-the-scenes tensions of an adolescent team. The occasional romance is nice, but it isn't really the point.

Yawara: A young judo prodigy wants to be a normal girl with a handsome boyfriend, but her passion for her sport is re-kindled after a series of tournaments and some good old professional rivalry. This manga's by Urasawa Naoki, and like anything else by Urasawa, it's pure gold.

Gokusen: The granddaughter of a yakuza don becomes a high school teacher, and proceeds to kick the asses of anyone that hurts her students. She's sort of like a female Onizuka, but with better brains and a less exaggerated libido. Not that I don't love Onizuka, too. biggrin

Helter Skelter: Success always has a price. A famous actress resorts to plastic surgery in order to help her achieve fame, but repetitive surgery affects her mental stability as well as her physical well-being. Warning: This is very dark and very creepy!

Suppli: The advertising industry places a lot of pressure on its workers, and one woman finds her personal life falling apart because she places emphasis on her career. She re-evaluates her priorities and tries to balance her life with her work...

Glass Mask: I think every shoujo fan's probably read this already, since it's a classic. The heroine is an aspiring actress who works hard to break into the entertainment world.

Shion no Ou: The protagonist's far too young to be considered a career woman, but she's a girl involved in the world of professional, competitive Go. If you liked Hikaru no Go, you'll probably like this, although it's darker and somewhat more mature than HnG.

Bet on This Woman: Unfortunately, this manga hasn't been scanslated yet, but it's about a banker who tries to do her job without sacrificing her ideals.

Gothic Sports: Another manga that hasn't been scanslated, but absolutely must be. A goth girl wants to become a professional soccer player. She unites the misfits in her school to make the first Gothic Lolita soccer team! (It sounds hilarious, I know. I can't wait until someone scanslates this!)

That's it for my list. What about yours? Name some of the career women you've come across in manga! Whether they be doctors or politicians or chefs or sportswomen, it doesn't matter. What I'm looking for strength and sass and ambition.

It would also be good if we could get a discussion started on why there aren't more career women in manga. I found this essay particularly pertinent, because it identified the three major types of female characters in manga: the bishoujo, the mother and the femme fatale. It's sad that there isn't a category for career women. Japan certainly has a very large number of working women, so how come their depiction in manga is so marginalized? What's going on? Is it because of an idealized and old-fashioned concept of femininity, or is it something else?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. In a few days, I'll start another thread about female action heroes -- you know, women who are basically adventurers and fighters, like the protagonists of Claymore. Please save your action recommendations for that thread; this one's just about career women. smile

Last edited by pearlesque at 5:54 pm, Jul 8

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"They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm." - Dorothy Parker.
Mamsmilk
Post #24688
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6:01 pm, Jul 8 2007
Posts: 7698


Yay, my computer broke so no manga here either. ^_^

TofuQueen
Post #24689 - Reply to (#24669) by pearlesque
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6:25 pm, Jul 8 2007
Posts: 1840


Quote from pearlesque
It's sad that there isn't a category for career women. Japan certainly has a very large number of working women, so how come their depiction in manga is so marginalized? What's going on? Is it because of an idealized and old-fashioned concept of femininity, or is it something else?

Eh...how about, it's hard to make a really interesting story out of what most "career women" do? I'm sure some have exciting lives, but for the most part it's got to be relatively...boring... Maybe my own working experience is coloring my opinion, though. eyes

I can't think of any manga focused on career women other than the ones you already listed, though Crimson Hero and Gokusen are among my favorite manga. biggrin

________________
"[English] not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."
-James Nicoll, can.general, March 21, 1992
NeoFireHawk
Post #24691 - Reply to (#24669) by pearlesque
Member

6:35 pm, Jul 8 2007
Posts: 189


Quote from pearlesque
Japan certainly has a very large number of working women, so how come their depiction in manga is so marginalized? What's going on? Is it just an idealized and old-fashioned concept of femininity, or is it something else?

Seriously pearlesque, you are talking here about Japan, not some Western country. And with the "very large number of working women" are you talking about office ladies? (I didn't understand you very well). If that's the case you should now that a office lady is expected to become a housewife and a kyoiku mama after marriage (a good example of this is the manga Futari Ecchi). But if you're talking about a career woman you should have done at least some research before asking that question. (In fact, it's surprising that you don't know that a lot of Japanese companies reject women in executive positions).
And the "essay" that you linked is one of the most stereotypical and misinformed that I have read. She says that all manga tens to fall into three groups: the bishoujo, the mother and the femme fatale. I don't know what she have been reading, or if she know the definition of "bishoujo" but what I do know is that she doesn't have clue of what she's talking about. (For example, the "femme fatale group" is part of the "bishoujo group"). But what really bothers me are not the huge mistakes despicted in the "essay", but that the author claims to know every type of manga in existence and that's why she gallantly says that ALL manga falls into her categories. If I were you I'll think four or five times before using that "essay" as a faithful source of information.

And look, manga is simply a refection of Japanese culture. In the examples that you gave the female characters were given professional careers because of the story required it. For example, Eternal Sabbath depicts a story of genetic manipulation and touches very deeps themes like the search for immortality. Since almost the whole story takes place around groups of scientists it's only natural that the female protagonist is a career woman. It's not that the manga emphasize her professional ambitions over her romantic ones as you said, in fact, she doesn't seem to have any professional ambitions anymore (since she has reached her goals) but she seems to have romantic ones instead (don't you remember the Omiai scene?)
What I'm trying to say is that if manga doesn't depict career women as much as you would like is because simply the Japanese doesn't want them (and instead they consider romantic relationships as a better topic for a manga.) The problem that I see in you is that you want manga, a product created by and for the Japanese to fulfill Occidental standards of political correctiveness (otherwise you shouldn't have asked why they aren't depicted as much as you'd like. You'd assume that it's part of Japan's culture)

I recommend you that in the future, before asking a question like this you first research the Japanese culture and customs since as I said before, manga is only a reflection of such.

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melee86
Post #24990
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10:06 am, Jul 9 2007
Posts: 138


Quote
Seriously pearlesque, you are talking here about Japan, not some Western country. And with the "very large number of working women" are you talking about office ladies? (I didn't understand you very well). If that's the case you should now that a office lady is expected to become a housewife and a kyoiku mama after marriage (a good example of this is the manga Futari Ecchi). But if you're talking about a career woman you should have done at least some research before asking that question. (In fact, it's surprising that you don't know that a lot of Japanese companies reject women in executive positions).


I hate to break it to you, Neofirehawk, but there are quite a few working women in Japan, particularly within the cities. I do agree with you that the culture and customs are definately different, so therefore a woman might be expected to, say, become a housewife after she gets married, and this is therefore reflected in manga, though I should point out in western culture there are certain implications and expectations for western women to do the same thing, even if it is not said out right. The second thing to add is that Japan has been influenced a great deal by western culture, so girls might have more ambition to get a career than they used to in real life (I think I read that somewhere, though I can't quite remember where). So I think manybe the number of mangas that depict career women is increasing? (at least I think so). In any case, pearlsque was asking a question because she didn't know, theres nothing wrong with that (it's what I do when I don't know anything), sometimes it's easier to do that than to try and find what you want by yourself.

Quote
That's it for my list. What about yours? Name some of the career women you've come across in manga! Whether they be doctors or politicians or chefs or sportswomen, it doesn't matter. What I'm looking for strength and sass and ambition.


Oh my... you just mentioned a whole lot of manga I have to download now... (will not go crazy, will not go crazy, will not go crazy, haha).

These are the only ones I can think of that will class as 'career women' I guess (I'm mostly reading ones about leading action heroines at the moment, so I can't think of to many), but anyway, I enjoyed these both a great deal,

Tokyo Juliet- A girl who enters a designers college. Wants to get back at a guy who stole her design

Read or Die- A librarian who has an obsession with books. She has some sort of mysterious power that allows her to control paper and fights various crime organisations (ahhh... this might count as a bit more of an action one though).

There was another one about a girl who has an ambition to become an actor and continues to do so in the sequel, I can't remember the name! (it's a gender bender one, the main character she falls in love with has the same ambition, but must cross- dress in order to do so)



Last edited by melee86 at 10:21 am, Jul 9

NeoFireHawk
Post #25051 - Reply to (#24990) by melee86
Member

1:58 pm, Jul 9 2007
Posts: 189


Quote from melee86
I hate to break it to you, Neofirehawk, but there are quite a few working women in Japan, particularly within the cities.

Of course there are working women in Japan! I never said the opposite. When I asked her what she was talking about (when she said "very large number of working women" ) I was trying to ask her if she was referring only to career women or women with less education, like office ladies.

Quote from melee86
The second thing to add is that Japan has been influenced a great deal by western culture

I think that this is more than obvious melee86...only look at their clothing!

Quote from melee86
In any case, pearlsque was asking a question because she didn't know, theres nothing wrong with that (it's what I do when I don't know anything), sometimes it's easier to do that than to try and find what you want by yourself.

I found it odd for her to not know about something as basic as the situation of women in Japan when she is an avid manga reader...but perhaps you're right and I overreacted.

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ranmaru
Post #25056
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2:22 pm, Jul 9 2007
Posts: 1115


mangas with career women are mostly Josei, i like Josei and mangas with career women, i read most of what you listed and i'd like to add Clover

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TofuQueen
Post #25144 - Reply to (#24990) by melee86
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6:40 pm, Jul 9 2007
Posts: 1840


Quote from melee86
There was another one about a girl who has an ambition to become an actor and continues to do so in the sequel, I can't remember the name! (it's a gender bender one, the main character she falls in love with has the same ambition, but must cross- dress in order to do so)

Is that W Juliet, maybe? I suppose Ito & Makoto are pretty career-focused, but somehow it feels more like a romance/adventure/family life manga to me...

________________
"[English] not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."
-James Nicoll, can.general, March 21, 1992
Takiko
Post #25207 - Reply to (#25051) by NeoFireHawk
Member

9:07 pm, Jul 9 2007
Posts: 630


My post is long, but pearlsque's one here is probably longer. ;)

Quote from NeoFireHawk
Quote from melee86
The second thing to add is that Japan has been influenced a great deal by western culture

I think that this is more than obvious melee86...only look at their clothing!

Well the Japanese might be more easily influenced by the West by their clothes and such than their mindset towards women. Didn't Japan want to move forward so that they would be equal to the West, in terms of technology, after Commodore Pierre forced them out of isolation? Today the Japanese have the latest phones and digital cameras while a person in the USA or Canada would have something that might be a year or a few years old, or may be complete out-of-date if a Japanese saw it, like a bulky portable CD player versus a mp3 palyer. I think there was a proverb for them that's "Western technology with Japanese spirit"?

Quote from NeoFireHawk
Quote from melee86
In any case, pearlsque was asking a question because she didn't know, theres nothing wrong with that (it's what I do when I don't know anything), sometimes it's easier to do that than to try and find what you want by yourself.

I found it odd for her to not know about something as basic as the situation of women in Japan when she is an avid manga reader...but perhaps you're right and I overreacted.

Hmm, when we read manga, do we really learn much about Japan and their culture? ;) There are probably some that don't ever touch it beyond referring to each other as -san and -sama, like if it was an alternative world and not patterned after Japan's past at all and the place it takes place into is not Japan or a look-a-like at all.

But as to why I think there aren't many "career-minded" women in manga, I don't see office ladies as "career-minded" as they work for a few years, get married and then have a family and raise their kids. I don't think that would make those women "career-minded" as they are willing to take a stationary position which means they won't move up the corporate ladder. But I guess take what you can get when there's already very little of what you want out there when it comes to books..?

How many women are career-minded in Japan, compared to their male counterparts? And being a Japanese male office worker doesn't appealing at all to me, as they have to work long, long hours, and the extra hours are done without being paid. If a woman wants a family, she will probably have to forfeit what she's accomplished if she hasn't reached her goal, or even if she has.

I'm surprised by a "Heroes" episode about mid-season when Hiro convinces his father that his sister should be the president of the company instead of him (yeah, Hiro has his own fate that he wants to follow). She's more accomplished and knowledgeable than Hiro but her father hasn't considered her as his successor for the company. I was expecting more of a fight from Hiro's dad, but maybe the writers (which probably aren't Japanese, as I think there would be more disagreed about his successor) didn't want to drag it out or thought it was enough. I think the reasons why her father might have "overlooked" her, may be that she's female and so for a company that's a bit shaky for how the Japanese will accept a company run by a woman (I think for more 'Westernized' thinking that a female in charge of a company that isn't like a Martha Stewart or design house is still the same) and there's the Japanese thinking of having males succeed their fathers (it's probably is still around in Western culture, and not in the "old-way" of thinking).

And Japanese culture may be still steeped in tradition. Before the crown prince was born a few months ago, there was talk for months or years about whether a girl should be able to succeed the throne because there has been no boys born from the royal family. The emperor is a figurehead, but I think the royal family can be stiff, I guess. The British one seems fairly progressive since Princess Diana had it so that they would interact themselves in things more than probably the more stiff charity functions and I guess the hand waving from the car. I was sort of thinking 'why is it so hard that they let a girl succeed the throne?' but yet I know that since this is the royal family they would be very stubborn and also it's tradition. I can under that and even agree to it (to some extent).

Also, manga is used even more as an escape in Japan (as can be seen in the "realism" of their adult pornography), so if a person is tired from a day of work, would a person want to read more about work? sad shy

I hope what I said made sense, because I know my brain was quite all there when I wrote it... dead roll shy

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My avatar was Yves Saint Laurent's The Black Evening Dress (with big bow) first shown in 1983, photographed from his 2002 retrospective and final show. [color=#CC0066]Check out some of his collections for free (pre-2008) HERE[/color] courtesy of FirstView.
ladybrasa
Post #25737
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6:01 pm, Jul 10 2007
Posts: 279


Sorry, I don't really have any series to add, though I think Yuri in Red River is pretty serious about her position (but in the end its an epic romance). But I am curious about some of the titles mentioned. I guess right now I am looking for romance specifically in manga. But I think that an author could make a good story out of the adventures of a female lead, that doesn't have much to do with romance.

But at any rate, I wanted to mention that I thought Gothic Sports was not an original Japanese manga? Rather one of the "world manga" Tokyopop puts out by a European author (German or Dutch or thereabouts)? Not saying its not a good manga - just perhaps not within the scope of this site? Or is it?

melee86
Post #25957
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3:44 am, Jul 11 2007
Posts: 138


Quote from NeoFireHawk
Of course there are working women in Japan! I never said the opposite. When I asked her what she was talking about (when she said "very large number of working women" ) I was trying to ask her if she was referring only to career women or women with less education, like office ladies.


Is that what you meant? I apologise then, i misunderstood what you were saying.

Quote from TofuQueen
Is that W Juliet, maybe? I suppose Ito & Makoto are pretty career-focused, but somehow it feels more like a romance/adventure/family life manga to me...


thats it! haha, seems kind of sad I would forget the name of a manga i read, dosent it? laugh and yeah, your right, it is more of a romance adventure manga, I was just taking about the main female character in particular.

Last edited by melee86 at 7:05 am, Jul 11

adliss
Post #26990
Member

2:14 pm, Jul 14 2007
Posts: 189


OMG are you people real. The manga is manga, some of it is some what topical. Several of the mang looked at are from so earlyer times it is a laught to read.

First up Hard Drive failure, does not work. Your stuff should be on a secondary drive. Most drive failure can be retrived by turning the primary into a secondary drive, files found. Drive reformated or chucked. thats hardware for ya. eek

Second most of the women in manga come these
mom type home
sister type
girl next store type
try hard
trying to good/bad heart of gold
lazy
lazy smart/strong/and whatever she can do
sporty that are strong/beautiful/smart/good

All of the arugement over career-minded is what ? I've got lost, unless you lots are all girls, one thing is that most of the manga sighted here was writtin by men for a largely male market. The fem market is more to love or loving couples that are not about career-minded things thye are doing. In much the same way couples might hit the one more in group.

As for a slice of life mates, these are made from an authers mind.
unless you find the ones based on their life. it is all fake!!!!! no shouldn't say that. Well people it is written to a market for a market.

I've been in that one, too. copy writer to ed.

Look if you lot think it is wrong please tell me. Just one small thing he asked career-minded women in manga, you go read the rants in the HI HO colum in some manga and find out who is one really. Those of Love for venus, fruits basket, marmalade boy and Tokyo mew mew are the most informitive. I have them in hard copy.

To end this on biggrin there is only your feelings reflected beck by their mirro when you read any manga. No one can tell you it is not.




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ladybrasa
Post #27110
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10:07 pm, Jul 14 2007
Posts: 279


Hey Pearlesque,
I came across this title
http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=6944
and by the description, it seems that its no-frills all career woman manga!
Unfortunately, it also looks like no one is scanlating it sad

Takiko
Post #27111 - Reply to (#27110) by ladybrasa
Member

10:17 pm, Jul 14 2007
Posts: 630


Quote from ladybrasa
Hey Pearlesque,
I came across this title
http://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=6944
and by the description, it seems that its no-frills all career woman manga!
Unfortunately, it also looks like no one is scanlating it sad

She listed this as Bet on This Woman in her long list. ;)

________________
My avatar was Yves Saint Laurent's The Black Evening Dress (with big bow) first shown in 1983, photographed from his 2002 retrospective and final show. [color=#CC0066]Check out some of his collections for free (pre-2008) HERE[/color] courtesy of FirstView.
ladybrasa
Post #27116
user avatar
Member

11:01 pm, Jul 14 2007
Posts: 279


Oops, sorry, I see it!
Darn, thought I had found something! roll eyes

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