The Pains of Being a Female GAR Fan

One of the first things you’ll notice about me as an anime fan is that I prefer GAR and shounen shows over just about anything else. I get a lot of interesting comments and accusations about this, and quite frankly some of them really get me angry, while others just make me laugh. So, I decided to write an editorial on why I love manly anime. Considering the responses I normally get in reference to this, I think many of you will be surprised.

What is GAR?
I suppose it would make sense to first share with you all my interpretation of what GAR is. Just like moe gives you that feeling of love and adoration, GAR in my opinion gives you that feeling of strength and general badassery. When you see a person or action that is GAR (normally it involves badass fights or conversations), you just want to jump up and scream ‘HELL YEAH!’ and high-five the person closest to you. It’s powerful, its awesome, and its downright hardcore. I think of all of these things when I think of GAR.

The Double-Standard
While 4chan isn’t really an accurate way to gauge anything, I posted in their Anime & Manga board one day about Samurai Deeper Kyo, one of my favorite manga. I wanted to see if anyone else had read it and see what they thought of it. Instead, I got a post completely bashing my thread, after which the poster specifically said they were doing so because I was a girl. Out of curiosity, I asked the poster about what made him think I was a girl since I had posted anonymously. His response was that the manga, while shounen and made for guys, had good-looking men in it, and that meant nobody else but a bishounen-loving girl would ever like it.

This angered me greatly. First of all, Samurai Deeper Kyo was suggested to me by a male friend of mine. Secondly, while the good-looking men were a nice bonus, they most certainly are not why I love the manga. I love it because of its incredible fight scenes, character backgrounds, and the way the plot was woven. Thirdly, there are plenty of anime like Gurren Lagann that have good-looking men in it and have plenty of fans that love it specifically for said good-looking men, yet is still considered GAR and hardcore by its male fans.

So clearly the stigma is out there that because I’m a girl, I have to love shounen and GAR anime only because of the hot guys. Honestly, this sentiment is one of the most ignorant things I’ve ever seen come out of the anime fandom. To set the record straight, I would never start watching a show completely based off of how sexy the characters look. While good art style is always a plus, there is far more to a show than how hot the guys are. If I see a show with a lot of good looking guys, I might feel compelled to look into it and see what its about (admittedly that is how I got into Saint Seiya, but is NOT what kept me watching), but if I don’t like what I see, I won’t watch it.

Also, why does having hot men seem to exempt shows from their rightful GAR status? A title that I find gets this treatment a lot is Saiyuki. The men in the show are very nice to look at, and it has a lot of female fans, and most people I know consider it a girl’s anime. Yet, its a shounen title and the male fans of it that I know most certainly consider it GAR. Would you ever watch Higurashi and consider it a girly show just because it has cute young girls in it? Some people would, yet if you watched the show you’d know that its actually a horrific, terrifying anime with plenty of GAR moments of its own.

Why Do I Love It?
Let me count the ways!

First of all I find that, for me, shounen and GAR shows tend to generally have deeper and more pleasing plots than other anime. Now don’t get me wrong, I love all different kinds of anime that have great plots, but my favorite animes are almost always either shounen/GAR shows or softer shows that have intensely deep and emotional plots and characters. As a writer, the most important things to me in anime is the plot, the characters, and how they effect you, pull you in, and make you emotionally invested in the show. I simply find that, for me, shounen shows do this far more often than any other kind of anime or manga.

I also happen to think that fighting and martial arts is awesome. I love seeing different kinds of weapons, moves, and battle tactics. It’s also a lot of fun to see characters change and grow even in the midst of a battle. To add to this, my love of the horror genre also gives me an affinity for blood, gore, and violence in my entertainment. As I always say about horror movies ‘the more sick and depraved it is, the better!’, and this applies to my love of anime and manga as well.

In addition, I love seeing logic and strategy in stories. I love seeing people trying to outsmart one another, to try and get each other killed or generally screw each other over, or even just play mind games with each other. While these things do play into other genres of anime, I find it most abundant in GAR and shounen stories, because often these things go with a lot of GAR-related things like fighting.

The Bottom Line
In the end, its just plain wrong to assume that a person would like anything just because of one shallow aspect of said thing, although this can be true in some cases. I for one am sick and tired of the assumption that I love my GAR and shounen titles just because they have hot men in them. I certainly appreciate the eye candy, but as long as the story, characters, and emotions are well in place, I really couldn’t care less what the characters looked like, and in my opinion that’s the way it should be.


1 Response so far »

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    […] ^ A post about data quality and why it’s important… ^ Interesting post; the world’s getting sexist these days (well, anonymity on the internet […]

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