I’ve been mulling over this subject for weeks now, ever since Nicktoons started playing twelve hour blocks* of Dragon Ball Z Kai. It’s all part of a promotion for “their” “new” series, Dragon Ball GT, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.
Today, in the spirit of the New Years List, I’m listing the top ten reasons the Dragon Ball series’ are a rare exception in the world of anime: they actually have strong female characters who are great examples for young girls. At the very least, here is why I’ve always thought they were great role models.
*Okay, so maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. But seriously. Nicktoons only plays about four shows ever.
1. The smartest person on the planet is a girl.
Bulma isn’t only the smartest person on the planet, she’s also not afraid to admit her smarts. Sure, she’s pretty too, and probably holds the record for most hairstyle changes ever, but it’s not her looks that get her the dragon balls. Bulma has her “weak” moments that provide plenty of comic relief, but she ultimately keeps her focus on the task at hand.
2. The men in the series are utterly hopeless without the women telling them what to do. When Goku isn’t thinking about food or fighting, and when Vegeta isn’t thinking about… fighting, they would probably forget to go to the bathroom if there wasn’t a woman around reminding them. I can’t count the amount of times Chi-Chi reminds both Gohan and Goten to do their homework, and sometimes I wonder whether Krillin even exists when he’s not with Android 18.
3. They fight alongside their men. I don’t know that this one requires further explanation. Both Chi-Chi and Videl are trained from the time they are young to fight along with the best of the men.
4. They have lives outside of their respective man buddies. Bulma, Chi-Chi, Videl and Android 18 all have lives before and after love. When Bulma and Yamcha don’t work out, she moves on. Chi-Chi is sad when Goku “dies”, but she has things to do besides sit at home and cry.
5. Guess who wears clothes? Unlike some other anime series, the women featured in the Dragon Ball shows, for the most part*, cover up. Their costumes go for function over sexiness. When Bulma is stuck wearing her bunny costume it’s a joke rather than an every-day accepted way of being, and Videl’s haircut happens specifically so that she can fight better.
*With the obvious and unexplained exception of tiny Chi-Chi in her strange bikini.
6. And guess who doesn’t put up with being oogled? In fact, Roshi is constantly and even out-of-contextually chastised for objectifying women. The girls don’t put up with his perverted attitude (again, with an almost singular exception when Bulma flashes him in exchange for a dragon ball.) and he is frequently punished for it.
7. They’re only human. These women make mistakes (see above re: Bulma and a dragon ball), they get messy. They’re no June Cleaver– they are well-rounded women who often have to rely on themselves. When they trip, no one catches them besides themselves. In other words, they don’t live on a pedestal.
8. Ladies can be funny, too. The women on the show are hilarious, and not just as the butt of the joke. They know that they live in a ridiculous world, and have fantastic senses of humor about it.
9. They don’t have to be super human to be super heroes. None of the women (except Android 18) are anything more than regular people who use their abilities to achieve greatness. They train, they work hard, and they come out on top.
10. They are likable characters. Many female characters in anime are stereotypes, or they’re riddled with faults that require men to save them. These women are well-developed, most spanning more than one series, and they end up being incredible characters with detailed lives. Their complexity makes them interesting, likeable women who are more than just a pretty face.
Admit it. You’re inspired. Happy New Year!
Image Source: Amandaslazer via Photobucket
All other images: Dragonball Wikia