Monday, December 8, 2008

Interesting Women Or Men

I don't actually read Questionable Content per se, but it's one of those comics that I don't enjoy enough to read the full archives but do enjoy enough to look through occasionally. I spent the night a couple of nights ago reading it and enjoying the odd psychologies of many of the major characters, and it got me to thinking. You couldn't really call QC a harem comic in the way that I understand people call Megatokyo a harem comic (nb, I have never read Megatokyo myself, so this is just hearsay). Sure, I guess a large part of the comic at first was about the fairly average, socially awkward guy who had two girls who were interested in him, but there are far more characters than that, most of whom aren't interested in him, and the situation with Marten's love triangle has been at least temporarily resolved for quite a while. At the same time, I feel like QC has something in common with a harem comic, in that the male lead is a socially awkward guy who has girl trouble, and this is his main personality characteristic, and, as for the rest of the characters, the interesting female characters seem to strongly outnumber the interesting male characters. The most memorable characters in QC seem very definitely to be Faye and Hannelore, and, after that, the more memorable characters generally seem to be the women rather than the men. It's difficult to count this or quantify it, but I know that in reading the comic I always find myself looking out for the strips that involve the women and mainly only being interested in the men in terms of the way that they're relating to the women.

The interesting thing is that QC is a strip written by a heterosexual guy. This seems to fit with the idea of harem shows in anime, which are generally shows with one average guy picking from a large number of attractive women and are definitely aimed at (heterosexual) men (I enjoyed Tenchi Muyo, along these lines, since two of the characters in it reminded me of the same one of my favorite imagined characters that the actress who plays Charlotte in Lost could play). Azumanga Daioh, a manga/anime with a grand total of one male character (who's somewhat peripheral) was originally written as shounen. Meanwhile, there are reverse harem shows for (heterosexual) girls, featuring, of course, one average girl and the heaps of men she encounters who fall for her, things like Fushigi Yuugi. There are also more borderline cases - Fruits Basket has plenty of female characters, but my experience in watching it was that the writers of the anime directed most of their attention towards the men and the one female lead, although I don't know if this is also true of the manga or not. And of
course there are cases like Gundam Wing, where a show that was originally aimed at boys has a huge fanbase of women and girls attracted by the cast of attractive men with very few women involved to distract them.

I don't claim, of course, that these tendencies are universal, but I think it's interesting that they do exist in some mediums. Certainly my understanding is that Western comic books, mostly aimed at a male audience, tend to mostly focus on their male leads and mostly mistreat their women. And, although there are certainly reality TV shows aimed more at one gender than another, I feel as though scripted American TV shows probably don't have the luxury of narrowing their audience in that way. On the other hand, does Lost actually have more interesting male characters than females? That tends to be my sense of the show, but, if so, it hardly seems to be because the show is largely aimed at women (and the main showrunners are male).


Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to reading your comments, if you so wish, on the concert last night.

Grace Mulligan said...

Well, I only have one comment that fits in the context of this blog, but I'll put that up, despite the delay, given your request.