How Attack On Titan Does A Good Job At Portraying Women

Attack on Titan defies character tropes for women and instead portrays them in a more accurate and empowering way.

Female characters in anime have usually been categorized as the main character's love interest or being designed for fan service. Attack on Titan, created by Hajime Isayama, on the other hand, has subverted female character tropes by creating women with in-depth personalities and backgrounds. 

Here is how the Attack Of Titans, does a good job at portraying women:

1. The women characters are not objectified

The women in the military are given the exact same outfits as the men and are not altered to be appealing in a sexual manner. The reason why it's important for women to not be sexualized especially in the military is that women can be capable of serving in the military and are not there to be objectified. Being given functional clothing makes the story feel more realistic as it's not practical for women especially in a world where there are beings who eat humans, to be able to show their capabilities through combat.

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2. Women characters in the anime are given realistic hairstyles 

Usually, in anime, women are drawn with long luscious hair and while there is nothing wrong with that, it is a bit impractical if the plot of the show involves fighting for survival. In contrast, women in Attack on Titan, have realistic hairstyles while still retaining their femininity. Having long hair is not the only symbol of being feminine as short hair can just be as feminine.

How Attack on Titan does a good job at portraying women
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The character Mikasa Ackerman was heavily criticized when images of her new short hairstyle were revealed for the fourth season of the show. Many people on Twitter nicknamed her, "Mankasa", as she looked more masculine due to her short hair and muscular body. This reaction shows how people negatively view women who don't conform to the societal standard of what women should look like.

Fans came to the defense by explaining that it is impractical for female soldiers to have long hair while being in war as it is a hazard. The character design of Mikasa is not intended to serve as people's fantasy and encourages other women that being fit and having short hair is a good thing and nothing to be ashamed of. 

3. Women are allowed to be in positions of power

Women in anime are usually a side character and serve as a cheerleader for the main character who more often than not, is a man. As opposed to that character trope, women in Attack on Titan are usually in positions of power whether it be authoritatively or physically.

How Attack on Titan does a good job at portraying women
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Annie Leonhart is a Titan Shifter and possesses the Female Titan which has been dubbed as the most versatile titan out of all titan shifters. Annie's titan is able to cause big explosions when transforming like the Colossal Titan, can harden her skin like the Armored Titan, can form a crystal barrier like the Warhammer Titan, and can call for other titans like the Founding Titan.

Normally, the main character is the one who has the most abilities out of everyone else however, it is interesting that a side character is the one who has more tricks up their sleeve. Annie was also powerful enough to defeat the original Levi Squad which consisted of four soldiers who were deemed the strongest out of the Survey Corps.

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Mikasa Ackerman belongs to the Ackerman family who is a group of people who have the ability to harness superhuman strength and fighting ability. She is one of two last Ackermans standing, the second one being Levi. Again, the main characters are the ones who are given superhuman abilities which is why they are able to take down their enemies.

Making Mikasa the one to be a part of a superhuman family demonstrates how giving women power doesn't take away from the story and if anything, makes the plot more interesting as the main character, Eren, must navigate through the world as a normal human and not some super-powered soldier. 

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Krista Lenz whose real name was revealed to be Historia Reiss is heir to the Reiss family who is the true royal family of Paradis Island. Historia throughout the show has been trying to be someone she wasn't. She tried to be the happy sweet girl as she didn't want anyone to suspect her real heritage. She also tried to be someone who was physically strong however, due to her small frame, can't possess the same amount of power as other women.

When Historia learned of her heritage and encouraged to become the new queen, she finally decided to stop trying to be someone others wanted her to be and accepted her new responsibility despite not having a lot of leadership skills. Historia accepting her role sends the message that women do not have to be the stereotypically bossy lady in order to be in positions of leadership.

4. The women in the show have platonic relationships with men

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The comic relief characters, Sasha Braus and Connie Springer are really close friends. It is very common in anime and shows for two characters of the opposite sex to fall in love with each other eventually. However, Sasha and Connie never end up falling in love and always remained close friends.

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Up until Sasha's death, Connie has revealed in Season 4 Episode 68, that he and Sasha were like twins and he feels that he has lost half of him. Normally when a character reveals that their other half is gone, it's romantic however Connie meant it in a platonic way and shows that men and women can be friends without developing feelings. 

5. Women are allowed to have different sexualities

Women in anime who aren't heterosexual are sometimes portrayed as either being creepy towards other women in the show or are hyper-sexualized to appeal to a certain audience. While these types of characters are used as comic relief, it causes a lot of damage towards women who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Most people's information about queer women comes from pop culture and if there are constant portrayals of queer women being creepy towards other women in shows, people will have a negative view towards them.

how attack on titan does a good job portraying women
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Attack on Titan, however, normalizes women having different sexualities by introducing the character of Ymir. Ymir has an obvious infatuation for Historia Reiss by constantly admitting her love for her. What sets Ymir apart from other queer women in anime is that she respects Historia's boundaries. 

Ymir never grabs or looks at Historia in a predatory manner and allows Historia to do things on her own and only offering help as a last resort. Historia never has expressed discomfort in Ymir's presence and fans even believe that Historia had romantic feelings as well. 

how attack on titan does a good job portraying women
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Another aspect of the representation of queer women in the show is that no one questions or comments on Ymir's sexuality. Due to Attack on Titan being a popular show, having characters be accepting towards those who are not heterosexual encourages watchers to also accept those in the LGBTQ+ community in real life. 

Overall, it is refreshing to see women be portrayed in a way that helps propel the plot of Attack on Titan through their abilities, personalities, and relations to other characters without being reduced to an object that is viewed only for pleasure.

A coffee addict and a corgi enthusiast.

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