Most mecha anime is equal parts male wish-fulfillment and a boys coming of age story. There’s nothing inherently wrong with writing shows like that and a lot of my favourites are just this type of story. There is a universal quality in the stories of Amuro or Kamille being trust into war, essentially adulthood, and realizing that their actions and inaction affect others, or Simon learning to believe in himself, or — Well you get my point. I like these stories, but sometimes the focus on men gets annoying.
The problem with a lot of mecha anime is what they do to the female characters. Since they are written about boys/men for boys/men, the women often end up being entirely defined by their relationships with men. For example, Lalah Sune isn’t important as a person because all that matters is her impact on Char and Amuro. Even worse is the tendency to make a female character’s entire inner life about romance or supporting her man (See: Ranka Lee. Everything I do or don’t do depends on how things are going with Alto).
The can sometimes become very frustrating to me as a woman watching these shows. Which is why I tend to fall in love with the few shows that do it right. One of these shows is Bubblegum Crisis. I can’t remember what made me love the show as a 14-year-old, it could have been the gritty cyberpunk setting or simply because rampaging robots are awesome, but I know that I keep coming back to the show years after because I get to see women who are as fully human as any cartoon character can be kicking ass. Priss, Linna, Sylvia, and Nene aren’t the cute girls sitting on the sidelines cheering their men. In fact, there is no romance for the lead characters. They kick ass. They have their own life, interests, and day jobs. They aren’t just there because the guys need a romantic interest or attention and I love them for it.
Oh, who am I kidding. The really important part of Bubblegum Crisis is the cheestastic 80s music:
P.S. If you are remotely interested in anime, check out We Remember Love. I’ve spend a good part of my day reading the archives of this blog and at this point I gotta say it’s my favourite animeblog.