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Sexualization of women in japanese adventure games

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To give some background, I am playing Danganronpa and its sequel right now, and although I love them dearly, one thing that is a little uncomfortable for me to say the least is the objectifaction of women in the game. There are some great women characters, but others are just there for their “ahem” assets. I have actually talked to a japanese friend of mine about this, and she said it actually is not a big deal so maybe it is a cultural thing? I don’t know. Western adventure games tend to be good in those regards with awesome female protagonists like Kate Walker and April Ryan (the underwear bit is not necessary really), so I am wondering what you folks here think about this matter.

     

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Obviously a cultural difference. Probably a product of the repression of sexuality over the years combined with the more subordinate role of females in society. At the same time I might be called out for not knowing what the hell I am talking about. The user KaitoKid lives in Japan, he probably has a more nuanced answer.

That’s not to say Japan doesn’t create some genuine strong female characters that aren’t objectified. Example would be the protagonist of Ghost in the Shell…..yeah I don’t have any other examples lol.

     
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Japan has one of the most sexists cultutres out there. That’s why I’ve always been a bit amused by the fact that outside Japan it’s really women who seem to be into their culture so much.

     
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I have no idea what you’re talking about.


But seriously, yeah, it’s gross. And, while I can live with the sexualization of a silly character like April May in the first PW game, it’s particularly bad when you’re supposed to take the character seriously.

For instance, in the Zero Escape games, it’s hard to be fully engaged with Lotus’s tragic backstory with her looking like that, or to find Alice believable as an elite cop when all you can see are her gravity-defying boobs.

     

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It’s not that I have specific inside knowledge on this, but isn’t partly due Japanese cartoonist drawing european/western women and end up exaggerating certain features, because they appear larger to them compared most Japanese women?

The eyes for instance are always drawn far too big because of this. Might the boobs also not be drawn larger perhaps because Japanese women tend to have smaller breasts than western women?

I know this doesn’t explain the gravity defying part, nor the sensual clothing styles…that inspiration has probably other causes as explained in an earlier post by Origami.

     
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subbi - 18 February 2016 04:15 AM

It’s not that I have specific inside knowledge on this, but isn’t partly due Japanese cartoonist drawing european/western women and end up exaggerating certain features, because they appear larger to them compared most Japanese women?

I don’t think so. Japanese cartoon characters don’t seem to have any particular race at all. Purple eyes, blue hair, anything goes really.

     
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What’s interesting though is that Japanese culture also objectifies men quite a lot in a lot of venues. For example, if you walk around in any big cities in Japan, next to the photos of hostess, you will also see signs for hosts with photos of guys who are supposed to be attractive. There’s also Yaoi and other genres targeting women.

So, while Japan tends to have more objectification of women in the media, they also have more objectification and sexualization of men than most countries I’ve been to. There’s still an imbalance and women are more objectified than men but it’s not all black… And in term of sexuality, I’d argue that it might not be less egalitarian than in western countries.

That said, it’s still a country with very specific and clearly defined gender roles. A lot of companies encourage married women to become stay at home mums. Some company (example Square soft) fix salaries with a formula based on age, wether you’re married, and a certain amount for each kid. It’s also a society where traditionally the wife controls the household finance. Things are changing but it takes time.

     
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While it exists in a lot of japanese games (and also western games) Danganronpa in not really a game where I think it’s a problem, specially when it has a lot of excellent female characters.

     
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I have a feeling those marriage requirements mentioned in the post above are a lingering heirloom from when Japan needed to rebuild its nation after the war.

The West fell pretty hard into traditional gender roles after the war as well. Salaryman and housewife sounded a lot more comforting than solider and munitions factory worker. 

There is also a much lower age of consent in Japan so developers can exploit a teenager’s err… hunger without fear of backlash.

I also remembered there’s the geisha stereotype, which helped shape the portrayal of women in entertainment oriented towards men. Although female characters are less submissive today, they’re still providing a service for the male viewer.

     
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Oscar - 18 February 2016 04:40 AM
subbi - 18 February 2016 04:15 AM

It’s not that I have specific inside knowledge on this, but isn’t partly due Japanese cartoonist drawing european/western women and end up exaggerating certain features, because they appear larger to them compared most Japanese women?

I don’t think so. Japanese cartoon characters don’t seem to have any particular race at all. Purple eyes, blue hair, anything goes really.

I’ve understood that the whole anime/manga style comes largely from that when the first animation companies in Japan started to produce animations, they needed a cheap and fast way to animate characters. I don’t recall the animators name, but he ended up using characters with large eyes pretty much because he found them to be easier to animate and overall faster to draw.

     
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tomimt - 18 February 2016 10:06 AM
Oscar - 18 February 2016 04:40 AM
subbi - 18 February 2016 04:15 AM

It’s not that I have specific inside knowledge on this, but isn’t partly due Japanese cartoonist drawing european/western women and end up exaggerating certain features, because they appear larger to them compared most Japanese women?

I don’t think so. Japanese cartoon characters don’t seem to have any particular race at all. Purple eyes, blue hair, anything goes really.

I’ve understood that the whole anime/manga style comes largely from that when the first animation companies in Japan started to produce animations, they needed a cheap and fast way to animate characters. I don’t recall the animators name, but he ended up using characters with large eyes pretty much because he found them to be easier to animate and overall faster to draw.

Thought the large eyes was because the Astro Boy creator (Osamu Tezuka) was inspired by Disney cartoons

     

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^this. Plus, eyes are used to show expression and emotion.

     
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wilco - 18 February 2016 08:53 AM

While it exists in a lot of japanese games (and also western games) Danganronpa in not really a game where I think it’s a problem, specially when it has a lot of excellent female characters.

Are you serious?

     

Ignorance + Poverty = Crime, Ignorance + Wealth = Corruption, Ignorance + Freedom = Chaos, Ignorance + Authority = Tyranny, Ignorance + Religion = Terrorism
Replace Ignorance with Knowledge:
Knowledge + Poverty = Satisfaction, Knowledge + Wealth = Civilization, Knowledge + Freedom = Creativity, Knowledge + Authority = Justice, Knowledge + Religion = Integrity

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The issue really is the Sexualization of women in Japanese culture. Their adventure games are by far NOT the only product subject to this. Manga, Anime, ALL Video/Computer games are subject to what is commonly referred to as “Fan Service” (Sexualization of women).

It is even part of woman’s styles of clothing. In Japan, having big eyes and a youthful appearance for women are a part of being considered attractive. So much so, that they will have plastic surgery at a young age to have bigger eyes or a more youthful appearance. Maid cafes are in every major city in Japan.

I have quite a few Japanese games of various genres on various systems and you learn to tolerate “fan service” - even my favorite game of all time “Persona 4 Golden” has some fan service in it.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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SoccerDude28 - 18 February 2016 06:58 PM
wilco - 18 February 2016 08:53 AM

While it exists in a lot of japanese games (and also western games) Danganronpa in not really a game where I think it’s a problem, specially when it has a lot of excellent female characters.

Are you serious?

 

If you want to reduce the woman characters to the small fanservice moments that are usually used as lighthearted jokes, sure, you can complain about Danganronpa but it’s no worse than Phoenix Wright or something. But it’s not like it’s a Senran Kagura or Leisure Suit Larry game.

     
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Well i think we got our answer why it happens - it sells games. This danaganapa (or whatever) game which is so popular with boys - do any girls play it? I notice no girls posted in the game’s thread on the forum. I am sure its the same for LSL.

     

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