Eh... this is something I felt I should get done. More will come in the future. (Such as "Why Rose dosen't suck", "The positive sides of fangirlism", "Not all anime fans are retards", etcetera. All those arguments I find myself caught up in time and time again. If anybody has any other arguments for me to contest, please let me know, and I'll edit my debate. :D)
As for the point of this quasi-essay; there's a bit to be said. I am both starved for writing on topics that interest me, and I am also quite sick of it. To invest time and energy on internet discussions comes off as loony at some points, especially when those arguments are based over a fictional character. It comes off as pointless upon the application of common logic, and yet, I must admit that I am wholeheartedly passionate about getting swept up in text debates over silly matters of opinion such as these, which while they don't seem to provide much solid providence of anything resembling usefulness, they often wind up making the conversations dip into a wide array of complex subjects that make for unexpectedly intense debate.
As much as I have come to love taking up the more forgotten sides of these arguments, and have sprung many an impromptu essay from my fingertips onto message boards where they aren't likely to provide much use in more than a week's time after they have been posted, it does become rather tiring to visit community upon community only to encounter similar poorly backed arguments for or against the subjects that I've developed extensive theories upon, and feel as though I am talking to walls when dumping five hundred plus words of mini-thesis about why "X female character dosen't suck," or- "The point of this particular series/fandom/hobby is 'xxxx'." when the individual only wrote about one sentence of unbacked generalized hatred or ignorance, and isn't likely to respond, benefit, or take any note. Maybe it is just plain crazy or obsessive of me to be a fountainhead of opinionated conversational pseudo-prose concerning such petty topics. Perhaps so. Perhaps I'm just a wall-talking kind of person. I'm not a particularly pugnacious individual; I'm not fond of fighting or bitter confrontation; flame wars rarely produce anything worthwhile in real life, or on the internet. Heck, I'll even admit to being a rather shy and impressionable person when it comes to encountering loud mean and opinionated flamethrowing types; I'm very apprehensive of rejection, and I've learned to come to terms with that, and come to deal with confrontation as best as I can, and so far, it's worked out well for me. Within my own somewhat jekyll-hyde-ish imbalance of overconfident boldness and tentative insecurities, the side that holds the pride (almost hubris) filled plane of love for debate and defense of overlooked ideas has overtaken quite easily, to the point where I can easily say I've toughened up and no longer fear criticism as I once did. But this isn't about me. This is merely a short disclaimer to provide reasons as to why in the flipping heck I would write something of this nature. Well? I like it. And, like I said before; I'm tired of re-typing things for the various stock-arguments I've encountered. So herein, I will divulge in a work of utmost pointlessness; with my first most commonly tackled topic, "Why x female character dosen't suck."
I have been known to roll my eyes and put out the argument against those who actively bash characters, that it's utterly pointless and a waste of effort to put such time and effort into hating a figurative concept of a person who does not exist, but couldn't that same argument be held against those who support or defend said whimsical personages? Probably. Perhaps it just sits in my own optimistic logic that funneling energy on negative things like hate, be it toward real or fictional targets, is more of a waste of time than being content with things and supporting what good exists. I really don't like Hip Hop music. It dosen't thrill me. In fact, most of it downright annoys me. But I cannot see what merit there would be in setting up a website/community/t-shirt company dedicating to ranting about how godawful it is and how it and all of its fans should die a slow and painful death (Though how a music genre can feel pain I have yet to work out, aside from perhaps vague metaphorical reference.) I don't even see the good that could come out of shrieking about how horrible it is among close friends. Maybe mention I don't like it, and if it comes to debate, give the reasons, (The conventions of the melodies/beats don't please me, while it has meaning in some cases I am put of by the superficiality of what the mainstream examples have provided, It isn't a type of genre I feel I relate to in lyrics or composition; it simply dosen't touch on anything deep for me, etc.)
And so, with this obscenely long disclaimer, I start off with the first module of argument which I have encountered most often in recent times; "Why Winry dosen't suck." Winry,(Of Fullmetal Alchemist) in a nutshell, is plainly a likeable character, if I may place some bias in these standards. She's a startlingly talented and smart teenager, a cute blonde, an orphan who's made a solid life and career out of her passion for mechanics and medical machinery, a devoted friend and surrogate sister figure to the main characters. She's resillient, tough, a bit overly enthusiastic on certain subjects, and a provider of steadfast love and acceptance. She has problems, weak spots, negative quirks that can annoy those around her, but tell me a human being who dosen't have problems, and I'll pay you your weight's worth in gold. What makes a good character is a sense of realism in their personality, and their ability to be endearing, sympathetic, or at the very least interesting. Winry has a lot of beautiful things about her. She's an absolute genius within the realm of mechanics (Which she devotes feverish study to), has unwavering loyalty to those she chooses as her friends, who could be better described as her family in this case, and she finds her own ways to make things better in bleak situations. She's a strong person; flawed, but easy to love.
Let's tackle the argument on her character's behalf within modules of the arguments who have been made against her.
Argument the first: Winry is a pointless character. There was really no need to have her in the series. She's only Ed's mechanic. It could be anyone.
Hmm. That's a good point. I mean, there are, what, three people in the series who have the ability to make great prosthetic limbs. Why not just make it be only one, and not develop him or her as a character; just leave them as a blank filler plot device. For that matter, Edward is already a state alchemist. Why on earth do we need other state alchemists in the show? It's soooo pointless. We didn't need Roy as a character in the series. In the case of cancelling him out, we can already forget about the need to have more than one character in the military; you've seen one soldier you've seen them all. And why, oh why, do we need more than one Elric? Alphonse dosen't really need to be there; he's just the dumb little brother sidekick in the show. You know what? Let's just take out every character and rename the series "The Edward Show," in which Edward somehow singlehandedly manages to tackle varying levels of deep and complex topics of emotion, human nature, war, the meaning of life, and all those other silly things, on his own while other characters are only vaguely implied. But don't forget the gratuitous action sequences where he shows off his awesome fighting skills against faceless animated mannequins and conveniently gets his shirt ripped off. Yes, because Fullmetal Alchemist is all about the fanservice, and the silly little topics of 'importance' don't need that many people to illustrate their meanings. (Did the sarcasm kill anyone yet?)
Argument the Second: Winry can't even fight. (Or use alchemy! oh noes!)
Well gee, I agree! That just sucks! Ya know, the whole time I was watching Haibane Renmei, I was so freaking mad about how none of the characters ever pull out guns or challenge each other into pointless battles of swordfighting, kung fu and demon powers, that I completely didn't notice the underlying theme of acceptance of death, the afterlife, suicide, acceptance of love and friendship and of showing love and compassion towards those around you. And oooh, in fruits basket, I was so mad when those angsty teenaged boys sat down with their female friend and actually talked about their emotional problems instead of going at it in a dysfunctional manifestation of their inner turmoil through pointless violence. Aargh. Good stories are all about fighting!
Argument the Third: She sets a bad example for girls (Because of above argument, typically)
I'm sure that every time you meet a woman, you immediately ask her whether she can fight, right? And if she can walk, talk, spit and swagger like a man, right? And if she dosen't have all of these amazing tough-girl qualities, you immediately turn on your heel and mutter about how useless she is just because all she can do is teach physics at a university. Right? Right?
It's a matter of backwards, misguided feminism, really. There is such an uproar of ridiculous double standards and attempts at the concept of 'liberation' among young girls, especially among the anime crowd where previous beliefs of the importance of action is prevalent, that it is hard to impress what a closed minded idea that some of these supposedly 'feminist' theories really provide. Humans are humans. If Winry were a boy, I'm sure there would be more of a gentle admiration and appreciation for the character, but because of the fact that there is such an oddly backwards need to justify how strong women are, only the very tough types (Lietenant Hawkeye, Martel, Izumi, Lust, etcetera) are appreciated or given any merit, because they can physically outdo their male counterparts with ease. But not only is Winry an amazing example for young girls, if the supposedly 'feminist' theory is meant to be embraced (She's a genius mechanic and an aspiring doctor; she supports herself, and finds time to care for others. She has freedom and a strong voice with which to knock sense into anyone who needs it. She's a hurricane!), but it shouldn't be forgotten that human beings come in all shapes, personalities and sizes, and are not meant to be stuffed into rigid molds, regaurdless of their age, gender, stereotypes or any other preconceptions. The military techie nerd, Sergeant Major Fuery, is widely embraced by fans as a loveable secondary character because of the fact that even while working with soldiers, he is a rather innocent person with a shy demeanor, a love for small animals, and an absolutely dorky sense of cluelessness. He's great to have around for his few scenes, even though his position could easily be mowed over by giving a few technology skills to another soldier. But he's allowed to be clueless and imperfect and unneccessary. He's a boy.
Argument the Fourth: She hits Ed with her wrench.
It's anime. Everybody gets ridiculous slapstick abuse laid upon them for the sake of comedy. It's just a silly humor device. Aside from that, if you really want to delve into the point of her temper tantrums against Ed, there is first the obvious matter that she gets pissed about him breaking his arm that she slaved over designing and constructing for him (Bio-mechanics is no picnic, folks!), and there is the less divulged matter that she gets seriously worried about her best friend and brother-figure getting hurt the way he does. To break something that well-made takes a bloody huge catastrophe, and she gets upset with him taking such risks and putting his life on the line like that. She loves Ed and Al. She dosen't want them dead.
Argument the fifth: She's a slut. (Because she wears a tubetop!)
There's the initial point to be made about the fact that the word slut has become so ridiculously overused as a generic insult against any disliked female, but somehow it's still meant to hurt. Secondly, how can that generic application be made against someone for an article of clothing?
Ever wear a mechanic's jumpsuit? It's hot as bajeebus in there. You can bet your life that working in a metalshop in a warm climate get's darned sweaty. When she dosen't have the sleeves up to shield from spark burns, she'll roll the top half down to air out. It's practicality. Besides, she and her grandmother pretty much run the shop on their own in the middle of the country. If she supposedly is a 'slut' showing off her figure, just who is she showing off to? Granny dear?
Argument the sixth: (An actual quote)- "I don't see why Arakawa made a female character when she could have easily made a male!"
... I plead the third. *Points above*
(I'm rather scared of asking just why a male character would be more favorable, but considering female anime fandom, that one is rather predictable.)
Argument the Seventh: "She stands a chance with my Ed! I'm jealous!"
If this above statement applies to you, the reader, then, -ahem-:
You. Go outside. Now.
Breathe some fresh air. Clear your mind of anime. You are not married to/ dating/ have ownership over a concept and a human charicature of made of ink on paper. Yes, yes, a very nice, well developed ink on paper. Very cute. Very funny. It is very interesting to talk about these fake people, I'll admit. It's what they're meant for and discussion or appreciation of fictional characters helps us to discover things about our own lives. That is what fiction is about. But really. The charmingly mouthy well muscled hero of Fullmetal Alchemist is not created for the purpose of being drooled over, and is not the husband/boyfriend/kawaii-neko-bishie of any of the fans. And that means you. I'm serious. He's not.
Argument the eighth: She cries about "Pointless" stuff, and her angst is stupid. She just lost her parents and that's it. Nothing else really bad happened to her.
Right. And Edward never has stupid angst. Suuure. Everyone in the series has emotional issues. Everyone period has emotional issues. The point of the world sure as heck is not about tallying up who has it worse off than everyone else. Everyone cries. Usually about way more pointless stuff than what she weeps over.
Argument the Ninth: She gets into things that aren't her business. Like Ed's watch.
I'll agree there; the prying open and peeking into the watch thing was a bad idea. Everyone does dumb things they regret. But she did apologize and accidentally grow a little bit closer to her friend in the process. She gained an understanding of his detatchment by the little secret she uncovered. And following that, she had new insight into his stubborn lonliness. It lead to what I personally consider to be one of the most simply beautiful scenes in anime, with Winry blinking a lamp from the window to call Ed and Al home, the way their mother did; Even though Ed had been convincing himself compulsively that he had no family to return to, viewing it as a positive thing since it would be a distraction, it was significant for both brothers. A simple act of love can go a long way. Plus, her eavesdropping skills are useful. Remember when she tapped into the president's phone line for Ciesca to uncover alleged conspiracy? That was pretty handy.
Argument the tenth: She makes mistakes. Like when she forgot to put that screw in Ed's automail.
Like nobody ever makes mistakes? That automail repair was an express job (By Ed's own request) and it was a stupid slip-up. Though in retrospect, that saved Ed a bit of a beating. (Fighting against Envy with a temper and sense of pride like Ed's is pretty much spelling out suicide.)
And aren't we forgetting a little something about the heroes so many anti-winry arguers seem to adore? You know that little eensy weensy mistake they made that one time where they got so prideful and desperate that they flouted the basic laws of nature, blew a big ol' rasperry in God's face and tried and failed miserably to ressurect their dead mother resulting in a catastrophic near death situation, a pile of pulsating human organs that took shape into a monstrous inhuman charicature of their mother that chased them and tried to kill them to justify its' existence, and nearly killed themselves several times in the process of making these mistakes and correcting them? Yeah, but that's okay. They're the main characters. (And they're boys.)