Naruto, KHR, and Feminism Rant

Sometimes, I like to think about various shounen series–about their blatant sexism–and ponder ways to make it less so while still making sense in canon. In particular I think about Naruto and Katekyo Hitman Reborn, in part because those two are basic world states with glaring plot holes which can be filled in pretty easily without necessarily contradicting anything… and in part because those are two that I already kind of know.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts… in particular, the ones tagged (In)Difference or Trailblazers, you’ll see that they are, unsurprisingly, semi-Self Insert!Original Characters who are female. I try not to make them Mary Sues (though, the idea of a Mary Sue is steeped in sexism), but I definitely do tend to make them treatises of feminism into that respective shounen series.

In (In)Difference, my way of dealing with the sexism of Naruto–that is, literally less than 30% of the named characters are female. [The teams are literally designed that way–one jounin, three genin, and usually only one of those are female.] is by having a kunoichi-only program called “Nae-chan.”

The reasoning behind this is that, in canon, females tend to have smaller chakra reserves and better chakra control. Well, civilians have small chakra reserves and are always dismissed by ninja as insignificant. So Konoha has a program reserved for seemingly forgettable female students with small chakra reserves and high chakra control, “Nae-chan.” They become a hidden-in-plain-sight standing army. Women can go where men cannot… women can go unseen where men cannot. And civilian women are especially invisible.

In (In)Difference, my OC, Kiyoshi Utsugi actually wanted to be a Nae-chan so as not to accidentally interact with Naruto canon characters and make things worse. But her chakra reserves became too noticeable, her control just short of enough, and there were already enough candidates that she was superfluous. She spends a lot of time afterwards still wanting to be a Nae-chan, but eventually, grudgingly, makes peace with herself as the token kunoichi on a jounin-led team.

In Katekyo Hitman Reborn, everyone has Wave Energy and there are seven kinds of Wave Energies. It is canon that people can have different types of Wave Energies, via Hayato Gokudera who is predominantly Storm type but also has Rain, Lightning, Cloud, and Sun. So it is my belief that females tend to have mixed Wave Energies as well, but in more balanced ratios such that there is no predominant type. Because of this, females tend not to be “Guardians” because they can’t be shoehorned into just one type.

Similarly, in Trailblazers, my OC Tetsuki Kaiza has energy that doesn’t match my headcanon typical female levels. She is either purely or at least predominantly Lightning (maybe with some Mist or Cloud). It is canon (manga at least) that both Haru Miura and Kyoko Sasagawa have been shot by a Dying Will Bullet, so their Wave Energies have already been activated into Flames. According to beta canon (that is video/card games) Kyoko is Mist and Haru is Lightning. But it’s also canon that Flame types tend to run in families, and I highly doubt that Haru who loves children would allow for Lambo to fight for his life if she could step in. So I think Kyoko also has Sun, like her brother, and Haru has something else such that she’s not predominantly Lightning–I’m thinking Storm, actually. And for the hell of it, I also want to give Kyoko Rain as well.

In Trailblazers, Kyoko then becomes an apprentice to Shamal since she’s basically a walking surgery with Rain being anesthetic, Mist being surgical tools, and Sun being general healing. Haru, since she doesn’t need to step up to be Lightning Guardian, is more of an inventor–she already makes clothes and it’s canon that she’s ridiculously smart so why not mix the two? Since she is dragged along to the future, she sort of learns from Spanner who already has invented gloves, a cape, etc. But when they go back to the present, they’re more like partners. And so two of the more sexist characters of Katekyo Hitman Reborn who are themselves in feminine non-combatant roles of healing and creating are confronted by female characters who were sidelined into cooking and cleaning cheerleaders in canon.

Anyway, so those are just two ways to make a sexist shounen series somewhat less so. Rant done.

(In)Difference drabble (2015-02-10) [1]

I am not some brood mare, she thinks spitefully, bitterly. She is tired and cold, most likely side effects from blood loss and being in labor for over 24 hours, but she is still alive, as is her baby, and that is all that matters. Right now.

The doctor looks to her, carrying the baby cleaned of all those bodily fluids and wrapped in a blanket. “What will you name her?”

“Shizuka. Utsugi Shizuka.” She says, the pain and exhaustion and desperation clawing at her throat. “I don’t want her to be a Hatake, please. Just one, Tsunade.”

Tsunade has been Kiyoshi’s doctor for all of her children’s births–in spite of the continuing haemophobia. She was there, calming Kiyoshi’s fears as a first time mother with Kakashi. She was there, angry on Kiyoshi’s behalf for Sakumo not being there during the birth of the twins. And now she is here, looking at mother and child with such sorrow and pity and simmering, bitter rage. Sakumo is not here again–not because he is understandably stuck in another country on a high priority mission this time–because he is the Yondaime Hokage and there is an ambassador from Hidden Mist.

“Utsugi Shizuka it is, then.” Tsunade agrees and stares balefully at the nurse, shocked by the lack of her famous husband and their lack of respect for her famous husband, until he agrees as well.

This baby of hers is lucky, lucky to have inherited Kiyoshi’s unremarkable black hair and lucky that Sakumo’s eyes are not one of his defining traits. No one would look at this dark haired, dark eyed baby and think she were the fourth child of the fourth Hokage. She can use the Utsugi name, free of the danger-laden Hatake name. Kiyoshi is sorry that the same cannot be said for the rest of her children.

“Kunugi is still with the kids,” Tsunade says–no longer doctor, but best friend–brushing away the sweat damp hair from Kiyoshi’s face and transferring the baby into her arms, “They’re doing alright. Do you want him to bring them here?”

“Yes, we should all be together,” She responds, watching Tsunade leave the room to flag down a messenger, “One last Hatake family moment,” She murmurs to little baby Shizuka. Little baby Shizuka who isn’t a Hatake, and will never be if she has anything to say about it.

~

A/N: Marital/domestic problems in (In)Difference! … Woooo? I’m actually unsure if I want her to be Kakashi’s mom (much less mother to three additional Hatake children) but… eh, it’s an idea I’m playing around with.

Also! I wrote two drabbles today, for some reason… so check that one out too.

(In)Difference drabble (2015-02-03)

She was tired when she got home. Not in that achey way that speaks of a satisfyingly productive day, but weary and drained. It was as if all of her energy had been sucked out and she had just been left this shuffling husk of a person.

It explained why she startled so badly when the lights flickered on. It didn’t excuse her, of course, as she should have detected someone being in her living room before that. Her night vision was blown, but she could still sense the intruder. She jerked away from the door and threw the closest thing at hand.

Which was an apple. Not exactly the most fearsome of weapons, but she just went grocery shopping. The intruder, unsurprisingly not falling to the apple’s mighty wrath, simply caught it before chomping down with an obnoxiously loud crunch.

“Thanks,” Nawaki, the little punk, garbled out cheerfully. “I was getting hungry, there’s nothing edible in here!”

“Which is why I went grocery shopping.” She responded tersely, bringing herself and the remainders of her groceries to the kitchen, “I wouldn’t have had to if a certain someone didn’t keep breaking in here and eating all of my food.”

Nawaki just grinned, still munching into the apple she had thrown at him. Why anyone thought he was such a nice boy confused her, he was such a little shit. Only Tsunade understood and at least with them, it made sense–siblings loved each other, sure, but younger brothers would always be annoying. Kiyoshi, on the other hand, was not obligated in any way to put up with this.

“What are you even doing here, Omago-sama?” She asked, the honorable term sounding like an insult due to her irritation.

“Ah, don’t be like that! I heard your team got back, what with the way Nee-san was fluttering around. I just want to hang out, but I didn’t know where you’d be. I figured I’d just wait here until you got back, and it worked. Also, free food.”

Sometimes, Kiyoshi regret helping Nawaki with training and saving his life. It certainly seemed to him to be an invitation into her life. But she shook her head when she remembered how broken it would have left her friend, and Nawaki didn’t deserve to die because he was annoying.

She sighed, “So what then, Nawaki-kun?”

His grin stretched even wider than before, “I wanted to show you something! I’ve been working on it while you were away. Look!” The finished apple core in his hand began shuddering before cracking in half, bright green shoots sprouting out from the seeds. In seemingly no time at all the seedlings were the length of his arm.

“That’s amazing,” Kiyoshi breathed, finally approaching and admiring the new plants. Nawaki preened, “You’ve got Wood Release working on plants besides Hashirama trees?”

“Just trees so far, and I can’t really make them attack so much as I just boost their growth rate. But it’s cool isn’t it?” He sheepishly scratched at the nape of his neck with his free hand.

“It really is,” She confirmed, proud of him, before remembering– “No one saw you, did they?”

“No way, I know better than that!” Nawaki protested, he wasn’t putting any chakra into the technique, so the seedlings had stopped their miraculous growth; but at his irritation they seemed to wrap around his arm protectively. “You taught me better than that,”

“I didn’t really teach you… I have practically opposite chakra natures from you,” Wood Release, being a combination of Water and Earth, really was as far as one could get from her primary Lightning and secondary Wind natures.

“Well I certainly didn’t learn from anyone else,” Nawaki rolled his eyes, “And anyway, I wasn’t talking about that.”

He was probably talking about the lessons in secret-keeping, being underestimated, and, frankly, paranoia. Besides the two of them, the only other person who knew about his Wood Release abilities was Mito-sama and she certainly wasn’t going to endanger her grandson by letting anyone else know. While Konoha would have celebrated the Senju bloodline limit resurfacing, that tiny boost in moral wasn’t worth the danger it would put Nawaki in. And while she was pretty sure Orochimaru wouldn’t do anything sketchy, her hatred of Danzo only increased after actually meeting him in person.

She sighed again, something she often found herself doing around both of the Senju siblings, but especially Nawaki. “While I appreciate you showing me your progress, I really am tired. I was just going to go straight to sleep,”

“Aw, fine.” He grumbled, but acquiesced, “I’ll see you tomorrow anyway,”

“What’s happening tomorrow?” She asked, confused. She should have at least three days free time after that last mission. Not that she would be assigned a mission with Nawaki, anyway, being different teams and ranks entirely.

“Oh, yeah. Well, Obaa-san told me to tell you to come over for lunch tomorrow. She said something about Nae-chan needing help? I don’t know. Anyway, see you tomorrow!” He greeted before taking a shortcut out her living room window. That idiot really had to stop deactivating her traps all the time, though she was probably the idiot for telling him how to.

But… Nae-chan needed help? She didn’t know… she couldn’t be a Nae-chan anymore, so maybe it was something like back up? But wouldn’t it make more sense to just have it be an official mission?

Ugh, she was too tired to deal with this. Mito-sama would tell her tomorrow. Now was time to rest.

~

A/N: Yes, we are back to the semi SI!OC!Naruto fanfic (In)Difference. And yes, one of the major changes Kiyoshi makes is to save Nawaki’s life. Also, surprise, he has Wood Release!

I like to think he’s not as Naruto-oblivious-optimistic as Tsunade remembers him in her understandably grief/nostalgia fogging memories. As grandson of the first Hokage he was probably spoiled as shit. And he’s a younger brother so, there’s that.

Again, not too keen on the ending, but I didn’t really know what else to do with it.

(In)Difference drabble (2015-01-23)

“How is Nae-chan lately?” I have asked this three times in the past month. It was probably getting annoying by now, but I was desperate to know.

“She got into a bit of trouble in Otafuku Gai, but nothing she couldn’t handle,” Nonetheless, Mito-sama answered my question with a smile, before shooing me off to join her granddaughter.

I tried not scowl overly much. But luckily, Mito-sama found it endearing rather than rude.

“Who is Nae-chan?” Tsunade asked, trying to be nonchalant, but by the twist of her mouth and the fidgeting of her dominant hand, I could tell she was irritated.

Nae-chan is not a person. Tsunade does not know this.

“Just a friend, Tsunade-hime,” I deflected, before moving into some warm-up stretches. It had been three months since Tsunade and I began exercising during our overlapping days off, five months since we both graduated from the academy.

Five months since I was passed over for a Nae-chan position.

She took the hint and began her own stretches too, but she didn’t let the topic drop completely.  “I don’t remember there being a girl named Nae in our class,” It’s not like we couldn’t multi-task, we’d be extremely poor examples of kunoichi if we couldn’t talk and stretch at the same time. And anyway, it wasn’t like stretching was something that we’d have time to do out in the field. It’s strange what things seem luxurious when you became a child soldier. “How come I don’t know this Nae-chan, but my grandmother does?”

Because your grandmother is the head of the undercover kunoichi network–she’s the one that founded the Nae-chan organization, I carefully don’t say. Instead I picked at the real reason for Tsunade’s curiosity.

“Are you jealous because I call her Nae-chan and I still call you Tsunade-hime?”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her flush a fiery red. It obviously wasn’t from the minimal exertion of the warmup.

“What- I just. I just think it’s weird that you always ask about her but I’ve never even seen her! What kind of friend is that?” She crossed her arms defensively, and even as I turned to face her, she still had traces of an embarrassed blush on her cheeks. Even disregarding her famous shinobi lineage, Tsunade would not have been a good Nae-chan candidate at all.

“Well, Tsunade-hime-sama-chan,” I said the mouthful of butchered titles as saccharinely as I could, “I seem to recall you spending most of our time at the academy beating up a certain boy that you have the unfortunate luck to call a teammate,” Getting her started on Jiraiya was bound to distract her from the Nae-chan issue.

“That pervert!” She raged, resuming her stretches with vigorous energy, “I can’t believe I’m stuck with him of all people! He still calls me Princess Flat Chest! Even in front of sensei!”

Ooh, that’s rough. Considering her sensei was the current Hokage, she was literally being made fun of in front of both her commanding officer and the most powerful person in the village.

“It’s because you keep reacting, he left the rest of us alone once we started ignoring him.” Well, and after Suisen stuck him in an hour-long genjutsu; physical retaliation didn’t stick, but that had. She still won’t tell us what exactly she made him see. Hmm, “He might be a masochist, and you’re giving him his pain fix.”

Tsunade looked so horrified for a second that I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“I wish I had known this sooner,” She sighed wistfully, certainly more heartfelt than a matter of Jiraiya inspired irritation deserved.

Isolating Tsunade hadn’t been something the other girls and I did on purpose. I admit that part of it was because of the intimidating Senju name, though another part of it was simply a lack of advances on her part too. Mostly, though, it was the Nae-chan thing. We were candidates, and she wasn’t. She simply couldn’t be.

As previously stated, the Nae-chan organization was sort of an undercover kunoichi network. But it was less of a spy network and more of a secret standing army. Girls had smaller chakra reserves than boys, and often had better chakra control to go with it. Which meant that most academy-trained kunoichi could compress their chakra into seemingly civilian levels far easier than their male counterparts.

Throughout the towns of Fire country, and even a few allied countries, there was at least one Nae-chan living a double life. Especially in the capitol, which was teeming with the who’s who of the aristocracy and merchant sector, and also included the headquarters of the dwindling samurai army and the second largest Fire temple. There were at least twenty Nae-chans stationed in the capitol.

In the academy, I had been friends with my six fellow Nae-chan candidates. Close friends, even. It’s hard not to be when you’re ten years old and told you might be part of what basically amounted to a secret society of kunoichi. The seven of us had been pulled aside one day during our third year, we had been told that we had potential. Of course, many kunoichi who graduate the academy end up as a Nae-chan–but a lot of those end up in the small villages in the outskirts of the country; almost a border patrol, really. But the Nae-chans in the capitol… they were the elite. That’s what the seven of us had been training for.

So it sucked when, by graduation, my chakra reserves had developed enough to out me as ninja-trained. The six of them got the Nae-chan positions they wanted, and I couldn’t begrudge them that, but I also felt helplessly left behind when we all graduated.

Which must have been what Tsunade felt like the entire time, being excluded from the group of kunoichi that could actually keep up with her. We must have been intimidating in our own way, a flock of preteen girls whispering to each other, because it wasn’t until after the others had left for their new careers, that Tsunade approached me as the only other kunoichi to end up on a jounin team.

~

A/N: Terrible ending, but I didn’t really know how else to continue? First off, yes. It’s Naruto fanfiction. But really I just was like… why is there only one kunoichi for every two boys? WHY THE SEXISM? So to answer that I was like… well, obviously the other girls are being sent elsewhere. Hence, “Nae-chan” – Nae meaning seedling/saplings.

This is a semi SI!OC character who ended up in the same generation as the Sannin. She actually wanted to become a Nae-chan because that way she wouldn’t have to interact with canon people and possibly mess up the timeline but fate (by which I mean me) decreed otherwise!

The fic name, which I may actually do eventually or at the very least drabble in more, is tentatively titled (In)Difference. It features one Kiyoshi Utsugi who is extremely afraid to change something for the worse and thus tries not to interact with important canon characters. Only for them to seek her out anyway. She may or may not be Kakashi’s mother? I dunno.