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.