Have you noticed this trend? If you haven’t yet, you will soon. Over the last decade or so, anime has seen more and more shows with an all female cast, making more balanced casts harder to find. Perhaps the best example of this shift in trends can be seen in the casting for the first Last Exile and its “sequel” Fam. the Silver Wing.
When Last Exile first came out, back in 2003, it has a reasonably rounded cast of both male and female characters. And while it is a fact that the main male character, Claus, did attract the attention of most of the female characters on the show, the story doesn’t linger on this aspect too frequently. While it may seem shallow to encourage a cast listing by measure of how it can please a wide range of fans, Last Exile was certainly able to do this. There were female characters guys could love and male characters girls could swoon over. One gender was not favored over any other. This also made more sense given the setting. After all, why should ships be all men or women? Mixes are normal, though, as expected, military units were mainly male.
In sharp contrast, the new “sequel” series, Fam. the Silver Wing (2011), featured a nearly all female cast with the only few male characters making very brief appearances or being the villain (that, in and of itself, is an entirely different essay). The positive outlook on this change might be female empowerment, however, to exclude men from the story entirely is not so much a step in equality as a step in supremacy. It also doesn’t bode well that many of the female characters still play to common stereotypes and are thus not all that empowering. In fact, many of the instances the female characters end up in can actually be demeaning, as when the princess dresses up as a maid on board the Silvana. As such, this trend is less empowerment and more a simple trick of the industry to lure new male audience members into the viewership by promising girls. Lots of them. In suggestive situations.
Shows like Bodacious Space Pirates carry this trend further still, making the few men not only side characters, but already married or not-quite-human characters to insure none of the females even consider liking a man. A forced Yuri in the worst sense of the word.
This is not to say I am against female leads. Good gracious, no. But I certainly don’t find it fair to short change men either. And if a show does go for the one gender route, it needs to makes logical sense. An entire airship “manned” by women, every kingdom ruled by a woman, and entire armies entirely made up of -you guessed it- women just isn’t a logical scenario.
I never thought I’d say this given the amount of harem anime out there, but: I’m missing our male leads…