Pssssst. Wanna know a secret? Come close. Closer. Ok… I’m not nearly as social as I seem. No, really! I’m actually quite awkward most of the time. And yes, I do have a reason for telling you this. Because my topic today might make it seem like I just don’t understand awkwardness and am callus to it or something. This is by no means true. Me and awkward have a long term relationship going on. We’re quite familiar with each other.
So, that being said, timid girls in anime. Yeah. You know about them. You can’t swing a dead cat, as the saying goes, without hitting an anime with a stuttering, constantly apologizing female (people do use that phrases, right?). So why the obsession? Well, that goes into the culture, which is by no means simple and has no straight answer. Even so, there are a few theories floating around.
For one thing, Japan associates timidity with being cute. And Japan loves cute. I mean, LOVES it. It’s actually a bit scary. In any case, these means that in order for a show to have its cute quota reached, it most have incompetent female characters that somehow always end up on top because they have pure hearts and junk. Whatever the heck, that means. I’d love to see some of these shows actually try to define what purity is. In words that make sense. None of that physiological theoretical stuff.
And another thing? Social standards. No joke. Someone who had visited Japan once said that where Japan was concerning female ideology was around where the United States was in the 1950s. Now before you blow your top, hear this out. It’s easy for future generations to look back and judge the past and how things were handled, but it’s a different world to live in the era, to be raised in it. Being demure, timid, and innocent is just status quo in Japan if you’re a woman. And, like all status quos, it is propagated by media, such as anime. To them it’s normal. And our own “normal” female, the strong willed and independent type, is actually quite strange to them (although they are making more and more appearances as their own stereotypes in anime now). And this goes a long way towards explaining why some strong willed women who go to Japan find themselves frustrated at being constantly asked if they need help or talked to differently. But, as stated, it’s not nearly as demeaning as it first seems. From their viewpoint, they’re just being considerate.
Even so, while timidity (often seen as humility) is so often praised in Japan, this doesn’t mean anime always portrays it well. Media is entertainment, after all. This means that these stereotypes are exaggerated, as is the case with Mikuru from The Melancholy (seen above). They’re also overused, making the type seem all too common and thus not nearly as heroic or unique as it probably should (people who are really as caring and selfless as these girls are rare, after all). So while US shows often have the blond haired supermodel/bully type, Japan has its timid, awkward, walking moe dolls.
…Somehow that ended up sounding creepy. Way creepy. It’s not what you think! (Actually, yes it is)