The other day I was thinking a bit about how anime and manga had affected the way I look at things. That is, what things had I taken from anime and manga and grafted onto my personal reference frame? I didn’t come up with any really good answers to that because by and large it was Star Trek that shaped much of my world view long before I became an anime enthusiast. At lunch today, I found my answer, and it quite honestly is rather important. In short, I do not assume that every woman I see is definitely a woman.
While waiting in line, I noticed a rather tall black woman in a nice, skirt and jacket business suit combo. She had long legs in white stockings. The skirt was maybe a little short, but that could have been because of her height. But something just did not seem quite right. I only got a brief glimpse of her face so I really didn’t have a lot to go on. It could have been her overall shape, coupled with the height that fed my doubts. But it has really only been during the last 3 years that I really got into anime and manga and attending anime conventions that I would take note of any such gender doubts.
Crossplay, cosplaying as a character whose gender is opposite your own, is fairly common at anime conventions. Gender bending characters and plotlines are also fairly common in manga and anime. By and large there tend to be more males cosplaying as female characters than females cosplaying as male characters. Some of these crossplaying guys are actually quite convincing, while some are infamously unconvincing. Soon I found myself always taking the femaleness of any given cosplayer with a grain of salt. It really wasn’t important to me anyway, since my interest was in the great costume they had put together. A lot of the time I don’t even bother trying to make a gender assessment until I look at the pictures at home.
I don’t know if the woman I saw today was born a female or not. And honestly, it really doesn’t matter to me beyond simple intellectual musings. So what have anime and manga taught me about women? Don’t believe everything you see!