SheZow, Wow?

edgyOne of the first anime I got into was Ranma 1/2. It was all the rage at the time. The basic premise is that Ranma Saotome fell into an accursed spring and now he turns into a she any time he is exposed to cold water, and she turns into a he any time she is exposed to warm water.

Hijinx and hilarity ensue.

I didn’t realize, when I was watching this, that I was apparently taking part in a movement to undermine modern civilization. Ben Shapiro evidently thinks so of a superhero cartoon about a boy who turns into a girl.

Is this really what people are going to get up-in-arms about? Seriously? I recognize that outfits like Breitbart thrive on this sort of outrage-generation. To the extent that Hollywood cares, this amounts to playing a heel in Hollywood’s own PR production. I don’t happen to think that this is part of some gender-bending plot, but to the extent that it is? This encourages them to do it more, because they can get free publicity and making you look silly in the process.

To be fair, I wasn’t between two and 11 when I watched Ranma. In fact, I may not let my children watch it until they are over 11. The reason being, though, violence primarily (as well as some toplessness, usually coinciding with the humor). It would never occur to me that Ranma would be part of some nefarious plot to undermine gender roles.

(I would add an equal amount of eye-rolling to anyone who looks at this and thinks that it represents some sort of serious and substantive progress. It appears to be a cartoon about a superhero that tries to be funny. Heaven help it if it tries to be messagey, because then it probably will fail pretty spectacularly.)

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. Ranma 1/2 was not intended for kids 6-11 and would NEVER air on an American kid’s TV channel.

    • See Paragraph #5. The reason that Ranma is probably not age-appropriate for 11 and under is the violence. The gender-switching? I find it bizarre that this would be a reason for it to be verboten.

      • I actually disagree that the violence in Ranma 1/2 is age inappropriate for the elementary school set. Its not slap-stick violence but nobody dies and the injuries are at worse in the bruises and broken bones category. There is no blood spill.

        People want to shield kids from entertainment in violence too much. I don’t think that there is any evidence that watching “violent” entertainment makes kids more prone to commit acts of violence. Kids are better at distinguishing between fantasy and reality than more people give them credit for.

        • It’s not so much that violence occurs, but how violence occurs. It is presented, with regularity, as the natural solution to domestic and peer conflict. Contrast that with, say, Tenchi, which has fighting, but in a different context.

          Then again, I may need to watch Tenchi again. I’d thought that the biggest roadblock to convincing my wife that Ranma was okay for young people was going to be the nudity. Then I watched it again with my sister-in-law, and what really jumped out at me was the nature of the violence.

          • Yeah, I’d question showing it to a six year old. To an eight year old? I think an eight year old would know that “silly violence is just for TV”

          • Tenchi has less fighting but its still pretty violent. Most entertainment uses violence as a solution more than people do in real life becasue its more exciting to show violence than people talking sensibly about their problems and trying to reach a solution about compromise. We don’t see many movies where the hero is diplomat that prevents a war through the art of bribery, flattery, and negotiation.

          • And most of the characters in Ranma 1/2 are martial artists of some sort, so of course they will see violence as the natural solution to domestic and peer conflict.

            How many American cartoons have characters that solve problems with sensible conversation, compromise, and negotiation.

          • I get what you’re saying, but Ranma seems to cross a line that others don’t. The fighting is so ubiquitous and it’s remarkably peer-family oriented fighting (which is precisely who one has to worry about kids lashing out against). It makes sense in the context of the story, but it makes me very uneasy about showing it to an 8 year old.

          • Hasn’t seem to cause any problems with Japanese kids at the time it aired and there were far more violent anime aimed at kids at this time.

          • Lee,
            I’d rather see kids watching Trigun than Ranma… I think will’s right. OTOH, in a place where Trigun-like fare is normal, Ranma isn’t as kucoo crazy.

          • Trigun is much more violent than Ranma and the violence has worse consequences to.

          • Violence with consequences isn’t actually the worst thing.

        • i work in kid’s programming and Ranma was never even a consideration for the US market. too violent, too romantic and too trans. not the same as SheZow. SheZow is comedy first. SheZo is not a drama about the romantic entanglement surround ing a boy who becomes a girl.

    • Jungle wa Itsumo, Hale nochi Guu, however, is intended for kids of ages 8-12.
      Have you heard its opening lyrics?

      Different strokes for different folks.

      It, rather famously, includes a long-lost father giving his prepubescent son p0rn for his birthday.

    • Um, yes it was. Japan has much looser standards on what is and is not accetible for children than most other countries. Ranma 1/2 like most of Rumiko Takahash’s works was published in Shonen Sunday. Shonen transtate into English as young boy, meaning anywhere between elementary school and high school. The lower age range of Shonen Sunday’s target audience is about third or fourth grade probably.

      If you look at a page of Ranma 1/2 in Japanese, you’ll see that it was aimed at kids. Thats because the kanji are accompanied by furingana, basically hirgana telling people how to read the kanji. Published worked aimed at Japanese adults only have furingana if its a really obscure kanji or the author is making something up and need to tell the audience how to read the characters.

      So I’d say that most Japanese parents would be fine with kids in third or fourth grade reading Ranma 1/2 and watching the anime.

  2. also programs for kids 6-11 don’t deal with romantic entanglement.

      • And while programs don’t, over here, movies do. I would be hard-pressed to say Little Mermaid or Beauty & the Beast are not appropriate for 6-11.

        • OTOH, the romance in American cartoons is much more chaste than the romance in anime and doesn’t tend to contain things like triangles and romantic rivals.

          • Pity, since any casual glance at a high school dating scene would indicate “chaste romance” is the fantasy, whereas triangles, romantic rivalries, stupid plots, and crazy drama are what the kids should be preparing for. 🙂

  3. If I were more creative I’d like to create something about a girl who turns into a boy. The boy into girl thing has been overdone and girl into boy could be refreshing. She’d have to learn about facial hair, shaving, excessive body hair, etc.

    • Tenkousei: Sayanara Anata did it very, very well.
      The acting really pulled off the entire concept.

    • In SheZow, he meets DudePow, a girl who becomes a boy hero. it’s great.

  4. “It would never occur to me that Ranma would be part of some nefarious plot to undermine gender roles.”

    Sigh. If only it were.

    If only it were.

    • No, Japan only pays authors to support gender roles (often in service to programs designed to create more babies).

      [yes, not joking.]

      • Japanese manga makes it seem that Japanese society is a lot more liberal, in the sense of broad-minded, than it actually is in practice.

  5. Everyone laughed when we were warned that the Teletubbies were just a gateway to a slipperly slope. Who’s laughing now, though?

    • Drug dealers because their making a buck off people raised on the Teletubbies and want to relive their childhood hallucinations?

      • Yo Gabba Gabba is there to replace Teletubbies. You don’t even need hallucinogenic material.

  6. Guy turning into girl? Pff. Piers Anthony wrote a book about a character that could turn into a girl or a unicorn. There was a discussion in the book (dialogue) about whether the girl/unicorn switched forms during the sex.

    Now that’s something to get up in arms about 😉

    • Jim Butcher had a Dresden Short Story wherein Dresden, attempting to have a day off (and a date) was faced with a number of problems all at once. (Because that’s how life works for heroes).

      One of them was a husband/wife pair of werewolves who were experiencing a number of problems, including massive emotional instability. Which led to hijinks, of course.

      The root cause of the werewolves problems? Having marital relations whilest in their ‘other’ form, and getting the psychic equivalent of fleas.

        • That’s what the treatment was. But they were magic fleas, infecting their minds or souls or something.

          So they got a magic flea-bath.

          Which probably would have been easier had he not been being attacked by one of them (who thought he was hitting on his wife), being hit on by the werewolf wife, had an apprentice who first created some sort of acid and then started a fire while doing her alchemy homework, had a 150 pound dog that was the magical equivalent of inebriated and chasing a cat, and then had his girlfriend walk in on him.

          With a naked female werewolf hanging off him, another attacking him, his 18 year old female apprentice in just her underwear (the aforementioned acid), smoke rising from his basement, and all his furniture trashed from the dog….


    • SheZow is a big deal because it is on a mainstream US cable channel for kids owned by Hasbro. All of the other titles in this thread (while good) are obscure or Japanese. None of them were ever aimed at mainstream US kids. That’s why SheZow is groundbreaking.

      • I just don’t see it as a big deal, neither to freak out about (a la Shapiro) or to celebrate, really. The gender aspect of Ranma – even marketed to kids – doesn’t strike me as particularly groundbreaking or edgy.

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