Is it OK to replace one kind of representation with another?

milkboys Anime & Cartoons, Films & TV 4 Comments

In summer 2019, Netflix will release its remake of the ‘80s- and 2000s-era anime classic Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac, a series about five cosmic warriors defending Earth against vengeful Greek gods.

The original Japanese program featured a gentle male character named Andromeda Shun. He had long green hair, wore magenta armour, was very emotional and always tried to resolve conflicts without violence, despite being a skilled warrior. As such, some Saint Seiya fans viewed Andromeda Shun as queer or at least challening the idea of what a male warrior has to look and act like. However, Netflix’s remake will change Andromeda Shun’s gender to female, upsetting many fans.

Andromeda Shun fanart by じょぼ

Last month, the show’s producer Eugene Son explained his decision to change Andromeda’s gender in a series of tweets, stating, “This one is all on me.” The series has other strong female characters, but Son wanted to make one of the Knights female to avoid an all-male cast of protagonists.

“Thirty years ago,” he tweeted, “a group of guys battling to save the world with no girls around was no big deal. That was the default then. Today the world has changed. Guys and girls working side-by-side is the default. We’re USED to seeing it. Right or wrong, the audience could interpret an all-male team as us trying to make a STATEMENT about something…”

Interestingly, fans seem divided over the gender-swap. Some don’t particularly mind the female inclusion, but others feel it betrays the subversive spirit of an “openly emotional, pretty, strong, non-macho male lead.”

Netflix has previously tried to elevate strong queer and female characters. But its attempt to be more inclusive here has proven controversial. While many agree that making the cast of a show more diverse is a good thing, they question if erasing the only character that could be read as queer or gender-non-conforming to make space for a different kind of representation was the most sensible choice.

Comments 4

  1. I see it more as a macho move than an inclusion attempt, there is this trend to make all leaders as badass females, see how that changed quickly in The 100. There is a long going trend to show boobs in cheap horror and action movies too, and of course in many japanimations.
    Maybe it’s from seeing female bosses at the office who have to overdo everything rather than just excel if they want to earn that position, compared to what male bosses need to do, i.e. mostly show up at work… ;)

    Either way, this is not female representation, but males’ representation of (kinky) females. I won’t get upset though, I won’t watch either series, but the kids will miss on Shun not being able to come out, on other types of inclusions, like there’s no black or Asian-looking character in the heroes, there’s only this aged Yoda-like mentor around them. The kids may also have a weird representation of females, but in a way that’s good, since the new Shun looks more like a boy than some boys, meaning girls and boys are more of the same.

    Now back to happynewyearing family and friends…

  2. They took the least macho character and turned it into a “girl” – not really inclusion as much it seems like a stereotype on several levels. Expendable male character and sexy female.

  3. I don’t have a horse in this race as I’ve never watched the original; however, it does strike me as a poor choice. It’s almost as though the creator (in a way) is saying that men can’t be emotional, peace seeking, and gentle. Only women should feature those characteristics and thus this character that was male will be made to be female.

    If this was a move motivated purely from inclusion, why that character in particular and not any of the others? The move just comes off as an avoidance of the character being perceived as being homosexual due to his gentle nature.

  4. Oh for Pete’s sake it’s a freaking cartoon. Who cares? Does everything have to be politicized and held up to SJW review? Can nothing simply be enjoyed, or not, for what it is? Do you guys ever smile? I know you never laugh.

    Girls have played Peter Pan. WTF is that about? Zorro has been portrayed as a gay blade. John Wayne was cast, believe it or not, as Genghis Khan. When they remade the Wild Wild West and made agent James West a black dude, I knew it was over – nothing was sacred.

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