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Pride & Pitfalls: Queer Representations in Anime

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In terms of sheer quantity, there are a lot more queer characters in anime than there are in American cartoons. Until recently, queer representation in American animation has faced two ridiculous obstacles: the idea that cartoons are just for kids, and the idea that it’s inappropriate to expose kids to the existence of queer people.

Thankfully that first obstacle started being challenged in the ’90s with shows like The Simpsons and South Park, and the second obstacle’s being challenged now thanks to shows like Steven Universe and The Loud House. In Japan, however, neither of obstacles exist. There’s been anime for adults almost as long as there’s been anime, and kids anime have long featured openly queer characters.

As for the quality of queer representation in anime, it’s a mixed bag. While there isn’t the same “think of the children!” panicking as in America, Japan still has a fair deal of cultural stigma around the queer community.

Because of this, while including queer characters is less taboo, they’re often portrayed as jokey stereotypes. Sometimes these stereotypical characters are written well enough to transcend their problematic origins, other times they can be incredibly offensive (let’s never speak of “Puri Puri Prisoner” from One Punch Man). There’s also the yaoi (boys love) and yuri (girls love) genres which focus on same-sex relationships, but often in a very unrealistic and fetishized manner.

As the LGBT rights movement picks up steam in Japan, there’s thankfully been an increase in more respectful and believable portrayals. This article will examine how 20 popular anime approach their queer characters.

Read on…

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