Weekly Shonen Jump’s Girl Problem, Viewed Through The Lens of Dr. Stone

Inspired by this Anime Feminist post.

After finding a 4th volume of Dr Stone at the library and finishing it, I think it’ll be interesting to see people’s reactions (especially those guys at Anime Feminist, if they even bother) to the anime adaption of the mini tournament arc that’s being set up in that volume. People pick on and praise Boku no Hero Academia a bunch for its treatment of women (and Mineta), but what I’ve seen of Dr Stone is a lot closer to that ideal than those Anime Feminist guys are aware of…even if it still needs some work.

Kohaku, introduced in the previous volume as a fighter, schools her dimwitted fellow village inhabitants – particularly Ginro – in combat. This is a stark contrast to the comments I was making about the female factor in the first volume. However, it’s still problematic that she’s the only one who’s treated this way – Ruri, her older sister, is particularly the damsel in distress used as a target for men’s longing by both protagonists and antagonists. Kohaku deliberately chooses tomboyishness to make herself a problem for her parents so she doesn’t have to deal with the same responsibilities as her sister (continuing the “100 Tales” oral tradition of the Stone World, including a ripped Momotarou), making her even more developed than Yuzuriha ever was…then again, we could just go back to Taiju at any point now and find out exactly what he sees in the girl, so…uh, yeah.

Interestingly, even sulfuric acid (!!!) adds to this “female factor” (I made that term up as I was writing, but I like how it sounds so I’ll continue using it) by being personified as a deadly but rotting maiden, but this also implies that women always have to be out of reach until they can be won with the ol’ Weekly Shonen Jump slogan of “friendship, hard work and victory”.

To add insult to injury, if my own experience of science classes is anything to go by, science is a discipline not particularly marred by gender. However, when Kohaku is exposed to Senku and Chrome’s (another dude from the Stone World, who acts like a replacement Taiju in Taiju’s absence) science shenanigans, which are mostly chemistry, she just does the whole “dumb fighter” thing Taiju was doing…Look, I get it that all fighters don’t have to understand chemistry, but it wouldn’t kill anyone to have a Stone World person who gets science and fighting, regardless of whether that’s a girl or not (although Chrome himself is the closest bet to what I’m asking for, as of the end of volume 4 – remember, as of writing this post I haven’t gone beyond that!).

Just to finish up, I’ve noticed for some reason Anime Feminist goes gaga over girls being allowed to be mischievious and “look ugly” (whatever that may entail), a la Asobi Asobase. In this sense, Kohaku also kind of fits the bill in that her face game is just as on point as Senku’s and Chrome’s. She even gets her own silly face gag at the end of volume 4, but she always does it out of concern for her sister…which kind of undermines the entire point of arguing such a case.

Overall, shonen is getting better at acknowledging that girls not only exist, but are their own characters…but it’s not 100% there yet.

So, what shonen in Weekly Shonen Jump treat their female characters well? The post mentions Promised Neverland, but there really aren’t that many I think of off the top of my head otherwise…

3 thoughts on “Weekly Shonen Jump’s Girl Problem, Viewed Through The Lens of Dr. Stone

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  1. Shonen Jump does not treat its females that great, like at all. Look at Sakura from Naruto, probably the worst female character put to page. Nami from One Piece was the exception pre time-skip, but that ship sailed a long while ago. However it is a magazine made for boys, young boys, Japanese boys in a country that has a VASTLY different view of gender roles and females. They know where their bread is buttered and stick to that. We as westerns come into series like this with our own cultural baggage and views and rarely are they translated into eastern media they way we want, and there has to be a bit of acceptance of that.

    Is that an excuse? Absolutely not. Should they not be criticized for it? Not at all. Does that mean we shouldn’t question it or discuss it? No, go ahead, those discussions are also good, and can be fun. But leaving a bit of your cultural hang-ups “at the door” is sometimes needed.

    Liked by 1 person

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