Some time ago, I reported that I started watching Witch Craft Works. I’m 10 episodes into a 12 episode series and I still can’t quite get over the awesome that is this subversive gender-swapped shounen anime.
The ostensible hero, Takamiya Honoka, is in constant need of rescue. Luckily, Kagari Ayaka, a kick-ass Workshop Witch, is there to do it.
What I consistently love about this anime? Its unabashed …uh, for the lack of a better word, GIRL POWER. A villain shows up? She’s a woman. If a new ally is needed? She’s a woman. If Takamiya is asked to think of the strongest thing he can? It’s a woman.
There are hardly ANY MEN IN THIS ANIME AT ALL AND I F*CKING LOVE IT. Seriously, there’s one other male character who makes very, very rare appearances. He’s a science teacher with a fondness for quoting Clarke’s Third Law. Super-nerd. Totally ineffectual. I think he’s had five lines. TOPS. There are some other boys seen in the background at school, but they’re not important.
*I am made so happy*
Takamiya totally embraces the gender-swapped role of ‘girl in need of rescuing,’ that even when he starts to come into his own power, everything comes from a ‘white princess’ inside his soul. No power comes from men. None. Zero.
Meanwhile, Kagari kicks so much a$$ it isn’t even funny. Even stripped of her prodigious super-powers, she can take out a stone golem with a flying kick. She holds Takamiya while he cries and cajoles him to try to pull it together at least until the fight is over.
Yet, because Takamiya is the ‘hero,’ he still trains to become stronger (though it’s all very ‘aw, honey, no’) and shows the kind of bravery/superpowers that women are usually only allowed. He holds the mysterious key, you see. (That’s why everyone is after him, ‘natch, and why he must be protected at all costs.) He has the kind of power that can protect the city by making a contract with his heart and the heart of his town.
*weeps with delight*
I don’t know how popular this show is and it’s JUST silly enough that I can’t recommend it without caveats. I’d say if you’re already a seasoned shounen anime fan, you might find this utter reversal to be delightful. Otherwise, it might baffle you.
And, then, for something completely different, I’m also 20 chapters into the historical manga by Makoto Yukimura called: Vinland Saga. This, my friends, is a manly man story with man sauce.
Our hero, Thorfinn is a classic shounen hero with daddy issues. His father was brutally and (much more importantly) _dishonorably_ murdered by the pirate Viking, Askeladd, who, for REASONS, Thorfinn is now working for. Reasons being: for every task Askeladd sets for our hero Thorfinn–ala bring me the head of that un-defeatable enemy yonder–Thorfinn demands the price of a mano-a-mano duel for HONOR and JUSTICE!!(my two favorite shounen themes.) Thorfinn is, like 15, tops, so he hasn’t won any fights with Askeladd yet, and consistently faces humiliating defeats, which, of course, only hardens his heart to strive to be stronger. *imagine music swelling and an anguished fist pumping in the air*
I’m actually uncertain why this manga is compelling to me right now. Maybe, it’s because the art and brutal storyline are very reminiscent of Shingeki no Kyojin. Wikipedia tells me that a good number of the historical events that our heroes wander though are fairly accurate. They meet and fight alongside historical characters like Lief Erikkson and contribute to battles that were really fought, like the Danish Invasion of London. I don’t know much about the Viking era, so it’s all new to me. However, I can’t help but enjoy a good battle manga, I guess.
We’ll see how long it lasts. Like I said, I’m about 20 chapters into a story that’s already 100+ and going….