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Art Critique of Robotech:  Gender Studies/Female Character Analysis Part 6 of 6:  Contradictory Characters in Robotech
Posted: 29 November 2018 12:04 PM  
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Part 1 of 6:  The Tragic Incompatibility of Opposite Genders in Robotech

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206919

Part 2 of 6:  The Effect of Love on Strong Female Characters in Robotech

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206920

Part 3A of 6:  Romance in Robotech

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206921

Part 3B of 6:  Romance in Robotech continued

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206922

Part 4 of 6:  Gender in Robotech

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206923

Part 5 of 6:  Character Designs in Robotech

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206924

Part 6 of 6:  Contradictory Characters in Robotech

Sixth, there is often a contradiction in the portrayal of female characters in Robotech.  I suspect viewers or consumers of art respond to truth. We respond to what we see reflected on screen from the world around us.  Thus, I feel Minmei is definitely life-like.  Minmei is a coquette or ingénue or at least very coy and innocent.  While I alluded earlier in the first and second sections of this post (see 1 and 2 above) to Minmei’s strength, perhaps she is not a strong female character at all.  If Minmei was a cookie cutter version of female empowerment or a heroine, the character would not resonate with us. Instead, her flaws humanize her and make her real… like we are.  We cannot escape our nature. I feel Minmei is selfish and needs validation from her fans (fans inside the Robotech universe) or from stealing someone’s man as seen with Rick and Jonathon Wolfe.  She plays dumb and is non-threatening in order to gain access to levers of power.  She never emasculates a man or threatens a man.  Women must play dumb.  Minmei plays the game.  Since Robotech was written in Japan, is Minmei a chauvinist 1980’s Japanese man’s version of a strong female character? Or is Minmei a true heroine? Is Minmei the result of misguided character design/writing? Is Minmei a lame attempt by a writer to create a female heroine?  Is Minmei a misogynist’s dream?  Or is Minmei a roaring success?

This is where the wisdom of the Japanese creators of Robotech materializes.  Minmei and Lisa are doppelgangers.  They each have vulnerabilities.  They each take separate paths to their goals.  They each utilize different strategies.  Neither is more right or more wrong than the other.  Minmei weaponizes her femininity.  This weaponization is eventually manifested literally.  Lisa takes the path of academic and professional achievements.  Lisa actively attempts to conceal and subjugate her femininity whereas Minmei exploits it.  Lisa’s flaws make her realistic just like Minmei’s flaws make her realistic.  Minmei and Lisa each illuminate the other by comparison.  The female gender is revealed in a study of compare and contrast between these two characters.  Each character is set against the backdrop of the other.  Later, it can be said Lisa is the more fully realized female.  Lisa is married and has a child while Minmei has internal and external struggles.  Robotech’s commentary on the female gender is a stunning achievement for a children’s cartoon.

Other contradictions showing strong female characters to actually be weak are Lisa Hayes starts out as a sort of prude or… sourpuss, and eventually she loosens up.  In Lisa’s case it can be said the male gender (Rick Hunter) still dominates her as Max dominates Miriya. This is a motif referred to as “the taming of the shrew.”  Claudia plays the typical sassy African American. Sammy is a ditz.  These are all standard female archetypes of fiction.  If the media often portrays damsels in distress, Robotech seems to buck the trend with strong female characters as detailed in the second section (see 2 above) of this post.  However, Rick does rescue two damsels in distress.  These being Minmei and Lisa.  Bowie rescues Musica.  In the end, Robotech embodies a patriarchal society which is a reflection of the real world we inhabit.  Captain Gloval is the protagonist patriarch.  Gloval’s governing body, The United Earth Government, is gender-inclusive at Alaska Base, and is antagonist.  Anatole Leonard is the antagonist patriarch in Southern Cross.  Scott Bernard is the protagonist patriarch in The New Generation. Inevitably, The Sentinels arrives at an assumed utopian future of a gender-equal co-command of Admirals Rick and Lisa Hunter.

Allow me to discuss contradicting gender themes in The Shadow Chronicles.  Superficially, Janice Em and Ariel appear to be strong female characters, and yet, it can be argued their physical proportions and costumes appeal to a male viewer’s most primitive stimulation centers.  These characters appeal to my Lynn Kyle/T. R.  Edwards nature but revolt my Captain Gloval/Max Sterling sensibilities.  Robotech succeeds when it depicts dramatized events demonstrating the highest ideals of humanity.

Thanks for reading my ramblings.  I hope you enjoyed this post.  Please do not get too angry or passionate Lol!  I wrote this in good faith for the fans to enjoy, discuss, and dissect.  What are your thoughts, questions, comments, corrections, and/or criticisms?  smile

Edit:

Addendum or Part 7 of 6:  Kinship and the Absence of Maternal Love in Robotech

https://robotech.com/forums/viewthread/2206927

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Posted: 29 November 2018 03:02 PM   [ # 1 ]  
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Brofessor - 29 November 2018 12:04 PM

  Minmei and Lisa are doppelgangers. 

In Lisa’s case it can be said the male gender (Rick Hunter) still dominates her as Max dominates Miriya. This is a motif referred to as “the taming of the shrew.” 

Allow me to discuss contradicting gender themes in The Shadow Chronicles.  Superficially, Janice Em and Ariel appear to be strong female characters, and yet, it can be argued their physical proportions and costumes appeal to a male viewer’s most primitive stimulation centers.


Excellent analysis of Lisa and Minmei as two sides of the coin! 

I really don’t see Lisa or Miriya as shrews that were tamed.  Both of these women are equals in their relationships.  The theme here is more of the communication/equality you noted in other posts, rather than anything resembling domination. It’s interesting that you say this and then contradict it with mention of the non-patriarchy of the Hunter/Hayes leadership. 

And the physical design of the females in Shadow Chronicles (and the men, to a lesser extent) you nailed it.  Even characters that carried over were made ridiculously buxom or buff!

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Posted: 30 November 2018 11:31 AM   [ # 2 ]  
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jeanie - 29 November 2018 03:02 PM

I really don’t see Lisa or Miriya as shrews that were tamed.  Both of these women are equals in their relationships.  The theme here is more of the communication/equality you noted in other posts, rather than anything resembling domination. It’s interesting that you say this and then contradict it with mention of the non-patriarchy of the Hunter/Hayes leadership.

I do present a small paradox in focusing on the contradictions of strong female characters who upon analysis are revealed to be weak and then stating the Hunter/Hayes Admiralty, which includes a female, is the utopian ideal.  Again, I am torn between strong points of debate and lighting a fire in the Robotech fandom.  My concern is that the Japanese creators may have been misogynists with the best of intentions aspiring to create empowered modern female characters only to reveal their own chauvinistic world views.  Thus, all the female characters are flawed.  That being said, The Sentinels does benefit from temporal perspective as it was released in 1988 allowing time to assess the original 3 Tatsunoko Productions forming Robotech which were released between 1982 and 1984.  I also note the patriarchs bounce between protagonists and antagonists and never come to any positive conclusions about the male gender.  I am implying the Hunter/Hayes leadership is the inevitable evolution and conclusion of Robotech’s internal struggle with gender.  Also, the Hunter/Hayes Command is a bit of a Rorschach test.  Misogynists will assume Rick is the ultimate authority.  Misandrists will assume Lisa is the ultimate authority.  Egalitarians will assume they are in perfect harmony.

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Posted: 30 November 2018 11:58 AM   [ # 3 ]  
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Brofessor - 30 November 2018 11:31 AM
jeanie - 29 November 2018 03:02 PM

IThus, all the female characters are flawed. .


All the characters are flawed, regardless of sex.  That’s why we identify with them!  None of them are across-the-board weak or strong, just like real humans.  I don’t think the creators were misogynists, I think they were reflecting the world we live in to better help us identify with the characters…  and yeah, it could be said that the world we live in is misgynonistic.

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