Lessons from Attack on Titan: How to Write a Shonen Series Without Throwing Women Under the Bus

With so many North American young adults, teens and kids now into social media, anime and manga, can Attack on Titan be considered a kind of new Feminist Literature for the 21st Century?

Taylor Ramage

Several years ago, I was venting my frustrations about Naruto to a friend of mine. My biggest complaint was that there are too many underdeveloped characters and all of the women are ultimately sidelined no matter how powerful other characters say they are. His response was “Well, it’s shonen. It’s supposed to focus on the boys.”

At the time, I had no rebuttal because as far as I knew, such casual sexism was just an inherent part of the shonen genre and there was nothing I could do except lower my expectations and hope that series like Naruto and Bleach could at least keep me interested with compelling stories (spoilers: they couldn’t. They’re both still running when they should’ve ended ages ago).

This conversation happened before I discovered series like 20th Century Boys (not shonen, but still focused on men) and Soul Eater (a popular shonen where the main…

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