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Pirates of the Burley Griffin
A schedule bears the same relationship to reality as Astrology.
Twenty Days of Lodoss War - Day 3 - The Gender of Lodoss War 
22nd-Sep-2010 07:15 pm
I first saw Record of Lodoss War nearly 20 years ago. Add to that the fact that this series of posts is attempting to resemble critical analysis and I've suddenly been noticing the gender roles.

Oh dear.

First up is Deedlit who, despite being presented as considerably better trained and effective, spends a chunk of the first episode hiding behind the at-best marginally competent Parn. And in the final story arc, spends a considerable amount of time as the damsel in distress (complete with the apparently obligatory skimpy dress for elven sacrifices to dark gods).

Then there's Liara in the second episode whose sole relevance to the ongoing story is to be a cutie with a crush on Parn. As a result of which her father, the Mayor, contrived an excuse to send Parn away in not-quite disgrace instead of complete disgrace. Parn promptly forgets her.

Although she hasn't made an appearance yet, Pirotess the dark elf also has her moments of existing only in reference to Ashram the Black Knight. And that's without mentioning her "Hello Boys! Are we having a good time yet?" outfit (bottom left in the linked image). Record of Lodoss War very own Ms Fanservice. At least Pirotess has a sword and isn't afraid to use it on unwanted suitors.

Don't get me started on the Princess.

Some of the other female characters may fare better (it's been a while since I watched it) but I'm not really expecting much. If an individual episode manages to pass the Bechdel test I'll mention it when I discuss that episode.

Don't get me wrong, Lodoss War is still an enjoyable high fantasy romp and I'm enjoying the slow rewatch as I write these posts.

But I've come to expect better handling of gender in anime because I've seen so much that IS better.

For that matter Slayers handles gender roles better, even when you include Naga.

Day 1 - Prologue to the Legend
Day 2 - Blazing Departure
Day 3 - The Gender of Lodoss War
Day 4 - The Black Knight
Day 5 - The Grey Witch
Day 6 -
Day 7 - The Desert King
Day 8 - The Sword of the Dark Emperor
Day 9 -
Day 10 - The War of Heroes
Day 11 - Requiem for Warriors
Day 12 -
Day 13 - The Scepter of Domination
Day 14 - The Demon Dragon of Fire Dragon Mountain
Day 15 -
Day 16 - The Wizard's Ambition
Day 17 - Final Battle! Marmo, the Dark Island
Day 18 -
Day 19 - Lodoss, The Burning Continent
Day 20 -
22nd-Sep-2010 09:42 am (UTC)
Slayers handles them better perhaps, if only by dint of choosing a female main character (and even she has a lot of sexist negative traits and specific negative sex-oriented humor focused on her), but overall the Japanese have a society, which is only slowly changing, that enforces vastly more sexist roles than ours. I'm always somewhat surprised to see ANY equality. Lodoss, being a quite deliberately trope-ridden D&D fantasy campaign journal, well, you knew this was coming when you opened the box, so to speak.
22nd-Sep-2010 09:49 am (UTC)
This is true but it wasn't something I remembered as being quite so blatant as I've found it in the first two episodes.

And I'll grant that gender roles are often handled best in anime when the male cast is sharply reduced or moved out of focus.

Which is an artificial solution but one that has happened often enough for me to expect more generally.
22nd-Sep-2010 10:18 am (UTC)
My wife often seems to have more issues with the ones that move the male cast offscreen because she notices the female failings more.

I used to think that this sort of thing just generally improved as time went on, but then I realized that ten years after I started watching they created Evangelion which is the most misogynistic piece of crap ever, and gave a new generation of fans a moving blowup doll to fantasize about.

That said I generally focus on the story and not the issues. There are a few that will kick me out of a story -- making a cruel bully your protagonist, with no signs that he's going to change, for instance, or REALLY going past the merely crude and all the way into evil (e.g., a white supremacist novel called... um... The McAndrews Papers, IIRC, and I'd rather not look it back up again) -- but usually I just accept a story on its own terms.
22nd-Sep-2010 11:40 am (UTC)
Yes and no. I agree with your assessment of Evangelion but don't forget that Escaflowne was made in the same year and that had some MUCH more positive roles.

Millerna being quite the accomplished surgeon, some quite realistic estimates of Hitomi's abilities as an athlete.

As always it comes down to Sturgeon's Law, and if the gender roles is the only real 90% element of Lodoss War I'm still prepared to keep the rest of it in my 10%.

But I'll acknowledge the flaw in the otherwise fabulous story when I do.
23rd-Sep-2010 12:11 am (UTC)
I wonder how much of Lodoss' gender roles are dictated by overarching cultural trends and how much are dictated by the fact that the whole saga is transcribed from some teenage boys playing Dungeons & Dragons.
23rd-Sep-2010 12:53 am (UTC)
I suspect the latter more than the former.
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