Saturday, November 15, 2008

Onna-Ranma hit Akane?

I was recently wondering something, some Akane fans defend her hitting him because he insults her. Which is not a good argument, hitting people is not, or rather should not be, acceptable behavior in retaliation for an insult. Though our society does have the double standard in which it is deemed acceptable for a girl to hit a guy but not for a guy to hit a girl. In fact a girl hitting a guy is often viewed as being both humorous and empowering for women. This double standard is common in all types of fiction, not limited to comedy, or even limited to fiction.

The argument doesn't really work even if you do view that as acceptable, Ranma doesn't insult or belittle her anywhere near as often as some fan fiction portrays him to (and she doesn't hit him as often as fan fiction portrays). It also doesn't work since Akane has hit Ranma for other reasons, unconnected in anyway with his words or actions, or regardless of them. I can list some examples but I don't feel the need to since most people who have read the manga will probably remember an instance of her hitting him for another reasons like the actions of others, for example Nabiki and Shampoo. Though Ranma on occasion did do jerkish things, like sneaking up on Akane - which interestingly enough was rarely something she hit him for.

I was wondering would people find it humorous/acceptable if Ranma had splashed himself, so as to utilize female form, and then hit Akane in retaliation for her insults and actions (Akane has done many jerkish things as well, like insulting him, dating Ryoga to make him jealous, or using/making fun of his cat phobia - which was very often the reason Ranma insulted her that resulted in her hitting him)? In other words, if he had hit her as a male people would not find it funny but would it have been acceptable/funny if Ranma did so in female form?


Drekal said...

That's a very fair point, really. Those arguing for Akane shouldn't accept that she hits him as frequently as fanfiction implies, and instead focus on the nicer things she does, the times she doesn't hit him where in a fanfiction she would have... That sort of thing.

By making the concession that "yes she hits him a lot", ground is given in the argument which any intelligent anti-Akane arguer could very easily pick up on. Battles should be fought on ones own terms, rather than the enemy's.

Not that I think for a second that any online argument could possibly change a person's perspective of a character. People are stubborn like that.

M.Zephyr said...

The sources of humor run deep, and can be appalling if investigated too closely.

I'm wondering why you singled out Akane for this. Is it just because of her fanon reputation for violence? Because Ukyo, Shampoo and Kodachi are all equally violent at times with as little reason, though their targets may be a little more diverse since they don't spend nearly as much time with Ranma as does Akane. For that matter, most of the males in the manga, with the exception of Tofu, react with unreasonable violence to situations for which, if it happened in real life, we would judge the response to be inappropriate. It's just that the males don't usually react that way toward the females.

antimatterenergy said...

The reason I singled out Akane is because she is the girl with the most screen time, is portrayed in fan fiction to hit Ranma most often, and many people use the argument that she hits him because he insults her.

Though, if you accept that the use of violence is acceptable, most (though not all) of the violence in the manga is not unreasonable, just excessive. Which is kind of what I'm wondering, for those who see physical violence as acceptable, would it be acceptable for Ranma to hit Akane while Ranma is female for the exact same reasons she hits him?

M.Zephyr said...

Whether it would be acceptable and whether it would be humorous are two different questions.

Acceptable - If you accept that hypothesis that some of the violence in the manga are acceptable reactions to the insults or other provocation (just excessive), then I would have to say yes. Given that premise, there would be times when Ranma, in female or male form, would be justified in responding to provocations with violence, even if the one provoking him is female. Although in such a case I expect that Ukyo, Shampoo and Kodachi would be recipients of such reactions as much as Akane.

Humor - no. This is what I meant about the sources of humor being appalling if investigated too closely. I think very few people would find it humorous if Ranma reacted with simple violence to a girl, even if he is himself a girl at the time. Now, on the other hand, if he got creative about taking revenge by means other than plain violence, it is possible that the results could strike us as funny.

Drekal said...

Having weighed both sides of the issue, I'd have to say no. Not because of gender, but because of physical strength. Ranma is demonstrated to be very, very strong at various stages in the manga. Certainly stronger than Akane. If he ever did hit her because he was angry, he could really badly hurt her. If Ranma had enough self control to pull his punch enough to not hurt her seriously, it'd be about enough to stop him lashing out in the first place.

If not for the sheer strength and endurance difference, my answer would've probably been different here. There's a lot more I'd like to say on the issue, but I'd like to check the characterisation index first to double check my facts.

M.Zephyr said...

I have to disagree with drekal. I don't think it's a matter of physical strength at all. I think the humor is based on gender roles, and we feel that a cursed Ranma still fits into the gender role slot of "male".

Suppose Happosai did something that weakened Ranma, not to baby-level, but to the point where he would hit about as hard as Akane. Would we find it funny if onna-Ranma reacted to being called a pervert by knocking Akane through the air? I for one don't think I would.

Or consider another example. I believe that Ukyo is physically stronger than Tsubasa. Suppose that Tsubasa was not just a crossdresser, but also had a Jusenkyo curse turning him into a girl. Even though Ukyo is stronger, I think it would still be humorous when she beats up on Tsubasa. If he were to turn around and beat up on Ukyo, even though in cursed form, fully female and weaker than Ukyo, I don't think we would see any humor in it.

Drekal said...

I am more than willing to agree that society has ingrained within us certain gender role expectations.

However, with that in mind, it wasn't the violence in and of itself that was funny. It was the context. There's no real joke in Ranma punching Akane out for calling him a pervert. But there is a joke in Ukyo asking Akane if she is really in love with Ranma, and then he runs past being chased by Soun screaming "..with a macho chick like her? Get real!" Cue thrown object.

The joke here has two layers.
On the first layer is the unfortunate timing Ranma has. On the second, Ukyo misunderstands the complicated relationship between the two and thinks they hate each other.

The first sets up the "violent response" while the second requires it to have any effect. We're laughing at the situation, rather than the thermos stuck in Ranma's face.

If the context was correct, and a weakened onna-Ranma struck Akane, it could be funny. The trouble is, I can't honestly think of any context in which Ranma would, while in character, strike her.

To return to the original question, my answer would probably become "no". Not because of what m.zephyr said, as I'm always trying to see past gender roles to prevent double standards.

However, he did start me on a line of thought that led to the realisation that if there's no context within which Ranma striking Akane becomes funny, then the answer has to be no.

Kuno said...

Beyond anything else, I think Ranma hitting Akane for something like that would be so out of character it couldn't be funny- except for perhaps shock value, female or not.

md.knopp said...

Short answer. No.

Although, the idea that Ranma never does anything to Akane physically is also false. While it does not happen often, and the severity is no where near to level that Akane does to Ranma, Ranma has in fact physically assualted Akane.

In volume 1 chapter 7 when Akane is ignoring Ranma he yanks on her hair bow hard enough to pull her backwards. I equate this to about the same effect (accounting for the humor factor) as Akane pulling on Ranma by his pigtail.

During the arc where Akane forgets Ranma he washes her hair in a non too gentle fashion, which judging from her words hurt her. This was meant to be homorous, and was.

Then finally during the Dojo Destroyer arc Ranma hits Akane on the head twice with popcorn to demonstrate that her guard is down. Did this hurt her? No, but a vast majority of the instances in which Akane hits Ranma there is no visible or even implied injury or damage. For instance, when Akane kicks Ranma high into the air when Cologne first appears he is seen flying through the air in a rather relaxed and contemplative pose. Despite the apparent severity of kicking him hard enough for him to fly off into the air, there was no sign of pain or damage to Ranma.

I like Akane. She is my favorite character right along with Ranma. In fact, I love the Ranma series not so much because of any one character, but because of the relationship between Ranma and Akane. To me the relationship is the real story, not any particular character.

That being said. There is no real justification for Akane hitting Ranma. However, I think that Robert A. Heinlein said it best in Stranger in a Strange Land when he wrote, "I had thought — I had been told — that a 'funny' thing is a thing of a goodness. It isn't. Not ever is it funny to the person it happens to. Like that sheriff without his pants. The goodness is in the laughing itself. I grok it is a bravery . . . and a sharing… against pain and sorrow and defeat."

In other words, while it is fun sometimes to try and rationalize and project the actions in Ranma to real life one has to be very careful of that. Ranma is a romantic comedy with a large helping of slapstick. Slapstick never translates well to reality. It is funny when Curly hits Moe on the head with a hammer in The Three Stooges, it is fatal when Curly hits Moe on the head with a hammer in reality.

It is funny when Akane is insecure and childish enough to beat Ranma on the head with shinai in the story. It is possibly lethal and definitely not funny when Akane is insecure and childish enough to do so in real life.

Also, keep in mind that the whole male not hurting females theme is rampant throughout the series. Kuno holds back against Akane, and she even admits it. Ryoga stops fighting Ukyo once Ranma flashes her chest to him.

Also, despite this there are instances where males hurting females does happen. Just look at the first Kodachi arc. Ranma slams her into a wall with a door. That was funny. Ranma hits her on the head with a tea kettle. That was funny. When Ranma first meets Shampoo he defeats her with a single kick. That was funny, since she was the champion.

There is a double standard in the series. Just keep in mind that it is much larger than Akane hitting Ranma because he insults her. Shampoo terrorizes Ranma with his fear of cats because he won't date her. Ukyo hits Ranma with her spatula because he made her say that she loves him. Heck, Ranma never even really attacks Cologne despite the implication that she is better. Even after he is in the neko-ken he is shown attacking the shark and not Cologne.