Japanese Anime is riddled with stereotypes and tropes, especially when it comes to women. From the way they are designed, clothed and inserted into the story, female characters are prone to bring ditzy, big busted and one-dimensional, and even the ones that are luckier and get a good personality ir quest still fall prey of “damsel in distress” storylines. Things are changing and more and more female characters are getting their dues. Just ask the new Lara Croft aka Tomb Raider and you will appreciate what I mean.
There was an exception every so often, which is why I love Voltron over other series (like Candi) and continue to support the genre. Ever since I was 4 years old, in the early girl power 80s, I’ve been in awe of the women of the original series due to their audacity and leadership skills. My favorite hero was Princess Allura who piloted the Blue Lion like it was second nature to her. It was her destiny! How cool is that! She was the calming and soothing wave of light that helped the team rally and focus on their mission to defend the galaxy. The challenge of leading and defending those dear to her never phased her. On the flipside, we had Haggar, an extremely evil and even more empowered female character and super villain, who was charged with the seemingly impossible mission to entrap Voltron and steal the princess for her master, Prince Lothor. She has, again and again, to unleash her magical abominations on Voltron in the hopes to win over her adversaries, attempting to prove she was a worthy opponent and valuable asset in the process. These women had everything to lose if they failed and they pulled all the stops to survive.
From what I recall the women of Voltron, past and present, were not the traditional damsels in distress, which makes them even more fabulous and endearing in my perspective. They all have skills that help the team succeed after each encounter, and are culturally relevant in their genre and popular scenes. They were more than background decorative figures. Each one had a soul and a purpose, a reason to fight and live another day. Look at the complete cast for the many iterations of the series and you will find pilots, mages, sages, clan leaders, earthlings and extraterrestrials in positions of empowerment with decent dialog and meaningful roles. I am grateful the translators, writers and dubbers did their best to make the show relevant, rewriting and delivering the North American content with the feminist vibe it deserved and carried. I will always be proud of enjoy the show and of the possibilities it presented for the women of Earth and beyond. 😍😍😍💪💪💪
This is the main reason why I remain impressed with the portrayals of the women of Voltron by the Netflix team behind Legendary Defender. Allura transformed from a very capable Disney Princess to fierce and unstoppable magic wielding Zelda in her latest incarnation. Haggar is still strong, wicked and totally loyal to her King and Prince; the dark conquerors. What struck me as pure genius was making Pidge a young woman on a quest to find her lost family, passing herself as her brother! Plus, Keith’s mother being of extraterrestrial heritage and/or descent gives us an opportunity to add a new and complex female character into the mix. I’m excited for all the possibilities the third season will bring for the Paladins as they resolve how to save/replace Shiro.
With tropes set aside and boundaries enhanced for women in the Legendary Defender series, I highly recommend nerds and geeks to share this show with their children, especially with all the Princesses in your life. Although it is believed that wanting to become a princess or being treated as such is demeaning or dangerous for a girl’s development, I would counter that if she wants to be like Allura, she will be on the path to success and independence. It is not a bad thing to want to wear the crown if you can carry yourself like a benevolent, strong yet kind leader; if you can handle the responsibility to lead with humility and resilience.
Allura, Haggar and Pidge will return to Netflix in late 2017, early 2018. I can’t wait…