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I thought that I had talked about this here in the past, but a quick search of the pdf of my journal that I created a couple of months ago via doesn't turn anything up, and I remember it as having been at least a year ago.

You see, the thing is, I really like Oh! My Goddess.

More embarassingly, I like Belldandy.

Let me digress for a moment.

A couple of years ago, I read a book about anime that included almost as an aside, an interesting thesis. It was something like "Successful (or popular) media confirms society's norms." It isn't that all characters always fit into the rolls that the society that the media was intended for's norms, but the ones who do will tend to be happy, and even the characters who don't conform to the expected will really be contented only when they are filling their socially expected roles. For example, Love Hina. Ketaro plays several traditional Japanes Male roles through out the series and as soon as he finds the first one (Hard working mostly dutiful student) his life starts improving. Naru on the other hand is an agressive girl who out performs everyone. Throughout the series most of the times that she is actually happy are when she is helping Ketaro, being domestic, or generally not being herself. By the end of the series she has become a wellspring of calm and beauty who has faith in her man and isn't even upset by him being late for their wedding. Shinobu really changes very little throughout the series, and is the second closest character to the traditional Japanese woman anyway. Su, well, she's sort of the Pheobe role in the series. Mutsumi Is very much a traditional Japanese woman who is happy throughout the whole series (and has a lot of the positive traits of Belldandy that if she didn't have some strong negatives at least implied, I wouldn't be able to stand her.) Kitsune well she's half of the cautionary tale of the series. She and Haruka both differ from the cultural expectations and are both unhappy. (Haruka becomes a fairly traditional wife and becomes happy) Motoko... Motroko is a tomboy warrior who strives to fill her sister's shoes. Her sister also gave up her accomplishments to get married and a big part of what Motoko learns throughout the series is that that is okay. By the end, she is decorating a wedding cake, and while she is still a warrior, she is also a romance novelist who writes wierd samurai romance novels. As she embraces more of the traditional Japanese feminity, she becomes more grounded and happiert too.

Ooh then there's Friends. Pheobe is the only character in the whole series over how many identical seasons the show ran that didn't fulfil society's expectations, and while she wasn't unhappy in her role, she was constantly the odd woman out. The rest of the cast? Wealthy, pretty, white, boring. Exactly what you are supposed to strive to be in America.

(I am hamstrung here by the smallish amount of TV I watch.)

Tool Time. Tim Allen's character is an absolute geek. He revels in it. Almost every bad thing that happens in the show is due directly to his geekhood.

Vision of Escaflowne.
Van: Warrior. As he becomes a better Samurai, he becomes happier.
Hitomi: Dares to want things for herself. Every freaking time that she tries to get something she wants, she gets to watch people die in fires. The only times that her precognition doesn't cause her pain are when she is using it to aid the male characters, and even then, only if she is helping them for them and not for what she wants. (Seriously, she once tries to use her power to get a guy, and she causes the death of a king, the injury of his son in law, and the firey death of a bunch of random towns people. Her grandmother on the other hand, was very happy but only ever did things when called by the Male character who was obsessed with her. (Other characters. these two encapsulate the series though)

Back to Belldandy.

You see, she is absolutely the image of the suportive subsume-yourself-to-the-needs-of-others ideal that is one of the acceptable roles for a Japanese female (not limited to Japan, but particularly egregious there.) Her older sister (one of two female characters in the series who have sensual sides at all) is continuously unhappy. She is brash and bossy and dominant, and a half-demon to match. The younger sister shows signs of turning into Belldandy as she gets older. The Male Lead is actually fairly similar to Belldandy after he gets over the inexperienced letch bit that all harem manga have their characters go through apparently.

Someday I want to read something like Love Hina or Oh! My Goddess where the two love interest characters partner up/get married whatever early on. From the midpoint of Love Hina, Ketaro and Naru could have been having regular sex (or at least been boyfriend/girlfriend) without seriously changing the story at all. From the point that Naru decided that after all she did like Keichi and that she prefered him to the unobtainable Seta, they acted mostly as a partnership/couple (with a couple moments of stupidoubity.) As things stand, that period gets written off by the words "Four Years Later."

Actually on second thought, in Oh! My Goddess, they do start acting as partners fairly quickly. (I'll have to reread the early issues to see where that happens.)

Hurm... it may be that I've found the answer.

If that happened around book10 to 15, that means it happened at about the same number of pages as it did in Love Hina and is thus much too slow.

In Oh! My Goddess, Belldandy really does care about everyone. And while Keichi isn't as petranaturally good a person as she is, he does too. (He takes on a very culturally feminine role in this series. Which since Skuld and Urd and really everyone but Belldandy and the geek girl and the rich girl whose names escape me at the moment are quite culturally masculine in the series, lends a sense of ballance. (His sister could go either way but she eventually dissapears from the series.)) (<-- Still don't see why I'm not supposed to nest parenthetical bits in other parenthetical bits)

She's willing to give up a lot for pretty much anyone, and everything for Keichi and her loved ones. But this isn't unilateral. Urd, Skuld and Keichi all demonstrate their willingness to give up their most important aspects for her as well. While she expresses this as a strong conformation to societal norms, it is a recriprocal trade.

(There is an awesome issue where Keichi is being quietly despondant while trying his best to cheer up someone who is having troubles that they can't do anything about. She confronts him about this, and he tells her that he's recently come to realize that his relationship with Belldandy has the potential to hurt her a lot. See, he is mortal. She isn't. He's realized that because his wish bound them together and they fell in love, his mortality has the potential to be a huge blow for her. Well, it is more indirect in the comic.)

In O!MG Belldandy's happyness isn't because of her conformation to societal norms. It is because she is a happy person. Two seperate issues.

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