Wednesday, February 25, 2015

28 Day Bubblegum Crisis Challenge, Day 25: Homosexuality's Portrayal in the Series?

I'm a little torn on this topic because, while I think Bubblegum Crisis dealt with Daley's homosexuality as well as a 1980s anime could, they really dropped the ball on their portrayal of lesbianism, particularly when it came to the sexaroids Anri and Sylvie. 

In Daley's case, he was obviously and somewhat stereotypically gay - what with his flamboyant clothing and single gold hoop earring - but he wasn't shown as lesser than by the rest of the cast. He was still a high-ranking field officer and was never underestimated by his peers or superiors. He also wasn't shown as being sexually promiscuous or AIDS-ridden, which seems to be a common trait of gay and lesbian characters back then, and his playful banter with Leon about having sex in their squad car wasn't played off as gross or weird, although it did kinda border on sexual harassment, even if Leon was game.

Even though it's never explicitly stated, Priss is pretty obviously a lesbian*: 1) she only agrees to go on a "date" with Leon when she needs information from him and then continuously rebuffs his advances, enough to where he wonders aloud if she's gay (because naturally, a woman who isn't into him just has to dig chicks, right?), and 2) the only deep relationship she is involved in is with Sylvie, where even the subtext is pretty main texty. For all I know, the Japanese viewers at the time were like, "Well, of course, she's a lesbian! Look at all the clues! Stupid Americans," but I think it was vague enough that you could always pull a Sailor Moon** and just say that they were cousins or something.

But see, this wasn't really my problem. Leave it non-ambiguously ambiguous, Youmex/ARTMIC. Nope, my issue lies with Anri and Sylvie. I get that there is nearly always going to be a cheesecakey, fanservicey aspect to anime, especially anything that came out of this era, but still. I expected more from a series that gave me Daley Wong. Instead, I get severally sexually-charged scenes between Anri and Sylvie that were all about the male gaze: they are on a bed and in their bras and underwear, and Sylvie bites on Anri's neck because that's apparently how human blood is put back into sexaroids bodies. It makes no real-world sense, but who cares? Hot anime babes in little to no clothing! Sex noises! Open mouths! Hey, at least there weren't tentacles.

I just feel that they could have done so much better with this. Now, I'm not sure exactly how, but I'll work on it in my reboot adaptation. JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE, WORLD.


* In Tokyo 2040, Priss is changed to be clearly heterosexual, and she and Leon start a relationship near the end of the series.
** Okay, just to be clear: I absolutely hated the fact that they changed Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune were cousins, because, um, I think that actually made the sexual tension between them creepier than just letting them be, oh, you know, lovers. 
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