An essay by Christina Walters
Editor's Notes: This essay was written as a school project and except for spelling and punctuation fixes, I've made no changes to it. If you want to send a comment to Christina, her last known email address was: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you could be stuck on a deserted island with any animated girl in the world, who would you pick? One of Japanese animation's (also called anime) biggest claims to fame is the trait to give its audience a large selection of dream girls to fantasize about.
According to "Animerica", a top selling American magazine centered on anime, there are seven types of dream girls most often found in anime. And some of them are even found in American movies and television programs.
The first type of animated Dream Girl is the Idol Singer. Idol singers are a fixture of Japanese pop-culture, and don't have an exact American equivalent. The closest thing that American pop-culture has to Japanese Idols are the teenybopper pop singers that are marketed to teenage audiences, like the young male group N'Sync. While they have large audiences, they are not taken seriously by the music industry on the whole. Although every once in a while one such group, or solo artist, does manage to break out of the pop singer stereotype and become something more than what they were originally stereotyped to be. Like Ricky Martin of Menudo, who now has a top selling album on the Adult Contemporary charts.
In Macross, a futuristic and popular anime about humanity's struggle against oppressive alien enemies, the Idol Minmei keeps everyone's hopes alive with cheerful music and a sunny disposition. In Bubblegum Crisis, an anime set in a dystopian cyber-punk future, one of the main characters, Priss, is an Idol. Priss belts out pop-rock tunes with less than happy lyrics and does mercenary work on the side, all the while keeping her adoring fans (and everyone else) at arm's length. When she's not blowing psychotic robots to bits, that is.
Another popular type of dream girl that's found in a lot of American movies, such as ones staring Doris Day, is the Girl Next Door. This girl tends to either eternally let her guy friend cry on her shoulder, or shrug off his affections. Akane, in Ranma ˝, fights off boys on her way to school every morning, literally. She also does her best to violently discourage any of her friends who want something more, which happens to include all of them that are male. And while every other main character in the show has some sort of a water activated curse, and/or an intense level of expertise in martial arts, Akane keeps some semblance of normality by being the only one without a curse or high achievement in martial arts.
Ukyou, also from Ranma ˝, is a sweeter, gentler version of the Girl Next Door, as opposed to the violent tomboy Akane. Ukyou lets her best friend Ranma, the main male character of the show, talk to her about all of his problems. And rather than just shrugging off his affections, Ukyou goes after Ranma's heart with a vengeance, which tends to add to the list of problems Ranma comes to her with. Ukyou, however isn't as normal as Akane. Ukyou, a teenager, owns her own restaurant and can hold her own against well-trained martial artists. She also has a large spatula that doubles as a kitchen utensil and weapon.
Magical Girlfriends have come to be a staple of anime. A Magical Girlfriend is the kind that comes into the main guy character's life in an out-of-this-world kind of way, pun intended. These girls also tend to turn their guy's life upside down. Lum, an ogre princess from outer space of UruseiYatsura fame, did nothing but bring strange people into her "fiancé's" life. And the goddess Belldandy, from Oh My Goddess!, brought her two sisters (and fellow goddesses) along with her when she moved into a conveniently found temple with her boyfriend. Belldandy was quite happy with the situation. Her sisters, however, were not and used their powers to make their displeasure known.
A type of dream girl that tends to pop up in anime on the darker side of the spectrum is the Unattainable Girl, also known as the Ice Queen. Someone for the people in the anime and audience to ponder and long after. Sylia, from Bubblegum Crisis, appears to be a cold calculating woman who's after two things: money and vengeance. But every once in awhile the audience gets a glimpse of a caring person battling with dark secrets and searing pain. This, of course, causes viewers to try and reason out who Sylia really is and why she builds up impenetrable walls to keep everyone out.
The popular anime El Hazard, about a group of Tokyo based young adults who get transported to another world, also contains an excellent example of an Unattainable Girl. The show has in its cast, Ifurita, a living weapon built in female form. She's a splendid example of an Unattainable Girl because she's a weapon and as such isn't meant to have feelings at all; she's meant to destroy. In essence, she wasn't made to have personal relationships, so it's a challenge for anyone interested in her to help bring out her personality and help her achieve humanity.
A lighter dream girl, in contrast to the Unattainables, tends to be the Go-Girl. Whether she's treasure hunting, fighting evil, shopping, or all three at once, this girl's always doing something. Lina Inverse, the powerful sorceress star of Slayers, is a prime example of the Go-Girl. She's always on some sort of a quest, whether it be for the good of mankind or some cold hard cash. Too bad she doesn't have a whole lot of time for her cute swordsman sidekick, Gourry.
The Older Woman is another of those types that is popular in both American films and shows and Japanese animation. The Older Woman is a source of continual fantasy for most afflicted young guys in anime. Maetel, from the popular science-fiction anime Galaxy Express 999, walks the thin line between friend and love interest for her young traveling companion Tetsuro. And Madoka Ayukawa, one of the stars of the comedic and poignant teen angst anime Kimagure Orange Road, is a tough and beautiful girl that keeps male protagonist Kyosuke tied in knots with indecision over whether or not it's safe to pursue her.
The next and last kind of anime dream girl is found in nearly every anime: the Harem Girl. A pretty girl that hangs out with other pretty girls, and becomes an object of obsession for most of the male populous inhabiting the same show. Like most of the female cast from Ranma ˝; all of them are beautiful and though they usually don't hang out with each other they do tend to end up in the same area, whether it be one of the girls' homes, Ukyou's restaurant, or the school most of them attend.
Anime dream girls may easily fall into particular categories, but that doesn't mean they're all one-dimensional. Each and every one of them has her own personality and lends a new interpretation to an often-used character. The more one watches anime, the more one can pick out different examples for each category of dream girl. And then there are some anime girls that can be put into new categories, or multiple ones.
Like Urd, Belldandy's sister from Oh My Goddess!, who's a Vixen. She, while all the other female characters are cute, is hot. And then there's the Unlikely Hero, Usagi, star of Sailor Moon (a show about schoolgirls that transform into super-heroes). While she's the savior of mankind (as found out later in the series) she's also a bratty, whiny klutz who just wants to be a normal kid. And Akane, one of the Girls Next Door from Ranma ˝, is a bully just as much as she is a Girl Next Door. Priss, the Idol from Bubblegum Crisis, could also be called an Unattainable Girl because she never lets anyone in through her personal defenses.
Most anime shows endeavor to present their audience with believable dream girls that the audience and other characters can adore. And whether the dream girl is an Idol, a Magical Girl, or anything else, she usually ends up being an original, because she's the personification of her creator's own idea of what a Dream Girl should be.
Every dream girl originates from somebody's dream. And the endearing Dream Girls, the ones that end up being the audience's favorites, usually tend to coincide with the audience's picture of a Dream Girl, the girl someone would want to be stuck on a deserted island with.
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