We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness. The essential elements of our blogging will be courage, audacity and revolt. Blogging has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace. We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled along its orbit. The blogger must spend himself with warmth, glamour and prodigality to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements. Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Blogging must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man. Standing on the world's summit we launch once again our insolent challenge to the stars!
Ask me anything
When discussing fiction, character agency refers to a character’s ability to make their own decisions in-line with their own desires or necessities. This is how real people make decisions, and is ultimately a part of making a character into a convincing person.
In Mai’s case, she has been robbed entirely of her agency – her ability to make decisions based on her own feelings – even though the role of the Woman of the Beginning is to explicitly make the decision of who receives the fruit. While it ultimately makes sense for characters to sometimes be forced into situations where they are helpless, it’s problematic to give Mai a huge amount of power and the ability to make that choice, only to immediately rob her of it, leaving the men to fight over her as if she was an object.
Tokusatsu as a genre does not typically treat women well. In some regards, Gaim has made significant strides in a positive direction – for example, having a female Rider as an active character for a good chunk of the series. However, in a lot of ways, Gaim is much worse in its treatment of female characters than many other Kamen Rider series, despite having a female Rider and a character who should presumably be in a huge position of power, Mai.
Ultimately, I think Gaim is often unfairly regarded by fans with its treatment of female characters – I’ve seen people saying it’s bullshit that Mai or Chucky don’t get belts, even though this is literally the only Kamen Rider series with a dedicated female Rider (no, Yuri as IXA doesn’t count) – but I also think that the criticism of how Gaim treats its women is largely warranted, and will be a black spot on how the show is remembered.
It’s especially fascinating to me that Urobuchi, a writer who is no stranger to writing female characters well, fumbled so badly in Gaim. I’ll forever wonder exactly what factors were at play here.
Urobuchi is indeed no stranger to writing female characters well, but sadly, not consistently. I can name as many instances of women being shafted out of important roles (Yayoi in Psycho-Pass), 'stuffed into the fridge' (every woman not named Saber in Fate/Zero) or otherwise brutalized (let’s just not get into Saya no Uta) in his works as instances of his writing being progressive — which admittedly already puts him amongst the top percentage of anime and tokusatsu writers when it comes to progressive writing.
Most of the misogyny in Urobuchi’s works stems from his inspirations. It’s clear that the man loves dark, cynical writing — especially noir and cyberpunk genre fiction, two genres known for general horrible treatment of female characters, because the world portrayed is ‘hard’, and the writers - Urobuchi himself included - know no better than to show this by having innocent, ‘pure’, idealistic characters fall victim to it. Urobuchi’s blind obsession with his inspirations is arguably his biggest flaw as a writer, and maybe even responsible for his questionable relationship with the notion of subtlety.
Secondly, I remain convinced that Toei is actively blocking female characters from getting strong or active roles, because they are fiercely convinced of the idea that their target audience of young boys would rather just see no girls whatsoever in their superhero shows, let alone girls that do anything the (male) hero could or should be doing. It’s stupid.