Every Shonen fan knows that the heroines on the shows are always sidelined from the rest of the action and are given very few opportunities. The viewers can recall watching them looking at valiant protagonists fight it out with the rivals with concern on their faces. It shows the helplessness of the heroines that is tough to watch sometimes. Even though the world has progressed a lot in the last few decades, it is depressing to watch female characters being portrayed as weak and dependent.
Most of the time, they end up getting very little screen time and are often seen running around the male protagonists who act like her savior. Not only is this problematic, but it sheds light on the deep-rooted misogyny and discrimination. Although the depiction of Shonen heroines as weak and dependent is common, there have been a few exceptions to this. The most noteworthy of them all has been Shaman King’s Anna Kyoyama, who was able to get over these predictable trends and set an example for the other anime and manga to follow.
Every Shonen heroine is deliberately made to match the main character. Anna Kyoyama, on the other hand, has a cold demeanor, which is a consequence of the harsh and troubled past that she has been through. Although most heroines would need protection Anna does not fit into that group. She is different, and if she needs to fight for herself, she is not hesitant in using her supernatural chops. Her demeanor does not change even when she faces any danger and confronts everything with her valor and powerful skill set.
Anna is able to use her negative emotions to summon a strong Oni. Her ability to reflect back summons enables her to stand toe-to-toe against some of the fiercest adversaries like Hao. Her Phantom Left-Hand Slap is too powerful and instills fear in friends and foes alike. Unlike most Shonen heroines, she does not take a back seat in Yoh’s fights and serves as constant support and critic. She is even seen given him grueling training sessions in order to prepare him for future battles. None of the Shonen heroines is like Anna, who participates even in training.
Instead of bogging down her character, the writers of the manga have given Anna enough time to make an impression on the fans. Although most of the time, the female characters waste a lot of time trying to establish a connection between the protagonist and the heroine, Shaman King is different. Since Anna is engaged with Yoh, she does not need to chase after him or to worry about expressing feelings for him. The pre-established relationship works in favor of Anna’s character development and gives the audience ample time to learn more about her. The series did not start with the beginning of Yoh’s or Anna’s lives, so there was little room for speculation over their personal choices.
Therefore, Shaman King introduces us to a world where the characters are not blank slates, but most aspects of their lives are well-established. The show even puts Yoh’s at a disadvantage since her fiance is significantly stronger than him. She takes care of his training and is significantly stronger than him for a considerate stretch of the series. It is a refreshing way of looking at a couple evolving as individual characters as they work with each other.
Most battle series ultimately turn out to be male-dominated while the women are sidelined. Surprisingly, that is not the case with Shaman King, which gave its female characters enough opportunities to make a mark. In doing so, it also was able to rise above the typical stereotypes with the Shonen heroines.