6 Memorable Female Characters in Animation

So this post actually came about because of a twitter meme. You know, one of those “send me a like and I’ll tell you x about myself” type of memes—at least in spirit:

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And when a friend asked for “5 favorite female characters” my immediate response was

My Time Has Come

Buuuut….. when I opened my response my mind drew a blank. I could think of one or two, but it was a struggle to think of more.

I mean, I could think of female characters in animation (that was my parameter) but were they really my favorite? Just because I can mention them, just because they’re allowed amongst the masculine majority, doesn’t mean I should automatically adore them. We’ve come further than that.

The thing is, design is driven by conventions, and pop culture by traditional gender. And so we get character designs still vastly inspired by men like Andrew Loomis who spends much more space (~70 pg) on explaining men’s designs than he do3w women (~20). We also get advice in character design books that emphasize convention because that way “characters will be easier to recognize”.

But when you place much more emphasis on male characters they become varied and vibrant; there are a million different designs, and just as many personalities. Whether they are shy or loud, stocky or lean, hopeful or hopeless, there’s a lot more going on with the male characters than with their female counterparts.

So when I thought of female characters I liked in animation, they may be awesome, intelligent and ultimately deserving of their own stories, but sidelined as support or sacrifice (Allura (VLD), Yuni (KHR), Miyazono Kaori (KimiUso)). Worst case scenario they are sidelined even worse as simply there so there aren’t only male characters in the series and as romantic fodder to emphasize our male protagonists’ masculinity (Ace of Diamond, Naruto, and Katekyo Hitman Reborn come to mind).

That doesn’t mean the gems aren’t there in the rubble of “equal” female representation, and here are my six favorite examples:

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RWBY’s Adam Taurus: A Revolutionary Design in Popular Media

(WARNING: mentions of incidents of rape and sexual assault, islamophobia, as well as Spoilers)

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The word “terror” is a funny constellation of mixed opinions.

What I learnt in my college history class, and the definition I have adopted since then is that terror is “a political or war-like act of violence against a civilian population.” That means that (as we learn it) the first recorded act of terror was the British bombings of Copenhagen during the Napoleonic wars. I no longer entirely agree that this must have been the first, while I haven’t looked up examples, I’m sure Europe wasn’t the first, and if we were, then colonialism and slavery must count as well.

But I also know that not everyone agree with this statement. I remember walking home with a friend a couple winters ago. He has a masters degree in geophysics. He spent most of or early uni days recounting funny stories about how some of his physics friends couldn’t wait to finish their degree and start working on weapons of mass destruction (I’m not kidding). But on this gloomy Christmas day where fog has replaced the snow of earlier years, we’re talking about something that happens on the news, one of the white terror acts we usually refer to as “mass shootings”, and he insists it can’t possibly be an act of terror, because “only muslims can commit acts of terror”.

Yes. This white man educated from the best and oldest institution of higher education in the country, who has a paper published on the dangers of climate change, believed that only muslims could commit acts of terror. I’m sure you’re surprised.

Why am I telling you this?

Because American and European militarist propaganda since 9/11 has convinced most white people that white people can never be terrorists. And after what happened yesterday in New Zealand and scrolling through twitter’s response I wanted to talk about why representation in popular culture matters in this terror, as well.

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RWBY Character Analysis: Ruby Rose’s Character Development and the Art of Show Don’t Tell

Ruby Rose is one of the characters I’ve seen get the most heat over the years for having no character development, but my argument in this video is that.

Ruby’s character development is a great example of how good the writers of RWBY are at the art of Show Don’t Tell.

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The rule of Show Don’t Tell is a key device in the story telling art. Most creative writers know of it, of course, as that slightly obscure Rule No. 1 of character creation that eludes us for years before we finally fully comprehend it, but Peter Barry describes it very well in his chapter on Narratology:

Mimesis’ is the ‘show telling’, in which what is done and said is ‘staged’ for the reader, creating the illusion that we are ‘seeing’ and ‘hearing’ things for ourselves. By contrast, ‘diegesis’ means ‘telling’ or ‘relating’. The parts of the narrative which are presented in this way are given a more ‘rapid’ or ‘panoramic’ or ‘summarizing’ way.

(Beginning Theory 223)

In other words it’s the difference between:


“I am going for a walk,” I told her. (Mimesis/showing)

and “I told her I was going for a walk.” (Diegesis/telling)


“But, Louie,” you might say, “animation is shown already so isn’t your point moot?”

Well, yes and no.

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