Badass Women in Manga and Anime: My Top Votes

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I am a feminist, no doubt about it. I respect and adore women and have an endless sympathy towards their physical and mental pain and suffering. Therefore, I always hold them in higher regards to men for men already enjoy too much of nature favour (isn’t it strange that sometimes I put myself in the third position when looking at the two sexes? Guess I am just constantly on the learn to walk on the Middle Way).

I always think that women can be and should be independent of men, and I have applied that notion to the point of turning myself into a “too independent” one (with a slightly negative meaning). I also think women are capable of everything that men can do, regardless of their natural weaker body build. Therefore, badass women to me are ones who excel in physical strength, rational leadership skills, and have a cool/masculine look and a distant/aloof demeanour. This type of woman is not easy to find in manga and anime where female characters are often portrayed as “kawaii” (cute) schoolgirls or women with over-sexualised bodies (or both). It is thus an irony (if you ask) for a feminist like me to also be a manga/anime fanatic. However, among all the kawaii female characters who are physically and mentally dependent on others, there are still a few amazing badass ladies that I totally fall for. My top votes are below:

1. Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan – anime):

Mikasa is my number one choice for a badass lady, oh yes! Who cares that Attack on Titan (AoT) has become a mega hit that a certain amount of people have turned their back on it due to its mainstream popularity!

Mikasa is my lady: one that is level-headed, intelligent, physically stronger than most men, and cool to the core. I also appreciate it that the AoT author tried hard not to sexualise his female heroines; therefore, AoT has introduced some of the most amazing female casts in manga/anime history ever. In fact, Hange, Ymir (not the founding Titan), Annie and even Historia are all so cool as well, but none of them come close to Mikasa’s absolute charm. The only minus point is her “Eren problem”, but hey, let me turn my blind eye on that because I am clearly biased on any Mikasa matters anyway.

2. Haruka Tenoh (Sailor Moon – anime):

I am quite certain that every girl from the generation that grew up watching Sailor Moon used to have a crush on Haruka Tenoh. Don’t even lie! It does not make a girl lesbian to have a crush on another girl, especially when that girl is cooler, stronger and more charming than most boys around. 

Sailor Moon, though portraying magical girls in miniskirts and high heels, is still a worthy series when it comes to the topic of girl power and LGBTQ awareness. The series also presents one of the most amazing and memorable couples in anime history ever: Haruka and Michiru. Their relationship is just extraordinary. Who in reality can have a relationship like theirs?  

3. Miria (Claymore – manga): 

I had a hard time making up my mind who should be the lady representing Claymore. Personally speaking, I like Deneve the most for her cool attitude, logical thinking, mature nature and masculine convenient short hair. I also particularly love Theresa, simply because she is strong, way too strong, the strongest character in the Claymore universe, who outclasses all monsters with just part of her power. However, I have finally decided on Miria because she is the role model of a leader that we all need; one that is understanding and reposeful yet also capable, daring, smart and determined. Without Miria, this series would not have held together.

I really like the Claymore series; its plot was one of the best and most wholesome I have read so far from any manga. It could have been a feminist triumph if not for the revealing (and yes, sexualised) drawing of the women soldiers’ body in their armour.

4. Olivier Armstrong (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood – anime): 

Again, I could not decide whether Oliver Armstrong or Izumi Curtis should be the symbol lady of Fullmetal Alchemist. But finally, I leaned towards the strong-willed composed badass leader instead of the all-powerful badass “housewife”. 

Fullmetal Alchemist, another mega-popular series, is no short of strong woman casts. There is Liza Hawkeye, a calm and skilled sniper and an extremely brave woman, and May Chang, a princess with amazing martial art skills in combat despite her young age and kawaii appearance. However, in terms of physical strength and alchemy power, Izumi Curtis, brothers Elric’s master, is on a league of her own. Olivier Armstrong, without alchemy power, cannot be compared to her in combat capacity, however, as the respected commander of an all-men army protecting the northern border of the country, she suits more my style of a badass lady. She also looks splendid in the military uniform.

5. Balalaika (Black Lagoon – anime): 

Similar to Olivier Armstrong, Balalaika is the lady commander of an all-men Russian mafia troupe. This ultra-violent anime highlights quite a number of strong women in combat who easily outfight most men and men know well to fear them. However, I did not have much difficulty picking Balalaika over Revy, Roberta, Eda or other lady assassins. The way her male subordinates respect and follow her orders says it all. The heavily scarred face makes her presence even more impressive and authentic; she does not even need to beautify herself for the sake of anybody. The only problem I have with Balalaika visualisation is her overlong hair. Honestly, that overlong traditional hair style does not go with her character at all. 

6. Kikyo (Inuyasha – manga): 

Kikyo is possibly my only feminine choice of a badass woman. Despite her graceful look and her nurturing and caring nature, she is a mighty priestess with immense psychic power and high intelligence. Unlike the usual chatty and noisy female characters who like to be around a company and be protected, Kikyo chooses a lone path and fights by herself to protect others. After her resurrection from death, she adopts a dark feature to her demeanour but her composed, independent and protective nature stays the same. Imagine a delicate lone lady, parting with her lover to go on her own quest to rescue humanity from evils because she knows she alone has the capability, determination and responsibility – that’s my Kikyo! She has proved that a small fragile-looking woman can protect the world. 

7. Casca (Berserk – manga): 

Casca is the only worthy female soldier in Berserk. When she was fighting under Griffith in the original Band of the Falcon, she was said to be a better swordsman than the men themselves. She was respected and feared by her male comrades because her skills were superior to them, and she was only surpassed by Griffith. She could easily take down male opponents larger than herself with her physical strength and expert swordsmanship. Her appearance also fit for battle with short bob hair and plain unadorned armour. In the battle of men, Casca was a rare sight, yet her power rivalled and even outshone any opponents. Even Guts, when first battling Casca, had no idea that it was a woman until the armour mask fell down. Though Casca’s strong image has lost after the Eclipse, I still adore her and always remember her as the third most powerful warrior (only after Griffith and Guts) in the Band of the Falcon during the Golden Age arc. That is also the best and most memorable arc in Berserk, where all things begin. By the way, Berserk is also my favourite manga series of all time, and possibly the darkest one ever written.

Other badass women:

Apart from my seven top choices above, I also find quite a few other female protagonists intriguing: Major Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell – anime) – the powerful cyborg, squad leader of Public Security Section 9; Number 18 (Dragon Ball – manga) – another overpowered cyborg in the body of the young aloof lady, the coolest woman in Dragon Ball; Marm (Dragon Quest – manga) – though a little sentimental, she is a compelling fighter in hand to hand combat with a stronger fist than most boys in the series; Mukuro (Yu Yu Hakusho – manga) – one of The Three Kings ruling the Demon World, she is a powerful S-class Demon rising up from an extremely tormenting and abusive past; Kanae Kocho (Demon Slayer – manga) – despite her gentle looking appearance she is the strongest female hashira of the demon hunter team; Niko Robin (One Piece – manga) – despite her sexualised appearance, she is a learned and strong member of the Straw Hat Pirates who can guard herself without the need of Luffy’s protection; Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop – anime) – though another sexualised woman visual in anime, Faye is still considered a tomboy by her comrades with strong fighting skills in both space battles and hand to hand combats. 

These above are my top picks. What about yours? Any more suggestions for me to add in the list or to explore?


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