It is all a fake, of course; the figures in the popular art are falsely drawn… to make them appear firmer and more slender… making the role of the eye in sexuality more and more important and at the same time making its demands more and more impossible. What follows you can easily forecast!
These are the words of Screwtape, a senior demon, to his apprentice, Wormwood, in C.S. Lewis’ classic novel about temptation, The Screwtape Letters.*
Reading Screwtape’s words, I was reminded of the “firmer and slimmer” and “impossible” women in anime.
Particularly, the women in the anime Sword Art Online:
Do I believe that the women in Sword Art Online are tools of the Devil, like Screwtape implies such impossibly beautiful women are?
Yes and no.
This is why:
It is true that a man could let his love for women like Leafy and Asuna negatively effect him. But, it is possible to say “His love for ___ could negatively effect him” about anything. As the old saying goes:
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.
There is nothing wrong with appreciating beauty. Nothing wrong with thinking that an impossibly beautiful woman like Asuna is… well… beautiful. We are made to appreciate beauty:
God saw all he had made, and it was very good.
~ Genesis 1:31
The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
~ Genesis 2:22 — 23
What is wrong, though, is believing that if a woman doesn’t look like Asuna — big eyes, big breasts, long hair, slim waist — than she is not beautiful.
So: Anime women are not tools of the Devil, but they can be if we (the viewer) let them negatively effect how we see real, flesh-and-blood women.
Reading about anime, one day I came across the term kawaii. A term used to describe, in the context of Japanese popular culture, cuteness. For example: Big eyes — like the eyes on anime characters — are considered kawaii.
Kawaii does not refer to erotic beauty — the kind of beauty that gets a person aroused — but to, for lack of a better term, “childlike beauty” — the kind of beauty that makes a person squeal and go “Cute!”
Which is why, looking at the image below, it’s perfectly understandable that a person would say “So kawaii!”
Anime characters, with their big eyes, soft voices, and long, colorful hair, are trying to make a person go “Cute!”
On the other hand:
Anime characters, with their big breasts, perfectly-shaped butts, and slim waists, are trying to get a person aroused.
The point I’m trying to make is:
In anime, there seems to be a tug-of-war between the childlike and the adult, between cuteness and eroticism — anime wants me to go “Aww!” and “Oh. Yea…” at the same time.
So, what can be done about this?
Recognize why you love an anime character.
I think it’s safe to say that we love characters like Leafa and Asuna for more than their beauty. We love them because they are warriors who are funny, thought-provoking, and compassionate, too.
Always see anime characters as more than their bodies.
How many times have you said or thought “I am more than my ___”?
Nobody wants to be reduced to their pleasure-inducing body parts.
So let’s not do that to our heroes or heroines, either.
We love our favorite anime characters for all the reasons that we ourselves want to be loved.
Thank you for reading.
A related post: