Resident Evil and Representation

The Resident Evil series qualifies as a horror series, a sci fi series and an action series. Given the genre, Resident Evil is surprisingly diverse. The main character is female, the supporting cast are a mix of genders and race, men are more likely to die and there’s very little romance throughout the series. Let’s face it, even when a female is the main character in an action film, she’ll inevitably be surrounded by white male companions, one of whom she’ll fall in love with by the end of the film. So the Resident Evil films are surprisingly refreshing, which isn’t what I expected when I first came across the series.

In this post, I’ll be looking at the composition of Alices teams to demonstrate just how diverse the cast is. By Alices team, I mean anyone who Alice joins/fights with over the course of any film (in the Anderson film universe, not the games). This post contains massive spoilers, mostly regarding who dies and who survives, so make sure that you’ve seen the films first if you don’t want to ruin them for yourselves.

Resident Evil (2002)
In the first film, Alices team consists of three women:
• Alice- Caucasian
• Rain Ocampo- Hispanic American (Umbrella special forces commando unit)
• Olga Danilova- Russian (Medic)

And seven men:
• Matt Addison – Caucasian (Activist)
• Spence Parks- Caucasian (Security operative)
• James Shade- African American (Leader of the special forces unit)
• Chad Kaplan- Caucasian (Computer technician of special forces unit)
• JD Salinas- Hispanic (Special forces unit)
• Vance Drew – Caucasian (Special forces unit)
• Alfonso Warner- Caucasian (Special forces unit)

Making this the most masculine group in the series.

Olga, Vance, Alfonso and James are killed by lazers. JD is killed by zombies and Spence is killed by the licker. Chad is then killed by the mutated licker. Despite being bitten shortly after the laser room, Rain is the last to die, being shot by Matt after she turns.

In this film, only Matt and Alice survive, both being taken away to be experimented upon. So it goes from being a masculine dominant group, to an even split.

Apocalypse (2004)
The team in Resident Evil: Apocalypse consists of three women:
• Alice
• Jill Valentine- Caucasian (Police officer)
• Terri Morales- Hispanic (News reporter)

And four men:

• Peyton Wells – African American (Police Officer)
• Carlos Olivera – Caucasian (Played by an Israeli actor) (Umbrella biohazard counter measure force)
• Nicholai Ginovaef – Caucasian (Umbrella biohazard counter measure force)
• LJ (Lloud Jefferson Wayne)- African American (Former Walmart employee)

Alice meets Peyton, Jill and Terri first. LJ then joins the group, followed by Carlos and Nicholai. Another member of Carlos’ team Yuri (Caucasian, male) dies before meeting Alice. Yuri and Peyton both infected early in the film. Yuri is shot by Carlos after he turns. Peyton is killed by Nemisis. Terri is eaten by child zombies and Nicholai is killed by zombie dogs.

Interestingly, Terri and LJ are not special ops and have no combat training. (Although LJ owning customised guns suggests that he knows how to shoot.) Despite being the most inexperienced of the group, Terri dies 3rd (after the police officer and an umbrella operative) and LJ survives the film.

Similar to the last film, despite the fact that there are more men in the team, it ends with an even split of gender. Two men survive; Carlos and LJ go on to join the Nevada team. And two women survive; Jill is kidnapped and although Alice technically dies in this film, she is brought back to life by Umbrella.

Extinction (2007)
The team for Resident Evil: Extinction consists of four women:
• Alice
• Claire Redfield- Caucasian (Leader of the human convoy)
• Betty- African American (Nurse)
• K-mart- Caucasian- (Role unknown. Member of the human convoy)

And five men:
• Carlos – From the last film
• LJ- From the last film
• Mikey- Caucasian- (Electronic operative)
• Chase- Caucasian- (Police sheriff)
• Otto- Caucasian- (Bus driver)

Both Betty and Otto are killed in a raven attack. Mikey and Chase are killed in the Vegas attack, during which LJ is turned and killed. Carlos then sacrifices himself.

This leaves only three women alive: Alice, Claire and Kmart. This is the first instance of one gender completely outliving the other and from this series, it isn’t surprising that it’s the women who manage to survive.

Interestingly, this is the first film to incorporate romance, with LJ and Betty’s date and it being implied that Kmart has a crush on Carlos.

Afterlife (2010)
The team in Resident Evil: Afterlife consists of three women:
• Alice
• Claire – From last film
• Crystal Waters- Caucasian (Waitress, aspiring actress)

And six men:
• Luther West- African American (Sports personality)
• Angel Ortiz- Hispanic
• Bennet Sinclair- Caucasian (Director)
• Kim Yong- Asian (Bennets assistant)
• Wendell- Caucasian
• Chris Redfield- Caucasian (Soldier)

This is the second most masculine group and is the least trained in combat. Unlike the other teams which have comprised of Umbrella operatives or police officers, Chris is the only one with military training.

Wendell is killed by zombies after attempting to spy on Alice in the shower. Crystal proves to be one of the most useful members of the group, announcing that she is a swimming champion, she is unfortunately killed immediately after she swims to the armory. Angel is killed by Bennet during his escape (I’m still not sure why he had to kill Angel to get to the plane…). Kim is reluctant to go in the sewers and due to his hesitancy, is sliced in half. And Bennett is presumably killed by the bad guy after being locked in.

Similar to the first and second film, despite being a masculine group, two men (Luther and Chris) and two women (Alice and Claire) survive the film.

Retribution (2012)
In (what is currently) the final film in the series, we have an equal split gender wise, with five women and five men. The women consist of:
• Alice
• Suburban clone of Rain- From previous film
• Jill Valentine- From a previous film
• Becky- Caucasian (Child)
• Ada Wong- Asian

And the men are:

• Luthor- From previous film
• Barry Burton- Caucasian
• Leon Kennedy- Caucasian
• Sergei- Caucasian
• Tony Rosato- Hispanic

Despite this being the most even grouping in term of gender, it ends up being the most uneven (in favour of the women). Tony is killed by Plaga Undead in Moscow before meeting Alice. Sergei is then killed by a licker in Moscow. Suburban Rain is also killed by licker. Barry is killed by Carlos’ umbrella clone and Luthor is then killed fighting Rains umbrella clone.

This leaves Leon as the only man standing. Conversely, only one of the women died, meaning that Alice, Jill, Ada and Becky all survive.

This film is similar to Extinction in that it is one of the few that has a (albeit brief) focus on romance- Leon puts his hand on Ada’s knee and is immediately rejected. The focus is more firmly on the friendship between Alice and the members of the team such as Luthor and Jill, as well as her motherly relationship with Becky, her clone’s daughter.

Children in the series
Interestingly, the only children in the film series (ignoring the red and white queens) both look alike, and both have physical defects. Angela Ashford (Angie) has a degenerative condition which would have led to a life in a wheelchair had it not been for the T-virus and Becky was partially deaf. The part of Becky wasn’t interestingly designed to resemble Angie. The part could have easily been a boy as the casting call was for a boy or girl of around 6 years old for a character named either Ben or Becky, dependant on the gender of the actor. Becky also wasn’t designed to be deaf, Aryanna Engineer (who is partially deaf) was simply the best actress for the part, which is incredibly rare for deaf actors.

Bad Guys
The enemies throughout the film series are normally white male. Unlike Alice’s teams, there is far less representation in the Umbrella Corporation. Arguably, this is intentional and is demonstrative of the corruption in business. It also furthers the notion that minorities and women are the underdogs, which encourages you to support them.

All things considered, the Resident Evil movies are fantastic when it comes to representation. It passes the Bechdel test with flying colours, with little to no emphasis being put on the female characters love lives. The mix of gender and race throughout Alice’s teams are refreshing and it’s great to see a lot more representation in films like this which can get pretty stuck in their traditional tropes. Let me know what you think of the series. Did you notice the difference in representation? Love it? Hate it? Let me know!

Zodiac Guide: Find your inner and secret animals

Happy New Year! As most of you will know already, today is the lunar New Year and the start of the Chinese year of the ram (sheep/goat). In case you’re wondering about the confusion over which animal the year is named after, it’s to do with the translation. The Chinese symbol 羊 can mean ram, sheep or goat, so any of the translations is correct.

Most people have a pretty good understanding of how the zodiac years work. if you’re not sure which zodiac animal you are, check out this travel site . You can pick your date of birth in the drop down boxes and it’ll generate your zodiac sign for you.

http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/fruitsbasket/images/9/9e/38181_cit_fruits_basket_-_twelve_animals_-_isnt_it_sad_kyo-1-.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120324043203

What I didn’t realise before I did a bit of research is that you don’t just have one animal, you have four. One for the year you were born, one for the lunar month (called your inner animal), one for the day (called true animals) and another for the hour (which are called secret animals). Essentially, if it can be split into an increment of twelve, then you have a separate sign for it.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a convertor for the day breakdown, but I do have guide for the month and the hour.

Here’s a quick guide for the lunar months:
The year is divided into 24 two week solar terms and each animal is linked to two of these solar terms.

Tiger- February 4 to February 18 and February 19 to March 5
Rabbit- March 6 to March 20 and March 21 to April 4
Dragon- April 5 to April 19 and April 20 to May 4
Snake- May 5 to May 20 and May 21 to June 5
Horse- June 6 to June 20 and June 21 to July 6
Goat- July 7 to 22 and July 23 to August 6
Monkey- August 7 to August 22 and August 23 to September 7
Rooster- September 8 to September 22 and September 23 to October 7
Dog- October 8 to October 22 and October 23 to November 6
Pig- November 7 to November 21 and November 22 to December 6
Rat- December 7 to December 21 and December 22 to January 5
Ox- January 6 to January 19 and January 2 to February 3

The zodiac also represent times of the day, with 24 hours being divided into 2 hour periods represented by each animal.

Rat- 23:00 – 00:59
Ox- 01:00 – 02:59
Tiger- 03:00 – 04:59
Rabbit- 05:00 – 06:59
Dragon- 07:00 – 08:59
Snake- 09:00 – 10:59
Horse- 11:00 – 12:59
Goat- 13:00 – 14:59
Monkey- 15:00 – 16:59
Rooster- 17:00 – 18:59
Dog- 19:00 – 20:59
Pig- 21:00 – 22:59

(The times are based on Beijing CST which is apparently pretty hard to convert into different time zones)

So for example. I was born in 1993 which makes me a Rooster. I was born in February which makes me a tiger and I was born about 9:30am which (without conversion into Greenwich mean time) makes me a snake.

So that’s all for now. Let me know what your animals are in the comments and please let me know if any of the information in this post needs to be corrected (especially if you know how to convert the days into the zodiac, I’d love to know!)
Happy New Year folks!

The Doctors Slipping Asexuality

If you’ve read my post about asexuals in the media, then you’ll know how strongly I feel about the importance of there being asexual characters in the media. You’ll also know how few of them there are, the main three being Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper (from the big bang theory) and the Doctor.
So it probably doesn’t shock you to find out that when Moffat announced that the Doctor engaged in premarital sex with Queen Elizabeth, I was pretty annoyed about it.

The Doctor has had children in the past (he occasionally mentions his Time Lord family) however, the Doctor has historically never shown interest in having sex with humans, and therefore could be considered as being an asexual character.

This level of plot twist is like if Sheldon Cooper had sex with his girlfriend (something which the writers constantly hint at despite the fact the Sheldon openly states that he’s disgusted by the idea of sexual acts. That’s not how you do character development, that’s how you do erasure of different sexualities). However, it wasn’t even written into the show. In an interview with the Dr Who magazine, Moffat reportedly said: ‘I said the marriage was unconsummated – and so it was. You saw for yourself in The Day of the Doctor – he ran straight off after the ceremony. Would we have put that on television if it wasn’t true? But I never said – not once, not ever – that the relationship was unconsummated!’

For a character uninterested in sex, it seems like something like this should be addressed in the show, not a passing comment in an interview. It’s like Dumbledores sexuality not factoring in the books but being mentioned by JK Rowling afterwards.

People from minority sexualities need to see representation so that their own sexuality can be validated. As an asexual, the idea that even characters like the Doctor will eventually come around and conduct in “normal” sexual activity is pretty offensive. It’s a bit like how now the Master is female the Doctor can suddenly have a relationship with her. Strange that.

Resident Evil: Female Costumes

If you’ve read my post about the costumes worn by female superheroes , then you’ll know that one of my biggest pet peeves is when female characters were overtly sexy and impractical outfits to fight in.

I recently finished the Resident Evil film series and as much as I love the films I found it hard to ignore the completely impractical costumes which the main character and some of the other female characters chose to wear for the zombie apocalypse.

As a quick disclaimer, I’ve never played any of the games, so I don’t know how much of the costumes were designed to resemble the outfits worn by the characters of the game. Everything that I write is relevant only to the Anderson version of Resident Evil, although if the costumes do emulate that of the game then it is still true that the costumes are unnecessarily revealing for combat so the points I’m about to make still stand.

Resident Evil (2002)

In the first film, Alice wears the iconic red evening dress. I can see why Alice’s choice of outfit was impractical for this film. With no memory, Alice had no idea of what she was walking into. Therefore, she can’t really be blamed for picking the red dress which was laid out on her bed. (Although a quick search in the wardrobes would have resulted in more practical clothes. She even opens a few drawers and finds white shirts before she finds the guns.) At least she thought to wear boots instead of heels which would normally be worn with a dress such as this. Most female characters would be given heels that are difficult to walk in, never mind running for your life.

RE1

Alice does take Spence’s jacket due to the cold in the hive and wears it fully zipped up for a portion of the movie. And she is wearing clothing under the dress, however under it is a small black mini skirt which is revealed when the dress is ripped. She also wears no bra, which has got to be one of the worst ways to fight.

In regards to the other main female character in this film, as a member of the Special Forces Commando Unit, Rain wears combat ready attire including a black shirt, heavy duty black jacket, black combat pants and big black boots. Her hair is also tied up in a ponytail, although there is still hair in her face which would obscure her vision.

Overall, this film isn’t so bad. Given the timeframe, there’s no cause for the characters to change outfits, therefore it does make sense that Alice remains in the red dress that she chose before she knew where she was being taken.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

When Alice awakes after the events from the previous film, she is completely naked apart from two very thin sheets used to cover her. Maybe the scientists wanted to preserve her modesty but still have the opportunity to ogle? Anyway, Alice finds herself a lab coat to wear until she finds a store and can find herself some clothes. In this film, Alice wears a cropped tank top over which she wears a mesh shirt. She also wears black jeans and dark cowboy boots.

RE2

According to IMDB, it was Milla Jovovich’s idea for there to be a heat wave in Raccoon City which explains why both Alice and Jill Valentine wear very skimpy clothing. However, since the film is set almost entirely at night-time anyway, the temperature would have dropped. At least Alice doesn’t have to worry about protecting her skin from the zombies, as she is already infected and wouldn’t fear being bitten. Jill however, has no such excuse.

RE3

Jill Valentine essentially looks like Lara Croft in this movie, wearing a blue strapless shirt and a short black skirt. As a former police officer, Jill should really know how to dress in a crisis.

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Extinction beings with one of Alice’s clones, wearing the same red dress which she wore in the first film. I can see why the Umbrella Corp would utilise the same outfits in an attempt to trigger her memories. I just find it pretty funny to think that they probably have a department dedicated to generating copies of that dress. Interestingly, all of Alice’s clones have the blonde hair which she had at the beginning of the series. According the Resident Evil wiki Milla Jovovich justified Alice’s changing hair colour throughout the series by saying that Alice started with dyed blonde hair, which grew out, returning her hair to its original black. Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that if you grow clones of someone, then those clones would have the original hair colour, not the dyed one. They also wouldn’t have the exact same haircut, their hair should be long as it would grow at the same rate as the rest of their bodies. Maybe the Umbrella Corp styles their hair before they wake them up?

According to IMDB , Alice’s outfit in this film was designed by Milla Jovovich’s clothing line Jovovich-Hawk. I do think this is one of the more functional outfits. As they’re in the desert, the skimpier outfits for all the women are more justified. The film being set during the day does make the heat a lot more believable. However, as well as skimpy clothing, Alice also wears an overcoat and a scarf. Both of which are utilised to keep her warm during the night and to protect from the sand.

RE4

Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)

Afterlife opening with a group of Alice’s clones invading the Umbrella Corps base. In a surprising twist, they are all wearing combat ready clothes. They even have their hair slicked back in a ponytail in a way which doesn’t leave hair all over their face (unlike Rain from the first movie). I was pretty impressed with this, until it’s revealed that the real Alice still have short hair which she leaves down.

RE5

Alice later wears a large green jacket, lined with fur to keep her warm during her trip to Antarctica. All in all, most of the characters seems to wear clothing appropriate to their situation. Crystal is wearing a vest top, but so is Luther. Which contrasts to Apocalypse where most of the male characters were wearing full body armour whilst the girls worn strappy/strapless shirts.

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

For the most part, Alice is combat ready in this film. She didn’t choose her own outfit, after waking up naked (covered by two small sheets of paper again) Alice finds her outfit in her cell after the security systems are hacked. Rains suburban clone does refer to this outfit as an “S and M get up” and I have to agree, but I do prefer it to some of the other outfits Alice has worn.

RE6

The functionality of Alices outfit is justified by the ridiculous nature of Adas. As an agent, Ada had advanced knowledge of the mission, including where she would be going and what she would be fighting. Despite knowing that she would be fighting throughout the mission, Ava chose to wear a skimpy red dress (which emulates the dress which Alice wore in the first film). She also wears heels and a black choker with dangling ends which makes it terrible for fights as it can be easily pulled (which would ironically chock her with her choker).

The other main female wears a purple body suit which is unzipped to reveal her chest. I’m guessing that Jill had no say in this outfit as she was brainwashed at the time. I can see why the outfit is so revealing, as this is the only way that the brain-washing spider can be seen all of the time, however, the same didn’t happen when Claire was brainwashed, and the audience still knew what was happening, so it wasn’t exactly necessary.

Towards the end, the action takes part on a frozen tundra in Russia. Alice is dressed appropriately for the cold, wearing a winter coat which she uses to keep both herself and Becky warm. The other female characters don’t have the same luxury. Despite the cold, Jill’s chest, the umbrella Rain clone’s arms and Adas… everything are exposed to the cold. Considering Ada knew where she would be surfacing, you’d think she would have dressed more appropriately. Even when they’re being rescued, she still has no other protection from the cold other than her flimsy dress.

Alice’s Time Naked

Throughout the film, our heroine is naked in pretty much every film. Which, although realistic at times, is a bit unnecessary.

In the opening of Resident Evil, Alice wakes up in the shower, mostly covered by a shower curtain. The film both opens and ends with Alice naked, ending with her covered by two flimsy pieces of paper after being experimented on. Apocalypse follows from the end of the second film, Alice soon dresses herself in a lab coat. Apocalypse ends with Alice naked in the water tank. In Extinction a clone of Alice wakes up in the shower, the same way Alice did in the first film. There are also countless clones in the water bubbles, they are all naked but most conveniently have their arms covering their chest. Interesting, Alice doesn’t appear naked in Afterlife despite the pretty clear opportunity to have her naked in the first shower scene (when Wendell is spying on her). And in the final film Retribution, Alice wakes up in the Umbrella facility, covered by two thin sheets of paper again.

This probably wouldn’t have been as bad if it wasn’t for the fact that is only ever Alice who is naked. We never seen the male characters naked so it seems a bit unbalanced.

Makeup

One thing I hate about any apocalypse movie is that despite having limited access to supplies, the women always seem to have access to make up and shaving equipment. This is definitely true of this film, as all of the women are perfectly made up despite how bad the circumstances get.

That’s all I have to say on Resident Evil for now. Leave a comment to let me know what you think of the costuming throughout the Resident Evil series. I’d love to hear if there’s anything that I overlooked, whether it’s from the games (which I’ve never played) or the movies (which I’ve only seen twice each). I’d love to get other opinions on the costumes designs for the series.

Gender Equality in FMA: Civilian Women

Last week I took a look at the military women in Fullmetal Alchemist, focusing on just how well Hiromu Arawaka represents female characters. Of course, there are also incredibly influential woman outside of the military of the series. So let’s take a look at the rest of our leading ladies:

Izumi Curtis

Izumi is as talented as any of the state alchemists in the show but is incredibly anti-state. Instead of following a career in alchemy, she is incredibly proud of her position as a housewife.

Shortly after Ed and Als mother died, Izumi took the boys in and taught them the basics of alchemy and fighting. She also inadvertently acts as a surrogate mother for the boys, which is particularly poignant when you find out that she lost her own child and (like the Elrics) attempted human transmutation in order to bring him back. Izumi is the key motherly figure in the boy’s life and also initially acts as a mother to the homunculi Wrath in the 2003 anime. Her devotion to Wrath (who came from her own son) is best demonstrated in the scene where she single-handedly takes on the military in order to save him.

Interestingly, Izumi has one of the few romantic relationships in the series and despite her often cold and angry temperament its one of the sweetest relationships imaginable. Izumi and Sig care very deeply for each other and were both devastated when they lost their child. Sig also shows a great deal of concern over Izumi as she lost some of her innards during her attempt at human transmutation, and as a result is constantly coughing up blood.

Izumi is the perfect depiction of a woman being both tough and caring. She knows exactly when she pushes too far and when the people need affection and when they need discipline, which makes her the ideal mother figure.

Winry Rockbell

Winry is the main woman in the Elric boys’ life and even marries Edward at the end of the series.
Similar to Roy and Riza, Winrys romantic feelings towards Ed aren’t apparent until the very end of the series, which is pretty rare in most series. Winrys main role is as Ed’s automail mechanic and she is shown to be incredibly talented and pretty progressive in her field. Winry is incredibly enthusiastic about engineering and is even referred to by Ed as an “automail otaku”. Interestingly, Winry manages to retain her femininity and doesn’t fall into the typical tom-boy stereotype. She also has a range of surgical knowledge gleaned from her families’ textbooks, and manages to deliver a baby.

Interestingly, despite her role as the main female, Winry is very rarely cast as the damsel in distress. In Brotherhood, Winry is used by Kimberly as a pawn to control the Elric brothers but she soon finds out and manages to use her position to her advantage. The most striking instance of Winry being a damsel in distress is when she is kidnapped by Barry the Chopper. However, during this time Edward is also captured and Ed is in fact presented as being the most vulnerable and is the most traumatised by the events.

Despite not having a particularly active role in the course of the series, Winry is still an incredibly talented mechanic who is integral to the boy’s travels and is a pretty good depiction of woman who can be both feminine and groundbreaking in fields such as engineering.

Dr. Pinako Rockbell

Pinako is Winry’s grandmother and raised Winry when her parents died and also cared for the Elric brothers when their mother died. Unlike most doting grandmother characters, Pinako is both a surgeon (which surprises a lot of people, but it is implicitly stated that Winry comes from a long line of doctors. Plus she would need the medical knowledge in order to do auto mail surgery) and an engineer, working as a self-employed automail mechanic despite her old age. It’s pretty clear to see where Winry got her talent from.


Pinako doesn’t factor in greatly in the story line, but she does provide a great mother-figure for the protagonists. After their mothers’ death, Ed and Al are shown going to Pinako’s home every night for meals. And despite the fact that they burn down their own house, the boys still consider Risembool their home thanks to Pinakos efforts to make the boys comfortable in her own home.

Chris Mustang (aka Madame Christmas)

I really wish that Madame Christmas got more screen time and development in the series. At first, it seems like Roy visiting her bar is just further proof of his debauchery. But towards the conclusion, we discover that she is Roys paternal aunt and adoptive mother and that all of the women under her care act as informants to Roy and that Madame Christmas is a skilled informant, which was one hell of a plot twist that defied all expectations of her character.

Paninya

Fullmetal Alchemist is pretty much the best TV show around for representation (which is pretty rare for anime since most are based solely in japan) and Paninya is probably the best example of this, being a disabled woman of colour.

Paninya was involved in a train crash as a child, where she lost both her parents, both of her legs, and in the first anime, one of her arms. She was homeless until Dominic (an automail engineer) took her in and gave her automail limbs. Like Edward, Paninya is a great example of disabled people thriving. She may not set the best example of a petty thief, but you can’t deny that she’s awesome at it. She even bests Edwards in their initial confrontation (only to be caught by Winry later in the fight). Paninya does eventually reform her ways after Winry explains that stealing isn’t the best way to repay Dominic for all of his help.

May Chang

May is a Xingese princess and instead of the typical trope of the princess doing nothing and waiting to be saved, May is on a mission to save her clan despite her young age. May is presented as being a sweet little girl, who is one of the few characters who has romantic aspirations (first Edward and then Alphonse).

Despite this characterisation, she is also incredibly intelligent. Similar to the Elrics, May is a prodigy and is exceptional at alkahestry (the Xingese version of alchemy) and is also incredibly skilled in martial arts. She is often depicted as besting the Elric brothers either in fighting capability and intelligence which given her age is incredible.

Lan Fan

Lan Fan is the personal bodyguard to Prince Ling Yao. Similar to Riza Hawkweye, Lan Fan is fiercely loyal to her boss and (also similar to Riza) this relationship is never played up as a romance as it would be in most other series.

When Lan Fan is first introduced, her gender isn’t shown and most people assumed that she was male due to her profession. During a fight with Edward, her mask is destroyed and Ed is so shocked by the fact that he is fighting a women that Lan Fan managed to get the upper hand.


Lan Fan is an incredible fighter, however she was wounded in a fight with Wrath and the injuries left her arm immobilised. Realising that she and the prince are trapped after she attempts to run away, Lan Fan mimics a trick that Edward used when they first fought by cutting off her now useless arm and using it as a decoy.

Her dedication both to her prince and her clan is incredible and Lan Fan is certainly one of the more underrated characters in the series.

Martel

Now that I think about it, I probably could have included Marta in my list of military women as that was a part of her background. Marta fought in the Ishvalan war and was subsequently imprisoned in laboratory five where she was turned into a chimera after her body was combined with that of a snakes.

After an escape from the laboratory, Marta became a henchman of the rouge homunculus Greed. I do really feel for all of Greeds henchmen as they were unjustly imprisoned and experimented on and then were subsequently killed by the military and homunculi. Martas death was particularly traumatising purely for the way that it affected Alphonse. Marta discovers that the Fuhrer is actually a homunculus and slips into Als armour while she tells him the new information. Whilst she tells Al, the Furher approaches them and stabs her through the armour. Which leaved Alphonse with a corpse inside his body and he is later shown still covered in blood.

Marta is a particularly tragic character who retains the courage to fight against others and this is stressed in the 2003 anime in which she fights Bradley as she blames him for the death of her friends. Despite her initial representation as being a part of a criminal gang, Marta is a particularly admirable character.

Rose Thomas

I’m never quite sure how I feel about Rose. I particularly hate the whitewashing that happened in the Brotherhood series (which I talked about in this post) but as far as I’m aware Hiromu Arakawa had no part in that (although there are some reports that this was done in order to make the character look more like how she had been drawn in the manga).

I do like that different types of religion are depicted in the series. Edward is a devout atheist and pretty verbal about it when the topic comes up. Rose was very involved in her faith until she found out that the priest was a sham. I’m not fond of the 2003 depiction as this takes the religious depictions a bit too far as after the revolution, Rose becomes the “holy mother”. It is revealed that during the rebellion, she was captured and raped by a solider. Due to the trauma of the event, Rose became a mute. She was later kidnapped by Dante who planned on stealing her body to use as her own. Thankfully Rose wasn’t portrayed as a victim the entire time, however it isn’t until she sees Edward again that she can suddenly talk and she confessed that she’s always been in love with him.

All in all, I like Roses character in the manga and in Brotherhood, but I think that the 2003 version took too many liberties with the story line where she was represented as a constant victim who could only be saved by the appearance of the male protagonists, which is highly uncharacteristic for Hiromu Arakawas work. I much prefer the original version where Rose embodies the spirit of people who repair and rebuild after a disaster which is depicted in her involvement in the rebuilding of Reole (aka Lior) after the revolution.


That’s all for today’s post. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t included the female villains (Lust and the 2003 Sloth). This was mainly because I don’t really think they’re designed to represent women as they are a different species who are supposed to lack humanity. But if people are disappointed that I’ve left them out, I’d be more than happy to do a review of the homunculi. Just let me know.

Thanks for reading. Remember to leave a comment telling me what you think.

The Liebster Award

So a few months ago I was nominated for the Liebster Award by The Idle European. I meant to post a reply, but completely forgot about it until I was going through the comments on my blog… Oops.

As far as I know, the award if given to bloggers from other bloggers in an attempt to create a community of sharing different blogs. So here’s my (very belated) reply to The Idle Euopeans questions about myself.

1. What’s your favourite Pokemon?
I’m going to be honest with you guys here…. I have never owned a pokemon game (gasp!) I watched the series on and off as a kid, but never really played the games. So based solely on the most memorable pokemon, I’d go for Jigglypuff. I loved that little guy as a kid.

I’ve always been more than a Digimon fan though. I’ve recently gotten my little sister into the series, so we’ve been watching the first season from the beginning. I have much stronger feelings about Digimon, so here’s my favorite, Patamon.

2. What are the top three things on your bucket list?
– Publish a novel
– Go back to Disneyland
– Learn another language

3. Time to confess, do you still sleep with a soft toy?
Sometimes. And I regret nothing!

4. Who is your favourite super-villain?
I think my favourite right now is Loki. I bought the first few Agents of Asgard comic, and given that the first panel was him singing Wicked, it kind of bumped him up to my favourite.

5. Where do you see yourself in 60 years from now?
Eighty-one…. Well hopefully I’ll have achieved some of my bucket list by then.I honestly don’t know I tend not to plan too far ahead.

6. Who is your favourite author and why?
Definitely JK Rowling. I mean I took a class in her work while at university, so I’m pretty invested at this point.

7. Which celebrity do you lust for?
Yeah, no. I’m not really big on the lusting thing…

8. Which movement of architecture is your favourite?
I also know absolutely nothing about architecture. I like Ancient Grecian buildings though? I studied classical civilizations in college and we looked at the houses and temples from Pompei Ostia and Herculaneum, that was pretty cool.

9. What is your blogging sin?
Going weeks without posting anything. Sorry guys.

10. Were you traumatized by an animated character as a child?
I like to think that I was never really scared of tv when I was a kid. But there are a couple of instances where animated characters fully traumatized me.

Hugo, Barts siamese twin, from the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror screwed me over pretty bad. I have no idea why this episode freaked me out so much, watching it back its actually pretty tame, but it did and I was terrified to go in our attic for years after watching it.

Screweyes from ‘Were Back: A Dinosaurs Story’. This is a pretty cheesy kids film that not a lot of people remember, I posted a review of it here, which explains why he freaked me out and how his death was creepy as hell.

And this one didn’t happen until I was older, but the death of Nina in FMA is something which definitely traumatized me (along with most of the fandom). Both her and Hughes death are way too emotional for me, which sucks because they flashback to it in every opening and every other episode.

11. What is the meaning of life?
Don’t be a jerk to other people.

As I understand it, I have to nominate people and ask them eleven questions now. So since I dont really know many bloggers, I’ll just nominate two. Steph (Aspiration and Might) and Just Another Anime Fan, here are your questions:

1. If you could have any pet in the world, illegal or not, what would you get?
2. What was your favourite cartoon growing up?
3. Coolest thing you’ve ever been for Halloween?
4. What’s your dream job?
5. When it’s New Year’s, do you make New Year Resolutions and actually commit to them?
6. Which horror movie scared you the most?
7. Strangest food you’ve eaten?
8. Do you play an instrument?
9. Do you swear in front of your parents?
10. Someone offers you a chance at immortality. Do you take it?
11. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Good luck guys 🙂

Gender Equality in FMA: Military Women

It’s very rare to see solid, well developed female characters in any form of media, and this is something that I’ve always admired Fullmetal Alchemist for. Even though the protagonists of the series are male, the supporting ladies are incredibly well developed and not just used as love interests for the men.

Regarding why she writes strong working women, Hirmou Arakwa states: “Our family motto is, ‘those who dont work don’t deserve to eat’. Many people think that farmers in Hokkaido live a laid back life, but everyone has to work hard to make ends meet – even the women and kids. That’s the reason there are so many working women in ‘Fullmetal.’”

This philosophy is something that is apparent throughout the series and fully visible in every female character Hirmou writes. This is particularly true of the military (a stereotypically a male dominated area) where we have: First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye, Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong, Second Lieutenant Maria Ross, Second Lieutenant Rebecca Catalina and Second Class Private Sheska.

First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye:

Riza is a member of team Mustang and is clearly represented as being the most valuable member of the team. In his chess analogy, Roy refers to her as the Queen, which if you’re familiar with the rules of chess makes her the strongest piece. Riza is a firearms specialist and proves herself invaluable in any adaption of Fullmetal Alchemist and constantly saves Roy from harm.

Interestingly, the devotion shared between her and Roy isn’t given a romantic focus. Both Riza and Winrys’ aspects of the story could easily be adapted to make them just the love interests, but instead Hiromu gives them their own personality and storylines. Instead of being romantically involved, Riza is simply incredibly loyal to Roy which is portrayed as being one of her greatest strengths.

Overall, I definitely agree with Roy’s description of Riza. She is a queen and should always be treated as such.

Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong

I’m always upset that Olivier was missed out of the original 2003 anime. In the original, we were introduced to the rest of the Armstrong family but the eldest sister Olivier was entirely missed out of the storyline. Thankfully she shows up in Brotherhood and is just as incredibly as she was in the manga. Olivier is known as the Ice Queen as she is the commanding officer at Amestris’ northern border; Fort Briggs.

Olivier is an incredible commander and leads her soldiers with a fierce and unwavering commitment to her duty. There are issues with her personality however, particularly how abusively she treats her younger brother Alex, seeing him as a coward due to his refusal to take part in the Ishvalan war. Thankfully the pair appear to reunite in the finale of Brotherhood, where they fight together to defeat their enemies.

Second Lieutenant Maria Ross

Maria Ross is the single most underrated character in the Fullmetal Alchemist series.

After Ed and Al escape to tackle the Fifth Laboratory, Maria and her partner race after the pair to protect them. After ensuring Ed is safe in the hospital, Maria slaps Edward, berating him for ignoring Armstrongs orders about staying away from the laboratory. Maria is visibly terrified immediately after doing this, as Ed is a much higher rank than her. But Ed admits that he deserved it, and thanks her for doing so.

In the 2003 adaptation, Maria is part of the rescue force to save Ed and Al from Laboratory 5.When they finally find the boys, they find that Edward has triggered an extremely powerful transmutation which makes him a hazard to approach. Unlike the other soldiers, Ross walks through the incredibly dangerous array in order to hug Ed, causing him to relax and thus saving everyone.

Our protagonists are constantly forced to act like adults and Maria is one of the few characters who acknowledges that they are still children and treats them as such. Another more subtle instance of this is when Ed struggles to salute as he is still adjusting to military life. Instead of forcing him to continue the salute, Ross offers her hand to shake.

Later in the storyline, Maria is framed for the murder of Hughes and has to pretend to have been killed by Roy in order to escape execution for a crime she would never commit. She takes this in her stride and despite having to abandon her family and friends, Maria agrees to escape to Xing for her own safety. She is later shown during The Promised Day, helping with Mustangs resistance, despite the danger she faces by returning.

All in all, Maria is an incredibly caring person and deserves a lot more recognition for her actions throughout both series.

Second Lieutenant Rebecca Catalina

Rebecca shows up late in the manga, and as a result wasn’t featured in the 2003 anime. Her first appearance shows her and Riza talking about how Rebecca wants a husband (which is unusual for an anime which avoids romantic relationships when it can).

However, it transpires that during the meeting, Rebecca has slipped Riza an incredibly important message about the oncoming resistance. She is later shown during The Promised Day where she is represented as being just as talented in combat as Riza. Rebecca provides a good contrast to Riza showing that a woman can be tough whether or not she is interested in romantic relationships.

Second Class Private Sheska

Sheska received a job at the military after the military’s records were destroyed as her photographic memory allows her to provide perfect copies of the missing files.

In the 2003 adaption, Sheska was fired from the military shortly after Hughes death, but was rehired by Frank Archer in order to recreate some files. Sheska uses this opportunity to investigate Hughes murder and figures out that the Fuhrers secretary ‘Juliet Douglas’ was actually killed during the Ishvalan war. Sheska does initially believe to be the work of aliens, but the information that she and Winry discovers is instrumental in the Elrics figuring out the identity of Sloth.

I’ve always found Sheska to be the most relatable character in the military. But that may be because of her love of books. She is initially show buried in a pile of book in her home. Sheska is incredibly passionate about reading and manages to gain a job in the military because she excels at what she loves.

So those are our military ladies. I don’t think that I missed anyone out, but if I did, then feel free to let me know. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for an analysis of the other brilliant women in Fullmetal Alchemist