A word about the purple-haired girl serving as the icon on my anime posts: That’s Aoi Sakuraba, from Ai Yori Aoshi. (Aoi is pronounced like “owie”)
She’s a somewhat controversial character.
She’s very different from the average female lead. She is working towards the day when she can live out her dream of being a housewife. She’s an incredible cook and runs an orderly household (as orderly as possible, given the unusual boarders they have) and seems to take great pleasure at her job. She is hard-working and serious, and always dresses in traditional clothes.
I can hear the feminists gagging already.
I should note that the English voice acting is very different from the original Japanese. While usually they try to get actors who will give similar performances, in this case the English Aoi comes off as more positive and energetic, while the Japanese Aoi is more shy and demure. Stangely enough, the English Aoi’s performance seems to match the on-screen expressions better. When Aoi has a broad smile, sometimes the Japanese Aoi doesn’t sound like she’s quite that happy. It’s very interesting. I suggest to anyone watching the series that they sample at least one episode of each.
Either way, Aoi is not a bubbleheaded pushover. She has a goal and has been working towards it with level-headed determination. She has a positive outlook and is a source of encouragement for everyone around her. She’s a fantastic and unique character. I’ve watched a lot of Anime since this one, and I’ve never found a female lead that has captured my interest in quite the same way. (It also helps that her optimisim, hard work, and thoughtfulness remind me a good bit of my wife.)
I think the usual charge is that Aoi is a wish-fulfillment character on the part of the writers. That may be true, but women who take pride in their cooking and cleaning do exist and shouldn’t be treated like freaks because they have traditionalist views. Other people who enjoy this series do so almost apologetically: Much of the praise for this show is prefaced with a lot of hand-wringing over her demure nature and subordanate attitude. I find this to be a bit tiresome. If a show were to suggest that all women should live this way, I would dismiss it as crass and misogynistic, but that’s not what this story is about. This is one woman who chooses this life for herself, and who derives great joy from the result. She’s believable and loveable, and makes this series better than it should be.
UPDATE: Read the comment from Acksiom below, which says in one sentence what I was trying to say for four paragraphs.
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