Jujutsu Kaisen's Nobara Kugisaki has long been hailed as a feminist icon in the world of shonen anime. The young jujutsu sorcerer is both beautiful and strong, and enjoys traditional female hobbies without being made to look like a ditzy teen girl. Nobara set a new pedestal for female characters in anime, proving to the audience that women don't need to sacrifice looks or intelligence for strength. However, as the series progressed, Nobara's potential was cut short when she was killed by Mahito in the "Shibuya" arc, leaving fans wondering who could possibly fill the void she left behind.
Spring 2023's Hell's Paradise anime brings a new contender to the shonen demographic, introducing another strong woman with a close resemblance to Nobara. Yamada Asaemon Sagiri is a fierce samurai, currently going through a period of self-reflection on being held back by her womanhood. Gender stereotypes are being forced on her from every direction, but Sagiri is determined to never back down.
Nobara Kugisaki, of Jujutsu Kaisen, was a Prominent Feminist
Initially, Nobara's personality and hobbies in the anime Jujutsu Kaisen seemed to suggest that she was going to be a typical female character. She enjoyed activities that were typically associated with femininity, such as shopping, and her defiant attitude was somewhat annoying. Furthermore, in her first fight on screen, she had to be rescued by Itadori Yuji, which led to skepticism among viewers about her character. However, as the anime progressed, it became clear that Kugisaki was not defined solely by her interests. This was a relatively new portrayal of female characters in anime.
Nobara saw her femininity as a source of strength rather than a limitation. In the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen, she proved herself to be a determined fighter and eventually reached the same level as the two seemingly invincible boys she befriended. Nobara was able to rescue Itadori from two Death Painting Cursed Wombs by using her special technique to significantly weaken and defeat them.
In addition, during Jujutsu Kaisen's "Goodwill Event" arc, Nobara delivered a powerful feminist speech while battling Kyoto High's Momo. Momo held an outdated view of what it meant to be a strong woman, believing that women had to be attractive to be powerful. Nobara countered this by stating that she did not care whether someone was a man or a woman. She loves herself both when she's pretty and dressed up and when she's being strong, and no external opinions can change that. Kugisaki proved that female characters can be beautiful, strong, and feminine and that other attributes do not have to be sacrificed to attain this status.
Breaking Gender Stereotypes: The Remarkable Yamada Asaemon Sagiri in Hell's Paradise
Nobara Kugisaki has been a well-known feminist icon in modern anime, but a new female character in Hell's Paradise is drawing attention for breaking gender stereotypes. Yamada Asaemon Sagiri is a samurai who challenges the expectations set upon her as a woman in her clan. She was supposed to be a homemaker and raise children for her future husband, but she chose to become the clan's first female swordsman.
Despite her decision, Sagiri has faced difficulties, including the responsibility of controlling Gabimaru the Hollow, a dangerous criminal, and being constantly put down by her male peers. However, in Episode 5, she refused to let their opinions hold her back. During a confrontation with Yamada Asaemon Genji, who outranks her, he belittled her and suggested she give up on her dreams, but Sagiri stood up for herself and insisted she had the same right as anyone else to be there and fulfill her duty. To prove her point, she disarmed Genji and defied his expectations of how a woman of the clan should behave.
Improvement of Sagiri: A Comparison to Nobara’s Cut Short Potential
The final battle scene of the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen showcased Nobara's fighting skills, but unfortunately, it was the peak of her potential. She was killed by Mahito in the "Shibuya" arc, and her character didn't have the chance to develop any further.
However, Sagiri, a new strong female character in Hell's Paradise, is proving to be just as noteworthy as Nobara. Sagiri is breaking gender norms in an ancient period by becoming the first female swordsman in the Yamada clan. Although her male peers doubt her abilities, Sagiri is realizing her strength and teaching those around her that "weaknesses" such as emotions are strengths.
As Hell's Paradise continues, Sagiri's character arc and feminist approach are expected to improve even further. While Nobara was groundbreaking in shonen anime, Sagiri is a new character with a better-developed arc and a similar character to Nobara, showing viewers that women are not weak and do not have to follow others' expectations.