Saturday, February 26, 2022

Wolf Girl and Black Prince (re-watched the anime - Review)

Wolf Girl and Black Prince
I hadn't seen "Wolf Girl and Black Prince" in many years. And I didn't particularly remember anything about it, either good or bad. Usually I at least have some vague feelings about a show that I've watched in the past but haven't re-watched for some reason, usually lukewarm feelings. And then there are the couple of shows so upsetting that I either didn't finish them or vowed never to watch again. But I honestly couldn't remember anything about "Wolf Girl and Black Prince" so when I needed a romance show to kill some time, I decided to rewatch it.
    Long story short, it really sends the wrong message to girls/women. I don't know if I didn't see it at the time, or just forgot, but this show is made up of two of the most terrible tropes in shoujo/romance anime/manga: 1) that rude hot guys secretly have hearts of gold and 2) that a spunky, plucky girl can heal their wounds and change them for the better. Ughhhhh. And that is literally the entire premise of this series.
    The good: it's got an amazing opening theme song (posted at the end of this). And Erika, our heroine, becomes a bit more likeable as the show goes on, but not by much.
    The bad: Kyoya, our boy, is just so consistently awful to her. He manipulates her, he's mean to her, he says unforgivable things (which she forgives him for). He's emotionally closed off. He's really verbally and emotionally abusive to her through the entire show and she just keeps coming back for more and excusing him and forgiving him, and it's just awful to watch. We're supposed to excuse him because we know he's secretly a good guy (and the occasional gesture in that direction is supposedly enough to excuse all his awful behavior). 
    There are also at least two disturbing homophobic/transphobic jokes in the series that serve absolutely no narrative purpose (It's like rewatching "Friends" and forgetting how many gay jokes they made). In one scene, the joke is that parents would be upset if their slightly effeminate son (read: emotionally kind, soft-spoken, nice) might turn out to like men (heaven forbid!). In the other, Erika mistakenly thinks a transwoman is Kyoya's mom. Of course the transwoman (or possibly a drag performer, not sure how they want us to read this character) is presented in the most stereotypical way possible: huge muscular chest and arms, slinky dress, 7 feet tall, overbearing. I don't know about you, but this transgirl (gestures to self) weighs all of 130 lbs and there is a lot more diversity in the trans community than the stereotype presented here which only reinforces the terrible and wrong views on transwomen (I'm looking at you Texas governor!). Either way, these moments are played for comedy at the expense of LGBTQ people and it's not okay. It is, though, sadly typical of a lot of anime/manga from this time-period. It seems to slowly be getting better, but not by much.
    In some ways, this show reminded me of when I tried to re-read "Peach Girl" recently (considered a classic shoujo series) and realized that the two main boys are just so horrible to the girl from the very get-go. It was so disturbing to read, and the boy's terrible temperaments and treatments of her were so normalized, that I couldn't get past the first few volumes of my re-read. How did I ever make it through that series years ago? Did I not realize how truly awful it was back then? It's disturbing to think that I might not have recognized it or been as disturbed by it before. "Wolf Girl" is not much better. Although I did force myself to watch all the way through just in case I was missing something (I wasn't).
    Should you watch this series? No. There is nothing in it that is really redeeming. This show follows a long line of cruel, cold-hearted men in shoujo manga who are "redeemed" by the loving girl (I'm looking at you "Bokura ga Ita" - consistently ranked as a great shoujo manga, and the classic "Kare Kano" which is quite disturbing to read now - including how the heroine sacrifices all her goals and future for the shitty closed-hearted boy). This is some of the most dangerous messages we could be sending. To promote a message like this is setting up girls/women to tolerate abuse. It is never okay for men to treat women like this, no matter what happened to them in their past, we should never be holding up a man like that as an object of pursuit, and we should certainly not be teaching girls/women to put up with anything in the belief they can change a hurtful person if they just love them harder.
    Do yourself a favor and watch or read all the amazing series out there instead. If you must engage in the "hurt boy is healed by the stubbornly persistent girl" trope, then at least do do with "Blue Spring Ride" (Ao Haru Ride) which has bits of this type of storyline, but explores it in a much more nuanced, sensitive, and acceptable way. There are even bits of it in "Chihayafuru" but again, done better without the outright abuse that Erika takes in this series. And of course, there are so many wonderful romance and romantic-comedy shoujo series out that that don't use this set-up at all. Find yourself a series with a nice boy who treats the girl nicely ("Kimi ni Todoke" comes quickly to mind). Because that's what we should be holding up as the expectation.

Here's the amazing opening theme though by Special Thanks (I've had it on my phone so long, I didn't even realize it came from this series):


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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