Manga: Romantic Role Reversal
In traditional romance stories, the male character plays the “hero” who must rescue the female character from whatever danger/ evil being/ bad situation there is. Most love stories feature someone who needs to be saved and someone who does the saving, and strong masculine stereotypes are favorite for fantasies. But sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace, and read a book where the girl is the one doing the rescuing.
A couple of my manga series come to mind when I think of role-swapping between the two genders. The first, SP Baby by Maki Enjoji, features Tamaki, who is on her way to a job interview when she encounters the wealthy nephew of the prime minister, Kagetora. Because of her tendency to act impulsively when she thinks someone is in danger, Kagetora ends up offering her a job as his bodyguard! Only, he behaves more like a boyfriend than a boss ><. In the second, Maid Sama by Hiro Fugiwara, our heroine is the fearless student body president, Misaki. She tirelessly – and tyrannically – works to make a formerly all-boy school into a girl-friendly one… Until Takumi, the most popular boy in school, discovers her secret: at night, she works at a maid café!
With SP Baby, the role-reversal is pretty straight forward: the girl is protecting the guy instead of the other way around. In Maid Sama, the masculine-feminine dynamic gets flip-flopped even further. Misaki is a strong-willed leader who fights for school improvements during the day, but then dons a maid outfit and plays the part of submissive servant for her after-school job. Not only does the story feature a swapping of who is the “hero,” but Misaki goes back and forth between the two roles, effectively leading a double life (and making for very interesting interactions between her and Takumi, depending on which setting she’s in :-P).
Personally, I prefer a little more fairness in my stories. Sure, I like a good male hero as much as any girl, but I like to have my female characters do more than just stand around and look pretty. So I often try for a bit of an even split – the guy does the saving in some situations (usually on a more physical level), and the girl does the saving in other situations (usually on a more emotional/ metaphysical level). For instance, take Jesse and Emer in The Heart of Everything. Jesse rescues Emer from the police at the beginning of the story and then again from a mysterious government agency later in the book (both physical dangers), but it is Emer who helps Jesse redeem his soul (a spiritual rescue). Equality between the sexes is important, even in fiction ;-). Be on the lookout for more “female rescuers” in my future works!
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.