The Meaning of Strength
When we talk about strength we often compare physical ability and stature between characters. We often assume that the strongest character is the one who most often wins the fight, or whose enemies tremble in their shadow. We also tend to assume that the strongest character will be male.
In these assumptions we overlook the subtle but essential strength of female characters as well as female strength of character. This is an egregious error within the anime otaku community, especially when there are so many truly strong female characters represented.
1. Kuribayashi Shino
Now, I started by saying that not all strong women are unstoppable warriors, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be. Kuribayashi is an exceptional fighter, especially skilled with a mounted bayonet in hand-to-hand combat. Further to her skill, her ambition is to become an elite soldier in the JSDF, sacrificing a great deal of time to this pursuit without sacrificing her femininity in the process. Truly, she can do both.
2. Yomogawa Ayame
Yomogawa Ayame is the daughter of the noble family who operate the station town of Aragane. After her father dies in his attempt to create a path of escape for the trains vital to the survival of civilisation, she is left with the responsibility. Not only a capable archer, she is a more than a competent leader, reassuring the people and leading the survivors to safety aboard the train.
As a leader not concerned with appearances she realises that actions speak louder than words, and is not afraid to rely on those around her to protect those under her care, regardless of what some may think.
3. Lavie Head
A class-A Vanship mechanic, she flies as navigator with her partner Claus Valca. Despite her fear of anything more than simple package delivery flying she accompanies him and the crew of the Silvana on their quest for revolution.
Never shy to speak or act against injustice or poor logic, Lavie creates many situations for outside-the-box thinking, eventually including her own.
4. Tokiha Mai
Mai wants nothing more than a simple high school life at Fuka Academy. Before she even arrived those dreams were forever shattered. As a HiME, one of the chosen maidens of fate, she was endowed with great power, and instructed to complete the cyclical ritual for which HiME were created.
Rejecting the power at first, she continues to pursue her simple dream until no choice was left. Despite losing everything she held dear in the process, at the end she fought with greater resolve than she knew she had — not because she had to, but because she chose to.
5. Asada Shino
Asada Shino is an extreme gamer, devoting greater effort to her activities in large-scale battle simulation Gun Gale Online than anything else. Of course, her entire raison d’etre is her own fear. Due to a traumatic childhood experience, and the subsequent reactions of those around her, she has a crippling fear of anything resembling a firearm. She enters GGO as a sort of immersive therapy in which she can interact with a nearly unlimited supply of guns in a virtual space.
In the world of GGO, as the character Sinon, she has no fear and no hesitation in her interactions with guns. Still, in real life she simply cannot deal. All things come together when, in the grand tournament of GGO (Bullet of Bullets), she is paralysed and confronted with the very gun involved in her childhood trauma. After a freak-out and long conversation with Kirito (sometimes therapy is better without a therapist), she chooses to confront her fear and her would-be killer, conquering both in the end.
6. Urushiba Rinka
Urushiba Rinka, like many a heroine, starts her adventure as a normal girl living a mostly normal life, with her retired cop father. One day a mysterious force gives her and many others ESP powers. She finds that she can pass through solid objects and, in fact, has difficulty NOT doing so.
Despite this difficulty, she tries to use her newfound abilities to help people. Eventually she, and most ESP users, are rejected by society and become an outcast class in Tokyo. During an encounter where she nearly dies, her powers disappear. Thinking that it was finally over, she is instead arrested in her non-powered state and locked up with every other ESP user the police could find. Despite all this, when the call came, she charges in to the rescue with no powers and nothing more than a pair of collapsing batons.
7. Mikasa Ackerman
Mikasa Ackerman is widely regarded by her peers and superiors as an unprecedented combat prodigy, easily worth 100 average soldiers. Her one weakness is her devotion to the boy who saved her when they were children. The attachment she has for Eren Jaeger is a complicated one, far too involved to be deconstructed in this article.
While this is her single weakness, it’s also the source of her greatest strength. She will do anything — in any amount of danger, to anyone in her way — to keep Eren safe and by her side. Eren, by comparison, is average in combat, studies and strategy. His only strength besides Titan powers is his indomitable willpower. That willpower gets him into trouble more often than not. Without Mikasa to back him up he’d be long dead. However, Mikasa without Eren would not also be dead, but most likely not worth 100 soldiers herself. The saying seems to hold true then: Behind every great man is a great woman.
8. Amatori Chika
Chika is a girl of small stature and huge potential. Her unprecedented level of Trion (the central power of the World Trigger universe) makes her both a target and an object of admiration for those in the know. Beyond that, it makes her a force to be reckoned with. Her sniping style is commonly referred to as the “Amatori Cannon.”
In terms of pure destructive ability she is unmatched, yet she can’t bring herself to fire directly at people for fear of harming them. Despite this fear, she trudges onwards on a quest to rescue her brother and long-lost childhood friend taken by “Neighbours”. Focusing on honing her skills, she looks ahead eagerly to every challenge.
9. Saten Ruiko
Saten Ruiko is below average in Academy City. Miss Saten has no academic advantage, wealth or status. She is also a Level 0, one without power. And she, like many, feels left out and looked down upon for her lack of power. She’s always trying to achieve some level, even very small. Despite this obvious difference in power she joins her over-powered friends on the front lines at every opportunity. Every time demonstrating a great affinity for strategic combat and a powerful will.
A member of the powerful and awe-inspiring Fanalis race, Morgiana lived her childhood as a slave. Prized for their physical power and combat prowess, a great many Fanalis were taken from their homeland as slaves, often used as bodyguards by the wealthy. After entering a dungeon with her master, and being freed from him by Alibaba (the clearer of the dungeon), she initially sets off in her own direction.
A slave trader captures her along with a caravan, and she is once more in chains. It is only when a child is in need of her help that she realises the only shackles that still bind her are in her mind. After saving the child she finally realises just how far there is to go. She then embarks on a quest to rise along with the people who freed her.
For a review of the strong-female-led and beautifully heartbreaking show Eflen Lied, click here.