The Ideal Ghibli Women: Violent Redheads and Single Mothers

Back in December, a Japanese poll asked 1,000 people (700 women and 300 men) to name their favorite female Studio Ghibli characters, the ones that "best embody the characteristics that women aspire to.  Both genders picked the moody Redhead with the violent mood swings.  Interesting findings.

I can understand why guys would want a strong, confident and aggressive person like Nausicaa.  I hail from Minnesota, after all.  Our girls play ice hockey and win championships (go Gophers).  But what really makes me chuckle is that Nausicaa is the number one pick from women.  Don't let the stereotypically polite, demure appearance fool you; these gals are probably looking to bust some heads.  And when we look at Japan's population decline, I'm guessing they have to tolerate a lot of clueless, clumsy boys.

Protip for all the males in Japan: Hurry up and learn some skills, boys.  Put down the toys and the video games, and learn to impress the gals before they beat you up and take your lunch money.  Hah, hah.

Well, that's worth a chuckle.  Back to the Ghibli "Ideal Woman" poll.  For the most part, it's a standard sampling of Miyazaki characters.  The men's picks are, frankly, a bit boring.  Sheeta (Castle in the Sky) probably fits the "damsel in distress," so there's an appeal, but Kiki and Shizuku (Mimi/Whisper)?  Those are very much girls' coming-of-age movies.  Porco Rosso's Gina is a singer and owns her own business, but she's also a very lonely character, who escapes into a series of doomed marriages because her one true love is too being a self-loathing pig to notice.  I'm not sure what this suggests about the men in the poll.

Meanwhile, the women pick San, the Mononoke Hime?  She's basically Nausicaa's aggressive, darker side (Ashitaka, conversely, embodies all of Nausicaa's gentler, more "feminine" virtues).  And at the end of the picture, she tells the boy that, sorry, I need my space.  Ouch. 

Osano, the pregnant owner of the bakery in Kiki's Delivery Service, is an interesting pick.  Am I the only one who honestly thought she was a single mother?  Is that cook her husband?  Family or friend?  Co-worker?  The movie (in its original Japanese) never explicitly declares anything, one way or another.  I may be wrong on this one, but that was always my honest impression, and I greatly admired the movie for its honesty.  It's a good lesson for girls, don't you agree?  Your life doesn't revolve around men.  You can take command of your own life.  Heck, even if the cook is Osano's husband, she's clearly the one in charge.

Here's the complete rankings from the poll.  I'm interested to hear your opinions.  Feel free to tell me I'm completely bonkers in my hypothesis, by the way.

Women's Results:

1) 20.0% - Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind)
2) 18.9% - Osono (Kiki's Delivery Service)
3) 15.0% - Sheta (Castle in the Sky
4) 13.1% - San (Princess Mononoke
5) 11.7% - Kiki (Kiki's Delivery Service

Men's Results:

1) 18.7% - Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)
2) 17.3% - Sheta (Castle in the Sky)
3) 13.0% - Kiki (Kiki's Delivery Service)
4) 11.7% - Shizuku Tsukishima (Mimi wo Sumaseba/Whisper of the Heart)
5) 09.0% - Gina (Porco Rosso)


Basisti94 said...

Well I'm a guy but I would definitely pick San myself. Nothing fun in a girl like Sheeta ;)

Hayley Harrison said...

Wow, this is truly surprising. I had no idea Nausicaa was still so popular. These results feel outdated.
Surprised the Mononoke Hime didn't fair better with guys. I think she's the most alluring, certainly the most wild, yet there's also some innocence that makes her relatable too.
No Chihiro? I would think she would rank over Osono at least, even if she is 10 years old... And what about Taeko? Sophie? D:

Anonymous said...

With out a doubt, Shizuku.

Hanna said...

If they did a guy one I bet howl would be at the top.
It's morals and strengths not just sex appeal, so I could see how kiki, osono, and sheta got on there. Then again, all of those characters have good morals.
In the credit scene of kiki's delivery service I got the impression that that guy was the dad. I like how he doesn't have a name as far as I can remember.

BanzaiJedi said...

Am I the only one who would choose Lisa from Ponyo? Have you seen how fast she drives, she would be fun to be around.

Natsuharu said...

Hi there, I know this has been posted a while back but I just wanted to point out regarding Osono. I think the guy helping her is definitely her husband. If you watch it in Japanese audio, for example during the last scene when she was in labor, she called him 'anta' which is shorter version of 'anata' which can mean 'you' or what some married women usually call their husband which, it will mean 'dear' which I think is what it meant when she said it. On another note, just want to say that I love your blog. Keep up the good work =D

Jon Walmsley said...

I agree that Nausicaa is probably the strongest female character morally and overall but I'm surprised Lady Eboshi isn't up there, she might be misguided in regards to her views on nature, but she clearly has strong principles and deep affections for her people striving as a leader in a male-dominated world and time. Afte her, San would be next (she has more insecurities than Eboshi) followed by a tie between Chihiro, Kiki and Shizuku who all go on similar journeys finding out who they are as people. Ponyo can round it off at number 5 simply because she is just so darned charming and adorable.

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