Made in Japan, conceived by the patriarchy?

I’m not sure quite how to respond to this video from Japan, which uses a sequence of unexpected action scenes to sell ramen noodles.sumo-face-off

I do know that I love how the female-presenting protagonist of the first ninety seconds or so is presented as fearless, skillful, and physically very able, defying male-presenting individuals at their sports, even the conventionally extremely masculine sumo wrestler.

She races around showing off her parkour talents, beats the boys with silky football skills, and flips over the sumo wrestler to obtain her noodles. The message up to there is clear – anyone who wants something (like their noodles) is capable of mustering the strength and skill to get it.

athletic-womanIt is refreshing to see someone wearing a skirt performing stunts with flame-throwers in the background and warehouse rubble tumbling nearby, even if the purpose is to catch the audience’s attention by the unusual contrast. I also love the support and enthusiasm show for this demonstration of athleticism by the (unconventional-looking) woman seen hanging up her washing in the background.Washing lady.png

However, the video moves into a rather diverse montage after that, with a series of
contrasting shots from different genres and hobbies to demonstrate the range of interests which come and go in people’s lives. Some of these are much more conventional in their gender roles, and then there is an unexpected change of gender presentation for the protagonist.

I am curious to know if anyone more familiar with the culture can shed a light on this – is it so unthinkable for the Japanese psyche that a girl could perform such feats, and therefore this is an effect of fragile masculinity, or is there something more positive going on? Could there be an interpretation of this that suggests that gender is irrelevant or simply a construct? I would love to hear what others think on this one.


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