Gender diversity: What anime taught the 90s kids that school books didn’t

Anime, Naruto, Gender, Queerness, Ouran High School Host Club, Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, Cardcaptor Sakura, InuYasha, The federal, english news website
Anime can influence how one views gender and queerness. Image: Eunice Dhivya

In 2003, when Pokémon was first aired in India, it flooded classrooms with trading cards and tazos of Pikachus, Charizards, and Bulbasaurs. Surprisingly, even an anime as innocuous as Pokémon bucks gender norms as we are taught to understand them.

Vinay, a 25-year-old photographer, remembers how anime shaped his thoughts on gender and queerness as a child. “Anime opened up my mind to the idea of gender beyond social performance,” he says.

Brock from Pokémon looking after his siblings.

He references Brock, a tough guy who uses rock-type Pokémon to fight but also wears a frilly apron, cooks and looks after his nine siblings. “This kind of a binary that says masculinity isn’t defined by the nature of the role you play was a wonderful thing to encounter. It helped me look at the world beyond my own well.”

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