Jul 6, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 14 - Battle Vixens v.2, June 2004


There is this interesting line I try to straddle in talking about physical representation of women in comics. It has, of course, been a long-standing criticism of the medium, and specifically of superhero stories, that depictions of women tend toward the ridiculous adolescent hetero-sex fantasies of boys. Tight clothes, pert bottoms, large breasts, flawless skin, and attractive (by mainstream societal standards) faces. Such depictions would not be so easily criticized if they were one amongst many, rather than ubiquitous across publishers, characters, nations. So I have a strange time trying to talk about Battle Vixens and look past the fact that pretty much every character takes notice of Hafuku's enormous breasts.

But maybe that's how I reconcile it. It's not just the reader that's noticing her breasts, but the characters as well. There's a hint of the ridiculous in the amount of narrative that is devoted to thinking about her physicality (not that it's necessarily a lot, but really is only balanced by the amount of time devoted to fighting). Were there not this attention in-story, I might be tempted to simply write off Shiozaki's gratuitous panty-shots, torn t-shirts, and heaving bosoms to the aforementioned sex fantasies, but in having our attention constantly drawn (pun intended) to Hafuku's body, there is certainly a voice of irony and critique bleeding through the kicking and punching school girl action. As I noted in my previous review of the series, there's something of the Kill La Kill ridiculousness going on here, and the optimistic side of me sees that Shiozaki is not only attempting to tell a very interesting, mythic story, but also offer a commentary on our conjoined fascinations with sex and violence, two drives that are intrinsically linked in this series.

That said, I'm having some difficulty keeping all of the characters straight in the series. Some are introduced in this volume that I feel like I should have some knowledge of but that I don't actually recall having read about before. I can chalk this up to translation difficulties, or sloppy storytelling, or simply a bad memory on my part, I suppose. With any luck, by the time I reach the 24th volume of the series, I'll have them all sorted out.



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