Shonen Jump’s Stupidest New Character Is a Girl – and That Kind of Matters

Spy X Family is a smash-hit action/comedy manga series from Weekly Shonen Jump, starring Loid Forger as a stylish and slick spy with a sudden need for a false family. Known as "Twilight," he usually operates alone, but for his newest missions, he needs a wife and child, and that child is none other than the adorable Anya Forger. One notable aspect of Anya is her hit-and-miss wits.

Anya is an innocent, creative and enthusiastic kid, which makes her easy to like, but her book smarts are pretty meager, and she often has to use her unique telepathic gifts to pass tests and learn what she needs to know. All this strengthens her character in some rather meta ways.

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Anya Forger Shows It's OK To Have Weaknesses

Part of Anya's charm is that she is a well-rounded character, with strengths and flaws to deepen her as a person and thus make her more realistic, despite her youth. Often, when a fictional character is criticized for being boring, flat or shallow, that's because the character's entire being is defined by just one or two traits, and such a character lacks balance. It's not unlike a role-playing game, where a player's character has high stats in some categories and low stats in others. An overpowered RPG character is boring and tedious, and the same is true of a character in fiction, such as the Spy X Family manga series. By contrast, a character is exciting, dynamic and unpredictable when they have many diverse strengths and weaknesses alike, and this also offers the character an opportunity to grow.

This is the case for Anya Forger, and while a youngster like her doesn't have a complex life like an adult, she still has room for that balance. Her "stats" can average out to make her competent as a character, but if she had max stats in everything, she would have nowhere to go, and if she was defined entirely by one trait, her behavior would be predictable and rote. In practice, Anya is charming but a bit too innocent, creative but bad at school tests, brave but ignorant. This gives her a lot of promise in future chapters of the Spy X Family manga, where Anya can work hard to improve her weaknesses and assert her strengths.

Shonen Girls & Balanced Characters

shonen girls ochaco rukia sakura

Anya Forger is both a shonen manga character and a girl, which puts her in an interesting position. It is well-known that shonen manga is aimed at boys, and therefore tends to have male leads who embody virtues such as courage, perseverance, acts of solo heroism (being a defender of the people), the power of friendship and rivalry, and more. Such characters are usually well-balanced, often through offsetting their great strength and courage with sub-par intelligence or emotional maturity. Early-days Naruto Uzumaki, Monkey D. Luffy and Son Goku are prime examples (not that they are completely... hopeless).

Often, shonen girls are the inverse, having remarkable emotional maturity and intelligence while generally needing male friends and peers to defend them from the strongest enemies. Such characters also tend to be somewhat shallow, defined mainly by the fact alone that they are girls. Fortunately, this trend is slowly being reversed, and shonen manga is starring more and more girls who are well-rounded like their male peers.

No longer do female manga characters rely entirely on their advanced brainpower to be prominent and interesting. Of course, it's still important to depict intelligent girls who can look after themselves, but not every shonen girl needs to be that way. When girls like Anya are shown with typical male-character deficiencies, this can serve as a breath of fresh air, and it gives these girls a new self-improvement route to take, other than, "I must become stronger so the guys don't have to keep saving me!"

Anya's challenges are different from those of Sakura Haruno, to name one example, and Anya is more like Ochaco Uraraka of My Hero Academia fame. Ochaco is a mediocre but gritty student hero, and the story didn't have to overcompensate and make her a superwoman to keep up with the boys. Instead, Ochaco is well-developed with strengths and weaknesses alike, adding to her appeal. In particular, Ochaco has mediocre book smarts like Anya, ranking 13th out of 20 in her class. Meanwhile, My Hero Academia also has Momo Yaoyorozu as the resident smart girl, and that allows Ochaco to be rather different from her.

What's important, too, is that characters such as Anya and Ochaco Uraraka are "allowed" to be goofy and silly like the boys, without sabotaging themselves as characters in the process. Girls don't have to be excessively motherly and uptight to contrast with their goofy male peers; in fact, being emotionally uptight could make their personalities rather flat. Anya avoids that problem entirely, and Spy x Family is all the better for it.

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