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You know, this is a song as old as the series itself, but let’s talk about how completely and utterly wrong people get Ruki from Digimon Tamers’ character.

Ruki is, quite frank, one of the best written female characters in the franchise. But when people praise her, they talk about how she’s tough as nails and doesn’t do girly things. How she’s a quintessential tomboy, and an utter defiance of “girly stereotypes”.

Now, I think that there’s some issues with this way of thinking. Yes, early on, Ruki is presented as a tomboy-through-and-through, and sharply contrasted with characters like her mother, Rumiko, the famous model. She thinks primarily about fighting and asserting herself as the toughest Tamer around.

Now, none of these traits are necessarily negative. Rumiko is not portrayed as neccessarily in the right in the right in her attempts to make Ruki act more girly, and Ruki never truly stops being a tomboy either. But what people do miss is that many of Ruki’s traits early on where harmful to her relationship with Renamon, her family, and her eventual comrades. What’s more, they ignore how she changed by the end of the series.

When we’re first getting to know Ruki, she shows lack of concern for Renamon and acknowledgement of Digimon as individuals. Several reality checks later, she becomes aware of the severity of the situation she’s in and nearly abandons Renamon. Her emotional distance nearly leads to Renamon’s defeat at Harpymon’s hands, and only when Ruki starts showing her concern and getting over her fear do they start really working as partners.

This is a turning point for Ruki, because it marks the beginning of her not simply being more honest with Renamon, but honest with her fellow Tamers. She doesn’t fully grow out of it, but by the end of the series, she’s become a much more balanced person. She acts friendly and even cares for Juri after her significant loss, and her relationship with her mother starts to change - and in doing so, she doesn’t sacrifice her own self-image, but rather, accepts her mother’s and even allows herself to share experiences with her.

This is even reflected in her and Renamon’s final form, Sakuyamon. Sakuyamon is by no means less powerful than the other Ultimate/Mega level digimon. However, she’s also allowed to be a powerful and capable fighter that doesn’t rely purely on brute force. In a way, Sakuyamon is symbolic of Ruki’s growth as a person; while Sakuyamon is athletic and clad in what is essentially armor, her abilities also involve singing, waves of cherry blossoms, and techniques that both defend and empower her allies.

In other words, Ruki’s journey is about becoming a more balanced person. Of course, if her character were to ultimately decide to eschew what society traditionally calls “femininity”, that would not necessarily be a mistake either. But in her case, as she decides to open up, she grows into these traits without caving to societal pressure. In other words, she grows into the kind of person she’s comfortable with being, without letting herself be hindered by the emotional barriers that she put in place herself.

And that’s why I think Ruki is such a positive, well written character. Too often, stories and even fandom itself send the message that characters have to fit into small boxes of characterization. Ruki doesn’t ultimately become one or the other, she becomes something somewhere in the middle, and it’s the result of her own choice and evolution as a person. She can be stern and tough as nails, but she can also appreciate beauty, learn to be more caring and loving to her mother, and smile and show love to her partner and family.

Despite all this, fandom continues to forget all the growth Ruki went through, and decides that she either needs to “have her icy heart melted”, or follow the other extreme and have her deny all traits that could be seen as “girly” entirely. In doing so, they forget the path Ruki took in Tamers itself.

One of Digimon Tamers' greatest strengths was its character writing, unfortunately this also served to make it stand as an extreme outlier in the field of shonen anime. Unlike its genre brethren, Tamers always treated its cast like real people who had multiple layers, and couldn’t be neatly slotted into any sort of “type”. While tempting, it would be grossly incorrect to write of Takato as “The Leader”, Li as “The Smart One”, and Ruki as “The Cool One” because all of them were infinitely more complicated than that. Even jokey side characters like Hirokazu and Kenta had families, quirks, and depth which kept them from being purely comic relief.

Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02 stayed fairly close to formula. They wrote their cast as easily identifiable tropes and let the long run times of their seasons give them time to explore and develop the characters in a natural way. Tamers, taking place in the “real world” as opposed to the anime world Adventure and 02 operate within in the context of Tamers' narrative, writes its characters as equally realistic to further highlight the difference between the two continuities. They were human beings, not anime characters. An interesting example of establishing a distinct voice of a season as well as highlighting  themes via the crucial building block of character writing.

Of course, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with writing characters as archetypes. Often, this is the only way to tell a story effectively and serious issues can arise when the aspects of characterization aren’t conveyed to the audience quickly enough. But in shonen anime, of which Tamers technically falls into, viewers are so used to protagonists running on the basis of archetypes that more nuanced writing becomes difficult to fully appreciate.

Great analysis on Rika’s development and Tamer’s character writing!



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Ten Things You Didnt Know (and Didn't Care To Know) About Being Bisexual



Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Bisexuals

  1. Bisexual men are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty than gay men
  2. Bisexual women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as lesbians
  3. Bisexual men and women are at least one-third less likely to disclose their sexual identity to their doctors than gays or lesbians
  4. In comparison with lesbians and gays, bisexuals have a higher lifetime prevalence of sexual victimization.
  5. Forty percent of LGBT people of color identify as bisexual
  6. Bisexual women are almost six times more likely than heterosexual women to have seriously considered suicide, and four times more likely than lesbians
  7. Bisexual men are almost seven times more likely than heterosexual men to have seriously considered suicide, and over four times more likely than gay men
  8. Bisexual employees are eight times as likely to be in the closet compared to lesbian and gay counterparts
  9. Fifty-five percent of bisexual employees are not out to anyone at work
  10. From 2008 to 2012, only $5,000 in grants were awarded to bi-specific projects or bisexual organizations.

[Sources: The Williams Institute, Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, Sexual Research and Social Policy]

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