Let me start by saying that I don’t generally like the way that Naruto handles its women. Sakura probably fairs the best of the teenagers, but even her story lines are plagued with an over preoccupation with boys and a general lack of agency. Other characters like Hinata fair even worse, and worst yet are the girls who are just…like…ignored. Like TenTen.
So we have Tsunade.
Tssunade has a lot of strengths. She’s a woman in power, she’s a legendary fighter, she’s pretty skilled, she’s well respected.
My main complaint about her though is that so much of her drive and motivation and backstory are tied to various men. Her brother, the other Sannin. AND characters are CONSTANTLY commenting on her “beauty” and straight up- her boobage.
Seriously. The Boobs. They bother me. They do. It’s such a prime example of hyper-sexualization and physics defying male fantasy fulfillment that it just bothers me.
And I’m not the only one:
Take Lady Tsunade from a well-known manga by the name of Naruto. In a world of ninja, she’s extremely powerful physically, one of the most skilled and knowledgeable in medicine, and acts as the leader of what is essentially a large, bustling community. She is also one of three of the most famous ninja in this fictional world and the only woman of the three. That is certainly a profile worthy of what I’d consider a type of strong female character. But she is also equipped with a chest that could give even Barbie a run for her money! They hang disproportionate and exposed for all eyes to see and see them we do (although at least the artist applied gravity). I looked up some statics on what Tsunade’s chest measurement would be and, although I never got an official source myself, the recurring number was 41.7 inches. To put that number into perspective, Barbie‘s notorious monsters would supposedly be a whooping 39 inch chest, an FF bra size. Ding! Ding! Ding! I think we have a new Queen of topple-you-over boobs! Tsunade must be physically strong to hold up that amount of weight!
It is not that Tsunade has a big chest that bothers me per say. It is the body these mammoth-sized melons are on, a body that would never naturally have such a large chest. The result is awkward. Also, although it would be impossible to mask the unrealistic size, that fact is only accentuated by a shirt that acts more like a sling for Tsunade’s weighty luggage. This makes her acceptable to the masses that may not accept a realistic, strong woman and makes Tsunade just another woman with big breasts among the many in manga, certainly not a threat that pushes the limits of society.
Not only are people going to be unavoidably drawn to her busting bosom, but Tsunade is actually a 50-some-year-old woman who, through the use of what is basically magic, keeps the appearance of a 20-year-old. There are occasions when this magic wears off, however, and each and every time this occurs, Tsunade’s face is conveniently blocked from view so as not to ruin the beautiful voluptuous 20-year-old image that the readers are used to seeing. Now does that say she is to be known as a powerful woman or a sex object?
Don’t get me wrong; I am actually an avid reader of Naruto which I do believe has some fairly strong females (a couple of which are older women). And while I do have my beefs with what I feel are female characters that have all the potential to reach great heights only to be frustratingly held back, I do recognize at least an effort to introduce stronger female characters. I would also like to point out it’s not just manga that falls into this trap. Tons of top-heavy, stick thin female superheroes litter comics from Marvel and other American comics. It’s like women can’t have the power if they don’t have the boobs to match, as if the bigger the breasts, the bigger the amount of power or strength they are “allowed” because as long as these female characters are presented as sex objects, society will accept it. “Power boobs” are the literal embodiment of this weighting down of strong female characters and though many boys drooling over these page fillers may disagree, there are far too many female characters with “power boobs.”