Hi, everyone. My name is Caitlin, and I have a heroine problem.
I crave them. I’m insatiable, addicted, and my hunger can never be satisfied.
I got hooked at a young age when my mom handed me a copy of Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. She didn’t even know what it was. Pretty sick, huh? Getting her daughter addicted like that. I was only eleven! From that moment on, I was a changed girl. I wanted stories about women who get things done, and would stop at nothing until I had more of it.
My standard back then were low, and it wasn’t long until I got into shoujo manga. It seemed like it would give me what I wanted, with stories about girls like me in fantastic situations having adventures. Shit like Ayashi no Ceres, Magic Knight Rayearth, Saint Tail – my standards weren’t high. I took what I could get – this was before you could just waltz into any old Barnes and Noble and buy enough supply to last you weeks.
But I got older, more jaded, and I started to get into harder stuff. I turned into a feminist. Suddenly, the old stuff just wasn’t enough for me anymore. I needed things like agency and LGBT representation and complex struggles to really get me going. Old standbys like Fushigi Yuugi looked downright repulsive! I hit rock bottom, combing through obscure manga on torrent sites and struggling with the guilt that comes with having problematic faves. This is what shaped me as a person! It affected my entire life’s trajectory. How could it betray me like this?
But then I saw the light. I realized that by engaging with and interrogating the media I consumed, I could get the spark back. By critically examining anime through a feminist lens, I could enjoy it without passively absorbing the toxic messages. And hey, maybe I’d help some people find the good shit without having to wade through the crap.
Now I’m 28 and I’ve made peace with my heroine problem. I take life one episode at a time. I may never be totally unproblematic, but everyone has their vices, right?