And it is not a feminist manga.
Interestingly, gender doesn’t have a lot of sway in a character (save for one male character who used women as furniture, which was just kind of hilarious), and everyone is equal as human beings. It is feminist not because women have strength, but rather because women have variety in personality, appearance, and morality, just like every other male character.
Katsuragi Yako is my inspiration as a girl. She starts out as a person with a strong personality, but when her friends and family die, she breaks down. She’s upset and frustrated and lonely and sometimes she’s so depressed can’t cry. She echoes humanity.
In an interview, this was asked;
Your characters are varied and unique. Not only the culprits and Neuro, but also Yako is cute and at the same time remarkably tough… she is very different from the typical image of heroines in manga, isn’t she?
“I try to avoid men’s ideal image of a heroine and women’s ideal image of heroes, because they come across as fake. I want to make them like normal existing people… I mean I want to aspire to make the acts and reactions of the characters realistic.”
And he’s right! A feminist series is not a female power fantasy. A feminist manga is when being female is nothing important, where a female character is so normal you don’t even think about it. In this series it’s about your features, your personality, your abilities, the things you love.
Yako does not have any crushes. Yako is not defined by the man she’s partnered with. She is not defined by the man who’s enslaved with her. Even though her entire world now revolves around Neuro, her character does not. She continues to be a glutton. She continues to build her ability to empathize and dissect a personality not because of Neuro, but because of the people she meets. She grows as a human being, and being a girl has nothing to do it. In this manga, Yako is just a teenager.
As the cast expands, Yako’s response to characters grow. She’s edgy around the friends who try to kill her. She’s soft around the person who didn’t kill out malice. She’s chipper around the police force she grew close to. She’s warm around the people she knows long enough to trust, even if it’s a jerkass like Godai.
Someone else who does that? Godai! He’s reserved and doesn’t know how to rely on others and has too much pride. He responds to people differently too. Arrogance, warmness, happiness, anger.
You know who else does that? Usui. Higuchi. As we delve into his psyche, it turns out the sociopathic serial killer X does it too. These characters have human responses, because they are human characters.
This is not a murder mystery manga. It’s a social commentary manga about the human condition and sadistic evil demons who pretend to be assistant detectives.
Plus it’s worth saying that if you can manage to write a manga where a man beats and tortures a woman and it comes off as a non-sexual non-malicious relationship between equals, then yeah! You wrote something nice. I’ll always appreciate it.