[Note: This was written on Feb. 12, so uh, while I don't think anything changed significantly but it's worth noting.]
Some people told me that there’s a gender swap component with how Witch Craft Works is playing out. I don’t disagree, but at the same time it’s not clear cut. To me, it feels more like you got all these tropes or elements, that given a certain pattern, it would start to look like a gender swap. It may or may not be a mindful change, or it may only be superficial.
The problem I see with Witch Craft Work’s treatment from a gender role perspective is that there’s nothing special about whichever way things go. It depends on how you feel what aspect of the plot is validated thematically. For example, Honoka’s eager feelings to want to help Ayaka is always rewarded as he translate those feelings into actions and decisions. However his actions and decisions are not really rewarded? Much like how Ayaka’s calculating ways are often rewarded because she’s good at doing those things, but it always falls short in the grand scheme of things and Honoka makes up the difference.
In the very same breath, I can say that Honoka’s male-bravado-like behavior are appropriately punished because they are usually not thoughtout, precisely because these acts presupposes and ignores Ayaka’s feelings, how she sets things up the way they are, etc.
It’s a little worrysome in my opinion, because I think ultimately Witch Craft Works is a positive story in regards to Honoka and Ayaka. Honoka will grow and develop into respectability, and it’ll be couched in the typical anime-harem context regarding their mutual feelings. But you know, none of this really matters in the big picture. Something like RailDex is a much worse offender of these things. But let’s face it, neither stories are concerned about these gender issues, which is why they have them set up this way, which is why those are not the reasons why we are enjoying them.
But here I am, writing a blog post. I thought the whole genderswap thing was notable in Witch Craft Works only when I also thought about Silver Spoon. In the very same way, Hachiken behaves very much unlike the more stereotypical/idealized farmer boy, which is why Hachiken and Mikage form a triangle with Komaba. I mean, I think Komaba is that quiet, hard-working farmer to a tee. Hachiken on the other hand exhibits a lot of stereotypically urban/feminine traits, like the cooking thing, or crying a easily/lot, or gets overly attached to cute animals. It also doesn’t help that he is bookish, a fuss to deal with, often uncertain and generally very emotional. But I wouldn’t say gender roles play a huge part to the story in this sense, similar to why I wouldn’t call Witch Craft Works a gender swap. It’s interesting to see Mikage being the more cool-headed one, the single child trying to shoulder a family business. It’s such a typical inaka plot thing that the fact Mikage is a girl is kind of not even worth mentioning.
I could also look at it from a power point of view. It’s hard to say because in typical anime/Eastern fashion of glorifying women, it’s still about gender roles. Women are the most powerful/best what is grooved into their roles, and likewise for men. A lot of recent (past 10 yrs) anime have already gave girls more aggressive and active positions in society and boys into more housewife-type situations. So I guess it just doesn’t seem like WCW is doing anything new, nor is it really particularly going anywhere with the gender reversal.
So does it just come down to the princess carry?
Man, I could spend better time writing about ImoCho.