“Your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength.”
In anime, characters struggle with inner demons or physical weaknesses that make them feel insecure and prevent them from achieving goals. Yet when these characters overcome their adversity, they can finally be able to express who they are or in other words, “Free to be Me.”
For this tour, we will be exploring anime characters that have overcome adversity due to a personal insecurity or physical weakness. It is these type of characters that many anime fans may identify as role models because fans are able to feel empathetic towards these characters’ struggles and insecurities.
Before I talk about my post, I just want to give a shoutout to Naja who did an awesome post about the movie, Colorful for May’s blog tour.
While I was brainstorming what medium I wanted to use for this OWLS topic, all I could think of is the recent Power Rangers movie that was released in March. Unlike some people who were skeptical about the film, I was actually hyped about it and when I saw the film in theaters, it was fantastic. However, I’m not going to go into a discussion of why I like this movie, instead I’m going to discuss why the Power Rangers film is a perfect fit for this month’s OWLS topic, “Strength” and it isn’t because these teenagers obtain superhuman powers and get to fight in their cool Zords, but their personal circumstances and overcoming their issues are what makes these Power Rangers the embodiment of “strength.”
(Note: If you haven’t watched the Power Rangers movie, I suggest not reading this post because there are gonna be some spoilers.)
Jason Scott (Red Ranger)
Jason Scott was the star quarterback at Angel Grove High School. The whole town knows of his greatness, but Jason Scott thinks differently about himself. In fact, he doesn’t want the image of the star football player to craft who he is and he feels this overwhelming pressure from his dad to be that guy. In the beginning of the film, we see Jason pulling a “harmless” prank which results in him being under house arrest. Jason’s dad was disappointed in him, but Jason was pretty nonchalant about the whole situation and was already looking for a way to turn off the house arrest alarm on his foot. On the outside, Jason may appear to be a delinquent, but in fact, he’s just someone that doesn’t want social expectations to define his persona because he’s so much more than a football star. Plus, we see his good heartedness when he stood up against a bully that was teasing Billy.
Throughout the film, Jason struggles to become the “ideal” leader of the Power Rangers but his self-doubt limits him. He realizes, though, that his identity doesn’t have to be the “star quarterback,” but instead, he can be himself with the other Rangers.
Kimberly Hart (Pink Ranger)
Kimberly Hart was a former cheerleader and was one of the most popular girls in school until she decided to participate in an act of cyber bullying. She shared a private image of her friend with the whole school and soon after, she became an outcast.
I thought it was great that the writers didn’t make Kimberly Hart a victim of cyber bullying but an instigator. The audience is able to see another perspective on cyber bullying. We usually get the victim’s side and feel a sense of sympathy towards them as we learn about their suffering. However, in this case, we see the aftermath of what happens to the perpetrator. We see that Kimberly Hart isn’t as weak, fragile, and innocent as her name appears. In fact, she is a “mean girl” on the road to redemption. The Power Rangers gives her the chance to redefine her identity and also a chance for her to create new friendships. Her strength comes from being able to confess and grow from her mistakes. I actually like this new Kimberly as we don’t see a naive girl, but a girl who can kick ass and has a backbone.
Billy Cranston (Blue Ranger)
Billy Cranston is a socially awkward brainiac and shows autistic behavior which makes “normal” teenagers avoid and befriend him. Yet when Jason stood up to Billy’s bully, Billy initiates a friendship with him. In the original series, Billy is known as the technology genius, but in this movie, he is more than that. He plays a vital role in uniting all the Rangers together as well as being the spark that makes Jason become a true leader.
Billy is my favorite character in the Power Rangers movie due to RJ Cyler’s phenomenal acting performance. He really made Billy’s character come to life. What makes Billy special is that he’s a representation that anyone can be a superhero regardless of one’s shape and form and that there are no limitations to what anyone can do.
Trini (Yellow Ranger)
Trini has been questioning her sexual orientation and that has led to some estrangement in her family. She is also a true loner in school as no one seems to know she actually exists. With this lack of support, Trini loses trust in people and chooses to remain a lone wolf. Yet when she begins to bond with the other Rangers, Trini finds that support she desires and learns to open up to people. (Side note: She has a weird relationship with Zack which I found humorous).
Like Billy, Trini is special. Trini is a relatable character for some teens as she struggles to find her gender/sexual identity. She didn’t have that support with her family, but through the Rangers, she obtains a space of belonging and that’s something every teenager wants.
Zack (Black Ranger)
In this movie, Zack is an adrenaline junkie but mostly because he’s escaping the reality that he is currently living in. His mother is bedridden and he fears that one day he will come home and find her dead. Yet by being with the Rangers, he can escape his reality but also has a support system—he is able to face head-on what lies ahead for his family.
Personally, I found Zack to be relatable because I come from an Asian family and we do anything and everything for our family. I guess you could say it is because honoring the family is an integral component in any Asian household.
As you can see, the 2017 Power Rangers movie should be praised for its character development as each ranger struggles with real life teen issues in our current society. The suits are just a tool—a representation of strength—but in this movie, strength comes from conquering one’s personal issues. And that’s where true strength lies.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading the posts for this month’s OWLS topic: “Strength.” Check out next month’s topic which is “Team.”