The Smurfette Principle Live Action TV Discussion

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08:34:28 AM Mar 27th 2015

  • Kamen Rider has always been quite the wiener party. While it's standard for the franchise to have a girl as the secondary lead, female Riders are few and far between and they often pay a karmic punishment for daring to suit up.
    • The first case of this was Tackle from Kamen Rider Stronger, who had all the qualifications to be considered a Kamen Rider, but wasn't (she was an "Electrowave Human" instead). It Gets Worse: Her eventual death was quite tragic at the time, but gets Harsher in Hindsight: in light of the fate of all female Riders since her, it now just seems like the strict "Stay in the Kitchen or get Stuffed into the Fridge" law of the series got an early start. The manga Kamen Rider SPIRITS addresses her non-Rider status by saying that following her Heroic Sacrifice, Shigeru/Stronger wanted her to rest in peace as a normal woman. A lot of fans cry shenanigans at this even more - as someone who Jumped at the Call and really wanted to do good, she would not want to be remembered as just some girl.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki introduced the first official female Rider. Her title was "Kamen Rider Femme". Go figure. ("Femme" is French for "woman"...) She only appears in a movie, thus being non-canon. Oh, and she dies after like 30 minutes, but not before killing the most evil Kamen Rider apparently.
      • Ryuki's Western Adaptation Kamen Rider Dragon Knight expanded the role of Femme's counterpart Kamen Rider Siren with original footage, (much original footage) making her a Sixth Ranger and forming a Power Trio with the two male leads. She's still the only girl out of thirteen Riders, but points for doing what they could.
    • Furthering the point on the rare female Kamen Riders, Shuki from Kamen Rider Hibiki was the first female Rider to be in a TV series rather than a movie-only character. The tragic Executive Meddling that ruined the show in an attempt to make it more like other Kamen Rider series killed her off.
    • On a few occasions, women have "borrowed" Rider powers (including Kamen Rider Faiz, IXA, and the Kamen Rider Decade incarnation of Den-O), but this is always temporary.
    • Kamen Rider Decade tries to redress some of the issue by having Natsumi temporarily become Den-O and later becoming Kamen Rider Kivala in the Grand Finale movie (Keyword: "Finale". Go figure.) and not dying, unlike the previous female Riders as well as giving Hibiki's Akira full-fledged powers as Kamen Rider Amaki (in Hibiki, she only ever assumed a middle-stage transformation). Tackle appears in the finale movie and turns out to be a ghost, but the character is treated with much more respect than history would lead you to expect, nonetheless. Blade's movie-only short-lived girl Rider also gets a happier ending as well. Alas, it can't be extended to Femme, who only appears briefly as one of the not-actually-a-person Rider duplicates created from Kamen Ride cards as a distraction. Still, Decade treats female Riders better than the entire rest of the franchise put together.
    • Kamen Rider Fourze gets a Distaff Counterpart, Kamen Rider Nadeshiko, in Movie War Megamax; only for her to go and Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence at the end. But we finally get a subversion when she actually comes back, in the next year's installment Movie War Ultimatum.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard zigzags this; having one female Victim of the Week gain magical powers and be taken away to train them, with the implication that she'd be back later as another Rider. On the plus side, this did indeed return as Kamen Rider Mage and was given a subplot about her personal vendetta with The Dragon, Medusa. On the minus side, the Mage gear is overly generic and doesn't fit her at all, her uniqueness was undermined by more Mages being introduced - a tie-in movie even had an Alternate Dimension where everyone could become a Mage - and once Medusa was dealt with she became a Faux Action Girl. On the plus side again, these were justified in-story: the one training the Mages was just using them as pawns, so it makes sense he wouldn't give them personalized equipment; and her drop in effectiveness was due to having to stop and ask And Then What? once her nemesis was gone. And she didn't die, so that's in her favor too.
      • Medusa herself is a victim of this. Aside from Siren, who was a Monster of the Week, she's the only Phantom that's ever female. Even more mind boggling is the fact that Phantoms are based off mythological creatures, and so creatures like the Sylph and the Valkyrie are among the Phantoms... with their human guises being male.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim is another mixed example. Kamen Rider Marika is the first woman to be a Rider for the majority of the series run, as opposed to being a movie-only character or Eleventh Hour addition. She's also one of the most skilled fighters in the series, with bonus points for her actress and stuntwoman being one and the same. But like Femme, she's the only girl out of over a dozen Riders; and she's largely a Satellite Character who follows other Riders rather than impact the plot herself. She's also killed off, but in this case that's not a mark against her - she's in a Gen Urobuchi story; everyone dies at some point!
    • Overall, after forty years, we're still waiting for a female Rider to be treated as well as the worst-treated token girl Ranger in Super Sentai or Power Rangers. ("Treated" in terms of screentime, being able to hold one's own, and not dying. Tackle got screentime but mostly got beaten up and captured. Then she died. The movie-only girl riders appeared once in non-canon installments. Then they died. The one-shot borrowers can measure their Rider "careers" in seconds and counting them as Riders really doesn't ring true.) You know it's bad when you have to work your way up to being as good on this score as any straight example of the Smurfette Principle on the page.

08:36:01 AM Mar 27th 2015
This is not an example of the Smurfette Principle, because the examples are not about a single female character in a cast of five or more. These examples are better suited to Stuffed in the Fridge.
10:48:59 AM Mar 27th 2015
That's fair. I've sort of been viewing the trope as "noticeable gender imbalance" instead of "only one woman", which Kamen Rider has; and the franchise's mistreatment of the female characters was just icing on the cake. I'll probably still go back and tweak your edit later; it at the very least has some inaccuracies (mixing up the Ryuki and Dragon Knight versions of their shared lone female).
07:50:48 AM Mar 30th 2015
Please do! I don't know the show(s), so it's hard for me to keep track what's going on, and if you can re-add the shows with correct Example Indentation and why there's one female member in a five-character cast, that would be great!

I'm going through the pages, and will eventually check the wicks, because "noticeable gender imbalance" is not the trope, but there's been a LOT of examples phrased that way.
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