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Naginatas Are Feminine

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A naginata is a Japanese polearm similar to a glaive, characterized by a long, curved blade with a handguard. In Japanese works especially, naginatas are a common weapon for a female close-range fighter. In works that don't stress the relatively subtle difference between weapons, it may be generalized to simply "spear" rather than a naginata.

In terms of fighting ability, a naginata is no more or less suitable a weapon for a woman than a katana. Both are weapons that favor skill and training over brute strength. So why is one more feminine than the other? Naginatas are battlefield weapons, while katanas are self defense weapons. It’s the difference between a pistol and a rifle — a katana is like a pistol: less effective, but you can carry it with you at all times. A naginata is like a rifle: you only bring it if you intend to use it. Since women in feudal Japan were expected to keep the home, it was not an issue for them to always have a naginata at hand. Add in the connotations of purity and fragility that fighting from farther away implies, and you end up with a very "feminine" weapon (that is still capable of disemboweling a person with one good swing). Can be considered a downplayed version of Guys Smash, Girls Shoot, in that the woman in question is still using a melee weapon, but one that maintains a reasonable distance and requires much less brutal, close-quarters combat fighting than a sword, axe, or mace would. The aforementioned length of the naginata also reduces the negative effect of a shorter woman's lower reach compared to a man.

This has its roots in Japanese history. Though naginatas were common weapons among the spearmen of commoner infantry divisions, they also found a place as a symbol of status for samurai's wives. A young noblewoman was trained in the naginata as a weapon to defend the home of her future husband, especially during the violent and treacherous Sengoku Period. Naginatas were often part of a samurai woman or onna-musha's dowry, and a girl skilled in the naginata was considered quite the attractive bride to potential suitorsnote . Being a submissive wife but a stalwart defender of the home was considered the embodiment of the Yamato Nadeshiko ideal. This association with nobility and femininity is the reason the naginata is a common weapon of choice for a Lady of War.

Of course, there's some Values Dissonance with this not being a Discredited Trope due to its origins. It's like how Textile Work Is Feminine could just casually appear in one of the most famous recent films in Japan when it just reaches parody levels elsewhere.

Even to this day, atarashii naginata is a common after-school activity in Japan, though now young girls practice kendo and archery more often, compared to before.

Oftentimes the naginata-user is contrasted by a man (or boyish girl) who uses a more traditional weapon, highlighting the femininity inherent in this trope.

Contrast A Thicket of Spears and Jousting Lance for more military and stereotypically masculine uses of naginatas and other polearms.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Asahinagu is entirely about a women's atarashii naginata club.
  • As part of her Yamato Nadeshiko setup, Aika of Blend-S probably carries this whenever she leaves her household, so Episode 9 shows one time when she actually wielded it to threaten Dino.
  • In the Tournament Arc of Brave10 S, there are a lot of spear-wielders running around, but the one with the naginata specifically is Komatsu, Sanada Nobuyuki's wife.
  • Fate/Zero: Irisviel waves around a naginata quite comically several times in the anime adaptation's Please! Einzbern Consultation Room comedy shorts.
  • Takiko Ohkuda aka Genbu no Miko in Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden took naginatajutsu classes during her time as an Ordinary High-School Student, and in fact she's first seen defeating the local Alpha Bitch Touyama during practice. When she becomes Trapped in Another World, she has a naginata made for her.
  • Referenced, but ultimately subverted in Gamaran with the Tengen Ryuu of Naginata jutsu. Even if one character says that "the naginata is a weak weapon, only women use it" and another one teases his naginata-wielding opponent saying that it's a weapon for sissies, Baian Maki and his master Toujou Shungaku notes (and demonstrate) that a properly wielded naginata can become the strongest and most versatile melee weapon of all. To drive the point home it's worth mentioning that Toujou is one of the strongest warriors of the Muhou School and likely of the whole series.
  • Otae from Gintama is set up to be a traditional Yamato Nadeshiko and has several of the feminine aspects, including the naginata... but as it turns out is also violent and a poor cook.
  • In Hetalia: Axis Powers, the Gender Flipped version of Japan carries a tanto dagger. Her 2P version, however, has a naginata instead.
  • High School Of The Dead has a subversion in Rei Miyamoto, who looks like she'll play the trope straight... but those who look closely will notice that she's not in the naginatajutsu club of her school, in the soujutsu one (which is kind of unusual for high schools). So, technically, her initial weapon of choice is a yari rather than a naginata.
  • Kan-U from Ikki Tousen is the only character in the first season who regularly uses a weapon. In her case, it's justified, as she's a reincarnation of Guan Yu, a massive badass who was well-known for his skill with the spear.
  • Kaguya from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is mentioned to be skilled at naginata-jutsu, though she's never actually shown wielding one.
  • Action Girl Atena in Kamui Den is a naginata master.
  • Played with in Lone Wolf and Cub. The protagonist uses a naginata (disguised as part of a baby carriage), and is extremely manly. Various female or young protagonists, however, use it.
  • Inverted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, where the man, Zest, wields a spear while his two female opponents, Vita and Signum, wield a hammer and a sword, respectively. And he kicks as many as asses than them, if not even more.
  • Mobile Fighter G Gundam: The Rising Gundam, based off of the main character's Shining Gundam, is designed with a heat naginata rather than the original's beam sabers (as well as a Rising Arrow rather than a Shining Finger). While theoretically built for a male pilot, it winds up being piloted only by Domon's partner and love interest Rain Mikamura, in her and Allenby's Designated Girl Fight and is associated with Rain in merchandise and video games.
    • Averted in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, however. The hulking MS-14 Gelgoog carries a double-bladed beam naginata but apart from its skirt-like lower-torso armor, it has a unisex design and if anything its thick limbs and torso relative to the hero's slender RX-78 Gundam gives it a masculine impression (although a large number of named pilots who use them in sequels and spinoffs are female, such as Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory's Cima Garahau).
  • Shizuru Fujino's Element in the My-HiME anime (she doesn't fight in the manga) is a large naginata whose blade doubles as a Whip Sword.
  • Inverted in One Piece: Whitebeard, one of the manliest mennote  in a series that already runs on testosterone and the World's Strongest Man uses a naginata. Well, more accurately, a bisento. The blade is shorter, but wider compared to a naginata. With "shorter" being relative since his spear is sized to match his 6.7 meter (22 feet) height.
    • Hannyabal is another inversion. His weapon of choice is a naginata called Kessui, but the last adjective one would describe him with is "feminine".
    • In the Totland arc, Queen chess soldiers are armed with double-bladed naginata.
  • Naginatas are the main weapons manufactured and wielded by the women of Tataraba/Iron Town in Princess Mononoke.
  • Soun Tendo of Ranma ½ is most frequently seen using a naginata, at least in the anime. This is both a play on the fact he's the most emotional (indeed, hysterical) person in the cast, and on the fact that one of the most prominent classical schools of naginatajutsu is named "Tendo-ryu."
  • Azumi Kiribayishi Real Bout High School, an Heir to the Dojo Lady of War with a Noblewoman's Laugh, wields a naginata. Well, okay, most of the time, she uses one with a wooden blade, but isn't averse to busting out a real one for "serious" fights.
  • #87 Kaho from Sekirei is a Lady of War that uses a naginata to produce Razor Wind. She's noted to be exceptionally strong, and provides a backstory example of Tomboy and Girly Girl for her childhood friend, Musubi.
  • Played with in Shugo Chara!. Nadeshiko Fujisaki from uses one when chara changing with Temari. The twist comes into play when Nadeshiko is revealed to really be a guy named Nagihiko. Given that Temari is born from Nadeshiko/Nagihiko's desire to become a graceful dancer, it still equates the naginata with femininity.
  • In Summer Wars, when extremely angered, Granny Sakae picks up a naginata hanging on the wall and uses it to threaten her wayward son, and shows some considerable skill in wielding it, especially given her age. It fits her characterization as a traditional Japanese matriarch. Unfortunately, she is very elderly, and swinging that thing around even for a few seconds takes quite a toll on her body.
  • When Tenchi or his grandfather uses the weapon Tenchi in Tenchi Muyo! (... that's not confusing), it's used as a sword with a Laser Blade. When his mother Achika uses it in the first movie, its handle extends to naginata-like lengths.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Gurren Gakuen-hen, Yoko carries around a naginata in place of her rifle. No one seems to mind her pulling it out on school grounds.
  • Satsuki Amamiya from Twinkle Saber Nova is the most feminine and graceful member of the Ally of Justice Club and her signature weapon is a naginata.
  • In Yaiba, Onimaru's sister brandishes a Naginata when she prepares to take on Yaiba for insulting her brother. Later on the female wandering warrior Nadeshiko Yamato uses a bamboo naginata as her weapon of choice, and manages to defeat the Mine Dojo alone.

    Comic Books 
  • Usagi Yojimbo's long time friend Tomoe Ame began her career wielding a naginata. She had learned the sword from her swordmaster father but could not use them because she was a lady. By saving her lord from a ninja attack she was appointed "guardian of the heir" and was allowed to again wear her swords.
  • Toyota from Y: The Last Man dual wields naginatas, which eventually ends up backfiring against her when the Action Girl defender (who was tied up at the time) gets a chance to swipe one and face her off in a duel.

  • Hideyoshi Kinoshita's Summoned Beast from Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts wields a naginata, though he is actually male. Given his personality, behavior, and appearance, however, it still equates the naginata with femininity. His upgraded Summoned Beast ditches the naginata in favor of a katana.
  • In Beyond the Boundary, Lady of War Izumi wields a naginata.
  • In City of Ashes, Isabelle walks in with her trademark whip and a naginata. When Alec asks if the naginata is for him, she tells him to get his own weapon, promptly giving it to their mother.
  • A cultural convention very similar to this crops up briefly in the Codex Alera, where it is mentioned that spears are the traditional weapon of females (especially those of high rank) in the Canim warrior caste. The Canim in general also have a feudal culture and martial ethos that, while not identical to that of feudal Japan, bears strong similarities to it.
  • One of the protagonists of Hiroshi Aramata's classic fantasy novel Teito Monogatari is a heroic shrine maiden equipped with a naginata.
  • A western fantasy example in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe books, specifically the Protector of the Small books. Keladry is trained in them, and her mother once helped hold off a pirate invasion with one. They're specifically mentioned as a weapon woman train in the Yamani isles, which are based on Japan. Should be noted that Keladry is considered masculine by Tortall standards (being the first female Knight after Alanna) but is also very deadly with it. She later teaches a bunch of orphans of both genders how to use a spear improvised to be like one to fight with them. Quite a few people comment on them, particularly on how deadly they look — and how fast Kel is with them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In the Oriental Adventures 1985 supplement, the description of the naginata says that it "is often the preferred weapon of women".
  • Legend of the Five Rings: The naginata tends to be the preferred weapon of Shiba Tsukune and other female samurai of the Phoenix Clan.
  • In a transliteration for Pathfinder, the western cousin to this weapon, the glaive, is the sacred weapon of Shelyn, Goddess of Love and Beauty, who is worshipped both in the western continents of Avistan (corresponding to Europe) and Garund (Africa) and in the eastern continent of Tian Xia. Strangely the actual naginata is favored by a male deity, Fumeiyoshi, the Tien god of undeath and dishonor.

  • Jinx the Japanese female ninja in G.I. Joe: almost all toy versions of the character include a dual bladed naginata as her primary weapon. Strangely, she is rarely seen using one in most media appearances.

    Video Games 
  • Arena of Valor: Actually inverted. There's a naginata user named Ryoma, but he's basically a classical Japanese rugged and manly man, complete with beard and alternate skins like being a Yakuza. On the other hand, there's also a Japanese Master Swordsman named Tachi, he used a katana and... he's an long haired effeminate Dude Looks Like a Lady voiced by a female in the Japanese dub. Therefore, in Athanor, naginata is for the manly and rugged warrior, while the feminine warrior uses a katana.
  • In Dragalia Lost, the event welfare character Botan is seen wielding a naginata in her splash art. Her epithet is even "Naginata Cutie".
  • Exist Archive: Ranze is from a wealthy aristocratic family, and has been training with the naginata since childhood.
  • In Fate/Grand Order the whole reason why Kiyohime's Summer Lancer version exists is so that she can be a yandere version of this trope.
    • Jaguar Warrior's third and final ascensions go from a silly cat costume and a paw-on-a-stick to a stylish black pantsuit and a naginata.
    • Naturally, as one of Japan's Trope Maker of Lady of War/Onna Bugeisha, Tomoe Gozen uses a naginata that she sets on fire, if she's not shooting you with flaming arrows or doing submission holds.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, characters from the Japan-influenced Hoshido have naginatas in the place where the Europe-influenced Nohr has lances. 6 of the 9 characters that wield naginatas immediately upon recruitment are female, and the males that wield them include an Expy of a female character from Awakening and an effeminate Bishōnen that the tie-in card game invoked Dude Looks Like a Lady on (Subaki) note  (This is only a technicality, of course, as Nohrian lances and Hoshidan naginatas are interchangeable in gameplay terms and Nohrians with lances lean 6-4 in favor of males.)
  • One of the heroes from For Honor is the Nobushi, a samurai hero using a nagitana and she is gender-locked to female.
  • Hisako from Killer Instinct uses a naginata alongside her ghostly powers. It originally belonged to her father, but she took it after he was killed by a group of bandits and finished them off.
  • In Genshin Impact, Raiden Shogun's main signature weapon is a naginata, which is a polearm weapon and is what she mainly uses to fight, but would sometimes pull out her katana from her chest.
  • In Kuon, secret character Abe no Seimei is a powerful and refined onmyoji lady wielding a "ceremonial spear" which is, essentially, a "ko-naginata" (a naginata with a straight blade and more or less 4 feet long) adorned with paper wrappings and red tassels.
  • Yuki in The Last Blade is a western-born girl adopted to a Japanese family and has embraced its Yamato Nadeshiko values. As such, naginata is her preferred weapon. Of course, she also comes with the power to manipulate ice.
  • Most members of the all-female Gerudo tribe from the Legend of Zelda series wield naginatas. Those who don't dual-wield scimitars instead.
  • Momiji from the Ninja Gaiden series fights with a Naginata and a bow, as the shrine maiden of the Hayabusa village.
  • In Nioh, the graceful and deadly Yuki-Onna can create and wield a naginata made of ice to fight William. Most notably, she's the only character in game to wield one (pretty much everyone else, William included, get to wield various type of Japanese yari spears.)
  • Persona:
  • Nagi from Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale uses pole-arms, among them actual naginata, while dressing in a pink kimono. This is complemented by being both a Lady of War and a Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • In RPG Maker 3, one of the more limited console installments that doesn't support custom-created assets, certain weapon types can only be equipped by specific character models. Naginatas can only be wielded by female characters and birdmen. There is a glitch considered to be all-but-essential to use that allows the "wrong" weapon type to be equipped to a character, but because of the nature of how it works, it's still impossible to have a male character wield one even when using that glitch.note 
  • In Samurai Warriors, Aya used a Naginata as her weapon of choice before becoming playable. It's also possible to make an edit female character armed with a naginata. One of them is even named after Tomoe (see below).
  • Sakura Wars: Sumire Kanzaki, The Ojou, uses a naginata both inside and out of her Mini-Mecha.
  • In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the only enemies that wield traditional naginatas are the all-female Okami Warriorsnote . Somewhat justified by the late Sengoku setting; as noted in the page description, the yari was the favored polearm for most armies during this period, and it's implied that the primary reason the Okami still favor the naginata is because they've been living largely isolated from the rest of Japan for at least a few centuries or so.
  • Sengoku Basara has a few examples:
  • Severance: Blade of Darkness features four playable characters who represent different classes and styles of combat. The only woman of the four, Zoe the Amazon, specializes in spears and other similar pole weapons with long reach, unlike the three male characters who mostly use somewhat shorter swords, clubs and axes. Among the weapons available for Zoe, two are actually a "Naginata" and a "Heavy Naginata".
  • Spear weapons in Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II can only be equipped by female party members.
  • Another Asian variant, Songs Of Wuxia has the heroine, Ling-ju, from a wuxia-inspired Ming Dynasty setting using a qiang modeled to resemble a nagitana. She's the only character who uses this particular weapon, with other spear users wielding conventional, unmodified spears.
  • In Soul Series, male Kilik and female Seung Mina share a moveset. Kilik uses a staff while Seung Mina uses a spear, including one weapon simply called "Naginata".
  • Suikoden II: Yoshino Yamamoto's weapon of choice. She and Freed are a model Japanese soldier and wife team in the series. Their daughter Sanae continues the tradition in Suikoden III.
  • Total War: Shogun 2 has a unit called the Onna Bushi, a 30-strong unit of women that guard the castles of your clan, though they can't actually take the field otherwise. There are male naginata samurai and cavalry, along with various "hero" units that use naginatas.
  • Averted in Touken Ranbu due to the fact that the game has an all-male cast, and the only Naginata at first was Iwatooshi, who is a boisterous Blood Knight. The second naginata introduced, Tomoegata Naginata, is meant as a Anthropomorphic Personification of types of naginata used mainly by women, but outside of his looks, he doesn't act or sound that feminine.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon has the Matriarch class. A job exclusive to your female party members that comes with the weapon, and all the graceful moves you'd expect for it.

    Visual Novels 
  • While her inspiration was originally male, Kan'u from Koihime†Musou still fits this trope pretty well. Other females that use naginatas of their own include Chouhi, Ryofu and Chouryou.

    Web Comics 
  • Drowtales: Ariel's human slave/bodyguard Vaelia wields a naginata as her primary weapon. After the Time Skip, Ariel herself starts using one as well.
  • Hime from L's Empire is a princess in a Japanese inspired kingdom and she is is shown wielding a naginata.
  • Sleepless Domain: Moonlight Spear, real name Mitsuki Watanabe, wielded a naginata as her Magical Girl weapon of choice. This fits her namesake, as the moon was seen in many cultures to be a more feminine force than the sun. She is also the first of her team to become a mother.

    Western Animation 
  • Pearl, the most feminine of the Crystal Gems in Steven Universe uses what is essentially a Naginata as her main weapon, though she tends to use it more as a fencing saber than a polearm.
  • Inverted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Donatello's Martial Arts Staff also doubles as a naginata in a pinch. In contrast, the female characters in the show wield weapons like metal fans and wakizashis.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: In Japan, atarashii naginata (modern sports Naginata, done in Kendo-style armour) is primarily practiced by women. However, in Western countries, the gender difference is much more even.
  • Real life historical Japanese warrior women tended to use naginatas, though it's also associated with Warrior Monks as well. It is the primary weapon of choice of the Onna-bugeisha warrior class. They included:
  • Until the end of World War II, naginatajutsu was a compulsory subject for Japanese schoolgirls (karate and kendo were compulsory for boys).


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Naginata Are Feminine


Beatrix Amerhauser

The main characters are surprised to see that the multi-weapon wielding samurai is a foreign girl.

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