OK, something for International Women’s Day. Here’s the first handwritten draft of ‘Jun the Swan’, which was published as part of the Tatsunoko sequence in School of Forgery. I wanted to write something about Jun because she’s the archetype – and possibly the prototype – of the lone woman on a superhero team. The team in question being Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, a Japanese animation from 1972 that was dubbed and released in English-speaking countries as Battle of the Planets in 1978.
Being the sole female protagonist, Jun is treated rather poorly by her costume designers and animators – clad in pink, and saddled with the swan persona where Ken, Joe and Ryu (the other adults on the team) get to be an eagle, condor and owl respectively. No talons for you, Jun! And of course, she’s in the miniest of miniskirts, so flashes her pants whenever she hoofs a villain.
But there’s more to her than that. As well as being the team’s electronics and demolitions expert (ie. the Donatello of the outfit), she’s a small business owner, successfully running a café and somehow raising her adopted brother Jinpei at the same time (they’re both orphans). Plus, she’s an outrageously skilled biker. In one episode, ‘Bird Missile of Bitterness’, she clearly fancies her old biker friend, Koji, but rightly suspects him of being a wrong’n and insists on blowing him up herself to save the team.
So anyway, I tried to write about someone steely, brilliant and daring, with dreams and appetites, who’s somehow got lumbered with being the girl of the group, and with all the attendant impositions.