The use of transgender characters in fiction is a thermometer for tolerance and social progress in a given age. We should not, however, confuse characters that only play off social norms from representations of those who exist outside the binary gender definitions. While the antics of Bugs play off the audience’s tension of going against social “norms,” Princess Jellyfish’s Kura Koibuchi is a representation of a person outside of traditional gender roles as a member of society.
Bugs Bunny’s reoccurring drag gag exist as a piece temporary transvestite comedy. This genre places a character disguised as the opposite of their “natural” gender and builds tension of the resulting social anxieties. In the case of Bugs, this is largely used to assert his own masculinity over his inferior opponents who are often fooled into homosexual attractions by the rabbit. All the resulting comedy stems from the perceived social norms that have been temporarily dissolved and the punchline results in a return to the gender “normal.” Because this humor relies on the audience to have basic ideas of social norms, is more a sign of societal standards than author bias. When asked why the gag became such a standard for the character, Chuck Jones responded “Because it worked.” Not only does Bug Bunny’s temporary transvestite insult transgender people, but it reinforced gender roles that harms all gender parties.
By contrast Kura from Princess Jellyfish is a character whose choice to explore gender lines is not presented as a piece of humor but as a character trait. He is presented as a thriving member of society and his life as a cross dresser is never recalled, thus the presented normal includes Kura’s cross dressing.
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