As with any comic or graphic narrative I find myself lacking characters who are women being represented properly or at all in the literature. We had a good start with Wonder Woman, but it seems like we are regressing while reading Tezuka. I perused the entire text and found only two women represented in the narrative and one turned out to actually be the rabbit. The first appearance of this woman is on page 77 where the termite queen steps out onto the stage. On page 78 we are introduced to the Queen of the Underground World. She is aggressive, manipulative, and eventually becomes the overall villain of the story. It is interesting to me that Tezuka would choose a female character to portray evil in his narrative. On one hand, I see it as a nod to women’s independence and power. On the other, I find it extremely problematic that she is the only woman in the narrative and that she must be evil and “seduce” those to get what she wants. For example page 126, panel 1, Ham Egg says he was seduced by diamonds which was enough to betray his friends. He puts the blame on her and then in the second panel proceeds to punch her in the face. In this instance, perceived seduction leads to domestic violence.
However, one could argue that the rabbit in the story, Mimio, although often referred to by male pronouns has an ambiguous gender identity. On page 45, panel 1 the rabbit takes off their shirt, something I do not believe Tezuka would do with a female rabbit. However, he removes the traditional female qualities such as long eyelashes which make a return on the following pages. Later on, Mimio even turns into the first-class engineer, Mimi. Mimio dresses up as female character in order to keep going on adventures and helping his friends. the title of first-class engineer truly belong to the male version of Mimio not Mimi therefore taking away the hope that Tezuka would bring about a truly strong, female character that didn’t represent evil.