Does anime and or manga hate women? Oversexualization, demeaning of the female character and perpetuating stereotypes of dependence.
(depicted in the image below is the main harem of Infinite Stratos)
It may be more accurate to say that anime treats female characters with neglect rather than outright hatred. If you get past the overall oversexualization of female characters in anime the main argument for anime’s “hatred of women” is the staggering lack of character development arcs.
Even for stories with girls as the primary characters, the characters often do not experience development and are acted upon instead of acting. The classic male main character will often if not always be the “blank slate”, but there is a lot more nuance and development given to a male best friend or male cast member and their emotions, than the average female cast. On the opposite side of the spectrum these female characters are instead burdened with tropes in anime/manga such as your classic (tsun, kuu, dan, etc) and the majority of the writing will only reflect that type-casted character tope. All personality is derived from that alone (i.e. almost every high school RomCom ever).
Th oversexualization aspect comes into play as a problem when it’s not mirrored for the male characters (i.e. one sided-fanservice) and is done in the context of assuming the audience of the work is all males. The only anime/manga that comes to mind here is Shokugeki no Soma where at least when people’s clothes magically explode, it happens to everyone, including the male characters (see image below). The absolute worst form of sexualization of female characters comes when it is happening to a character who is doing nothing at all to present themselves that way, but has it forced on them by the camera. This reduces the female character, most often unnamed or barely focused on story-wise, to a literal sex-object or fetishizes them to the male-audience.
Even for anime most would consider the best of all time, most would have a hard time naming more than two female characters who have received proper character development outside of being a love-interest or an “evil for the sake of evil” villain.
While this may be the case I will say anime or manga in general isn’t the problem. By far it is the highly popular and profitable genre of shounen anime and manga that is guilty of the aforementioned problems. The genre may literally mean “boy” and is geared towards male audiences of 12-18 but girls consume this media too and lacking well-developed female characters gives girls no good character traits or role models to become attached to. Worse than that it gives boys terrible ideas about women, and adds towards shaping their perception of women to see them only as 2D sexualized objects. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
For example Kill La Kill is an anime that is easily known for its sexualized main heroine but the argument can be made that the main character is very three-dimensional and the women in that show are all very well developed. We see Ryuko’s backstory and motivations, we see her change her perspective on multiple occasions, reason with adversaries and grow as a person. Some older anime like Ghost in the Shell, Nana, and Skip Beat are all also anime with great and well developed female characters.
When the female character is not the protagonist it is noticeably difficult for the creator to flush them out. Try and wrack your brain for anime in the last decade that has 2-3 well-developed female supporting characters. The only one that comes to mind when doing so is One Piece. One Piece has given great development to its female characters and was smart enough to give each one a whole arc after they were already integrated into the story.
Some of the most terrible offenders of the aforementioned are: Shield Hero, Darling in the Franxx, Bunny Girl Senpai, Goblin Slayer, Fire Force, and nearly every isekai ever. And all of these anime mentioned have been some of the most popular airing anime among the Western fandom in recent years.
One might also argue that a lack of female writers is to blame for the degradation of the female character. While that may be partially true, there are still female authors who use these tropes as writing and plot crutches in lieu of actual development. Examples of these authors are, Shinobu Ohtaka the author of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Jinsei Kataoka who wrote the manga Deadman Wonderland, and Miki Yoshikawa who wrote Yamada-kun and the Seven witches. A manga where the male MC switches bodies with whoever he kisses, most often the female secondary protagonist and it is a classic harem romance high school setting.
So in the end what can I really say about anime hating women? No, anime doesn’t really hate women. Rather, but it neglect its female characters by having them serve as little more than eye candy. The animation will often accentuate the worst aspects of the male gaze in storytelling and reduce the female characters on-screen time and dialogue to a mere panty-shot. After that why should or why would a viewer care or think of the female character at all beyond “panty-shot girl”.
As I said earlier shounen anime and manga seems to be the biggest contributor to degradation of the female character and does seem to struggle with writing fleshed out female characters in general. So, really my final statement has gotta be:
“Shounen anime kinda does hate female characters, so I’mma go back to reading my shoujo manga now.”