The femme fatale is a crucial element to film noir and has been portrayed in a multitude of genres since its inception. Traditionally, a femme fatale is a female identifying character who leads the male identifying protagonist to his demise through her beauty and charms. These characters are seldom multi-dimensional, their sole purpose is to lead their prey — or should I say the lead character — astray.
Femme fatales get a bad rap. But why is it her fault that the protagonist can’t think beyond his own lustful needs? In anime, just like in film, women are often sex symbols or damsels in distress, but in this round up these femme fatales have a lot more to offer than just their good looks.
Each one of these characters use their actions for the greater good, taking on the role of the protagonist and the hero all in one. Let’s countdown the top five kick butt femme fatales in anime.
5. Faye Valentine – Cowboy Bebop
Most femme fatales don’t get a well-developed character arc. That isn’t the case for Faye Valentine, a bounty hunter in Cowboy Bebop. Valentine definitely uses her good looks and charms to her advantage, often going to great lengths to get what she wants in true fatale fashion. Although, she isn’t as cold as one would presume — throughout the show Valentine shows glimpses of her vulnerability and dependability to her crew. Deep down behind the cold and aloof persona, Valentine would do anything to make sure her traveling compatriots, especially the titular character Spike, are safe.
4. Kuroha Shiratori – East of Eden
Who says a femme fatale couldn’t use her seductive powers for the greater good? Kuroha Shiratori is a successful model and CEO of a modeling agency in the series East of Eden. There is a lot more to Shiratori than her beauty. She leads a double life as a vigilante. Once the sun goes down, Shiratori hunts down men who have harmed women. In classic femme fatale style, she kidnaps the men and kills them, earning the nickname of “Johnny Hunter” for a reason I’ll leave up to the imagination.
3. Nao Yuuki – Mai-HiME
As the youngest character featured in this list, Nao Yuuki from the show Mai-HiME is a lot more mature than the typical pre-teen. Yuuki may be a middle school student but she is not afraid of facing off against older men. Yuuki falls under the category of femme fatale because she lures grown men with her charms and robs them. Definitely one of the most misunderstood characters. Fans don’t really know why Yuuki partakes in such devious activities. It isn’t revealed till later in the show that her mother suffered a cruel fate at the hands of a male robber, and Yuuki avenges her honor every chance she gets.
2. Michiko Malandro – Michiko & Hatchin
Michiko & Hatchin is one of the most realistic anime series with characters that contain incredible depth. A femme fatale with an honorable purpose, Michiko is an escaped convict on the run from the law. Fate has her cross paths with Hatchin, a young foster child suffering abuse at the hands of her strict foster family. Michiko takes Hatchin under her wing, taking great care of Hatchin no matter the circumstances and troubles that may come their way.
1. Mireille Bouquet – Noir
What femme fatales roundup wouldn’t include a character from the aptly named anime Noir? Mireille Bouquet is an assassin, who upon first glance is a cold blooded killer working alongside her female partner, Yuumura Kirika. They both carry out their assassinations under the code name “noir.” Although, beyond the many deadly showdowns with their male counterparts, Bouquet and Kirika are on a personal journey to rediscover the ties that bind them together and the tragedies of their past. Mystery and unanswered questions surround the two women as they try to piece together their lives while trying to fight off their enemies.
Who are your top Femme Fatales? We’d love to know in the comments section.