Anime News Network has started a nice discussion on female friendships in anime and manga. A lot of the points they raise harken back to my discussion good shoujo- the fact that so many anime/manga plots are male driven and even the female-aimed series the girl is usually a wishy-washy husk of a person who is nothing without a man defending her, fighting for her, etc.
However, I can think of a few good examples that they don’t touch on in their discussion. Feel free to throw some more out there!
Yoruichi/Soi Fon- Bleach– okay, I know you have that whole lesbian love thing going on here, but these two are tight and no man is coming between them. Yoruichi’s “betrayal” of soul society put Soi Fon off, but in the end it did little to change her feelings. They have romance and camraderie holding them together like super glue.
Konoka/Setsuna- Negima!– wow, is there a lesbian undertone theme here? Yeah, it’s not intentional. Yes, Setsuna serves as Konoka’s protector and definitely feel some responisiblity from a childhood accident to be close to her. But it’s clear that these girls would be together anyway, duty or not, and nothing is going to change that.
Usagi/Rei/Ami/Makoto/Minako- Sailor Moon– finally, no undertones! (well so long as I don’t get into Haruka/Michiru) Again, we do have the “duty” element since Usagi is their princess. But that duty doesn’t have too much to do with their present day activities, and after the initial Rei/Usagi fight over Mamoru the five of them are extremely close (especially for teenagers) with that sexual tension that Haruka and Michiru have.
In creating this list, I have come to realize that I primarily thrive on male-centered shonen. I mean c’mon- only three examples? I’m pathetic! I need to broaden my horizons.