Lots of people today want to create strong female characters, and I think that it’s a very noble endeavor. You absolutely should make sure that your character is not stereotypical or sexist in any way. There are certain problems to avoid when creating a strong female character, of course, but I do always try to give people credit for trying. I try to be a feminist who doesn’t look for the bad in everything and who tries to see the positive in characters and not just the negative. However, I think that there are some common traps that people can avoid when it comes to creating a strong female manga character or a strong female character in nearly everything.
For one thing, manga is a visual medium. As such, you need to find some way to avoid the common instances of sexism in the ways in which women are portrayed visually. Your character should not be scantily clad in a way that would not make sense for the character, for one thing. If it’s a romantic scene or something like that, it might make sense. However, if this is a battle scene, she needs to be wearing armor that is actually going to protect her internal organs and not armor that is just going to add to her bust line.
There is also the fact that manga women have a tendency to pose in ways that would actually break the backs of women in real life. Women don’t stand around posing in real life unless they’re models. Have your character go along throughout her normal day and her normal life the way anyone would. She does know that there’s an audience watching her, so she shouldn’t be posing all the time. It’s sexist and it takes you out of the story.
Strong female characters are still allowed to have emotions. Feminists don’t want women to act exactly like macho men: unemotional, non-expressive, and violent. If you have a female character that is like that, you should try to elaborate on it. Don’t just do it because you think that strong women have to act like that.
Strong female characters are also allowed to fall in love. However, that can’t be the whole point of the story for her. Falling in love is rarely the whole point for male characters. They do fall in love in stories, too. However, they usually have some other great goal. Falling in love is usually something that they do on the side, which is more or less the case for those of us in real life. If someone who knew made her whole life about falling in love, you probably wouldn’t find her very interesting. She isn’t any more interesting in a story.
More representation of LGBT people and PoC is also important when it comes to writing strong female characters in manga, especially since these kinds of characters are still so rare in fiction. Obviously, if you decide to write characters like that, then you’re going to have to go through the effort of making sure that you characterized them in the appropriate way as well. However, I always applaud people who try, since we really do need more representation for all of these groups.