I am a bit irritated because yesterday my mom texted me to tell me that Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo had been remade both in Chinese and Korean, and she again expressed her dislike of the lead male character. I had watched some of the episodes at her house- I am trying to learn Japanese. Now. this is a silly romantic comedy and there have been a few versions of it in Japan, so we can tell, just from the popularity of it that women find something attractive about this lead male character. Not that I particularly care to defend the show, but Mom keeps turning to this 'being respectful of women' thing.
But no one wants to be treated the way my Mom treats my Dad. No one would want to watch a show based on it either. In fact, this male lead who infuriates her is like her, except in reverse.
The Japanese story is this- a girl named Kotoko falls for Naoki, the smartest guy in her school. It's somewhat silly, and everything is taken to extremes, so she's barely passing- he can read anything once and remember it forever. She tries to give him a love letter, but he rejects her and is very rude. Then a meteor falls on her house, and it turns out her father and his father are old buddies- so suddenly the two families are living in one house together.
So the main story line is Naoki slowly coming to love Kotoko. Kotoko's love for him is a given from the start. And Naoki is an asshole from the start. But his character develops.
Meanwhile, I don't think my mom even notices when she's mean to my dad. It's so habitual she's likely blind to it. She must have started out nice, or Dad would have avoided marrying her instead of spending his old age watching TV alone in order to avoid her now.
I have noticed a few things, like there's this whole idea that being too nice means you are no good in Japan- at least in a few different shows I've seen that. And I don't think that's too hard for some American women to understand- there are silver tongued devils out there willing to lie and seduce. There are also the much hated gammas out there.
Additionally, I notice this politeness versus manliness thing going on in Japan, though technically I wonder if politeness is the best word, because you can say some pretty awful stuff while using polite speech in Japanese. But 'male' ways of expressing yourself in Japanese often violate the polite speech rules.
So I can understand why they've got this whole sub-genre of shows where the male lead is a jerk. It shows he's a real man, and often shows he's honest too. And his character develops in the appropriate direction.