I’m going to preface this by acknowledging that beauty is by its very nature something that is different for everyone. I’m not going to try to lay down rules for making things beautiful as I would in other posts because that would pointless. Instead I’m going to bitch and moan about how there are so many ways to make characters beautiful or appealing that either get overlooked or don’t get proper attention so that we can make room for more big tits and lolis. Let the ranting begin.
Let’s begin by setting the record straight as clearly as possible. I’m no newcomer to anime and it’s love of pandering. I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to ecchi and fanservice and sexualized character designs. I’m also well aware that a certain sector of the industry is literally based around using pandering as their main sales point, either by way of figures, body pillows or uncensored dvds. I’m not asking for any of these things to go away or even become rare, I’m asking that animators use them all a bit less and experiment a bit more on other facets of character design to make a different kind of beautiful character. Also I’m a guy so this post will be about female characters, sorry ladies I will not be discussing hot guys much in this post. Ok so why do I think we need to move away from pandering a little? Funny you should ask, I conveniently have a list of reasons why.
First and foremost it’s about creativity. Pandering body types be it lolis or busty maidens are kind of the default body types in anime. And sticking to the default is bad for a few reasons. It gets stale, you know maybe back when I first got into anime I was all for the big bouncing boobs, but if that was ever the case that time has long since passed. Now when I look for beautiful character designs big breasts is something I rarely count as appealing, not because I’ve lost my sex drive but because they are so commonplace that they don’t jump off the page like they used. If you want to really get my attention you’re going to have to focus on the other aspects of character design like skin, hair and eye color, facial features, hair style, over-all body shape and so on. Big boobs or a conspicuous lack thereof simply won’t cut it. I’m not saying either is inherently bad, just that they are so common they don’t count for much to me. The other issue is challenge and what that means for creativity. Most of the time I’m at my most creative when I’m being challenged, and when I’m doing formulaic default work I basically feel like a machine, just plugging new variables into the same old equation. So when you’re making an anime, the last thing you should want to be is default, because just sticking to formula robs the effort of much of its creative challenge which generally leads to weaker shows. I’m not saying creative and innovative approaches will always work or be better than all formulaic ones, but in my opinion creativity is the key to the truly great shows. Not necessarily the most popular shows, but the great ones. Scale it down a bit to encompass just character design and I’d say the same is true. If you want your female lead to stand out from the rest having a big pair of jugs isn’t very helpful, but using you creativity to make the other aspects of the character appealing is much more so.
Let me give you an example. If you happen to look at the title picture for this post in the WordPress Reader, I’ll put it at the bottom of the post as well, you may recognize the subject as Kurokami Medaka of Medaka Box. In case you’ve never seen the show, Medaka is a generous G cup or so. But the picture I’m using focuses only on her face because I’m trying to make a point. Because I find the picture of just her face far more beautiful than a full body shot. This is not because I dislike Medaka’s breasts, but because they distract attention away from her other notable features. In the picture Medaka is in her War God Mode, which is very dangerous. She also looks extremely beautiful, the contrast of the ebon black hair, her pale skin and the vibrant reddish-brown makes for an excellent use of colors. Add in the shape of her eyes, her hair style, face structure and small frown and she looks both imposing and more than little bit statuesque. Combine all of that with the knowledge that she is incredibly deadly at the moment and she has a particular kind of beauty, the alluring kind. Alluring beauty is something we usually associate with vampires or demons, beings we know are dangerous and may destroy use but are striking all the same, perhaps even more striking than any safe or normal beauty can be. It’s akin to the attraction many have with the taboo, the desire to possess something we are not allowed to have for one reason or another. A similar example, this is for you ladies who made it this far, is Sebastian from Black Butler. Let me ask you ladies a question, would Sebastian be as attractive to you if he were human? My guess is that the answer for most people is no, because his demonic nature is very important aspect to his character and it’s loss would weaken him even if his looks were unchanged, but I’m not a woman so I may be wrong, please let me know in the comments if you feel up to it. Going back to Medaka , I find Medaka attractive in full body shots in her normal state of being but that attraction pales when compared to the allure of her darker and more striking War God Mode. Now let me ask the dudes reading this a pair of questions. If I had included Medaka’s boobs in the picture would she be any more or less attractive? And, if I had included the boobs would you have paid as much attention to the rest of her features? Please comment with an answer to each if you feel up to it. Because to answer my own questions I would say Medaka doesn’t look any more or less beautiful if you see the tits but the tits do distract attention away from her other features. Why would we want to support a model where the most conspicuous traits of default body types distract attention away from their unique qualities and other design strengths? I just don’t see how the current behavior of placing hefty jugs on most ladies as a matter of course is helpful to anyone involved. Which brings me to my next point.
Men do not want to be pandered to all the time. I suppose there may be a small subset of dudes who disagree, but contrary to internet beliefs, men aren’t horny all the time nor do we want to be. There plenty of places where I can see women pandering to my male gaze or receive other stimuli that can set off a boner. But what if I want to relax? Do I really want to be staring at something intended to give a boner when I’m just kicking back? The answer is no, there are times when I want to enjoy my entertainment at my own relaxed pace and mega melons are not conducive to such an experience. Keep in mind most of the time I can tune out the boobage or am not at all bothered by it, but every now and then I want a more mature story with more mature characters and all the fat titties ain’t helping. To reiterate, my issue is not that this stuff exists, it’s that it exists so much more than characters who are beautiful because they are designed well because more attention was given to creating them as unique characters. Let me do another example. In Kill la Kill we see Ryuuko’s naked body all the time. And I have an undying love for Ryuuko, but not because of her nakedness. No I love Ryuuko because of her attitude, her voice and how it meshes with her way speaking, how her hair colors and style reflect the punk aspects of her character. In short I love Ryuuko because everything about her character works together to convey her nature, her dedication to her core characteristics go beyond her words and actions and encompass even the way she looks and sounds. She’s a character who has been perfected, because if you change a single element in her makeup she comes together slightly worse. This is something most characters don’t have, and it shows a rare level of craft in Ryuuko’s character, craft that so often gets ignored because people are concerned by/bothered by/distracted by the amount of time Ryuuko spends naked or scantily clad. Are my frustrations starting to make sense now? This is my medium of choice and I want it to grow and succeed, I want to see it gain some recognition for the artistry involved in the creative process of making anime, because that’s more important than all of the pandering in the world. And it’s freaking hard to see when anime is so inundated with big jiggly boobs, sexualized merchandise and so on. I love seeing craftsmanship come to life and there is no craftsmanship in big tits or loli bodies, it takes nor creativity to incorporate those things into a character’s design so there is no craft in adding them. Instead it just makes for more of the same pandering in a medium that already has tons of pandering. Speaking of craft…
There are a lot of ways to make characters look beautiful. There so many features to work with and not all of them are even physical. Some people I know in real life are attractive not because they are hot but because they have an appealing personality and/or behavior. The number of anime characters who fit into this category is pretty small though, too small in fact. There are so many facets of character design that can make an individual beautiful. And there are characters who are beautiful because attention was put into facets of character design other than their breast size and body type. But there should be more. I don’t think I’m being particularly unreasonable when I say that a little more variety in character design would be better for everyone. Maybe it could lead to a new character archetype that get popular, maybe it lead to a new consensus on character traits that deserve more attention, maybe it will give some new animator a shot at making the next big thing in character design, and maybe it just means I can find more characters that I can enjoy in my relaxed viewing experience. Point is I see no negative consequences for the industry if it tries to break away from the big pandering boobs a bit more often, I see only opportunity. This reliance on pandering bodies as the default is something of an industry-wide bad habit, and I’m not asking for it to be go away. However I do think it would be in everyone’s best interests if the industry tried to break its bad habit more often. There are plenty of people who want nothing to do with the pandering and sexualized characters in anime. If they had a wider selection of shows to watch, and therefore may be more likely to get into anime, where’s the downside? I’ll say it again, breaking the bad habit of pandering as a matter of course more often offers nothing but opportunity for creators and fans alike, there is no reason we should not pursue or support it. And that about wraps this up. If you made it this far, thank you for putting up with all my whining. I hope you enjoyed it and I’ll see you in the next one. But as a reward for your patience and fortitude, here’s that alluring picture of War God Mode Kurokami Medaka, please take a moment to enjoy.