Kransom recently showed me this image from a 1982 issue of Animage Magazine. The image is a chart which is designed for you the reader to figure out your lolicon level. The further down the list your preferences go, the more of a lolicon you are.
I don’t expect people to recognize every character. I certainly didn’t, which is why I’m including this handy guide. From left to right:
Top Row (You’re Normal): Fiolina (Dagli Appennini alle Ande), Clara (Heidi), Monsley (Future Boy Conan), Hilda (Hols: Prince of the Sun), Lana (Future Boy Conan), Clarisse (Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro)
Middle Row (Serious Symptoms): Aloise (A Dog of Flanders), Diana (Anne of Green Gables), Megu (Majokko Megu-chan), Becky (Tom Sawyer), Angie (Her Majesty’s Petite Angie), Heidi (Heidi)
Bottom Row (Already Sick): Lighthouse Keeper Girl (Wanwan Chuushingura), Princess of the Purple Star (Gulliver’s Space Travels), Shizuka (Doraemon), Makiko (Tetsujin 28 (1980)), Ulala (Robokko Beaton), Mayu (Space Pirate Captain Harlock)
Though it might seem unnecessary for me to repeat it, I have to restate that this comes from 1982 and a very different era of anime. This is not the modern-age pandering lolicon of Kodomo no Jikan and other similar shows. Looking at this list, the majority includes characters from shows that were produced by future Studio Ghibli staff such as Miyazaki and Takahata, as well as characters from famous children’s literature around the world such as Tom Sawyer and Anne of Green Gables, and I don’t think anyone would accuse Diana Barry of being a one-dimensional character.
Though moe is not lolicon, the generally youthful look of moe characters means that the two ideas are often associated with each other. And aside from the idea that Miyazaki and children’s literature created the lolita complex in anime fans, accusations which are not new, I think the real implication is that as much as we decry lolicon and the like for being shallow, vapid, and creepy, this shows that it came from a real source consisting of strong storytelling and visual quality. Though I might be reaching a little, I really think that the people who realized their own lolicon-ness as the result of these shows were taken in by the excellent characterization of the young girl characters present in these anime, and not because these characters hit any specific buttons. This sentiment was then carried over, becoming reduced and simplified in the same manner that resulted in the current understanding of moe, and also in a fashion to how the people who fell in love with Gundam would go on to work on their own giant robot anime years later.
It’s not my goal to defend or condemn lolicon, but rather to say that this aspect of anime fandom, like it or not, appears to be born from high-quality Japanese Animation from some of the greatest masters in the industry. In other words, even though there are shows that pander to lolicon, it was not lolicon-pandering shows which created the market in the first place.