NOTE: This post is NOT SAFE FOR WORK
For as long as there has been fanservice in anime, there has been an emphasis on rear ends. Few things are more associated with anime (for better or worse) than the panty shot, and the form-fitting suits in works such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell have helped to bring posteriors to prominence. However, I believe that buttocks have not remained static over the course of anime’s history and that, over the past 10-15 years, we have reached a point where big butts are “in.” The purpose of this post is to show this gradual change in tastes while also positing some possible reasons that this change has taken place.
From the Early Days of Fanservice
In the past, the “ideal butt” was supposed to be petite with subtle curves. The character of Cutie Honey, created by manga legend and super pervert Nagai Go, is one of the classic symbols of hyper-eroticism in anime and manga. In the opening to its first anime from 1973, the lyrics state that “these days, the popular girls are the ones with small butts” (Kono goro hayari no onna no ko, oshiri ga chiisana onna no ko).
Cutie Honey is not alone in portraying this type of figure. When looking at other fanservice from the same time period, the girls there follow similar patterns. For example, Sakurano Mari from Reideen the Brave and Jun the Swan from Gatchaman are famous for their sheer number of panty flashes and are similarly sized beneath the waist.
This general penchant for small butts extends well into the next few decades. In the manga version of Ghost in the Shell (1989-1996), heroine Kusanagi Motoko is drawn with large breasts but with a small and muscular buttocks, owing to creator Shirow Masamune’s style and preferences. Motoko’s animated counterpart from the Oshii films is larger, but still not that much bigger.
Even into the 2000s, the “Cutie Honey” figure persisted, as shown with anime series such as Ikkitousen (above) and video games such as the Dead or Alive series (below). Both tend towards small butts despite the fact that their characters’ chest sizes can vary tremendously.
That same Cutie Honey opening later mentions that girls with big boobs are popular too. The trend for ideal female body types in anime seem to disagree in terms of chest size (especially if one takes into account the advent of lolicon-style art in the 1980s on), but appear to reach consensus with butt size.
However, I believe that, since the early 2000s, there has been an increasing amount of large butts and fans of large butts among both viewers and creators of anime.
Sizing Up in the 21st Century
There is no clear starting point for when big butts might have started to appear more prominently in anime, but a good place to start is with the 2003 anime TV series, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. With this new iteration in the Ghost in the Shell franchise came a new design for Major Kusanagi, and with her both wide hips and a larger rear.
The mecha anime Shinkon Gattai Godannar!! from 2004 featured a blend of intense action and overwhelming fanservice. Not only do the girls in that series tend to have larger buttocks in general, but it even has a character with especially prominent lower curves named Fujimura Shizuru. In one episode, Shizuru gets stuck trying to enter an escape hatch in a giant robot due to the sheer size of her hips and butt.
The 2008 anime Real Drive (based on a manga by Shirow Masamune) went the extra step and featured a core cast of plus-size women of all shapes and sizes.This series arguably does not place a great emphasis on large butts specifically, but it’s worth noting because of how the traditionally popular thin body type is all but absent in Real Drive.
For the sake of brevity, I’m not going into every single anime featuring girls with big butts, but by 2016 we’ve even seen series that all but worship female buttocks. The first is Prison School, which not only features the character of Shiraki Meiko, a powerful dominatrix with a dynamite body (shown below), but also a school chairman who genuinely loves big butts from the bottom of his heart.
The second anime is Keijo!!!!!!!! (shown above). This series particular is noteworthy because it’s literally a series where girls fight with their butts using special techniques straight out of shounen fighting works. Indeed, Keijo!!!!!!!! might be the culmination of this trend, an outright love letter to big butts that transcends the typical confines of fanservice anime.
Generally speaking, small butt fanservice has never disappeared from anime. However, perhaps nothing indicates the fact that large butts have gained ground more than Space Battleship Yamato 2199, the 2012 remake of the 1974 classic Space Battleship Yamato. The primary female character, Mori Yuki went from looking like this:
To looking like this:
Part of this trend appears to come from the individual creators themselves. Real Drive features character designs from an artist known for his love of larger ladies. Both Prison School and Keijo!!!!!!!! were originally manga as well. But I believe there to be other factors, a combination that created an environment where more and more people have come to realize their fondness for big butts in created works.
How Did We Get Here?
The exact delivery of fanservice has changed over the course of decades, and this includes how panty shots have been utilized. Back in the 1970s, as seen with the examples of Mari and Jun earlier, they tended to show up in brief moments while also being drawn very simply; plain white without much detail. In time, these brief glimpses began tending towards more prolonged, lingering shots, and with it came greater attention to the rendering of underwear. Animators drew the curvature of the hips, the lace on the undergarments, anything to heighten the impact of those fanservice shots.
I believe this is also partly the byproduct of the anime OVA industry that began in the 1980. With the combination of a higher budget relative to the amount of effort needed, as well as the assumption of a very hardcore fanbase with disposable income (VCRs were expensive back then!), it meant that they could take push the envelope when it came to fanservice. For example, while not rendering every possible crevice (that would come later with series like Godannar!!), the images below, from Project A-Ko (1986) and Devil Hunter Yohko (1990), are both drawn with great attention to detail:
This mindset then fed into the advent of late-night anime airing at around 1:00-3:00am in the morning. Beginning in 1996 with Those Who Hunt Elves, these series catered to hardcore otaku who, similar to the VHS owners of the 1980s, were willing to spend extra cash to see their favorite ladies in compromising positions. Combined with the general tendency towards extended fanservice stills, this meant that shows such as Mahoromatic and Najica Blitz Tactics (both shown below) allowed viewers to spend more time looking at rear ends.
The switch from cel to digital animation also brought a significant change. With digital animation came an easier time correcting mistakes. This was in addition to the fact that still shots drawn in great detail could be used to cover up shoddy or extremely limited animation or compensate for low budgets. Moroever, anime could not only render those still images of girls’ rears to the utmost degree of quality, but they could up the ante for home video release.
Prior to this, correcting animation for home video release only happened in truly dire situations, such as the infamous Yashigani crab episode of the TV anime Lost Universe. Now, they could not only draw the spicy stills, they could revise and refine them for the DVDs while also teasing the prospect of less censorship. Monogatari DVDs and Blu-rays tend to sell very well, partly out of powerful devotion to the individual girls of that series, and partly because of scenes such as the following:
If that wasn’t enough, magazines like Megami and Nyantype have devoted hundreds of pages to cheesecake drawings (or more), giving even more time for fans to look at and ogle female characters and their rears. For example, here is an image for the series Tona-gura!:
However, to limit these changes to anime (and accompanying media forms) would not make sense. After all, anime does not exist apart from the real world. Although the otaku stereotype is to prefer “2D women” over “3D,” I have no doubt that many people who would have been watching (and working on) these series were also watching live-action pornography. With the proliferation of high-speed internet starting at the turn of the 21st century, this also meant greater exposure to porn from outside of Japan, where big butt fetishes were more prominent. Thus, while I’m certain that men fond of large butts were present in Japan in no small number, this allowed big butts to reach people who might not have otherwise realized they shared this interest as well.
Eventually, big butts became a more common category for viewers of adult videos and increasingly sought after. By searching for デカ尻 (deka shiri, “huge asses”) on Amazon Japan, the vast majority of the results come from 2012 and later. They’re clearly a hot property now.
Due to multiple factors, including changes in technology, production, and animation, viewers and creators of anime were potentially given more chances to see big butts and butts in general. As a result, it increased the chances that people would themselves discover a penchant for large rears. As more and more individuals realized their interest in this fetish, it became a trend that could be catered to and marketed towards both inside and outside of anime.
Big butts have not overtaken small butts. Even the definition of what a “big butt” is differs from one person to the next. However, as a symbol of eroticism and sexuality, the buttocks has increasingly trended towards larger sizes in the world of Japanese animation. Where once finding a female character with a large posterior was about discovering the one character who could fit that bill (usually a more voluptuous type), it’s now become a recurring trait among multiple characters.