From Cutie Honey to Keijo!!!!!!!!: The Rise of Big Butts in Anime History

NOTE: This post is NOT SAFE FOR WORK

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Introduction

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.

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Objectification of the Vaunted…or Something? (NSFW)

When I look at certain cheesecake-oriented American comics such as Lady Death, Vampirella, and Taboo, I find that they bother me in a way that fanservicey manga, anime, etc. do not. It’s something I haven’t entirely figured out why, but there’s an inkling somewhere in my mind that tells me to head a certain direction. This post is the exploration of that feeling.

Before I start though, I’m going to have to point out that the images used in this post may be considered not work-safe. Careful!

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Turds Smell Like Crap! Again!

So Anime News Network is previewing the new season of anime, as they always do. Some shows get positive ratings, some get negative, it’s the same old game. However, it’s gotten me thinking about just how often we go back to something even though it’s resulted in agony and torment in the past.

Among the new shows this season is Ikkitousen: Xtreme Xecutor, about Three Kingdoms-era figures reincarnated as fighting high school students where panty shots and exploding shirts are as plentiful as the air we breathe. The series is completely vapid fanservice and an exercise in selling lewd PVC figures. As expected, a number of ANN’s reviewers are rating the show pretty poorly. I don’t find anything wrong with that. What I do find wrong is that Xtreme Xecutor is the fourth season of Ikkitousen. By this point, the content of the series should be surprising to no one. Was it really that necessary to review?

I understand giving something a second chance and being burned twice over. I thought the first live-action Transformers movie could have been good if only a few tweaks were made, so I expected the sequel to be better. Boy was I wrong. I’ve also tried again and again to watch high level Warcraft III matches, thinking that this time I’ll be able to follow it! No such luck. And I’m not the only one who’s fallen into the shounen trap of waiting for a series to get “good again” while still following it regularly. This Ikkitousen thing however seems more like an exercise in futility.

I know it’s important for an operation like ANN to be thorough, and I can appreciate it on that level. Everyone’s putting on their best critic hats and trying to push something of value out. They’re talking about how the animation has changed, to what extent the series can draw in new fans, injecting song and dance and razzmatazz to their reviews, like the challenge is to write anything of value at all.

Actually, now that I think about it, that sounds like a pretty fun writing exercise.

The Colors of Modern Fanservice

As part of the ritual of watching new shows at the start of a season, I decided to check out the show Kampfer. Immediately upon watching it, I got this strong feeling that I knew exactly the kind of show it was going to be (and I was right). Sure, the character designs are what you expect out of this sort of otaku-targeting fanservice show, but it was something much more fundamental than that. Then it hit me: It was the color scheme.

Lots of anime throughout the years have had bright or cheerful color schemes, but there’s something very distinct about the kinds of shows that are made in order to get otaku in a tizzy. When it comes to art, color and color theory were never my strong suit, so I cannot speak with any real authority or learned foundation, but there is a certain optimistic quality to the colors used in Kampfer and shows like Kampfer. Even if terrible things happen to the characters, it comes across as a fantasy that wants the viewer to become engrossed in, but at the same time makes it easy to remove oneself from that fantasy if one desires to do so.

kkitousen is affected by this to a lesser extent, due to the fact that it uses colors with greater saturation and contrast, but it still shares a similar fondness for bright colors combined in specific ways. These shows appear to be aiming for an ideal, trying to tap into a core color scheme that is attractive to otaku on some deeper level.

The reason, I suspect, is that they are getting very close to the colors commonly used in erotic PC games.

Here we have Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien aka Rumbling Hearts. The soft gradients seen here which are common to erogames are also pretty much impossible for any anime to achieve on a consistent basis. It looks as if the staff working on these “erogame color” shows try to achieve the same effect by choosing bright colors with a little less contrast than normal.

I also suspect that this color scheme also exudes a very negative connotation among people who dislike these sorts of shows inherently. It’s probably something which jumps out at them subconsciously and tells them that they may be in for a rough ride should they continue to watch.

Color is such a huge topic that obviously I can’t cover it all in one post. For that reason don’t be surprised if I return to the topic again at some point in the future.

Lady Boobsalot and the Gluteus Gladius

With American comics and animation you’ve got Vampirella, Lady Death, Heavy Metal, and Witchblade.

With Japanese manga and anime you’ve got Ikkitousen, Queen’s Blade, Grenadier, …and Witchblade.

All of these titles and more center around buxom ladies kicking ass and taking names but always being just on the other side of emasculating so that we as guys can picture them in our fantasies, if that’s the sort of thing we’re into.

I can throw around all sorts of descriptive terms, like fanservice, cheesecake, girls in metal bikinis, girl power, but is there a specific name for this genre?

If not, I propose a few.

“Swordcake”

“Tit Fighter”

“Action Cleavage Boobs Fest”

Or perhaps, as one friend suggested, “Softcore.”