Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Honorable Mention)

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (HONORABLE MENTION)

 

These are the honorable mentions for my Top 10 Girls of Anime in chronological order. As usual, I reserve honorable mention for entries of ongoing or at least prolific interest – which in this case involves ongoing or prolific art or cosplay.

 

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(1) MOTOKO KUSANAGI – GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995)

 

Motoko Kusanagi, or more precisely, Major Motoko Kusanagi (or just the Major), is the focal character of the Ghost in the Shell manga and anime franchise – a franchise that, particularly with the original 1995 film (adapted from the manga), “all but defined Western conceptions of anime for the better part of a decade”. (Well, it and Akira). The franchise has had a number of incarnations in film and television series, with different narrative continuities and versions of Kusanagi (including the live screen adaptation with Scarlett Johansson, which was sadly underwhelming)

 

Major Motoko Kusanagi is a cyborg police officer leading the counter-cyberterrorist organization (and cyborg SWAT team) Public Security Section 9 in a post-cyberpunk Japan. The cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk of the film’s story arises from a future in which computer technology has advanced to the point that it allows members of the public to interface their biological brain or mind (as the titular ghost in the shell) with various networks, varying from simple minimal interfaces to almost complete replacement of the brain with cybernetic parts, and with varying levels of body prostheses, extending to fully prosthetic bodies or cyborgs (being the titular shell) – with the primary example being Kusanagi herself. Of course, this high level of cybernetic interfacing opens the brain up to attacks from highly skilled hackers, with the most dangerous being those who can ‘hack’ a person to bend to their whims – such as the Puppet-Master in the original film. Hence the need for Public Security Section 9.

 

And of course, being anime, she’s a hot cyborg – which is further enhanced by her most definitive costume from the original film, her “thermoptic camouflage suit” which is essentially a skin tight body suit.

 

Or just, you know, being plugged in and naked, as in some of her most iconic images.

 

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In fairness, she does have different costumes (or bodies) in different incarnations of the franchise. And it’s not all about appearance – her prosthetic body makes her effectively superhuman, capable of physical feats beyond more biological human bodies, while her mind-body interface allows for powerful feats of hacking.

 

Of course, the franchise’s enduring influence and popularity have inspired cosplayers, typically of her definitive body suit costume.

 

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Or just, you know, being plugged in and naked.

 

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(2) FAYE VALENTINE – COWBOY BEBOP (1998)

 

See you space cowboy!

 

Cowboy Bebop is a classic anime series, which does indeed involve space cowboys after a fashion – a fusion of space Western and film noir (through the films of John Woo and other stylistic influences, not to mention the music or jazz ‘bebop’ of the title.

 

It’s set in the late twenty-first century, as the remnants of humanity have spread throughout the solar system using hyperspace gates, and terraforming to the extent that other planets resemble cities or settings on Earth – which seems a little ambitious, even for its late 21st century setting. Earth itself has been devastated by some hyperspace gate accident, which is not entirely clear as “the show partially defines itself by the thematic choice to give everything a rich backstory but explain almost nothing in full”.

 

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Its protagonists are the space cowboys suggested by the title – or more precisely space bounty hunters, as the Space Police have reinstated the bounty system of the Wild West. However, despite collecting some impressive bounties, the protagonists seemingly remain in perpetual poverty, partly as they have to pay for their ship and all the collateral damage caused in collecting the bounties in the first place.

 

Violet-haired, green eyed Faye Valentine is the original femme fatale of anime. As for what exactly she is wearing in her signature outfit, I’m not entirely sure, but it seems to be the jumpsuit style of the future – to enhance her charms of course. She was the first addition (other than the enhanced corgi Ein) to the male protagonist duo of Spike and Jet. They first encountered her as she was working in a smuggling operation posing as a dealer in a casino and where she slipped the special subject poker chip to Spike by mistake. They cross paths with her again before she ultimately ended up part of their crew, although she never seemed entirely trustworthy.

 

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TV Tropes sums her up best:

 

“Faye always approaches the world from an angle: she believes the world and other people are out to hurt, use and exploit you, so it’s best if you do it to them first. Anything is fair game to be used to get an advantage on people, including cunning, trickery, abusing the trust of others, her sexy good looks, and when all else fails, a ship loaded with machine guns and missiles…Her exact background is mysterious, and when pressed for answers about it she simply throws out one story after another, each more improbable than the last. When not taking down bounties, she tends to waste all her money gambling in an effort to get rich quick and pay off the ridiculously large debts that she has, which is just as mysterious as anything else about her past.”

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It might be noted that much of her past, including her real name, remains mysterious even to her – due to amnesia from cryonic suspension from the twentieth century, her century of origin (so that she is chronologically – 77 years – much older than her biological age of 23 years).

 

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And despite her jaded outlook on life, she has a softer heart than she likes to let on – including a touching heartfelt moment as she attempts to dissuade Spike from seeking his own doom (for his lost love and perhaps the ultimate femme fatale of the series, Julia). After all, who can forget that final scene?

 

“Bang!”

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(3) CC & KALLEN KOZUKI – CODE GEASS (2006)

 

CC is the green-haired and golden-eyed immortal ‘witch’ responsible for the titular geass in the popular anime Code Geass.

 

You get used to such eccentric hues of hair or eyes in anime. I assume that all anime, no matter how mundane or apparently based in our world, actually exists in an unspoken alternate history where Japan, somewhat like the United States, opened itself up to large-scale immigration, but that the European or mixed population has otherwise assimilated to Japanese culture.

 

In fairness, I don’t think CC is of Japanese origin – indeed, her origin is mysterious, at least in the anime itself. Also in fairness, Code Geass is actually set in an alternate history, in which Japan has been conquered by the Holy Britannian Empire, which is so dismissive of the conquered country that it has renamed Japan as Area 11 and the Japanese accordingly as Elevens. This being anime, the war-winning weapon is of course humongous mecha suits, known as Armored Knights or Knightmare frames, given the deliberately retro-futuristic tone of the Empire. The Holy Britannian Empire is apparently what evolved from the British winning the American War of Independence and retaining North America, but then subsequently losing the Napoleonic Wars and Britain itself.

 

And in which everyone looks fabulous!

And in which everyone looks fabulous!

 

Interestingly, the world is contested by three superpowers that bear an uncanny resemblance to those in Orwell’s 1984 – the Holy Britannian Empire substituting for Oceania (with Japan perhaps substituting for Britain’s Airstrip One), the Chinese Federation for Eastasia and the European Union for Eurasia.

 

That is of course just the (mostly unspoken) backdrop for the plot of the anime – a disaffected former Britannian prince, Lelouch vi Britannia (no seriously, that’s his name), exiled to Japan as Lelouch Lamperouge, conflates his own personal vendetta against his imperial father with the Japanese revolutionary insurgency against the Britannian empire. All of which would have just amounted to a hissy fit in his palatial estate and prestige high school Ashford Academy, but for the Geass power given to him by the mysterious CC.

 

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CC is a pseudonym, as her real name is never revealed to the audience (although she does tell Lelouch). By pure coincidence, Lelouch, while half-assing it around with the Japanese rebellion, rescues her as a captive from some sort of mysterious pod (from some equally mysterious Britannian research project or something). Her name and origin remains mysterious, as is the power (and its source) that she bestows upon Lelouch – the Geass power. Presumably it derives its name from the Celtic geas, a magical taboo in the form of obligation or prohibition, as it is somewhat similar, at least in the form possessed by Lelouch – he has the power to give irresistible commands, but can only ever do so once for each person. Armed with this power, he hams it up as the masked vigilante Zero, akin to a Japanese V for Vendetta, but also leader of the so-called Black Knights rebellion, who use captured mecha suits.

 

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As for CC, she spends most of her time lounging around his estate, wearing his shirts and not much else while eating pizza as a running gag – from Pizza Hut, which has somehow remained the same in this alternate history (perhaps because Pizza Hut sponsored the anime). Perhaps more importantly, she is second to Zero in the rebellion (being of course aware of his identity), while also attending Lelouch’s school, because anime! (No seriously, most anime is set in some school or other). Despite her apparent familiarity with Lelouch, he never becomes attached to her (or any of the female cast), presumably because he is too caught up with his, ahem, best friend, Suzuki – ironically a Japanese national but Empire loyalist. (They’re not actually gay. It just seems that way and would arguably be much cooler if they were. ).

 

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CC is the ‘fanservice’ girl of the anime, from her initial appearance is in a straitjacket thingy (matching her captivity), which she then seems to retain as a stylish outfit. In fairness, the girl can rock a straitjacket.

 

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Although…the girl can also rock her weird pseudo-aristocratic Black Knights uniform, complete with hot pants and thigh high white boots.

 

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The other notorious ‘fanservice’ girl for the anime is Kallen Stadfeld, or to use her Japanese name, Kallen Kozuki.

 

Her names originate in that she is half-Britannian and half-Japanese, although fortunately has the privileged status of her Britannian father. However, like Lelouch, she is disaffected with the Britannian empire (due to the poor treatment of her Japanese mother) and joins the Black Knights Rebellion, while posing as a sickly student at Ashford Academy – because, being anime, most of the main characters are students and indeed students at the same school. O well – I suppose it’s just as credible as the focus of a Galactic Empire and Rebellion being the one Skywalker family.

 

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Kallen was quite the action girl, being the ace pilot of the Black Knights. So naturally they ramped up her other, ah , attributes for the fans – with close-ups of her posterior while climbing in and out of her mecha suit (leading to a fan meme Code Ge-ASS). And of course, she had an undercover mission in a Playboy bunny suit – which like Pizza Hut also survived the transition between alternate histories, although I like to think of Playboy bunny suits (and bunnies) as something of a universal (or mutiversal) constant.

 

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Although…the girl can also rock her weird pseudo-aristocratic Black Knights uniform, complete with hot pants and thigh-high boots. Now that’s a revolution!

 

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 (4) LUCY HEARTFILIA & ERZA SCARLET – FAIRY TAIL (2009)

 

I’m only slightly familiar with the anime for my next place entry, Fairy Tail – which has proved itself to be the more successful long-running Japanese comic or manga series since its debut in 2006 and adaption to anime in 2009. The premise does appear to be interesting, in which ‘wizards’ band together in guilds rather than schools, and as the highest practitioners of the art in a fantasy world where magic is widespread and functional (“found in every home, bought and sold in every marketplace”). So essentially an anime version of Harry Potter, but with a much hotter protagonist – Lucy Heartfilia, a girl seeking to become a fully-fledged wizard through the titular Fairy Tail guild.

 

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Apparently named after the Beatles song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Lucy’s primary magic ability is her use of a set of magical Keys of the Zodiac to summon celestial spirits (the signs of the Zodiac) to fight alongside her or empower her.

 

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Apart from her Keys, she also whips it good – her weapon of choice is a whip, a suitably non-lethal weapon for her good-natured personality. And titillating – for the kinky-minded.

 

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Speaking of titillating, she commonly appears in different or exotic costumes, including as a cat girl, because it is anime after all. Meow! Or more precisely, in Japanese – Nyan!

 

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And because it is anime, she also appears in the obligatory anime bikini or beach scene. There is a beach scene in virtually every anime, no matter where the anime is actually set.

 

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And also because it is anime, there is of course cosplay of her.

 

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The other major female protagonist for the Fairy Tail guild is Erza Scarlet.

 

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Indeed, at times she eclipses Lucy, if only because she’s yet another redhead, that recurring fetish of animators and comics artists, and a badass swordswoman to boot – reminiscent of one of my comics favorites, Red Sonja.

 

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In short, she is apparently the strongest woman in Fairy Tail, both physically and in terms of her combat magic – through her magical ‘Knight’ ability, she can conjure armor and weapons. She also has an artificial magical eye (having lost one in her youth) that grants her immunity to illusions and optical magic. It also makes her one of the hottest one-eyed female characters in fiction – although to be fair, I can only think of one other (Rhona Mitra’s character in the film Doomsday).

 

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And of course, she’s in the obligatory anime beach scene as well.

 

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She also is a popular choice for cosplay, particularly given the variety of her costumes or magical armor

 

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Monday Night Mojo – Top 10 Music (Mojo & Funk): (4) Ben Harper (Mojo) – Glory & Consequence 1997 (The Woman in You 1999)

 

MONDAY NIGHT MOJO – TOP 10 MUSIC (MOJO & FUNK): (4) BEN HARPER (MOJO) – GLORY & CONSEQUENCE 1997 (THE WOMAN IN YOU 1999)

 

“Every moral has a story

And every story has its end

Every battle has its glory

And its consequence”

 

First, some top ten housekeeping. Some may notice I seem to have skipped over fifth place to Ben Harper in fourth place. The reason is that I have revised my draft fourth place entry to special mention (as it just didn’t seem, ah, top ten-worthy), so that I have shuffled my previous entries up a place (with Ben Harper in fourth place, Jamiroquai in fifth place, Chemical Brothers in sixth place and Fatboy Slim in seventh place) – with a new entry in eighth place that I’ll feature in Friday Night Funk. Which brings to mind that I have revised my anticipated Saturday Night Mojo to Monday Night Mojo – as the latter has a better sound to it as well as a better match or mirror to Friday Night Funk.

 

Now on to my fourth place entry for Ben Harper. A voice like smooth smoky honey with a soft sad blues aftertaste – Ben Harper is an insanely talented singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, playing an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock. Despite his American origin, early in his career his music received more attention in Europe and was widely played in Australia – Harper has made comments on a number of occasions that his career was kicked off in Australia.

 

“I would rather me be lonely

And you have someone to hold

I’m not as scared of dying

As I am of growing old”

 

He has a number of studio albums with evocative titles – it is hard to beat Welcome to the Cruel World as a debut album title. For me, however, the height of his discography is his third album The Will to Live in 1997 and fourth album Burn to Shine in 1999 – with this entry, Glory and Consequence, drawn from the third album (although I also have a soft spot for the Kravitzsesque Faded). The lyrics just have that hauntingly evocative resonance for me.

 

 

 

However, it was a very close call between it and The Woman in You from the fourth album, which inexplicably was not released as a single.

 

 

“Love carved sorry in his face

The woman in you is the worry, the worry in me”

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Revised)

FANTASY GIRLS –  TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME

 

I’ve revised my Top 10 Girls of Anime to include new (and recent) entries for Kakegarui’s Yumeko Jabami (in tenth place), Akame ga Kill’s Esdeath (in ninth place) and Kill la Kill’s Ryuko Matoi (in eighth place) – with former entries Future Diary’s Yuno Gasai, Tiger & Bunny’s Blue Rose and the Ghost in the Shell herself, Major Motoko Kusanagi now as honorable or special mentions (although Yuno is still my feature image – I just can’t resist those crazy eyes!)

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Talking of a top ten girls of comics and a top ten girls of animation leads naturally to the combination of the two in their Japanese form – a top ten girls of anime, or Japanese animation, much of which is in turn adapted from manga or Japanese comics.

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As TV Tropes notes, animation is considered just another medium in Japan, lending itself to any story at any level, including erotica and horror. Yet much of it is directed at a similar audience to American comics. And so anime shares with American comics the idealization of its female figure, that uneasy dichotomy between fanboy male gaze and female characterization, although anime fanboys – or otaku – arguably take their, ah, enthusiasm, even further than their American counterparts. Such as dakimakura or body pillows with images of female anime characters…

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Anyway, let’s celebrate my top ten girls of anime, with or without body pillows.

 

 

(10) YUMEKO JABAMI – KAKEGURUI (2017)

“Gambling is more fun the crazier it gets!”

— Yumeko Jabami

 

I always have a soft spot for a hot slice of crazy, such as my tenth place entry, Yumeko Jabami from Kagegurui or Compulsive Gambler, one of 2017’s most popular anime.

 

 

She’s even got classic crazy eyes – her red eyes are literally her crazy eyes as her natural eye color is brown and it’s only when she is consumed by her madness for gambling that her eyes glow red as artistic symbolism rather than a literal color change.

 

 

As in so many anime, the setting is high school (seriously, there are high schools even in anime set in the afterlife) – and not just any high school, but one of those fabulously weird schools that you only find in Japanese anime. In this case, it’s Hyakkaou Private Academy, school for the very richest students of Japan, numbering many future leaders and professionals among its graduates.

 

Although I don’t remember having girls like this at my school. Of course, I did go to a boys’ school, but still!

 

Unlike other schools, where the main curriculum is such mundane things as academic study or sport, the focus of Hyakkaou Private Academy – or at least its absurdly powerful student hierarchy – is on gambling. Or perhaps rather, the art of gambling – “the art of reading others and taking advantage of chaotic situations”. In fairness, I’ve had something of the same thought myself – that everyone should be taught the two games that are the best games of skills for life, chess and poker. However, at Hyakkaou, the stakes are absurdly high – students are encouraged to bet their fortunes against one another, with the losers becoming slaves or house ‘pets’ to the whims of those who hold their money (typically the student council, or its unscrupulous President, Kirari Momobami). And those are just the penny ante bets – as the series continues, students make bets that are distinctly hazardous to life and limb.

 

Cosplay by Katyuska Moonfox

 

Enter the main protagonist (literally entering the school as a new transfer student) and titular compulsive gambler – Yumeko Jabami, who plays not so much for the win but for the thrill of putting everything on the line.

 

In the words of TV Tropes:

“Into this cutthroat environment, where survival of the fittest (and luckiest) is the law, enters Yumeko Jabami…whose disarmingly innocent facade belies a psychotic gambling addict, specializing in working around rigged schemes and beating her opponents at their own game, simply for the thrill of it all”.

 

Cosplay by Hane Ame

 

As such, she actively begins to disrupt the hierarchy of the school, while the school council tries to find ways to shut her down – embarking on increasingly insane games with the movers and shakers of the school, working her way through the school council with her goal set on a match with the President.

 

Cosplay by Eefai

 

I was particularly won over to Yumeko by recent lush cosplay of her, red eyes and all.

 

 

Cosplay by Andrasta

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What can I say? I’m a sucker for red eyes!

 

 

(9) ESDEATH – AKAME GA KILL (2014)

 

Followers of my Fantasy Girls will know I have a soft spot for bad girls (or a hot slice of crazy). And what’s better than a bad girl? A bad girl in uniform! After all, who doesn’t love a woman in uniform? Even if it is a Nazi-esque uniform in this case – but then, Esdeath is the villain of the piece.

 

 

 

Cosplay by Disharmonica (Helly von Valentine)

 

Akame ga Kill is an anime of a revolution against a corrupt and brutal fantasy empire (as opposed to the corrupt and brutal empires of reality). The protagonist Tatsumi nearly becomes a victim of its corruption and brutality in its beating heart of the Capitol, but instead finds himself recruited by Night Raid, a group of predominantly female assassins – including the titular heroine Akame:

As long as there is human nature, so too must there be malice. As long as there is malice, so too must there be evil. Evil beyond salvation. For those who don’t wield a sword, these vile demons are silenced in the darkness by a group of elite assassins.”

 

 

Cosplay by Vampy Bit Me

 

Of course, being anime, it’s not enough that Night Raid are predominantly female assassins (reminiscent of Kill Bill’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), but they are armed with magical totem weapons known as Teigu created in part from legendary animals known as Danger Beasts. (It is said that when two Teigu users fight each other, one must die – now that’s some danger beast action right there).

 

 

However, the Empire has a Night Raid or two of its own – primarily the Jaegers, led by the powerful and sadistic ice queen Esdeath. Of course again, being anime, she becomes infatuated with protagonist Tatsumi – although to his credit, he realizes that she is someone to run as far away from as possible, particularly given that her idea of a hot date is to chain him up by the neck.

 

 

That can’t end well – and it doesn’t – but needless to say, she was a favorite of fans and cosplay models, chains and all.

 

 

(8) RYUKO MATOI (SATSUKI KIRYUIN) – KILL LA KILL (2013)

“Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world, and you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!”

— Satsuki Kiryuin, telling it like it is

 

Kill la Kill is a 2013 anime produced by Studio Trigger – the production’s director, writer, and lead character designer also worked together on the famously over-the-top Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and it shows. Except whereas Gurren Lagann featured giant mecha, Kill la Kill featured schoolgirls fighting each other in their super-powered school uniforms. No, seriously.

 

 

Ryuko Matoi cosplay by Helly von Valentine

 

Ryuko Matoi is a girl on a roaring rampage of revenge in search of her father’s killer, which brings her into violent conflict (is there any other kind in anime?) with (honorable mention) Satsuki Kiryuin, president of the usual anime absurdly powerful student council at Honnouji Academy, ruling both it and the city it is located with an iron fist. “Satsuki maintains absolute control over the school using Goku Uniforms, which grant supernatural strength to their wearer and are distributed only to her most loyal students. When Ryuko shows up in search of her father’s murderer, she immediately suspects that Satsuki knows something and declares war on her. With the aid of a sentient uniform called Senketsu and a giant red half-scissor blade that can destroy Goku Uniforms, Ryuko fights to avenge her father and take down Honnouji Academy in the process while learning more about the mysterious Life Fibers woven into the Goku Uniforms that aid such power to the people who wear them and their origins”. Wait, what?!

 

 

Satsuki Kiryuin cosplay by Alien Orihara

 

As I said, schoolgirls fighting each other in their super-powered school uniforms (or in the words of an IGN reviewer, “magical girl anime on speed”). Except that those super-powered uniforms seem to transform into stripperiffic costumes or fetish lingerie – “Ryuko’s underboobs-revealing ass-exposing uniform is perhaps the most iconic element of the series” (which even I hesitate to include here) and “it doesn’t help that Satsuki has one of her own” (which such an extreme thong that I again hesitate to include it here). Apparently there is also an entire organization of nudist freedom fighters, because the true villain’s plot involves controlling people through their clothing. No, seriously.

 

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(7) SAEKO BUSUJIMA – HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD (2010)

 

Highschool of the Dead was a titillating zombie apocalypse anime, like The Walking Dead with breasts . The title is somewhat characteristic of anime, as it seems that the majority of anime are set in high school or at least have it as a substantial setting within their storyline (as well as having at least one beach episode, whatever the setting, leading to a particularly weird beach episode in this case).

 

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So naturally Highschool of the Dead features a zombie apocalypse from the focus of high school protagonists and at least initially from the setting of the high school itself – although being anime, a school where the criteria of admission appears to be bra cup size, both for female students and female staff, with the school nurse (accompanying the student protagonists) as the most voluptuous of all. Seriously, to paraphrase TV Tropes, it’s a school of buxom. It is of course a Japanese high school typical of anime – that is to say, consistent with my theory of an unspoken alternative history of widespread immigration into Japan, including European immigrants who have otherwise adopted Japanese names and culture, hence the varied character features.

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But back to the zombie apocalypse, a Japanese high school finds itself in the middle of an apparently global zombie outbreak – although no one actually uses the term zombie (as in The Walking Dead TV series) and instead refer to the zombie as “them”, a pronoun potentially lending itself to confusion (as opposed to The Walking Dead, which generally refers to its zombies as “walkers”). It’s also a little unclear how the zombie apocalypse could have spread across the globe – including to the American President on Air Force One – without becoming widely known, as in the opening episode a teacher is surprised and effectively ambushed by a zombie at the school gates, thereby spreading the pandemic within the titular school on an apparently otherwise normal school day. Maybe there’s something in the conspiracy theory by protestors subsequently in the anime that the zombie pandemic was a biological weapon of the US and Japanese governments. (Whatever the case, the world’s powers throw a little more apocalypse into the mix with other weapons of mass destruction, with nuclear strikes on each other).

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Amidst all of this is our main male protagonist, Takashi Komuro, pining for his childhood sweetheart Rei Miyamoto as she is dating his best friend Hisashi, although Hisashi is conveniently zombified in the opening episode – conveniently, that is, for Takashi’s prospects of renewed romance for Rei, less so for Hisashi. However, I, like most of other fans, wanted Takashi to just get over Rei already and pair up with Saeko Busujima instead, because she was awesome.

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Blue-eyed and literally violet-haired, Saeko was quite simply the most badass character in the anime. As president of the school kendo club, she was ready to fight off the zombie apocalypse with her wooden sword or bokken, which she subsequently upgraded to a katana for even more badassery (Everything’s better with a katana – just ask Michonne from The Walking Dead). She is always cool, calm and collected in poise, except when engaged in acts of violence, on which she seems to get off a little too much.

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Cosplay by Vampy Bit Me

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Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she was made for the male gaze. Seriously, the anime exploits its world of buxom to the fullest, combining bullet time with, ah, jiggle physics – particularly with Saeko, in a now memetic bullet time sequence, like Neo in the Matrix dodging bullets passing between her thighs and breasts. (It’s completely gratuitous, so of course I love it.)

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This is from the opening credits

This is from the opening credits

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*It also doesn’t hurt that she cooks breakfast looking like this.

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Sunny side up!

Sunny side up!

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Although I’m not sure how cooking breakfast in her apron and g-string tied into the plot…

 

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(6) REVY – BLACK LAGOON (2006)

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Black Lagoon is a not a fantasy anime, although in terms of realism the premise and setting are somewhat fantastic – akin to a Japanese fanboy’s or otaku’s fantasy of the world of international crime filtered through the films of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino. (Indeed, the author has admitted as much). That’s not to say it isn’t awesome, given suspension of disbelief – or morality. (Let’s just say that there’s not any good guys as such, just bad guys and less bad guys).

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Anyway, the anime is set in the fictional city of Roanapur in Thailand in the 1990’s – a city whose economy and existence seems to be based on international crime. I’m not entirely sure how that would work in practice, but it is the base of operations for virtually every international criminal organization – the Russian Mafia or Hotel Moscow as they style themselves (consisting of ex-Special Force veterans from Afghanistan), Chinese Triad, Colombian cartels and Japanese Yakuza, as well as intelligence agencies (notably the Central Intelligence Agency), corrupt local police and various independent operators or criminals (who tend to make the cartels looks positively restrained and sane by comparison).

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Among those independent operators, albeit boosted up the food chain by their good relations with Hotel Moscow, is the Lagoon Company of the title (although I am not sure that they are actually legally incorporated) – a team of American pirate mercenaries, led by Vietnam vet Dutch, named for their primary asset or patrol boat they use for smuggling. Essentially, they are couriers – ‘acquiring’ goods (legal or otherwise) or people and delivering them, no questions asked, on behalf of the various criminal elements who effectively run the city. The viewpoint character is a Japanese salaryman, Rokuro Okajima – soon nicknamed “Rock” – who originally was held hostage by the company and ends up joining it. See what I mean about otaku fantasy?

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This brings us to our fantasy girl entry, Revy. Revy is the muscle of the Lagoon Company. And by muscle, I mean guns. And by guns, I mean actual guns. She seems to be proficient in any gun she gets in her hands (including high powered rifles and grenade launchers), but particularly her signature weapons of choice – a pair of modified Beretta pistols – which she uses in the guns akimbo style so loved in action films (but which would get you killed in real life, due to the improbable aiming skills involved) and which has earned her the nickname “Two Hand”. Indeed, she has a near superhuman ability with firearms (and dodging bullets) unmatched by all but a few characters (such as the Terminator-like maid Roberta, whose skill Revy takes as a personal affront – as Revy tends to with all her more skilled adversaries).

 

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Her real name (occasionally referenced) is Rebecca Lee and she is Chinese-American, although we only see a few glimpses of her personal history and they’re not pleasant. She is easily the most foul-mouthed of the cast, no small feat in an anime in which the characters use the F-bomb as punctuation. Her mouth is matched by her vices as a heavy smoker and drinker, as well as her aggressive temper. Indeed, Revy tends to use force as her first and last resort, reveling in a love of violence bordering on sadistic glee (and characterized by what TV Tropes refers to as a Slasher Smile). She does seem to have an attraction to Rock (there’s that otaku fantasy again), which she keeps well hidden under a mask of belligerent sexual tension – and by belligerent, I mean threatening to kill him on more than one occasion (well, initially anyway).

 

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As a result of her past and constantly living on the edge of life, Revy has developed a rather cynical outlook on life:

“Rock, if you think about it, other than this, what do we really value in life? God? Love? Don’t make me laugh. When I was a brat, crawling around in that shithole city, it seemed God and Love were always sold out when I went looking. Before I knew better, I clung to God and prayed to Him every single night — yeah, I believed in God right up until that night the cops beat the hell out of me for no reason at all. All they saw when they looked at me was another little ghetto rat. With no power and no God, what’s left for a poor little Chinese bitch to rely on? It’s money, of course, and guns. Fuckin’ A. With these two things, the world’s a great place.”

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Her playful expression in this still shot from the opening credits is deceptive - normally, she only looks this happy if she's killing someone

Her playful expression in this still shot from the opening credits is deceptive – normally, she only looks this happy if she’s killing someone

In short, in the words of TV Tropes, she is a “sociopathic, nihilistic, Chinese-American thug” – so of course being anime, she’s a hot slice of crazy, accentuated by her trademark Daisy Duke denim shorts and tank top.

 

 

(5) SUPER SONICO (2006)

 

Super Sonico is a J-pop star come to anime life, the focus of a media franchise – not bad for her origin as a promotional mascot.

 

She started as a promotional mascot in 2006 for an annual music concert festival sponsored by Nitroplus, a Japanese company which seems to specialize in somewhat disturbing computer games or manga. “Nitroplus artist Tsuji Santa provided an illustration for a poster depicting a pink-haired girl wearing headphones and sporting a guitar…reception to this poster was overwhelmingly positive, and so, Super Sonico was born”. Super Sonico went from being the mascot for their music festivals to something of a mascot for the company itself – which, realizing her marketability, made her the focus of a media franchise, and ultimately her own anime series from 2014.

 

 

As for the character herself, Super Sonico is a gravure idol (a Japanese female model primarily modelling in magazines) and pop star in band FAV or First Astronomical Velocity (with two other females) – she does main guitar and vocals (and she has a weirdly demon-masked manager). Indeed, as part of her media franchise, the ‘band’ released music prior to her anime.

 

 

Her appearance is that of voluptuous girl with pink eyes and hair – and voluptuous means voluptuous, something emphasized in her art and figurines or statues (yes – figurines or statues!). Perhaps her most distinctive feature is her perpetual headphones – perpetual in that she’s always wearing them, even in the bath, although it’s something people are prohibited from mentioning to her.

 

 

She’s a particularly popular subject of cosplay. For one thing, there’s the ease of depiction by pink hair (and contacts if you’re keen) and headphones, as well as, you know, a bikini or something.

 

 

And a guitar if you’re keen.

 

 

For another, the character is a cosplay model herself – appearing in the style of other anime characters (as in the above image) or in different costumes such as ‘nurse’.

 

Hello nurse!

 

Or pink space cop…?

 

 

And finally, the queen of cosplay, Jessica Nigri, not only modelled as Super Sonico (in quite a few of the images in this feature, including the above pink space cop) but was also cast as her voice actress for the English-dubbed anime.

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(4) BOA HANCOCK (NAMI & NICO ROBIN) – ONE PIECE (1999)

 

“The world will never cease to forgive my actions! Why, you ask? Why, it is because I am beautiful!”

 

I am only slightly familiar with the anime One Piece, namely because it is one of the longest running (and best-selling) manga and anime series – originating in 1997 for the manga and 1999 for the anime. As such, it has accumulated a vast cast of characters and attracted prolific cosplay – indeed, for this entry I have featured the cosplay in preference to the anime’s art as it improves upon the latter, which is somewhat cartoonish in style (albeit it has evolved over time).

 

One Piece is an absurdist pirate fantasy (really) – with its protagonist Monkey D. Luffy (no, really) setting out to become the King of Pirates by finding the titular One Piece treasure with his crew of Straw Hat Pirates, and opposed by the World Government. It’s…that kind of series.

 

The world of One Piece is primarily an ocean world, inhabited by human and fantasy races, and with technology perhaps approaching steampunk levels – albeit with magical creatures replicating many modern conveniences, particularly electronic devices. And of course, there is magic – particularly the Devil Fruit, which give each person who takes it different magical powers.

 

 

But which One Piece girl to choose? The two female members of the Straw Hat Pirates, Nami and Nico Robin, get honorary mention, firstly because I can’t choose between them and secondly because there is one standout female character – renowned as the most beautiful woman in the world, the Pirate Empress and Snake Princess, Boa Hancock.

 

Boa Hancock is one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, powerful pirates that have allied themselves with the World Government and do its bidding in exchange for certain privileges.

 

 

Enslaved and branded (much to her enduring shame) in her youth (along with her two sisters), she rose up to become the empress of an Amazonian island – and renowned throughout the world for her beauty, ranked with that of mermaids. (Of course One Piece has mermaids).

 

However, that beauty is also her weapon. Apart of course from its usual effect on males and females (including her Amazonian subjects who adore her), her devil fruit ability allows her to petrify anyone who is attracted to her if she so chooses – which is to say virtually everyone, except for the obliviously love-blind series protagonist Luffy (and for whom she develops a hopelessly adolescent crush).

 

 

Apart from her beauty, she is also statuesque (at 6’3” or 191 cm) and is physically strong, consistent with her island’s Amazonian motto that beauty is strength, as well as being highly skilled in combat. She also has her, well, boa – a giant snake (which wears a wigged skull – it’s that kind of series) which serves as her companion, throne and weapon. (It’s that snake thing which features in some cosplay).

 

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As I said, honorable mention goes to the two female members of the Straw Hat Pirates, Nami and Nico Robin respectively.

 

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Which brings us to “cat burglar” Nami – originally a thief or pickpocket (who detested pirates), she is won over by Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates to become their navigator, motivated by her desire to map the world. Although her true love has tended to be money or treasure.

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Her navigational ability is reinforced by a magical ability to read and control weather, albeit through magical device rather than Devil Fruit. She has a number of costumes, but perhaps her signature costume is her bikini top and jeans.

 

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Nico Robin or “Devil Child” as she is known by her outlaw status to the World Government (derived from the ability to read things from the lost past censored by the World Government), is a subsequent addition to the Straw Hat Pirates, after they win her over with their crew loyalty as extended to her.

 

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Her Devil Fruit Power is the ability to project extra limbs or body parts, most demonstrably in the form of sprouting extra arms. Ultimately, her power extends to projecting limbs or any part of her body (or indeed, her whole body) from any surface, not just her own body or anything connected to it.

 

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(3) YOKO LITTNER – GURREN LAGANN (2007)

 

Yoko Littner is essentially the Red Sonja of anime – a similarly statuesque redhead, but with a massive sniper rifle (apparently modelled on the Barrett M82 anti-materiel rifle) instead of a sword. And just as Red Sonja fights in a chainmail bikini and boots, Yoko Littner shoots down giant mecha in the desert while wearing a bikini top, hot pants, pink stockings and boots. Indeed, when she wore a swimsuit to the beach, it actually covered more than her normal outfit. (It’s anime – of course, there’s a beach episode, even in a series about fighting giant mecha in the desert).

 

See? Eminently practical for fighting giant mecha in the desert

See? Eminently practical for fighting giant mecha in the desert

 

Any attempt at a short description of the plot of her anime series, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (or Gurren Lagann for short), doesn’t do justice to it, although as usual TV Tropes does it best – “a roller coaster ride of fan service” (primarily provided by Yoko herself), “over-the-top fight scenes between mecha, hot-bloodedness, epic sunglasses, massive badassery and mind-blowing heroism”. As TV Tropes observed, the series is what happens when Studio Gainax, the anime studio responsible for Neon Genesis Evangelion, is asked to create a Saturday morning cartoon. Indeed, the series could be described as the exact polar opposite of Neon Genesis Evangelion – similarly involving giant piloted mecha pitted against threats to humanity, but rarely taking itself as seriously and mixed with audacity rather than angst. Not to mention less of the “what the hell is going on?” mind-screw of Evangelion, although of course it is still present – it IS Studio Gainax after all.

 

Not to mention the mind screw of some very strange feelings for kids watching their Saturday morning cartoons...

Not to mention the mind screw of some very strange feelings for kids watching their Saturday morning cartoons…

 

As succinctly as possible, humanity has been virtually eliminated but for remnants in subterranean villages and some isolated surface villages, kept under the heel of ‘Beast-men’ (combining human and animal DNA) with giant mecha (large armored and powered robotic suits, controlled by operators inside them). And it just gets crazier from there, ultimately evolving to cosmic mecha IN SPACE fighting against eldritch abominations (so not too much different from Neon Genesis Evangelion).

 

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After all, this is a series in which one of the main protagonists, Kamina, declares “Go beyond the impossible and kick reason to the curb! That’s how Team Gurren rolls!” And in which one of the other main protagonists, Simon, spontaneously invents teleportation just to punch someone in the face (and knock some sense into them). And in which the title refers to piercing the heavens. And in which the most common catchphrase is “Just who the hell do you think we are?”, perhaps to capture the audience’s puzzlement as well as the cast’s audacity.

 

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Yoko herself literally bursts into the first episode as the main female protagonist (and eye candy) of the series – “a woman with a very big gun (and very little clothing)” firing at a beast-mecha as both collapse the roof of the subterranean village of the two male protagonists, Kamina and Simon. And that essentially defines her character for the balance of the series – “It can be a real pain being as tough as I am” as Yoko herself declares, as she continues to shoot down giant mecha through the series. As for her surname, that seems to derive from her surface village of origin.

 

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Given that her outfit consists of bikini top and hot pants (not too different from Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn), Yoko is eminently cosplay-able, and has indeed been the subject of eminent (and prolific) cosplay

 

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(2) REI AYANAMI – NEON GENESIS EVANGELION (1995)

 

And now the iconic girl from my favorite anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion or Evangelion in general (as a franchise) – in which traumatized teenagers in a post-apocalyptic Japan pilot giant mecha suits to fight eldritch abominations known as Angels. Which may actually be Angels in the Biblical sense – I’m not sure that anyone, including its creator, knew entirely what was going on. It…was that kind of anime. In the words of the Comic Buyer’s Guide, “this is a giant robot saga the way that Twin Peaks is a cop show”. Or in the simpler words of the caption for the TV Tropes page image – “Not pictured: Sanity”.

 

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One might have expected that I might opt for the other female main character, fiery redhead Asuka Langly Soryu (and she is pretty cute), but mysterious blue-haired red-eyed waif Rei Ayanami is more popular and iconic.  Also, she’s adorable – certainly to protagonist Shinji Ikari, although it may help that she was cloned from his mother. Again, it’s that kind of anime. Actually, there’s quite a few clones of Rei in the anime – “if I die, I can be replaced”.

 

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Due to her iconic status, she became the origin of a recurring character type of emotionless and enigmatic girl – so much so that TV Tropes has the Rei Ayanami Expy trope page for it. Rei herself shows all the common characteristics of the type:

  • Female Love Interest
  • Mysterious Waif with a Dark and Troubled Past
  • Teenaged
  • Pale skin
  • Short, usually bobbed hair, with unnatural hair color, often in cold tones like blue, silver, grey or white (also occasionally pink) – with Rei herself having bobbed blue hair.
  • Unnatural eye color, often red, blue, yellow, or even purple – with Rei herself having red eyes
  • Appears emotionless, quiet, stoic, or otherwise odd.
  • A tendency towards talking in a machine monotone or similarly emotionless tone.
  • Is not quite human, such as a clone, alien or robot, explaining their odd behavior.
  • Suffers a major injury or illness, or at least is frequently hospitalized (with Rei herself being quite the bandage babe)
  • Occasionally has a strong connection to a parental figure, boss and/or antagonist, and may even display undying loyalty to them.
  • Eventually becomes more emotional, such as by becoming a Real Girl (a la Pinocchio) or turning out to have a “sugar and ice” personality.
That's Rei in the center - such is my fondness for the character type that I know a couple of the others

That’s Rei in the center – such is my fondness for the character type that I know a couple of the others

 

As for Rei herself, she is the “First Child…a Shy Blue-Haired Girl. She is beautiful, fey, and otherworldly, and has a Mysterious Past that is only partially revealed late in the series”. So of course, she was destined to appeal to anime fans – there’s just something about Rei.

 

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In this feature, I have tended to prefer fan art to her more waif-like appearance in the anime.

 

Well, perhaps a little more waif-like than this

Well, perhaps a little more waif-like than this

 

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And some of her cosplay is even more dazzling than her art – including some by one of my favorite cosplayers, Vampy Bit Me

 

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(1) SAILOR MOON

 

“I am the sailor suited Pretty Guardian who fights for love and for justice — I am Sailor Moon! In the name of the moon, I’ll punish you!”

 

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There could only be one girl for the top spot in my top ten girls of anime – the titular protagonist of the Sailor Moon anime franchise. The franchise and its protagonist are each one of the most famous beyond Japan or anime fandom. In the words of TV Tropes, “to this day, Sailor Moon remains one of the most recognized and mainstream anime titles in North America. If you approach anyone on the street and ask them to name a Japanese anime, Sailor Moon will almost certainly be one of the natural responses”.

 

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And as for its protagonist, most, if not all, of my top ten girls of anime are not widely known beyond anime fandom – except for Sailor Moon, even if, like myself, those who know of her are not overly familiar with her role within her franchise itself. She also popularized the magical girl genre of anime and remains the most famous magical girl outside (and inside) Japan.

 

Created by pharmacist-turned-manga-author Naoko Takeuchi, Usagi Tsukino is a schoolgirl (albeit perhaps the blondest Japanese schoolgirl), whose life takes a turn for the unexpected when she discovers that she is the reincarnation of an ancient lunar warrior from the Moon Kingdom.

 

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With the aid of a feline mentor called Luna, Usagi must take up the mission of defending the Earth from the various evils that threaten it while searching for the reincarnation of the Moon Kingdom’s princess (and ultimately destined to become neo-Queen Serenity). Usagi grows into her role as the magical girl Sailor Moon and greatly matures as a result, gathering a team of four other reincarnated warriors and realizing her true potential as a cosmic superhero. The anime series itself mostly follows a Monster of the Week format, with subsequent series introducing escalating foes and matching power-ups, and greatly expanding the mythos behind Usagi’s past life in the Moon Kingdom and her fated future in the utopian Crystal Tokyo.

 

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Her iconic status is enhanced by the distinctive visual appearance of Usagi’s Sailor Guardian or Soldier identity, “Sailor Moon”. Throughout most the series, Sailor Moon wears a white and blue sailor fuku uniform, white and red gloves, red boots and crescent-moon earrings. And above all, there is her hair – o my goddess! Her hair! – her distinctive buns (odango) in their red hairpieces and those impossibly long tails. However, I have preferred fan art adaptations to her classic anime or manga style throughout this feature.

 

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Indeed, there is some impressive fan art adaptations in different styles altogether.

 

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Her top ranking is further secured as part of a team of cosmic magical girls – Sailors Mercury, Venus, Mars and Jupiter – which evoke the style of a K-pop group. (Sailor Venus sometimes resembles Sailor Moon in art, but for the distinctive hair style and coloring).

 

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Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Honorable Mention): Lust – Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)

 

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (HONORABLE MENTION): LUST – FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST (2003)

 

Mmm… slinky! But also, ah…spiky?

 

 

 

 

Lust is one of the personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins in Fullmetal Alchemist. Or rather, ah, homunculifications?

 

You see, Fullmetal Alchemist is set in a fantasy world ruled by alchemy, typically by official State Alchemists (who automatically earn the rank of major in military forces). Alchemy is capable of producing almost anything through Transmutation Circles, although it is governed by the Law of Equivalent Exchange – in which you have to give up something equivalent in exchange for what you want. Almost anything, that is but for gold and humans – I’m not sure of the reasons for the former (which after all was the point of medieval alchemy transmuting lead into gold) but there’s a heavy exchange for the latter and success has proved elusive. That includes the two protagonist brothers of the series, who attempted to use alchemy to resurrect their mother – literally costing an arm and leg for the one and his whole body for the other. (He gets better – his brother sacrificed his arm to restore his soul to a suit of armor).

 

 

Anyway, it is possible to use legendary Philosopher’s Stones to short circuit the Law of Equivalent Exchange – and also to create (and ‘power’) homunculi, artificial humans with superhuman abilities. That includes the main antagonistic force in the series, the homunculi created from and named for the Seven Deadly Sins by the primary antagonist of the series known as Father. Each homunculi is identified by their bearing of the mark of the Ouroboros somewhere on their body (guess where on Lust) and possesses a heightened regenerative ability, rendering them nigh indestructible, though not invincible.

 

 

Which brings us to the homunculi Lust the Lascivious – and with a name and personification like that, it’s not hard to see why she’s one of my fantasy girl entries. That and, well, vavoom! Or in other words, a statuesque figure (the author has admitted that she likes drawing buxom women) poured into a slinky black dress to match her own dark brunette red-eyed beauty.

 

 

Just don’t get too attached – although she does evoke the usual definition of her namesake, her primary lust is blood lust and she can extend her fingers into absurdly long and sharp femme fatalons. You know, like Wolverine’s adamantium claws. Only sexier.

 

Of course, she has been a favorite with cosplay models, including two of my favorites featured here – Vampy Bit Me and Katyuska Moonfox.

Friday Night Funk – Top 10 Music (Mojo & Funk): (6) Jamiroquai – Love Foolosophy (2001) / (Don’t Give Hate A Chance (2005)

 

FRIDAY NIGHT FUNK – TOP 10 MUSIC (MOJO & FUNK): (6) JAMIROQUAI – LOVE FOOLOSOPHY (2001) / (DON’T) GIVE HATE A CHANCE (2005)

 

“Baby baby, I feel these sweet sensations

Honey honey, looks like a superstar”

 

It doesn’t get much funkier than Jamiroquai – indeed, Wikipedia lists the band’s genres as “funk, acid jazz, jazz funk, nu-funk, pop and disco-rock”.

 

Jamiroquai is best known by its lead singer Jay Kay, dubbed the cat in the hat – particularly in his incarnation as the Buffalo Man, the silhouette character on their album covers – and his idiosyncratic style of dancing, showcased to best effect in the trippy video to Virtual Insanity, their best-selling single.

 

Or to its fans, the use of their single Canned Heat in that dance scene from Napoleon Dynamite. (Vote for Pedro!)

 

Their breakthrough album, particularly in the American music scene, was Travelling without Moving – apparently the best-selling funk album according to the Guinness Book of Records, with the aforementioned Virtual Insanity as its flagship single. Personally, I prefer the single Alright as funkier (“Let’s spend the night together, wake up and live forever”), although my true soft spot is for the sci-fi boogie of Cosmic Girls and its cheezy lyrics:

 

“I’m scanning all my radars

Well she said she’s from a quasar

Forty thousand million light years away

It’s a distant solar system

I tried to phone but they don’t list ’em

So I asked her for a number all the same

She said, step in my transporter

So I can teleport ya

All around my heavenly body…

She’s just a cosmic girl

From another galaxy”

 

 

However, my favorite Jamiroquai single and accordingly this entry is from their fifth album A Funk Odyssey (aptly enough in 2001) – Love Foolosophy.

 

 

Now, there’s a funk odyssey right there, although the official video’s a little drab.

 

Close-runner-up is a single from their sixth album Dynamite (and their singles compilation High Times) – (Don’t) Give Hate a Chance.

 

 

As you can see, it features an animated Buffalo Man in its quirky video.

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Honorable Mention): Esdeath – Akame ga Kill (2014)

 

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (HONORABLE MENTION): ESDEATH – AKAME GA KILL (2014)

 

Followers of my Fantasy Girls will know I have a soft spot for bad girls (or a hot slice of crazy). And what’s better than a bad girl? A bad girl in uniform! After all, who doesn’t love a woman in uniform? Even if it is a Nazi-esque uniform in this case – but then, Esdeath is the villain of the piece.

 

 

 

Cosplay by Disharmonica (Helly von Valentine)

 

Akame ga Kill is an anime of a revolution against a corrupt and brutal fantasy empire (as opposed to the corrupt and brutal empires of reality). The protagonist Tatsumi nearly becomes a victim of its corruption and brutality in its beating heart of the Capitol, but instead finds himself recruited by Night Raid, a group of predominantly female assassins – including the titular heroine Akame:

 

As long as there is human nature, so too must there be malice. As long as there is malice, so too must there be evil. Evil beyond salvation. For those who don’t wield a sword, these vile demons are silenced in the darkness by a group of elite assassins.”

 

 

 

Cosplay by Vampy Bit Me

 

Of course, being anime, it’s not enough that Night Raid are predominantly female assassins (reminiscent of Kill Bill’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), but they are armed with magical totem weapons known as Teigu created in part from legendary animals known as Danger Beasts. (It is said that when two Teigu users fight each other, one must die – now that’s some danger beast action right there).

 

 

However, the Empire has a Night Raid or two of its own – primarily the Jaegers, led by the powerful and sadistic ice queen Esdeath. Of course again, being anime, she becomes infatuated with protagonist Tatsumi – although to his credit, he realizes that she is someone to run as far away from as possible, particularly given that her idea of a hot date is to chain him up by the neck.

 

 

 

That can’t end well – and it doesn’t – but needless to say, she was a favorite of fans and cosplay models, chains and all

Friday Night Funk: Naughty by Nature – O.P.P. (1991)

 

FRIDAY NIGHT FUNK: NAUGHTY BY NATURE – O.P.P. (1991)

 

“Arm me with harmony”

 

I’m taking a break from counting down my Top 10 Music entries with a shout-out to a special event.

 

So this week’s Friday Night Funk entry is drawn from my long roll call of special mentions for mojo and funk that comprise the soundtrack of my life. In this case, funk extends to hip hop, although Naughty by Nature’s O.P.P does sample the Jackson Five and it doesn’t get much more funky than that.

 

To quote Wikipedia, “O.P.P. is a song by American rap group Naughty by Nature. It was released in August 1991 as the lead single from their self-titled debut album Naughty by Nature. The song was one of the first rap songs…Its declaration, “Down Wit’ O.P.P” was a popular catchphrase in the United States in the early-1990s. It was a hugely successful single…There was not a bigger, more contagious crossover radio smash in the autumn of 1991 than Naughty by Nature’s O.P.P.”

 

 

 

Of course, those lyrics (and video) are a little naughty by nature. Since then it has ranked in lists for greatest songs or singles of rap or hip hop – and playing on those initials has a personal resonance for me.

Mega-City Law: Un-American Graffiti (Complete Case Files Volume 4: Progs 204-207)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: UN-AMERICAN GRAFFITI (COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 4: PROGS 204-207)

 

And now we reach the conclusion of Judge Dredd’s Complete Case Files Volume 4 – with the highlight being the concluding episodes themselves, Un-American Graffiti. Apart from the play on George Lucas’ pre-Star Wars film American Graffiti, these episodes introduced the recurring character of Marlon Shakespeare. Shakespeare – or Chopper as he is known, from his graffiti ‘tag’ – is that rare example of a sympathetic citizen ‘perp’ character. Normally, the narrative places Judge Dredd readers on the side of the Judges – or at least Judge Dredd himself. In these episodes, and those involving Chopper generally, the Judges – and Dredd in particular – are the antagonists, and we sympathize with Chopper against them. It helps that Chopper is not your average Mega-City One ‘perp’. His ‘crimes’, from graffiti to sky-surfing, don’t hurt anyone (well, apart from property damage and the risk assumed by the participants for themselves) and are the actions of a juvenile or youthful citizen yearning to breathe free beyond the huddled masses of Mega-City One citizenry – requiring considerable courage, determination and skill on his part. Of course, they still set him squarely against the Judges and particularly Judge Dredd.

 

However, we have a few episodes before that first. In Who Killed Pug Ugly?, Judge Dredd solves the murder of the lead singer (or ‘voker’) of a band (part of the ‘ugly’ subculture that originated from Otto Sump’s Ugly Clinics, cosmetic surgery designed to make one so ugly as to stand out from the Mega-City crowd). The band themselves set up the murder to cash in on the fame – but unfortunately for them, the vocal chords transplanted to a new lead singer have a literal mind of their own through “cellulo-psycho regenesis”. In The Alien Way, an alien visitor is assigned to accompany Dredd on patrol. It’s something of a running gag in Judge Dredd for Dredd to be assigned to diplomatic or goodwill missions with predictable results – they don’t end well, as Dredd is not one for diplomacy or goodwill. Although in this case, the alien is representative of an even more hardcore stance on law enforcement than Dredd or Mega-City One – which leads to Dredd arresting the alien for attempting to execute one of Dredd’s arrests. And finally Alone in a Crowd shows there are no Good Samaritans on Mega-City One’s walkways, as ‘tap gangs’ of muggers can target pedestrians with impunity as other pedestrians ignore them out of fear of being next – “The walkway’s a gold mine. You can do anything in there an’ nobody gives a damn, so long as you don’t do it to them!”. As Dredd corrects the tap gang – “I give a damn!”

 

Now to the highlight of Un-American Graffiti, as the Judges crack down on Mega-City One’s latest criminal fad – graffiti or wall-scrawling. We are introduced to the causes of this criminal fad along with Marlon Shakespeare – the soul-crushing welfare drudgery and boredom that is the lot of most citizens in Mega-City One, with its unemployment rate of 87% or so.

 

 

The prospects for a young Mega-City One citizen are bleak. As Shakespeare’s teacher reprimands him for not paying attention in unemployment class – “we’re talking about unemployment here – your future!”

 

However, Shakespeare has plans beyond unemployment – at night, he is Mega-City One’s most daring graffiti tag artist, Chopper. Most daring that is, apart from his mysterious rival, the Phantom. And so they engage in an escalating ‘scrawl war’, with ever more bold and brazen tag locations – from the white cliffs of Dover (bought and imported as a tourist attraction by a Mega-City One billionaire) to the undercarriage of a Justice Department hover wagon. Admittedly, that last one is impressive.

 

 

The scrawl war escalates to a challenge to tag the most judicial landmark in Mega-City One – towering the Statue of Justice. Of course, the Judges are alerted to contest and keep the Statue under tight surveillance, but both Chopper and the Phantom evade the searchlights to climb to the statue’s badge itself. In one final twist, the Phantom is revealed as a robot – a city painting droid that mirrors Chopper’s own quest to escape from the mediocrity of its existence. Unfortunately, the robot is detected by the searchlights – and rather than being re-programmed, the robot decides to go out scrawling, leaping to its destruction and trailing paint behind it. As the Judges apprehend Chopper, he is still in shock at the spirit shown by the robot – and perhaps he shouldn’t be the only one, as Mega-City One might want to review its robots as citizens rather than objects. The Judges take Chopper off to juvenile detention, but he has the last laugh as the heat-sensitive paint he sprayed on the badge is activated by the rising sun to show his tag for all the city to see…

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED – COMPLETE CASE FILES VOLUME 5

Mega-City Law: Rogue Lawmaster (Complete Crime Files Volume 4: Progs 202-203)

 

MEGA-CITY LAW: ROGUE LAWMASTER (COMPLETE CRIME FILES VOLUME 4: PROGS 202-203)

 

One of my favorite single episodes, prog 203 deals with a rogue Lawmaster. It’s always been an amusing part of Judge Dredd’s dystopian satire that Mega-City One Judges ride the streets on their Lawmaster motorcycles armed with their Lawgiver guns. Both are as over the top as the Judges’ uniforms.

 

As one comics commentator (Chris Sims of Comics Alliance) marveled at Dredd’s uniform and motorcycle

 

“The one thing you can get just by looking at that dude? He has a lot going on. The costume is blindingly ornate, almost overwhelming in just how much there is to it — you can’t really take it in all at once, and when you throw in the fact that he’s riding on a motorcycle with five headlights, four exhaust pipes, two machine guns and a Crash Bomber stuck to it, it’s ridiculous. There’s just too much. Which is, at a single glance, the perfect representation of Dredd and his world”.

 

So of course when a Lawmaster goes rogue (from damage to its computer), it is deliciously over the top. We get to see one of the finest uses of Dredd’s catchphrase (“I am the Law!”) and some black humor at the collateral damage the Judges do in keeping Mega-City One ‘safe’ (from their own equipment) – although the episode is somewhat poignant in the context of modern shooting sprees, given that the rogue Lawmaster essentially goes on one.

 

But first we have the preceding episode in prog 202. It features that common offshoot to those recurring disastrous consumer fads in Mega-City One – the equally disastrous fad TV shows. We’ve already seen one with Sob Story – now this episode features Any Confessions?

 

It’s a game show in which contestants compete with each other to confess the most serious crimes (and are immediately arrested by the Judges). Dredd is not impressed, believing that the show incites crime, and he’s right. Not just in a feature of Mega-City One life introduced in this episode, citizens making spontaneous confessions to crimes they may or may not have committed – but more seriously, Dredd identifies that future contestants of the show are committing crimes for their appearance. Despite proving it, the Council of Five reject his motion to outlaw the show – but conveniently two future contestants pick that very moment to attempt the assassination of the Council to scoop the prize jackpot. Deputy Chief Judge Pepper (to whom we were introduced back in The Day the Law Died) is mortally wounded, using his last breath to reverse his previous vote and vote for Dredd’s motion.

 

 

Now on to that rogue Lawmaster, introduced with a spiel that with its “Synitron GK13 Audio Computer, Notron 4000CC engine and Cyclops Phylon TX laser cannon”, it is one of the most deadly fighting bikes ever devised. Although there’s not exactly a large pool of candidates for that title, as a motorcycle lacks that primary advantage of other vehicles, fighting or otherwise, for its operator – cover.

 

As the episode opens, we see a Judge Gorman shot and injured by munce raiders – munce being the main synthetic meat product of Mega-City One, although I wouldn’t have thought there was enough of a black market in it for raiders. Worse, his Lawmaster’s computer is damaged – by a lucky hit as Gorman calls it, or an unlucky one for everyone involved, as it first goes out of control mowing down the perps and then turns on Gorman:

 

“Bleeding on the public highway is an offence against the Litter Act! The sentence is six months!”

 

 

 

Of course, by six months, it means gunning Gorman down, or rather, dead. After all, its law enforcement options are limited to its bike cannons. It’s as limited in its design as the ED-209 law enforcement droid in Robocop, which doesn’t have any options other than the two cannons for ‘arms’. Or for that matter, the Jedi with their lightsabers in Star Wars – whose minimum response is limited to lopping off a limb or two.

 

Dredd responds to the alert call – he has to as we’re told that a rogue Lawmaster is automatic priority one rating and all judges in the area must respond. And no wonder given the sheer danger a rogue Lawmaster is to Mega-City One citizenry: “Loitering with possible intent! Sentence – three months probation!”

 

Of course, it makes no difference what sentence the Lawmaster pronounces – it’s all the same sentence as it guns everyone down.

 

The responding Judges attempt to bring it down, but that’s not easy. “Lawmasters bear extensive 12mm armor plating. Firelock all-weather tyres are bullet-proof. Only an accurate shot – or a lucky one – can damage them”. (So there you have it – every Judge is the equivalent of Batman with the Batmobile).

 

“Conspiracy to damage Justice Department property! 2 years penal servitude!”

 

The Lawmaster continues to evade the efforts of the responding Judges (although Dredd remains in pursuit) – all the while continuing with its garbled pronouncements of crimes (with sentence of death by gunfire, regardless of what it says):

 

“Lawbreakers in force! Taking avoiding action! I’m letting you off with a warning this time, citizens!

 

“Walking on a public walkover! Remanded for psychiatric reports!”

 

Dredd tries to intercept it, but not before it gets on the monorail and pronounces sentence on the passengers with virtual glee:

 

“What have we here? More lawbreakers by the look of you!…All must be punished!”

 

Dredd successfully boards the monorail, but unfortunately not before the Lawmaster’s shooting spree of the passengers. The two of them face off in a futuristic gunfight. The Lawmaster pronounces “Interfering with a Lawmaster in the execution of its duty is a serious offence. Sentence – 20 years!”

 

And Dredd’s reply? You KNOW his reply! “You got it wrong. I am the Law!”

 

 

And as the episode pointedly repeats, “only an accurate shot – or a lucky one – can disable a Lawmaster”. Dredd’s shot is accurate – piercing the fuel tank with a high explosive round, which takes out what little was left of the monorail train. Although the lone survivor does thank him, with a nice touch of black humor.

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED – UN-AMERICAN GRAFFITI

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Honorable Mention): Ryuko Matoi & Satsuki Kiryuin – Kill La Kill (2013)

 

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (HONORABLE MENTION): RYUKO MATOI & SATSUKI KIRYUIN – KILL LA KILL (2013)

 

“Fear is freedom! Subjugation is liberation! Contradiction is truth! Those are the facts of this world, and you will all surrender to them, you pigs in human clothing!”

— Satsuki Kiryuin, telling it like it is

 

Kill la Kill is a 2013 anime produced by Studio Trigger – the production’s director, writer, and lead character designer also worked together on the famously over-the-top Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and it shows. Except whereas Gurren Lagann featured giant mecha, Kill la Kill featured schoolgirls fighting each other in their super-powered school uniforms. No, seriously.

 

 

 

 

Ryuko Matoi cosplay by Helly von Valentine

 

 

Ryuko Matoi is a girl on a roaring rampage of revenge in search of her father’s killer, which brings her into violent conflict (is there any other kind in anime?) with Satsuki Kiryuin, president of the usual anime absurdly powerful student council at Honnouji Academy, ruling both it and the city it is located with an iron fist. “Satsuki maintains absolute control over the school using Goku Uniforms, which grant supernatural strength to their wearer and are distributed only to her most loyal students. When Ryuko shows up in search of her father’s murderer, she immediately suspects that Satsuki knows something and declares war on her. With the aid of a sentient uniform called Senketsu and a red half-scissor blade that can destroy Goku Uniforms, Ryuko fights to avenge her father and take down Honnouji Academy in the process while learning more about the mysterious Life Fibers woven into the Goku Uniforms that aid such power to the people who wear them and their origins”. Wait, what?!

 

 

Satsuki Kiryuin cosplay by Alien Orihara

 

As I said, schoolgirls fighting each other in their super-powered school uniforms (or in the words of an IGN reviewer, “magical girl anime on speed”). Except that those super-powered uniforms seem to transform into stripperiffic costumes or fetish lingerie – “Ryuko’s underboobs-revealing ass-exposing uniform is perhaps the most iconic element of the series” (which even I hesitate to include here) and “it doesn’t help that Satsuki has one of her own” (which such an extreme thong that I again hesitate to include it here). Apparently there is also an entire organization of nudist freedom fighters, because the true villain’s plot involves controlling people through their clothing. No, seriously.