Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Special Mention – Cult & Pulp): Tyris Flare, Lady, Nariko & Bayonetta

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES (SPECIAL MENTION – CULT & PULP): TYRIS FLARE, LADY, NARIKO & BAYONETTA

 

 

TYRIS FLARE – GOLDEN AXE (1989)

 

Golden Axe was a series of ‘hack and slash’ video games from 1989 – which seemingly incarnated the pulp barbarian fantasy art of Franzetta or Vallejo in sprite form. I mean – you just have to look at the cover art of its three heroes, from the absurdly muscular Ax Battler (his actual name in the game) to the axe-wielding dwarf Gilius Thunderhead and of course our fantasy girl entry, the Amazonian Tyris Flare.

 

 

As for the series itself, it involved the usual quest to recover the titular Golden Axe in a medieval fantasy kingdom pitted against various dark lords with unambiguously villainous names like Death Adder.

 

 

And as for Tyris Flare, she had the usual Amazonian flair (heh) or barbarian fantasy girl chic of the chainmail bikini, albeit in a nice white with red trim.

 

As one reviewer wrote, “this sexy Amazonian fighter is a firm favourite with players due to her excellent fire magic and extremely flimsy clothing. Another commented “thinking back to when we first saw that enormous dragon head hove into view and roast the occupants of the arcade cabinet to charcoal while Tyris strutted her stuff in a medieval bikini. That was something you didn’t see every day back then.”

 

 

The last version of the game, Golden Axe: Beast Rider, only had Tyris as a protagonist, upgraded to a newer (or older) style of barbarian cave girl chic – sadly, it did not do too well with its poor animation and other flaws.

 

 

LADY – DEVIL MAY CRY (2005)

 

Devil May Cry is Resident Evil, except with demons.

 

Seriously, it was originally intended to be a sequel in the Resident Evil series, but developed such a different style that it was developed into a new series, centering on the protagonist Dante’s goal of avenging his mother’s murder by exterminating demons (as you do). As the protagonist’s name suggests, the game was a loose allusion to Dante’s Inferno. (What isn’t? My life resembles Dante’s Inferno…)

 

Lady was introduced in the third instalment of the game in 2005 as a freelance demon hunter. (Wait, what? There are professional demon hunters?). She starts as something of an antagonist to Dante, but of course comes round to Dante’s side by the end of the game. For most of her debut, she “could convincingly be read as a gun-toting Catholic schoolgirl with a skirt made of rifle magazines. who has an incredibly violent grudge against demons”.

 

 

Otherwise, she has black hair and that soft spot of mine, heterochromia (or differently colored eyes). Lady is of course not her actual name but an epithet attached to her by the protagonist Dante (“Whatever, lady!”). She does have an actual name (Mary) but has renounced it (it’s complicated). But who needs a name when you have big guns – a customized missile launcher no less, as well as a pistol and submachine gun with a bayonet attached to it.

 

 

She proved so popular that she had an expanded role in later games, albeit swapping out her schoolgirl outfit for some sort of pant suit. And spending her time lounging around with Dante’s other female friends…

 

 

NARIKO – HEAVENLY SWORD (2007)

 

Another ‘hack and slash’ fantasy girl entry, Nariko is the wielder of the titular Heavenly Sword in the 2007 game, “set in an ambiguously Asian empire where everyone speaks with British or Australian accents.”

 

 

Nariko’s duty is to protect the sword from the villainous King Bohan (with voice acting and motion capture due to the involvement of Andy Serkis and Weta Workship) and…who needs a backstory when you’re a fiery redhead and she-devil with a sword in the style of Red Sonja? A damn big, magical sword in this case. Although, is that a big sword or is she just pleased to see her enemies (or the angle we see it in the art)?

 

 

BAYONETTA (2009)

 

How could I resist a fantasy girl with guns?

 

And not just any guns. She’s got guns on her shoes and she’s not afraid to use them – doubtless, the craziest female footwear in any video game.

 

Cosplay by Katyuska Moonfox

 

Not to mention a skin-tight body suit that is literally her shapeshifting magical hair.

 

 

 

And glasses – don’t forget those glasses (upon which the game creator insisted, “intended to differentiate her from other female characters as well as give her a sense of mystery and intelligence – or possibly just his preference for women with glasses).

 

Bayonetta is the titular heroine of the 2009 game, a ‘bullet witch’ who is capable of shapeshifting and using various firearms or magical attacks (and hair when she’s not wearing it) to kick the asses of angels run amok in a fictional city in Europe.

 

Those guns also come in blue. What? Surely you didn’t think she only had the one pair of gun shoes?

 

 

Apparently, the game’s theme was “s€xiness” and the characters were designed to be “fashionable”.

 

And how!

 

Well this model doesn’t have guns on her shoes but she’s still nailed this cosplay

 

In the words of TV Tropes, “Bayonetta is a third person Stylish Action Beat ’em Up…starring the title heroine, a badass witch who uses her hair as her clothes, guns on her feet, and a fathomless fondness for camp”.

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Video Games (Revised)

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FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES

 

I’ve revised my Top 10 Girls of Video Games – adding another 2017 entry in tenth place, Ann Takamaki or Panther from Persona 5, knocking former eighth place Rayne from Blood Rayne into my special mention cult and pulp roll call. I’ve also shuffled other entries, particularly for a new top three including D.Va from Overwatch – as, in the words of Zoolander, she’s so hot right now.

 

If anything can compete with comics for their notoriety for, ah, idealized female figures, then it is video games – reflected in the game graphics or designs themselves, in art as prolific as that of comics (including adaptations of games into actual comics) and in the usual ubiquitous cosplay.

 

Although I'm not entirely sure why Duke Nukem has schoolgirls hanging off his legs...

Although I’m not entirely sure why Duke Nukem has schoolgirls hanging off his legs…

 

These are my top 10 girls of video games.

 

 

(10) ANN TAKAMAKI / PANTHER – PERSONA 5 (2017)

 

Skintight red catsuit? Check

Mask? Check

Whip? Check – o yes!

 

 

The game Persona 5 made its worldwide debut in 2017 and is, as the numbered title indicates, an instalment of the Persona series of fantasy role-playing games (which in turn are part of another franchise which is – look, don’t ask me, I just come to these things through the art and cosplay not the games).

 

 

The game is set in Tokyo – which is connected to the fantasy Metaverse. More about that later. Essentially, the roles for the role-playing are those of students, who can become superpowered Personae (hence the title) – manifestations of their psyches which do battle with supernatural enemies. They also assume identities as masked vigilantes known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts – the hearts in question referring to darker desires, which take actual shape within the Metaverse, a realm of manifested psyches (perhaps like the realm of Dream in the Sandman comic or the realm of Madness in the Shade the Changing Man comic). And it only gets weirder from there (one of the characters is a weird cat-thing from the Metaverse), all in an anime-influenced style. Again, don’t ask me – I only come for the cosplay.

 

 

Interestingly, many of the characters within the game represent Major Arcana from the Tarot deck – indeed, with all but the World card represented by characters – I’m a sucker for the Tarot. (And yes – I have a Top 10 Girls of the Tarot). The Seven Deadly Sins also pop up as adversaries, not surprisingly in a realm that manifests the darker side of the human psyche. I’m also a sucker for the Seven Deadly Sins, both their personification in fiction and my enjoyment of them in life.

 

Art by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

 

Anyway, our entry is the conspicuously blonde Japanese student Ann Takamaki, although in fairness she is actually identified to be of American origin (and her surname is actually Finnish – it’s got one of the those umlaut things over the last a). She’s also a model, because of course she is – it’s a video game.

 

 

Her Phantom Thief persona is Panther. Meow – or rowr! That’s persona in the lower case as opposed to the upper case Persona. Remember her Persona is her superpowered manifestation of her psyche (ultimately the goddess Hecate in her case) – her Phantom Thief persona is her masked vigilante costume identity.

 

 

Or in this case her kinky masked vigilante costume identity – skintight red catsuit, cat-mask, pink gloves…

 

Where was I? Oh – and her weapon of choice is a whip. And she whips it good.

 

Vampy Bit Me putting the me into meow

 

Sorry, where was I again? And naturally her Tarot Major Arcana is the Lovers.

 

Cosplay by Katyuska Moonfox

 

So yes – what’s not to love for her fans and cosplayers?

 

 

(9) 2B – NIER AUTOMATA (2017)

 

This game also had a spectacular debut in 2017, at least in terms of art and cosplay – Nier: Automata (or as it is stylized, NieR: Automata).

 

The game is apparently a sequel to post-apocalyptic game Nier – and things are even more post-apocalyptic. Post-post-apocalyptic, perhaps? It is the far future (11495 AD). Humanity, which wasn’t doing too well in Nier, is doing even worse in Nier: Automata. For centuries, humanity has been locked in a seemingly endless war against an alien invasion and its armies of machine lifeforms. The last remnants of humanity have fled to the Moon, deploying combat androids to liberate Earth for them. Actually, both humanity AND the aliens are conspicuously absent from their machine proxy wars – something which is explained in-game.

 

Anyway, the combat androids, dubbed YoRHA, are dispatched from an orbital base called the Bunker. The main protagonist is YoRHA No 2 Model B, or 2B for short – a female model android.

 

 

And what a female model! A white-haired pretty girl that has taken the world of art and cosplay by storm with her elegant steampunk appearance and long-legged look in a dangerously short skirt or her white leotard underneath it.

 

I’m not entirely sure why a female combat android model (and interestingly all the combat android models appear to be female) would wear what appears to be an elegant black lace dress – with thigh-high high-heeled stiletto boots and thigh-higher stockings (leading to the thigh gap dubbed zettai ryouiki in anime culture). She also wears a combat visor, which resembles a blindfold (for extra appeal).

 

 

 

Or for that matter why our most advanced military technology (in 11495 AD) seems to consist of…swords. In fairness, the androids do seem to have ranged weaponry and combat drones or pods to assist them, but they like getting up close and personal. Of course, the two things – combined into the proverbial hot girl with a sword – may just happen to be related to the fact that it is a video game (with the sword offering more in the way of gameplay).

 

 

 

Also in fairness, 2B seems marginally more practical than the A2 model, which resembles her in appearance but with longer hair and what appears to be a corset with suspenders.

 

 

 

There is also a male reconnaissance or intelligence model android – No 9 Model S or 9S – accompanying them, but he seems pretty useless and certainly not as fun.

 

Cosplay by disharmonica

 

“Emotions are prohibited.”

 

Well, for 2B perhaps, but she certainly has aroused a few emotions for game-players and cosplayers alike…

 

julietstarling

 

(8) JULIET STARLING – LOLLIPOP CHAINSAW (2012)

 

Juliet Starling has it all – she’s the top cheerleader at San Romero High School in California, she has her boyfriend Nick and she’s celebrating her eighteenth birthday after school.

 

There’s just the “minor matter of a zombie apocalypse tearing through San Romero High”, which is the premise of her “comedy horror action hack and slash video game”, Lollipop Chainsaw (of which one of the creators was James Gunn, more notably known now as the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films).

 

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Among the victims of the zombie apocalypse is Juliet’s boyfriend Nick, after he saves her from a zombie and is bitten in her place. But what’s a little zombie death compared to true love? Fortunately, in a line of inspiration drawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Juliet is a zombie hunter – with enough knowledge of magic to separate Nick’s head from his infected body, while keeping it alive and hanging from her belt as her companion through the game (to voice his displeasure about his predicament).

 

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Armed with her magic chainsaw of the title – and with her ‘health’ fueled by lollipops that are the other half of the title – Juliet sets out to stop the overlords of the zombie apocalypse.

 

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In the words of TV Tropes:

Armed with her magical chainsaw to keep any grope-happy zombies at bay and aided by the support of her family and utterly bewildered disembodied boyfriend, Juliet becomes the last line of defense against disgruntled classmate/emo-goth-wannabe Swan and the Dark Purveyors, a group of Rock’n’Roll Zombie Lords who want to rip the entire world’s collective head open and gnaw on the brain matter therein.

And if that happens, who’s going to help Juliet celebrate her birthday?

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Of course, apart from her iconic cheerleader’s uniform, Juliet has a number of different costumes available through gameplay, including some anime cosplay characters (such as the thematically similar Rei Miyamoto and Saeko Busujima from High School of the Dead) – and particularly including her pink rider body suit, possibly painted on.

 

However, it is her iconic cheerleader’s uniform that lends itself most to cosplay – including the queen of cosplay herself, Jessica Nigri, who was official spokesmodel for the character in the marketing campaign for the game.

 

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Of course, other cosplayers have also donned their cheerleader costumes as Juliet.

 

 

Go, San Romero Knights!

 

 

(7) KASUMI – DEAD OR ALIVE (1996)

 

You spin me right round baby

Right round like a record baby

Right round round round!

 

No – not that Dead or Alive.

 

We’re talking about Dead or Alive as in the “big, bouncy 3D Fighting Game franchise” in which “even though the male fighters (initially) outnumber the female fighters by a slim margin, it’s the women who are the real stars of the show”.

 

 

And yes – we’re talking bouncy as in its prolific use of Jiggle Physics, also known as Soft-Body Physics, “the art and science of simulating the behavior of non-rigid objects and materials in a computer”. In fairness, the earliest uses for Jiggle Physics were not for simulating, ah, anatomy but hair and clothing – and there’s some pretty impressive programming behind it. Mmm…programming.

 

 

Anyway, the plot of Dead or Alive is “about the dealings of the sinister DOATEC corporation, who hold the Dead or Alive tournament as a front to finance the genetic research in creating the ultimate fighter. A runaway ninja named Kasumi gets tangled in the struggle, using the tournament as a means of escape and to look for her lost brother Hayate, and take revenge on her traitorous uncle, Raidou.” Other characters enter the tournament, including Kasumi’s half-sister, Ayane and – wait, there’s a plot?! Like virtually every martial arts game and many martial arts films, the plot boils down to a setpiece for martial arts combat – usually in the nature of something something martial arts tournament something. They don’t tend to be too memorable. I only vaguely remember the plot of one of the most famous, Mortal Kombat, as some sort of extra-dimensional martial arts tournament – FINISH HIM! FATALITY!! Similarly, one of my favorite films of all time is Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon, but no one watches it for the plot – essentially revolving around a martial arts tournament held by a drug lord hoping to build a “fighting force of extraordinary magnitude”. Not without guns, you’re not. (And yes, I know that quote is actually from the parody “A Fistful of Yen” in Kentucky Fried Movie, but still).

 

 

As the ‘plot’ synopsis indicates, Kasumi is the main heroine of the series (“the face of DOA and eternal heroine”) – a ninja princess in exile whose signature fighting costume seems particularly conspicuous for a ninja (evoking the highly visible ninja trope), or indeed, lacking in any practicality for actual martial arts combat, but hot damn, it looks good.

 

 

Of course, she has had other styles of costume in her different game incarnations – with her appearance in the Ninja Gaiden game series actually resembling something more…ninja-worthy. According to Wikipedia, her character design is height 1.57 meters or 5’2”, 48 kg or 106 pounds and – of course – measurements 35-21-33.

 

 

Somewhat infamously, after their fights all the girls “tend to get together and play beach volleyball” – and to give their Jiggle Physics a real workout – in the spin-off series Dead or Alive: Xtreme, because of course they do. And of course there was a beach volleyball scene in the film adaptation, with Devon Aoki in the role of Kasumi – in fairness, it was probably the only memorable thing about the film.

 

 

 

Needless to say, Kasumi has been acclaimed for her, ah, visual appeal as well as for her martial arts ability (“She kicks high!”), as well as proclaimed as “nothing short of an icon”:

“This sultry redhead is also a fan favorite, and it’s not difficult to see why. In addition to being gifted as a fighter, she’s been graced with one of the finest digital bodies ever. Also, she is a freaking ninja.”

 

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(6) MORRIGAN AENSLAND – DARKSTALKERS (1994)

 

Darkstalkers was a fighting game series, with the twist that the game’s characters were based on classic literary or film monsters (although its Little Red Riding Hood character was the “biggest psycho of the bunch”).

 

Morrigan

 

Yet despite its large cast, the “most recognizable, prominently featured and iconic character” of the series – and video games in general – is its bat-themed succubus, Morrigan Aensland, which is only fitting as succubi just don’t get the attention they deserve.

 

morrigan

 

Of course, a large part of that is due to her appearance – “one thing that video game babes have over the real–life variety is that it’s much easier for a girl who’s made of pixels to rock an absolutely ludicrous outfit and still look hot … her appearances across the Capcom fighting franchises prove that the company has an excellent eye for the female form”.

 

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Her iconic appearance is as a beautiful young woman (belying her actual demonic age of centuries), with that aforementioned female form and long green hair, although the shade of green varied between art styles or artist. Her “absolutely ludicrous outfit” is essentially a black bustier leotard with purple nylons and black boots. She is described as 172 cm (or 5’8″) and 58 kg – and of course the game also has her measurements (86-56-83).

 

 

As for her bat theme, she out-bats the Batman. Her nylon tights are emblazoned with bats. She has bat wings – from her back of course, but also, more inexplicably from her head. And her outfit as well as her wings can themselves transform into swarms of supernatural bats.

 

And as for her backstory, she IS a succubus (with all the demonic sexiness that entails), but apparently of demon aristocracy – the adopted daughter of the demon king Belial – and born in Scotland (in 1678) of all places, although it doesn’t show in her game accent.

 

morrigan17edf181a37e1b61f10074fb3c344821-d7zrr1y

 

Given her iconic status, she might rank a little higher – but for the fact that there hasn’t been a new Darkstalkers game since the 1990’s. Oh – and those bat wings from her head. Also, there’s her sprite art in the game itself, but fortunately there is her extensive fan art and cosplay…

 

 

(5) MAI SHIRANUI – FATAL FURY / KING OF FIGHTERS (1992)

 

I do like my ninja girls!

 

Not surprisingly, they are a staple of the fighting game genre of video games. Mai Shiranui is yet another ninja girl or kunoichi. And as usual for ninja girls in popular culture, her signature fighting costume seems distinctly un-ninja-like or particularly conspicuous for a ninja (that highly visible ninja trope again). Firstly, there’s not much of it, all the better to display her, ah, jiggle physics (literally her trademark fighting stance – or bounce). Indeed, it was a challenge finding art that wasn’t, ah, exploitative. (Apparently that aspect of her character was inspired by tales of kunoichi using their bodies for seduction and distraction – I’m certainly distracted!). Secondly, it’s red – and rather weird in its design, not least in those weird tassel and ball things (although I like her little ninja footwear or tabi).

 

The many faces of Mai Shirunai. Actually, they’re pretty much the same face

 

She made her debut in the Fatal Fury fighting game series in 1992 – a series which consistently features that usual plot excuse of martial arts action set pieces, a martial arts tournament (which also strangely seem to be run by crime lords). The original game was set in the imaginatively named South Town in the United State (with its protagonist Bogard brothers, one of whom is the object of Mai’s infatuation). From there, it becomes insanely complicated – as the Fatal Fury characters then featured in King of Fighters, a crossover series combining the company’s other fighting game series.

 

 

The development of her character is quite intriguing, from her intended origin as a “sexy and beautiful kunoichi” (with her official character description in games as the “Gorgeous Ninja” or the “Knock-Out Ninja”). Apparently, her, ah, bust and buttocks were modelled after two different Japanese actresses (and her costumes certainly don’t let them go to waste). Otherwise, she “represents the ideal of a Japanese woman – or Yamato nadeshiko. Her profile lists her height, weight and measurements, because of course it does (1.64 m or 5’4”, 48 kg or 106 pounds and 87-55-91 or 34-22-36).

 

 

Her first name Mai is the Japanese word for dance and her surname is the Japanese word for an atmospheric ‘ghost-light’ phenomenon, referencing her pyrokinetic abilities. She has the ability to create and control fire – which she can use to cloak herself in fire, channel it through her clothes or weapons and cause explosions. Speaking of weapons, her weapon of choice is the characteristic kunoichi set of folding fans or tessen.

 

Cosplay by Giorgia Vecchini

 

“Largely due to her sex appeal, Mai has become one of the most popular, recognizable and celebrated female characters of the fighting game genre and video gaming in general, especially in Japan, China and some other East Asian countries”.

 

 

She has been a recurring character in the franchise as it has crossed into other games or media – anime, comics and the usual mediocre live-action film loosely based on the game, as well as the ubiquitous cosplay.

 

That’s one of her folding fans, by the way

 

In the words of Anime News Network – “Like it or not, Mai Shiranui is the most popular character from The King of Fighters…it’s Mai that everyone remembers for one reason or another” (I can think of at least two reasons). “And it’s Mai who gets the most merchandise, Mai whose absence from The King of Fighters XII set off a fan chorus of “No Mai, no buy,” and Mai who crosses over to other series – indeed, to other characters, as according to Hardcore Gamers magazine, Mai became a “leading figure in fighting games to the point that many fighting games characters feature characters looking oddly like her” (not least one other top ten entry, Kasumi from Dead or Alive).

 

 

(4) TIFA LOCKHART – FINAL FANTASY (1997)

 

I could well (and will) do a top 10 girls from the Final Fantasy game franchise alone, at least judging by its insanely popular cosplay. The game series itself is highly popular, in its fifteenth incarnation as of 2016, with the franchise also extending to anime or manga, CGI films and novels. Its popularity is helped by its outstanding production values and photo-realistic art in later versions.

 

 

It is a fantasy adventure role-playing game, in which the characters fight to save the world from evil. You know, usual fantasy stuff. And it has color-coded schools of magic, always a fascination of mine in fantasy – black magic or mages that focus on harming enemies, white magic or mages that focus on healing or helping allies, red magic or mages as a combination of both and so on (as well as more thematic schools of magic, such as summoning). However, the magic is combined with more advanced technology than the usual default medieval technology of high fantasy – airships and vehicles, guns and machines.

 

 

Tifa Lockhart is introduced as a character in Final Fantasy VII, the seventh edition of the game – which coincidentally (or not) was the same version of the game that broke through to widespread popularity in the Western world, as opposed to the Asian gaming market. The plot is too convoluted for a brief synopsis – Tifa is a childhood friend of (and has a crush on) protagonist pretty boy Cloud and joins him in what boils down to some sort of environmental resistance to a power company. That sounds mundane for a fantasy world, until you consider that it is a world-controlling corporation using the planet’s life essence as an energy source. You know, usual corporate stuff, even in our world.

 

 

Like any good role-playing game, Final Fantasy has character classes – and Tifa is of the monk character class, a combination of martial arts and mystical training (although a reasonably useless character class in Dungeons & Dragons). Her character design, however, is unlike that of your traditional monk – white tank top and black mini-skirt (with braces). The costume does vary, although the mini-skirt is a recurring staple. Apparently, there was a consensus amidst the game staff about the mini-skirt, giving her freedom of movement – or perhaps more honestly, “giving a considerable degree of exposure”.

 

“Exposure” – Tifa demonstrating the perils of a mini-skirt in a fantasy role-playing game

 

Most of all, she has distinctly un-monk-like measurements, because of course she has measurements, as all female characters in video games seem to do – 36-24-35″ (or 92-60-88 cm), standing at 5 feet 6 inches or 167 cm.

 

Tifa demonstrating her measurements

 

Not surprisingly, she has been named the pin-up girl of the “cyber generation” by no less than The New York Times.

 

You didn’t think I was going to have this entry without some Vampy Bit Me cosplay, did you? Of course not!

 

And of course she’s been a pin-up girl for cosplayers, albeit eclipsed in recent times by our third place entry.

 

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(3) D. VA – OVERWATCH (2016)

 

“Nerf this!”

 

My third place entry is one of the newer girls on the block – D. Va from Overwatch, a “team-based multi-player first person video shooter game developed and published” in May 2016 by Blizzard Entertainment, the same people behind World of Warcraft, and which has become equally as prolifically popular, at least in art and cosplay.

 

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It was hard to choose as there are an number of female player characters, some of which came very close to claiming this spot (hello Widowmaker!), but ultimately I went with D. Va because she’s simply too adorable – and iconic of the game (and gaming in general).

 

As for the game background story, Overwatch is an “international task force of soldiers, scientists, adventurers and oddities” that was formed in 2046 in response to the global catastrophe known as the Omnic crisis – that standard trope of SF, a Robot War, after the so-called Omnic line of construction robots went rogue and militarized themselves. It was subsequently de-commissioned, only to be called for again thirty years later (in 2076) due to the activities of the mysterious Talon terrorist organization.

 

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As for D.Va herself, that’s the call sign of South Korean girl Hana Song, a 19 year-old professional gamer – who reads something like a characteristic blend of anime and gamer dream girl, with some K-pop diva thrown into the blend. Her combat strength comes from her mecha robot suit, with the archetypal anime mecha backstory to match. During the Omnic crisis, an Omnic robot ‘monster’ rose like Godzilla from the East China Sea (presumably from a background of constructing deep sea rigs or something like that) to wreak devastation on coastal cities in South Korea and neighboring countries.

 

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In response, South Korea developed the Mobile Exo-Force of the Korean Army (MEKA). Originally a unit of drones, they had to adapt to piloted mecha (due to disruption of the drone units), but struggling to find suitable pilots, they turned to the country’s professional gamers, because of course they did – it’s set in a video game. Top stars were drafted, including reigning world champion D. Va.

 

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And how! Clad in a skin-tight cat suit with a pink bunny girl theme – “her gameplay icon consists of a white bunny, she has a bunny decal sticker on her chest, and her gun even has a pink rabbit keychain”. For that matter, her mecha suit even resembles something of a stylized pink bunny and she often resembles a bunny girl herself, with her face markings evoking whiskers and her headset bunny ears.

 

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Of course, this is often emphasized in art and cosplay by placing her in a Playboy bunny costume.

 

D.Va Bunny Suit Cosplay Costume2

 

And speaking of cosplay – she’s an animesque South Korean gamer girl in a cat suit with a pink bunny theme. So of course she’s a popular subject of cosplay.

 

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That’s too much cuteness right there!

 

 

(2) AHRI – LEAGUE OF LEGENDS (2011)

 

Foxy lady!

 

I could just continue with the lyrics of Jimi Hendrix’s song but…

 

League of Legends (or LoL – lol) is a multiplayer online fantasy role-playing game in a similar style to World of Warcraft, although it has surpassed the latter in popularity since its release in 2009. The game’s popularity has also extended into merchandise and other media. The game mechanic is essentially that players control a character or ‘champion’ with distinctive abilities in the fantasy world of Runeterra, who then battles against other champions – “the champions and setting blend a variety of elements, including high fantasy, steampunk, folklore, and Lovecraftian horror”.

 

 

This insanely popular game has an insanely massive backstory or ‘lore’ to match – it has evolved from the original titular League of Legend (a magical battle arena used used to settle disputes between the competing fantasy factions) to the aptly named Universe, an extensive encyclopedia website (as well as written stories, artwork, comics, animations and other media).

 

 

So the choice of fantasy girl for this entry was tricky (and indeed deserving of its own top ten list), as there are again an insanely large number of characters from which to choose – 136 champions as at April 2017 – of which there are a number of female characters that are insanely hot. That’s even more so as each character has a number of variant appearances or ‘skins’, as well as other customizations.

 

 

In the end, however, there could be only one – Ahri the Nine-Tailed Fox. With her shapely form in her revealing, ah, skins, she has consistently appeared at the top of lists or polls for “the most desirable girls in the League” – which is only apt, as it reflects her seductive nature in the game itself. “To wit, she is so attractive that the sheer amount of s€xiness she puts out is a canonically-accepted game mechanic”. So much so that even other girls, not to mention otherworldly beings and eldritch abominations can find her attractive – and if they don’t, she can make them, as the most distinctive of her game abilities is a charm spell in the form of a blown kiss and shape of a heart.

 

 

As for her backstory, she was a literal fox, albeit smarter than the average fox, given that she was that foxy magical being known in Japanese folklore as a kitsune (or more precisely the somewhat more vampiric Korean equivalent known as a gumiho) – with intelligence and magic (including enchantment, illusion and shapeshifting) right down to the additional tails they grow as they get older, up to nine in total.

 

However, Ahri had ambitions to shift to a human shape and so she absorbed the life essence of a dying mage on a battlefield. With her newfound humanoid form, magic and seductive charm, she continued to absorb the life essence of men, until she contracted a case of conscience from – and about- sucking souls. (She can still do it but she’s just nicer about it).

 

 

In-game her character is a “deadly mage-assassin reliant on a heart-shaped Charm spell with a seduction-heavy theme and backstory”. She has taken to her human shape, although she retains such fox-like characteristics (or vulpine characteristics, if you want to be fancy about it) – her brightly colored eyes, whisker-like facial markings, cute fox ears and above all those nine fluffy  and incredibly agile tails, which resemble luxurious pillows on which she often lounges seductively.

 

And how! She’s seductive in her classic variant, but then there’s her variant ‘skins’ (some of which sound like various fashion or fragrance lines) – Arcade, Challenger, Dynasty, Foxfire and Midnight.

 

Perhaps the most notorious of her alternative ‘skins’ is her K-pop Popstar (or Generation) ‘skin’.

 

 

And then there’s her bikini or swimsuit style, which doesn’t seem to originate in any particular ‘skin’ but in fan adaptations or art and cosplay

 

Those tails sure do look comfy…

 

Love those tails!

And one can see why. Foxy lady, indeed! Now cue the Hendrix…

Foxy, Foxy

You know you are a cute little heart breaker

Foxy yeah,

And you know you are a sweet little lover maker

Foxy

I wanna take you home, yeah

I won’t do you no harm

You’ve got to be all mine, all mine

ooh Foxy Lady

Foxy, Foxy

 

 

(1) LARA CROFT – TOMB RAIDER (1996)

 

Could there be any doubt? Just as for my top girl of comics and my top girl of animation, there could only be one girl in the top spot as THE most famous, THE most iconic and THE most enduring action girl in video games (or indeed, video games protagonist in general) – the first (if not only) female video game character most people would name as such: Lara Croft, tomb raider. (Indeed, she holds a Guinness World Record for most recognized female video game character).

 

 

Tomb Raider is a video game franchise with Lara as the titular tomb raider and adventurer archaeologist (who, along with Indiana Jones, made archaeology seem adventurous rather than the boring dusting of broken pottery that it is in reality). The games have her trotting the globe, raiding tombs for treasure while avoiding rival hunters, wildlife, and various death traps.

 

 

Since its debut in 1996, the games have sold millions of copies and extended into comics, films (with Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander in the title role) and an animated series.

 

 

As for Lara herself, does she need any introduction? “A British archaeologist who has a knack for descending into trap-riddled tombs and ruins, and loves every bit of it”.

 

 

Armed with her wits and her trusty dual pistols” (with seemingly limitless ammunition, “Lara uncovers secrets across the globe stopping at nothing to get what she wants”. She is the archetypal video game action girl, “practically the trope codifier” for female video game protagonists of this type, and “at the height of her popularity, she was probably the best recognized and most popular video game character originating in the western hemisphere”.

 

 

Of course, two continuity reboots have led to three radically different Laras, while changing game design has multiplied these Laras even more, with alternate outfits (as well as magazine advertisements) from wet suits to bikinis to cocktail dresses.

 

 

Throughout her incarnations, she has been a s€x symbol, one of the earliest in the video game industry to achieve widespread attention, portrayed by official models and licensed for promotion or appearances – “as of June 2016, Lara Croft has been featured on over 1,100 magazine covers surpassing any supermodel”.

 

 

In appearance, she is depicted with brown eyes and reddish-brown to brown hair, frequently kept in a plait or ponytail, with her classic costume of turquoise tank top, light brown shorts, boots and socks (although, as noted above, there are variations on the theme and different costumes).

 

 

Her basic (or classic) costume makes for prolific cosplay – not to mention her official models. All hail Lara Croft, Tomb Raider and goddess of video games!

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Video Games: (10) Ann Takamaki / Panther – Persona 5 (2017)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF VIDEO GAMES: (10) ANN TAKAMAKI / PANTHER – PERSONA 5 (2017)

 

Skintight red catsuit? Check

Mask? Check

Whip? Check – o yes!

 

 

It’s time to update my Top 10 Girls of Video Games with a new entry from a game that made its world-wide debut in 2017, resulting in some impressive art and cosplay. (This new entry effectively displaces Rayne of Blood Rayne from my top 10 to my special mention roll call of cult and pulp entries).

 

The game Persona 5 is, as the numbered title indicates, an instalment of the Persona series of fantasy role-playing games (which in turn are part of another franchise which is – look, don’t ask me, I just come to these things through the art and cosplay not the games).

 

 

The game is set in Tokyo – which is connected to the fantasy Metaverse. More about that later. Essentially, the roles for the role-playing are those of students, who can become superpowered Personae (hence the title) – manifestations of their psyches which do battle with supernatural enemies. They also assume identities as masked vigilantes known as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts – the hearts in question referring to darker desires, which take actual shape within the Metaverse, a realm of manifested psyches (perhaps like the realm of Dream in the Sandman comic or the realm of Madness in the Shade the Changing Man comic). And it only gets weirder from there (one of the characters is a weird cat-thing from the Metaverse), all in an anime-influenced style. Again, don’t ask me – I only come for the cosplay.

 

 

 

Interestingly, many of the characters within the game represent Major Arcana from the Tarot deck – indeed, with all but the World card represented by characters – I’m a sucker for the Tarot. (And yes – I have a Top 10 Girls of the Tarot). The Seven Deadly Sins also pop up as adversaries, not surprisingly in a realm that manifests the darker side of the human psyche. I’m also a sucker for the Seven Deadly Sins, both their personification in fiction and my enjoyment of them in life.

 

Art by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

 

Anyway, our entry is the conspicuously blonde Japanese student Ann Takamaki, although in fairness she is actually identified to be of American origin (and her surname is actually Finnish – it’s got one of the those umlaut things over the last a). She’s also a model, because of course she is – it’s a video game.

 

 

Her Phantom Thief persona is Panther. Meow – or rowr! That’s persona in the lower case as opposed to the upper case Persona. Remember her Persona is her superpowered manifestation of her psyche (ultimately the goddess Hecate in her case) – her Phantom Thief persona is her masked vigilante costume identity.

 

 

Or in this case her kinky masked vigilante costume identity – skintight red catsuit, cat-mask, pink gloves…

 

Where was I? Oh – and her weapon of choice is a whip. And she whips it good.

 

 

 

Vampy Bit Me putting the me into meow

 

Sorry, where was I again? And naturally her Tarot Major Arcana is the Lovers.

 

Cosplay by Katyuska Moonfox

 

So yes – what’s not to love for her fans and cosplayers?

Top 10 Girls of Anime (Special Mention) – Cult & Pulp

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (SPECIAL MENTION) – CULT & PULP

 

I’ve revised my Top 10 Girls of Anime (Special Mention – Cult & Pulp) entries to add in a few entries shuffled from former honorable mention.

 

Essentially, I round out my Top 10 Girls of Anime with my roll call of cult and pulp favorites that fall short of the ongoing interest (typically as in more prolific art or cosplay) of my honorable mentions or the iconic (or idiosyncratic) status of my special mentions.

 

 

(1) 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.

 

 

(2) KAN’U UNCHOU – IKKI TOUSEN / BATTLE VIXENS (2003)

 

Well you can’t go past that English title of Battle Vixens!

 

But seriously, it was essentially the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but with Japanese schoolgirls.

 

 

No, seriously. The majority of anime or manga seem to be set in school – or with schoolgirls – in any event, no matter how incongruously, so it’s not too much of a leap.

 

After all, there’s an anime with schoolgirls to evoke every arm of service in the Second World War:

 

There’s Girls und Panzer, which depicts a competition between girls’ high schools practising tank warfare with Second World War tanks as a sport, or more precisely, martial art – sensha-do or the Way of the Tank. Actually, that sounds so wild as to be awesome. Then there’s Strike Witches – an alternate history in which an invasion by a mysterious alien force diverts all nations on the eve of the Second World War to resist the invasion, naturally using animal-themed schoolgirl witches named after ace pilots in aerial combat, which admittedly sounds even more wild (and more awesome). And then there’s my favorite one of them all, Kantai Collection or Combined Fleet Girls Collection, which apparently originated as some sort of game – in which schoolgirls personify or incarnate Second World War naval vessels against an abyssal opponent.

 

And for the fangirls, there’s Axis Powers Hetalia – in which nations, particularly the Axis Powers of the Second World War, are inexplicably (and possibly offensively) anthropomorphized as handsome young men and in which Germany seems to have some sort of crush on hopeless but cute Italy. Anime…is weird.

 

So the Romance of the Three Kingdoms as high schools battling for turf supremacy seems positively normal by comparison.

 

 

And the fan favorite as well as one of the strongest warriors was Kan’u Unchou, a third year student at Seito Academy (apparently corresponding to the Shu Kingdom). Her signature appearance was a school uniform with a dangerously short skirt, equally dangerous short shirt that extended only to midriff and the baggy socks that are common aspects of style among Japanese schoolgirls.

 

 

More relevantly to her battle prowess, she carries the nearly invincible Blue Dragon Crescent Blade as well as the legendary sword Kusanagi.

 

Art by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

 

(3) REIKA SHIMOHIRA – GANTZ (2004)

 

I do like posthumous fantasy – and Gantz is apparently a posthumous fantasy, in which students killed in a train accident find themselves part of some weird game in which they and other recently deceased people are equipped with advanced technology and directed by the titular spherical entity to fight aliens. And vampires later on. In the words of TV Tropes, imagine wanton gore and nudity “with Doom’s disturbing nature and Neon Genesis Evangelion’s outright insanity” and then “put that on crack and toss it in a septic tank”.

 

 

That’s pretty much all I know – Reika Shimohira, a pop idol from high school who is killed and also finds herself in the game, came to my attention through cosplay by Vampy Bit Me

 

 

And Katyuska Moonfox

 

 

(4) WITCH BLAIR – SOUL EATER (2008)

 

Soul Eater is another weird (and particularly cartoonish) anime – in which the Grim Reaper himself trains human warriors or ‘Meisters’ and their ‘Weapons’ (other humans that bond with the Meisters and shapeshift into weapons) to hunt down corrupted human souls and Witches. Yeah, I didn’t really follow that either – and I’ve seen it.

 

 

Witch Blair – and yes, she’s named in tribute to the Blair Witch Project – initially presents as one of the Witches that are the primary antagonists, but is benevolent and her status as a Witch is deceptive. She’s actually just a cat with magical powers, including the ability to transform herself into human form – or perhaps more precisely, catgirl form (since she retains her ears and tail while her eyes remain somewhat feline).

 

More Katyuska Moonfox cosplay!

 

Cosplay by Jannet Incosplay

 

She seems to prefer her human form – and I mean human form, given that she has little concept of modesty. Indeed, she’s introduced in the bath, and remains prone to wardrobe malfunctions (losing her towel and so forth) thereafter. Her character does seem to capture the essence of what a cat would be in human form – if that cat was equal parts mischievous and incredibly flirty. But is there any scene that Blair can’t make better just by showing up. No. No, there is not – she is fun personified.

 

 

(5) BLUE ROSE – TIGER & BUNNY (2011)

 

“My ice is a little bit cold but your crime has been put completely on hold”

 

Yeah, she’s required to say that as her catchphrase (to her distaste). She’s also required to wear that costume (which she also dislikes). And advertise her sponsor’s product, Pepsi NEX (although her advertisement is something to see).

 

 

She’s Blue Rose, celebrity corporate sponsored superhero – her sponsor company took part in producing the first true blue rose through genetic engineering, hence her alias and impractical rose-themed costume- and she is from the anime series Tiger & Bunny. The series is set in an alternate history – with the focus on a fictional and futuristic version of New York City called Stern Bild City – in which superpowered humans known as NEXT (Noted Entities with eXtraordinary Talents) have emerged over the last 45 years, some of which becoming superheroes. Corporate sponsored superheroes that is, sporting logos or advertising on their suits – and their profile depends on the popular reality TV show HERO TV, through which they are awarded ‘hero points’. Of course, the focus of the series are the titular heroes, veteran Kotetsu Kaburagi (or Wild Tiger) and rookie Barnaby “Bunny” (as he is nicknamed by Tiger) Brooks Jr, who are forced to team up by their respective sponsors to improve their profiles (in essentially an anime superhero spin on the buddy cop storyline).

 

 

Blue Rose is the superhero identity of Karina Lyle, a young NEXT with freezing powers (who adds blue color to her natural brown eyes and blonde hair as well as other feature for her superhero appearance). Although she is quite competitive with other heroes, she forms something of a bond with the eponymous pair, namely because she has a crush on Tiger. However, she’s not as effective as she might be, at least initially, as she has a habit of comically retreating from fights if they get too difficult for her, a move Hero TV dubs as the Cutie Escape. In fairness, much of it is prompted by her ridiculously impractical costume and stiletto heels – she genuinely wants to save people and improves her abilities as an action hero as the series develops (particularly as the series develops in a darker direction), even as her sponsor pushes for a skimpier costume (“a thong and masking tape” as she complains).

 

Art by Sakimichan

 

(6) RIAS GREMORY – HIGH SCHOOL DXD (2012)

 

“My name is Rias Gremory, and I’m a devil….Not only that, but I’m your master too. You’re mine now”

 

Need I say more?

 

 

It would be remiss of me not to award special mention to Rias Gremory, literally queen of the devils in…school. Yes, where else? It’s anime after all. Unknown to its human students, the prestigious Kuoh Academy actually also hosts warring supernatural beings – primarily devils, angels and fallen angels. Despite being a devil, she’s actually quite nice. It’s the fallen angels you have to watch out for…

 

 

(7) LUCOA – MISS KOYABASHI’S DRAGON MAID 2017

 

Behold the Aztec feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl! Or Lucoa for short. And to paraphrase the old joke about God, she’s blonde.

 

Yes – something was changed from Aztec mythology in this anime, Miss Koyabashi’s Dragon Maid.

 

As for the anime itself, TV Tropes summarizes the plot:

 

“Kobayashi was just a hard-working, otaku software programmer living in Tokyo until one night she got drunk. In her drunken stupor, she climbed a mountain, came across a wounded dragon named Tohru, and pulled a giant, divine sword out of her, saving her life. Before going home, Kobayashi told Tohru she could come live with her if she wanted. When she wakes up the next day, remembering nothing, she rushes off to work and runs into Tohru outside her apartment door. Having heard Kobayashi’s drunken rants about maids, Tohru magically transforms into a mostly-human maid and devotes her life to being Kobayashi’s maid. Knowing nothing about maids or human society, of course.”

 

 

So in other words, your standard anime. Additionally, Tohru’s presence attracts other dragons, gods and mythical beings to her new home – which is where Lucoa comes in.

 

Of course, there’s Tohru herself, a female dragon of the Chaos faction (whatever that is). Like all dragons, she changes to human form, although retaining her horns (which seems to be common throughout dragon shapeshifting) and her literally big-ass tail (less common). In a maid’s uniform, which she conveniently explains away as cosplay.

 

 

However, the titular dragon maid Tohru is overshadowed by the divinely voluptuous Lucoa – Aztec dragon goddess, who lost her divine status centuries ago after getting drunk and causing a scandal (much like the Quetzalcoatl of the original mythology). Needless to say, she’s a favorite with fans and cosplayers – with her standard outfit of cap, tank top, shorts, thigh-high socks and shoes.

 

 

Of course, this being anime, there’s the ubiquitous beach episode – in which Lucoa wears barely there swimwear and is bounced (literally) from the beach. Twice.

 

Her most striking feature is her heterochromia – differently colored eyes (although it is hard to notice as she mostly has both eyes or one eye shut), right eye with a blue iris and large yellow pupil, and her left eye with a black-bordered, dark-green iris. What can I say – I’m a sucker for mismatched eyes, in fiction at least.

 

So bonus points to all cosplay with heterochromia. Also bonus points for being Jessica Nigri

 

In the anime, she lives with a boy convinced that she is a succubus after she interrupted his summoning spell to prevent him from summoning a dangerous demon. Mind you, her appearance and behavior doesn’t do much to dispel this belief. A running gag involves him scolding her as “bad demon” whenever he bumps into her bust, which in fairness, seems hard to avoid.

 

Hmm – now there’s a Meso-American deity I can get behind!

 

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Special Mention – Cult & Pulp): Lucoa – Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid 2017

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (SPECIAL MENTION – CULT & PULP):

LUCOA – MISS KOYABASHI’S DRAGON MAID 2017

 

Behold the Aztec feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl! Or Lucoa for short. And to paraphrase the old joke about God, she’s blonde.

 

Yes – something was changed from Aztec mythology in this anime, Miss Koyabashi’s Dragon Maid.

 

Mainly this guy…

 

As for the anime itself, TV Tropes summarizes the plot:

 

“Kobayashi was just a hard-working, otaku software programmer living in Tokyo until one night she got drunk. In her drunken stupor, she climbed a mountain, came across a wounded dragon named Tohru, and pulled a giant, divine sword out of her, saving her life. Before going home, Kobayashi told Tohru she could come live with her if she wanted. When she wakes up the next day, remembering nothing, she rushes off to work and runs into Tohru outside her apartment door. Having heard Kobayashi’s drunken rants about maids, Tohru magically transforms into a mostly-human maid and devotes her life to being Kobayashi’s maid. Knowing nothing about maids or human society, of course.”

 

 

So in other words, your standard anime. Additionally, Tohru’s presence attracts other dragons, gods and mythical beings to her new home – which is where Lucoa comes in.

 

Of course, there’s Tohru herself, a female dragon of the Chaos faction (whatever that is). Like all dragons, she changes to human form, although retaining her horns (which seems to be common throughout dragon shapeshifting) and her literally big-ass tail (less common). In a maid’s uniform, which she conveniently explains away as cosplay.

 

 

However, the titular dragon maid Tohru is overshadowed by the divinely voluptuous Lucoa – Aztec dragon goddess, who lost her divine status centuries ago after getting drunk and causing a scandal (much like the Quetzalcoatl of the original mythology). Needless to say, she’s a favorite with fans and cosplayers – with her standard outfit of cap, tank top, shorts, thigh-high socks and shoes.

 

 

Of course, this being anime, there’s the ubiquitous beach episode – in which Lucoa wears barely there swimwear and is bounced (literally) from the beach. Twice.

 

Her most striking feature is her heterochromia – differently colored eyes (although it is hard to notice as she mostly has both eyes or one eye shut), right eye with a blue iris and large yellow pupil, and her left eye with a black-bordered, dark-green iris. What can I say – I’m a sucker for mismatched eyes, in fiction at least.

 

So bonus points to all cosplay with heterochromia. Also bonus points for being Jessica Nigri

 

In the anime, she lives with a boy convinced that she is a succubus after she interrupted his summoning spell to prevent him from summoning a dangerous demon. Mind you, her appearance and behavior doesn’t do much to dispel this belief. A running gag involves him scolding her as “bad demon” whenever he bumps into her bust, which in fairness, seems hard to avoid.

 

Hmm – I suddenly have a renewed interest in Meso-American deities…

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

 

TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (SPECIAL MENTION)

 

I’ve revised my page for Top 10 Girls of Anime (Special Mention) to include the new entry for Kantai Collection (as part of cleaning up those pages generally).

 

lucy_art_girl_hair_face_anime_98500_1920x1080

 

(1) LUCY – ELFEN LIED (2005)

 

A special mention for Lucy, the protagonist from my second favorite anime (after Neon Genesis Evangelion), Elfen Lied. She earns only special mention because she and the anime itself are somewhat disturbing.

 

The anime (and its original manga) earned something of a reputation for shock value for graphic bloody violence and female nudity – something perfectly captured in the first ten minutes of the anime, which gained notoriety for the blood-soaked way in which Lucy, naked but for some strange restraining helmet, literally slaughters her way out of the institute in which she is imprisoned. So if you survive those first ten minutes, you might survive the rest of the anime – we’re a long way from Sailor Moon here and it’s definitely one for adult viewing. Needless to say, Hollywood probably won’t be adapting this one any time soon, despite its status as a cult classic. In fairness, it did have a mixed reception – naturally I found it intriguing, even to the point of hunting down the original manga online (because the anime was a truncated and inconclusive version of the expanded manga storyline).

 

lucy_by_ojeniferann-d83i2e5

 

In the words of TV Tropes, “it’s a twisted mixture of mutant battles, psychic powers, split personalities, pseudo-harem antics, cute girls, the male lead who discovers that the person whom he interacted during that person’s childhood is evil, and of course, bucketloads of gorn – and it’s more than happy to swing between comedy and horror at the drop of a hat. It has also been compared to I Dream of Jeannie as done by David Lynch and Wes Craven”.

 

lucy_by_kotori_cosplay-d90cjoe

 

As for Lucy herself, she is imprisoned in a secret institute, because she is a Diclonius – a new mutant species of humanity originating from a virus. The large majority of them are female, resembling nothing so much as devil girls with shades of hair from pink through red to purple and cute little horns (which might be mistaken for cat girl ears in the art). More dangerous are their ‘vectors’ – multiple invisible telekinetic ‘arms’, ranging in number and length between individuals, capable of extreme violence. Contact with the ‘vectors’ is also how they reproduce, spreading the ‘vector virus’. Perhaps most dangerous is an apparent genetic imperative to wipe out humanity. Or not – it’s not entirely clear, as it might also be due, at least in part, to their brutalization at the hands of humanity (particularly in the Institute itself), most of whom have it coming. One might compare it to a warped version of the X-men, but with pink-haired devil girls.

 

lucy_elfen_lied_lun_1600x1200_wallpaperno_com

 

And Lucy is perhaps the most dangerous Diclonius of all, filled with a hatred of humanity (and in fairness she has not been exposed to its best examples, although that doesn’t quite account for her body count) – except for her childhood love Kouta, with whom she has a complicated and unbearably tragic history. She and Kouta are star-crossed lovers – if by star, one means an asteroid screaming from the sky. Lucy is reminiscent of my other favorite anime hot slice of crazy, Yuno Gasai from Future Diary – similar not only in appearance (and crazy eyes), but also that they are both ultimately capable of destruction on a planetary scale (albeit more in the manga for Lucy), but for the object of their obsessive love.

 

In the anime, Lucy develops a split personality known as Nyu – cute, childlike and good-natured. Nyu is arguably a reversion to what Lucy might have been but for her brutalization at the hands of humanity – and also reflective of the part of her that seeks atonement and redemption. (She also has a third personality, which is even more dangerous and psychotic, reflecting her racial consciousness or genetic imperative to kill all humans – ultimately her other two personalities unite against the third).

 

Oh – and her real name isn’t actually Lucy, it’s Kaede.

 

I have generally relied on fan art and cosplay through this feature – which was complicated as her iconic appearance is that from those equally iconic first ten minutes of the anime, as translated into promotional art. That is to say, naked – but for bandages and helmet.

 

yuno50d852753574ff929b5ba393d6c9dcdf

 

(2) YUNO GASAI – FUTURE DIARY (2011)

 

I do like my bad girls and they don’t come badder than Yuno Gasai in Future Diary (Mirai Nikki in Japanese), or more precisely madder, because Yuno is one hot slice of crazy. Indeed, she brought all the crazy to Future Diary, and fans loved her for it. She might look cute on the surface, with that bubble-gum pink hair (because anime hair is simply fabulous) and those pink-purple eyes, but oh boy – come between her and the object of her obsessive love, Yuki, and there will be trouble. Of the sharp, stabby kind.

 

You spoke to Yuki. I will DESTROY you!

You spoke to Yuki. I will DESTROY you!

 

She is the embodiment, indeed the epitome, of the so-called yandere character type – sweet on the outside, crazy on the inside. A term from anime fandom, it refers to a character who is crazy about someone else… often literally and violently. “The character almost always appears perfectly cute and harmless on the surface… but underneath they may be obsessive, controlling, and sometimes just plain insane. This is bad news for anyone unfortunate enough to be the object of a Yandere’s obsession, as nothing will dissuade the Yandere from the notion that they are theirs and theirs alone. But even more pity should be saved for anyone who gets in the way, as this psycho-obsessive is amazingly unwilling to put up with any rivals to their often genuine affection…If a Yandere ever goes off the deep end, they are likely to go Ax-Crazy, taking up the psycho weapon of their choice and doing things to people straight out of a horror movie. Usually their target is whoever they perceive to be in the way, but if the person they love rejects them or leaves them, they may well decide that they would rather see the person dead than with another”.

 

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Yeah – Yuno ticks all the yandere boxes. She will do anything for Yuki. Anything.

 

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Up to and including multiverse murder. Indeed, murder tends to be her default setting. Really, I could have filled up all the images in this entry from Yuno Gasai’s crazy-eyed looks alone.

 

And as a fan of hot slices of crazy in real life, I'm collecting the set of crazy-eyed looks. Although, does it count if they were all from the same girl?

And as a fan of hot slices of crazy in real life, I’m collecting the set of crazy-eyed looks. Although, does it count if they were all from the same girl?

 

As for the anime itself, it’s that common anime type of a bizarre game, but in this case taken to the nth level of a winner-takes-all gladiatorial battle royale to the death for the position of God, as in the literal God of Time and Space (styled as Deus Ex Machina). In other words, a “there can only be one” Highlander contest for survival, fought amongst twelve ‘future diary’ holders – contestants gifted with future-telling ‘diaries’ by Deus Ex Machina for that purpose (hunting down and killing each other). As a bonus, the twelve diary holders are styled after the twelve Olympian gods and goddesses, although that is often not clear, except perhaps from their names – Yuno is Juno (or Hera) and Yuki is Jupiter (or Zeus), which is clearer from his full name Yukiteru. Yukitero or Yukitero Amano is the male protagonist of the series, as is somewhat obvious from his (deliberate) status as the First diary holder, although he wouldn’t have made it past the first round of Future Diary’s slaughterbowl but for his psychotic guardian angel in the form of Yuno, the Second diary holder. And she’s prepared to kill the whole world to keep him safe and together with her (not necessarily in that order).

 

The many faces of Yuno Gasai

The many faces of Yuno Gasai

 

Indeed, the character of Yuno is what makes this reasonably average anime interesting. I tend to agree with the Nihon Review, which identified her as the focus of the anime – the cute girl with a frighteningly unhinged world view that sends chills right down to the bone, the volatile ball of insanity that pushes the show from “meh” to “unforgettable.” And as the series unfolds, you find out just how deep down the rabbit hole she has gone, down to the very heart of the Future Diary game itself, and just how dark her secrets are in what she has been prepared to do to be with Yuki – secrets which even she has for the most part repressed from her memory.

 

Cosplay queen Jessica Nigri as Yuno Gasai in classic dress and pose

 

All hail Yuno Gasai – the yandere queen of anime! And we love her for it.

 

 

(3) SHIMUKAZE (IOWA) – KANTAI COLLECTION (2015)

 

“The oceans of the world are under threat! Strange beings coming from its depths, tentatively codenamed the Abyssal Fleet, are attacking the shipping lanes, wreaking havoc on the economies of countries that are dependent on imports. The only ones that can seemingly stop these things are the Fleet Girls, who are apparently the ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, reincarnated into the present day in the forms of girls and young women”.

 

Anime is weird.

 

Even more so as there is anime about virtually everything. In this case, Kantai Collection (or KanColle as it is often shortened) is about girls literally personifying or incarnating Second World War naval vessels against a mysterious abyssal opponent – as is evident from its English title of Combined Fleet Girls Collection (or simply Fleet Girls). Well, I suppose that’s one way of running with the convention of identifying ships as female by the use of pronouns.

 

 

Of course, arguably this entry should be in my girls of video games, as it apparently originated as some sort of game – and indeed an insanely popular game at that. Insanely popular, as in at all, given the premise of the Imperial Japanese Navy as girls. In the words of TV Tropes, “it was supposed to appeal to Imperial Japanese Navy Otaku, which is a really small fanbase.”

 

The gameplay is centered upon a card battle game, with individual characters – the eponymous Fleet girls (or literally ‘ship girls’) – represented by various cards with different attributes, which players acquire and equip. These personified warships are based on historical vessels – the physical characteristics, appearances and personalities of each of the girls correlate in some way to the real-life vessel. For example, ships with a larger displacement tonnage (notably battleships) tend to be depicted as older girls with larger, well, tonnage, if you know what I mean, while smaller vessels (notably destroyers) tend to be depicted as schoolgirls.

 

You sunk my battleship! My particular favorite is the USS Iowa

 

 

USA! USA! USA!

 

However, I make my own rules and break them anyway – with some fairness here as the popularity of the game arose only when “the manga and anime industry took tentative notice of the game, partly due to the designs it used for its characters, and partly for the voice cast hired to voice these”. And also that the game has expanded into a media franchise, notably including its own anime (and various spin-offs).

 

 

There is something problematic with a franchise that adapts the Imperial Japanese Navy into female protagonists, or indeed, any sort of protagonists, given its role in the Second World War – not least, even from a Japanese perspective, the grim casualties of its own personnel, let alone the wider casualties inflicted by it and the Imperial Japanese Army. Although it is arguable that perhaps they are better remembered this way rather than the historical ships. The franchise is gradually broadening to female personifications of ships from the other navies.

 

Anyway, the protagonist in the series is Fubuki – a young, ah, destroyer girl. That’s not a sentence I thought I would ever write.

 

 

However, Fubuki tends to be overshadowed by more popular, ah, ship girls – and when it comes to the most popular character, at least in terms of cosplay, that would be Shimakaze, hands down. Or perhaps all hands on deck. Shimakaze is the personification or incarnation of the historical destroyer, by reputation one of the fastest in the fleet.

 

“I’m Destroyer Shimakaze. I won’t lose to anyone in speed. Swiftly like the island breeze.”

 

Which naturally translates into a hyperactive personality (or attention deficit) and a tendency to jump around rooms like a rabbit between missions.

 

 

Which in turn naturally translates into an iconic outfit, which combines Playboy bunny ears with a dangerously skimpy outfit.

 

 

Which in turn naturally translates into her popularity with fans and cosplayers.

 

“Who wears a sleeveless sailor top, elbow gloves, a hair ribbon tied like rabbit ears, a microskirt and a very visible thong? That’s Shimakaze, alright”

Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Anime (Special Mention): Shimukaze (Iowa) – Kantai Collection (2015)

 

FANTASY GIRLS – TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIME (SPECIAL MENTION): SHIMUKAZE (IOWA) –

KANTAI COLLECTION (2015)

 

“The oceans of the world are under threat! Strange beings coming from its depths, tentatively codenamed the Abyssal Fleet, are attacking the shipping lanes, wreaking havoc on the economies of countries that are dependent on imports. The only ones that can seemingly stop these things are the Fleet Girls, who are apparently the ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy, reincarnated into the present day in the forms of girls and young women”.

 

Anime is weird.

 

Even more so as there is anime about virtually everything. In this case, Kantai Collection (or KanColle as it is often shortened) is about girls literally personifying or incarnating Second World War naval vessels against a mysterious abyssal opponent – as is evident from its English title of Combined Fleet Girls Collection (or simply Fleet Girls). Well, I suppose that’s one way of running with the convention of identifying ships as female by the use of pronouns.

 

 

Of course, arguably this entry should be in my girls of video games, as it apparently originated as some sort of game – and indeed an insanely popular game at that. Insanely popular, as in at all, given the premise of the Imperial Japanese Navy as girls. In the words of TV Tropes, “it was supposed to appeal to Imperial Japanese Navy Otaku, which is a really small fanbase.”

 

The gameplay is centered upon a card battle game, with individual characters – the eponymous Fleet girls (or literally ‘ship girls’) – represented by various cards with different attributes, which players acquire and equip. These personified warships are based on historical vessels – the physical characteristics, appearances and personalities of each of the girls correlate in some way to the real-life vessel. For example, ships with a larger displacement tonnage (notably battleships) tend to be depicted as older girls with larger, well, tonnage, if you know what I mean, while smaller vessels (notably destroyers) tend to be depicted as schoolgirls.

 

You sunk my battleship! My particular favorite is the USS Iowa

 

 

USA! USA! USA!

 

However, I make my own rules and break them anyway – with some fairness here as the popularity of the game arose only when “the manga and anime industry took tentative notice of the game, partly due to the designs it used for its characters, and partly for the voice cast hired to voice these”. And also that the game has expanded into a media franchise, notably including its own anime (and various spin-offs).

 

 

There is something problematic with a franchise that adapts the Imperial Japanese Navy into female protagonists, or indeed, any sort of protagonists, given its role in the Second World War – not least, even from a Japanese perspective, the grim casualties of its own personnel, let alone the wider casualties inflicted by it and the Imperial Japanese Army. Although it is arguable that perhaps they are better remembered this way rather than the historical ships. The franchise is gradually broadening to female personifications of ships from the other navies.

 

Anyway, the protagonist in the series is Fubuki – a young, ah, destroyer girl. That’s not a sentence I thought I would ever write.

 

 

However, Fubuki tends to be overshadowed by more popular, ah, ship girls – and when it comes to the most popular character, at least in terms of cosplay, that would be Shimakaze, hands down. Or perhaps all hands on deck. Shimakaze is the personification or incarnation of the historical destroyer, by reputation one of the fastest in the fleet.

 

“I’m Destroyer Shimakaze. I won’t lose to anyone in speed. Swiftly like the island breeze.”

 

Which naturally translates into a hyperactive personality (or attention deficit) and a tendency to jump around rooms like a rabbit between missions.

 

 

Which in turn naturally translates into an iconic outfit, which combines Playboy bunny ears with a dangerously skimpy outfit.

 

 

Which in turn naturally translates into her popularity with fans and cosplayers.

 

“Who wears a sleeveless sailor top, elbow gloves, a hair ribbon tied like rabbit ears, a microskirt and a very visible thong? That’s Shimakaze, alright”

 

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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motokob378ce097695c0e91cc2d16182fb4f94

 

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

 

faye280458804a1335dc77c68be1ec881f68

 

(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”.

 

faye-valentine1

 

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.

 

faye2

 

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.”

faye_valentine_iphone_4_wallpaper-640x960_1

 

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!

 

lucy_heartfilia_wallpaper_by_belcroser666-d366pxq

 (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.

 

erza

 

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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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!)

*

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.

*

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…

*

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).

 

revy_r_b

 

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.

 

nico4hlwru8r

 

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.

 

yoko___wallpaper_by_zlide-d8aoz5d

 

(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.