Fantasy Girls – Top 10 Girls of Animation

esurance_villain_monologue_by_chem_halo

*

TOP 10 GIRLS OF ANIMATION

 

I started my Fantasy Girls feature with my Top Ten Girls of Comics, but talking of a top ten girls of comics leads naturally to a top ten girls of animation.

 

Or does it?

 

This top ten list was surprisingly tricky to compile – lacking the abundance of entries in comics art. Animation tends to be aimed at a younger demographic (with the occasional parental fanservice) and its art tends be more, well, of a cartoon style – although that didn’t stop Marge Simpson from her own Playboy magazine shoot, replicating previous Playboy photo poses.

*

marge-simpson-playboy-pictures-1-1

*

Moreover, my rules for my top ten exclude replicating comic entries for female characters that have been adapted from comics to animation – thereby excluding a number of potential entries, such as Wonder Woman, who rocks animation as much as she rocks comics, and so on. And yes, I know Harley Quinn technically was adapted from animation to comics, as she debuted in Batman: The Animated Series, so should have been included in this top ten rather than the top ten of comics – but I make my own rules and break them anyway. Besides, she has been so thoroughly adapted into the comics medium, that she is more readily identified by them.

 

Similarly, Disney princesses don’t count, as my rules also exclude replicating fantasy entries for female characters that have been adapted from fairy tales or literary fantasy to animation (as they have their own Top 10 Girls of Fantasy & SF – or Top 10 Girls of Fairy Tales). The rules for my top ten also exclude anime or Japanese animation, which will have its own top ten list.

*

Even so, I was able to compile a top ten list, although it may be that the entries only become truly iconic (outside their respective fandoms) in the top three or so.

*

erinq

*

Oh – and my featured image is Erin Esurance, the former animated mascot of American insurance company, Esurance, a cat-suited pink-haired superspy. She had to be retired, amongst other things, for being too sexy – resulting in a proliferation of, ahem, adult images on the internet, that overwhelmed (and still overwhelm) the actual marketing character. (In the words of Cracked, there’s only so much a “fictional character can take before she welcomes the sweet oblivion of the eraser”).  If you are surprised at such things, then you clearly don’t know the dark, dank recesses of the Internet.

*

Anyway, excepting Erin, these are my top ten girls of animation – TV and film…

 

aya_gltas_02

*

(10) AYA – GREEN LANTERN: ANIMATED SERIES (2012)

*

My tenth place wildcard entry is the newest girl on my animated scene, Aya from Green Lantern: The Animated Series. This CGI animated series, in the characteristic art style of Bruce Timm (albeit in CGI form), was of course based on DC Comics superhero Green Lantern, apparently to cash in on the 2011 film. Hmmm, that confidence might have been a little…misplaced. Although to be honest, the whole concept of the Green Lantern has always left me a little cold – it all just seems a little silly. Aya on the other hand…

*

aya_by_morganagod-d5igqp7

*

Technically, Aya is not a girl – she’s the artificial intelligence of Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s starship, who just happens to take the form or projection (or whatever) of a robot girl. And how!

 

Of course, she’s even better as a bad girl (because I do love my bad girls) – when she turns evil, or more precisely emotionless, all in black of course.

*

ayagreen-lantern-love-battlefield-01

*

As an artificial intelligence, she’s somewhat new to emotion, and when she experiences emotional pain, her response is to attempt to eliminate emotion not only in herself, but everywhere – which of course means the elimination of all organic life. It’s only logical, after all.

*

gwen_tennyson_funkyrach01_15236531_621_476

*

(9) GWEN TENNYSON – BEN 10 (2005)

*

What can I say? It’s the red hair and those green eyes. (Beware! Beware! Those flashing eyes! That floating hair!)

 

Although, there certainly is a high representation of redheads in animation (and comics) – there’s two other redheads in this top ten (indeed, in the top three). For that matter, there’s a whole trope in TV Tropes named for red-haired green-eyed girls.

 

Admittedly, I am not overly familiar with the Ben 10 franchise, having seen the occasional episode here and there, in the later series. (It has four different incarnations – Ben 10, Ben 10 Alien Force, Ben 10 Ultimate Alien and Ben 10 Omniverse – and apparently a fifth incarnation to come). However, it is an intriguing concept. The series follows a boy named Ben Tennyson who, on a summer road trip with his grandfather Max and his cousin Gwen, stumbles across an alien device known as the Omnitrix which bonds itself to his wrist like a watch. Ben finds that the device has alien DNA encoded in it, which allows him to transform to a variety of alien species – which he uses to take on any threats that come his way – usually other aliens. (As he grows as a hero, Ben learns that he didn’t gain the Omnitrix by coincidence and finds that his family has been involved with aliens long before he has).

 

gwen_by_fitzoblong_d344lv7

 

Gwendolyne “Gwen” Tennyson (as the Tennyson family obviously likes to rhyme) is Ben’s aforementioned cousin. At the start of the series, she is the same age as Ben (ten years), albeit much more capable than he is – a child prodigy, who can instantly master anything, be it athletics (including martial arts) or academics (and even the Omnitrix itself in an alternate universe). However, the series sees both of them mature into young adulthood (and a less antagonistic familial relationship between them), with Gwen attending college. It also sees Gwen acquire superpowers of her own, through – uh – magic? She discovers her own magical aptitude, which allows her to manipulate energy and be as formidable a hero as Ben himself.

*

azula_close_up_by_invisiblejohnny

*

(8) AZULA – AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (2005)

*

There were a number of female characters to choose from in Avatar: The Last Airbender, an American animated series in an anime style set in an Asiatic world (in which some people are able to “bend” the classical elements – air, earth, fire and water – by psychokinesis in the style of martial arts). However, fans of my Fantasy Girls will know I have a recurring soft spot for the bad girls – and they don’t come much badder than Azula, crown princess of the Fire Nation.

*

azula_1

*

Azula is a fire-bending prodigy, capable of wielding the higher level of blue flame (a cut above boring old orange or yellow flame) and even generating lightning (which I would have thought of as part of the classical element of air but whatever). She’s also dangerously ruthless, manipulative, perfectionist and progressively more unhinged as the series goes on.

*

azulaavatar-the-last-airbender_98010_10

*

She also plays a mean game of beach volleyball.

*

"We have DEFEATED you for ALL TIME! You will NEVER rise from the ASHES of your SHAME and HUMILATION! Well, that was fun."

“We have DEFEATED you for ALL TIME! You will NEVER rise from the ASHES of your SHAME and HUMILATION! Well, that was fun.”

*

Of course, given how unhinged she becomes, things…don’t end too well for her.

*

drgirlfriendtumblr_m6xj8ipxvx1rryoefo1_1280

*

(7) DR. GIRLFRIEND – THE VENTURE BROS (2003)

*

“I was thinking of something that plays off my abilities more than my sexuality”. Hmm….

*

drgirlfriend7fa62ccc86d563c74ba0716e32eb3254

*

For my seventh place entry we have one of my personal favorite animated series, The Venture Brothers, and the girlfriend of its butterfly-themed supervillain (and Venture nemesis) The Monarch – who has aptly adopted her own supervillain identity of Dr. Girlfriend. Of course, after they get married, she becomes Dr. Mrs. The Monarch (and they were recognized by the supervillain Guild of Calamitous Intent as “villain and villainess”).

*

drgirlfriend32ac4a08eacb43f47d8fbf9a304bc834

*

Visually, she bears a striking resemblance to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, even down to wearing the latter’s signature pink suit and pillbox hat prior to her marriage and formal villainess status. This is played for laughs in one episode, as she exclaims “Who the hell is Jacqueline Onassis?” upon hearing the name (when assigned it as an identity in the classic party guessing game).

*

Vocally however, there is the dissonance for comic effect between her appearance and her comically husky masculine voice – she is indeed voiced by one of the series’ co-creators (with an awesome name itself ripped from the pages of a comic), Doc Hammer, apparently in his deepest and most masculine voice. (And when the resulting voice is deeper than that of Patrick Warburton voicing the impossibly manly Brock Samson, you know you’ve succeeded!). Even here, there is apparently something of a link to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as a parody of the former First Lady’s relatively low voice, although of course much of the humor lies in the vocal dissonance itself. Hints of the character’s transsexuality in the first few episodes (notably the pilot) were subsequently displaced by her own explanation for her voice within the narrative – her former habit of three packs a day, prompting the exclamation of one of the Order of the Triad at her audition for their nemesis, “What did you do – eat them?”

*

drgirlfrienddd6f9e77bc5b951ebb5e34a86b8c0974

*

Subsequently to her marriage and villainous partnership to the Monarch, she adopts a more – ah – striking supervillain costume, closer to the Monarch’s in its appearance, albeit not so much with her costume’s absolute cleavage. Not surprisingly, the latter is featured more heavily in art and cosplay.

*

It might be noted that she is a much more competent supervillain than the Monarch – indeed, probably more competent than most of the supervillains in the series (and is held in high respect by them and their Guild of Calamitous Intent). To quote TV Tropes, “the husky-voiced Dr. Girlfriend is perhaps the only voice of reason in the Monarch’s sad little world. Skilled and capable, she is often the only thing that makes the Monarch’s plans even remotely viable”.

 

drgirlfriendtumblr_me8yz3syze1qayhw1o1_1280

*

 

Close runner-up was recurring character (and parody of Black Widow), ex-Soviet agent (ahem) Molotov C0cktease (a play on the incendiary Molotov ‘cocktail’) – but there was no way I was headlining this entry with that name…

 

stripperella533828016_1280x720

*

(6) STRIPPERELLA (2003)

*

“Stripper by night. Superhero later at night”.

*

As its title might suggest, Stripperella was an “adult-oriented animated television series” created by none other than Marvel Comics doyen Stan Lee.

*

stripperellascreenshot_2016-03-20-22-08-16_1

*

The title character was the superheroine or secret agent alter ego of stripper Erotica Jones, voiced by none other than Pamela Anderson – and essentially an animated version of her as well, down to the tattoos. (So much so that she also played herself in the series, visiting Stripperella’s club Tender Loins with Kid Rock. Needless to say, Stripperella is a big fan and gushes how people compare them in appearance).

*

stripperella98c210fd9e0

*

Clearly, the series had its tongue firmly in its, or at least someone’s, cheek, as a parody of the superhero and spy fiction genres. I particularly liked the recurring villain, Cheapo – the world’s cheapest supervillain

*

stripperella

*

Just don’t get too excited by the reference to Season 1 on that DVD cover – not too surprisingly, it only had the one season of 13 episodes. And to be honest, I only caught the occasional episode.

 

stripperella05ceeb23e78d62d5ee2dac7bec0344f0

*

As for Stripperella herself, she not only relied on her spy gadgetry, but also a number of inexplicable superpowers (including her luxuriant hair, which also doubled as a parachute) – “she has strength and agility far beyond that of a normal human, she is impervious to all temperatures and weather conditions, and her breasts have the ability to detect when somebody is lying”.

 

Deepcut Productions Serpentine

*

A promotional Stripperella comic was also intended to run alongside the animated series, but was apparently cancelled prior to publication – although a first issue or at least images from it appear to be floating about. In it, Erotica Jones or Stripperella was not an animated adaptation of Pamela Anderson, but that recurring staple of the green-eyed redhead, albeit with a similar physique and costume.

*

 

holli_would___would_if_she_could_poster_color_lrg

*

(5) HOLLI WOULD – COOL WORLD (1992)

*

HOLLI WOULD IF SHE COULD

…AND SHE WILL!

*

I do like my bad girls and Holli Would is the bad girl at the center of Ralph Bakshi’s 1992 film Cool World – a fantasy film combining live action and animation.

*

Center? Let’s face it – the only thing anyone ever remembers (or is aware of) from this movie is Holli. To be honest, I’m only aware of the film through a passing interest in the animation of Ralph Bakshi, whose animation was, uh, idiosyncratic at the best of times. (Basically, I have a passing interest in any animation or comic, albeit some much more passing than others).

*

holly1c3b1ce3a2880687eaed1b99acec9900

*

As for the film itself, similar to another more famous film (that just might happen to feature in this top ten), it involves the intersection of our real world with the eponymous animated ‘toon’ world, with the inhabitants of the latter known as ‘doodles’ (while humans are ‘noids’). In a nutshell, a cartoonist finds himself in a cartoon world which he thinks he created from his dreams, where he is seduced by the comic strip vamp Holli – all part of her plot to become a real human (including the inception of the dreams in the cartoonist). Of course, being a bad girl, she doesn’t flinch at murder – or the potential destruction of both worlds – to realize her aim.

 

*

One wonders why, since she looks like she's having a damn fine time as a doodle

One wonders why, since she looks like she’s having a damn fine time as a doodle

*

It’s even messier than it sounds and gets messier – the film was a commercial and critical failure, although it subsequently achieved something of a cult following.

 

hollymaxresdefault

*

But who cares? It’s all about Holli! Voiced by Kim Basinger, she was also drawn to resemble her voice actress (not surprisingly, given that Kim Basinger also played her in human form in the film). Her dancing scenes were particularly notorious.

 

she-ra_full

*

(4) SHE-RA (1985)

*

“I am Adora, He-Man’s twin sister, and defender of the Crystal Castle. This is Spirit, my beloved steed. Fabulous secrets were revealed to me, the day I held aloft my sword and said, ‘For The Honor Of Grayskull! I AM SHE-RA!!!’

*

She’s got the power!

*

I don't quite remember her showing this much leg...

I don’t quite remember her showing this much leg…

*

As TV Tropes notes, She-Ra Princess of Power is the sister series (literally) to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, presumably because She-Woman and the Mistresses of the Universe sounds a little silly (or kinky). As noted, it is literally the sister series as the titular character is Adora, the twin sister of He-Man or Prince Adam of Eternia. Adora was apparently kidnapped as an infant to the planet Etheria and is subsequently given the power to become the superheroine She-Ra in order to form the planetary resistance against Etheria’s tyrannical ruler Hordak (although by invoking the honor rather than power of Greyskull, which sounds a little off to me).

 

she_ra_by_aldgerrelpa-d5wfryn

*

Yeah, I’m not really up with the backstory of this one – or He-Man for that matter. I mean, come on – they were basically toy commercials! Not to mention vaguely fascistic…

*

shera828fae7899860dd6c9c9f494fd3b60e5

*

However, they certainly were iconic figures, not least because the animation was to market the toys or so-called action figures for the Masters of the Universe.

 

Cosplay by Alyssa Loughran and Jeff Zoet Visuals

 

Of course, She-Ra was designed to extend the market to the female demographic. To quote TV Tropes – “She-Ra was made specifically to appeal to girls, which explains the large number of mentally and physically strong female characters, like Adora, Glimmer, and Madame Razz, not to mention the vivacious, Zsa Zsa Gabor-like nature of several of them, daaaaaarling — and quite a number of female villains like Shadow Weaver, Scorpia and Catra” (the latter essentially a dark action girl version of She-Ra herself).

 

lanakane

 

(3) LANA KANE – ARCHER (2009)

 

“LAAAAAANAAAA!” Well, it was either that or Sterling Archer’s other favorite quote to her – “Danger zone!”.

 

My third place entry is Lana Kane, the top female agent in the animated series Archer, second only to the titular spy himself (although a large part of that is due to his mother running the agency), with whom she has a complicated love-hate relationship. She is also the most competent agent, although Archer tends to excel at the stereotypically active role of an agent, killing people and so forth (although a large part of THAT is due to his reckless childlike joy and disregard for his own mortality). However, she is not too different from Archer in that her competence is undermined on occasion by her own emotional or psychological insecurities – she just has less of them than Archer (and a large part of THAT is his mother Mallory).

 

lanakaneminisweaterdress

 

In appearance, she is statuesque, both in height (six foot or so) and figure, and she dresses to accentuate the latter – her signature style consists of short turtleneck sweater dresses (in various colors but typically white) and thigh-high stiletto boots. Indeed, she always seems to wear heels, even in space. For that matter, even when not wearing outfits tailor made to accentuate her figure, she’ll almost invariably end up in a situation where she’ll be stripped down to her underwear.

 

Archer even comments on her stripperiffic wardrobe, when he finds himself distracted by her impressive, ah, jiggle physics in the middle of a gunfight, in an example of their characteristic repartee:

Lana: Now?! Really?!

Archer: Oh, right! Because you walked into Strippers Discount Warehouse and said “Help me showcase my intellect!”

Lana: Discount?! This is Fiocchi.

 

lana-kane-gun-archer

 

In fairness, every major character in the series commonly ends up in situations where they’ll be stripped down to their underwear or naked. It’s that kind of agency. And then things get even kinkier…

 

lanakaneku3yov

 

Indeed, her memetic attractiveness in the series is such that even the girls want her (most notably her fellow female employees, although they are not the most emotionally balanced individuals). Even the gay guys want her, as when her gay colleague Ray Gillette literally takes a number with the rest of her male employees for the opportunity to bed her – “Girl, please. Nobody’s THAT gay”.

 

lanaw6u45io

 

Given her signature outfit, Lana is relatively easy to cosplay – but it’s hard to go past her voice actress, Aisha Tyler, for resemblance to the character.

 

daphne-blake-full-1694827

 

(2) DAPHNE BLAKE (VELMA DINKLEY) – SCOOBY DOO (1969)

 

We all know Scooby Doo, that enduring animated franchise centered on four teenage hippies and the titular talking Great Dane driving around in their “Mystery Machine” van, getting high and hallucinating monsters (not to mention their dog’s speech). “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!” (Not likely, since the villainous plans always involved impersonating a supernatural being with basic special effects). It’s a cultural icon, man! Even the infamous Scrappy Doo couldn’t kill it, although he came close and became the ultimate archetype of unlikable characters in the process.

 

daphne_low_res_by_squirrelshaver-da4mky3

 

And Daphne Blake has been an enduring childhood crush within that franchise. It’s not hard to see why – with her shoulder-length red hair (once again demonstrating the striking prevalence of redheads in animation or comics), blue or violet eyes, hourglass figure – not to mention her distinctive purple skirt and pink tights. On second thoughts, her fashion choice was questionable, but then, so was that of the rest of the cast. I mean – who wears ascots, Fred? Although maybe there’s something in wearing an ascot after all, as Fred always seemed to end up with the girls or at least Daphne herself whenever the group split up to investigate (while Shaggy would invariably end up with Scooby as comic relief, like the sad dog food-eating hippy he was).

 

Of course, Daphne’s role within the group originally tended to be more decorative than functional – most likely to end up as damsel in distress, often while bound and gagged to boot (because, well, who wouldn’t?), and even nicknamed danger prone Daphne as a result. Fortunately, her character has become somewhat more developed over time – becoming more competent and even badass in various incarnations (interestingly, often in direct contrast to a converse decline in Fred’s competence or badassery).

 

Jinkies!

Honorable mention should go to Velma Dinkley.

 

 

In fairness, when you get right down to it, the most useful member of the Scooby Doo gang – and the one who tended to solve the mysteries – was Velma. Indeed, she could have driven around solving the mysteries by herself. It may even have been faster, albeit not funnier as the comic relief highlights were Scooby and Shaggy. Daphne may have been the face of the group (and she tended to be more decorative than functional and typically damsel in distress ‘danger-prone Daphne’ earlier episodes), but Velma was the brains. Even if she was prone to losing her glasses and blindly groping for them, often to comic effect with the monster of the week.

 

So it’s a little unfair that Velma was overshadowed by Daphne, although that’s probably what you get for wearing a dumpy sweater. Of course, Daphne was always drawn to a more pinup appearance, while Velma was drawn in a less flattering manner and dressed to match – with her customary orange baggy turtleneck sweater, pleated skirt, knee socks and Mary Janes.

 

Interestingly, there has been something of a reinvention of her character, perhaps reflecting the rise of s€xy nerd girls. After all, it doesn’t take too much to s€x up her traditional appearance – shoes with a little more heel, a shorter skirt, a tighter sweater. Keep the knee socks (or perhaps a little longer for that true zettai ryouiki style) and of course the glasses – and voila!

 

Of course, it also helps if you ditch the skirt altogether – and your cosplay model is Jessica Nigri

 

Indeed, Velma has tended to scrub up nicely in live action versions, played fetchingly by Linda Cardinelli (even if overshadowed by Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne) in the cinematic releases and by Hayley Kiyoko (much cuter than Kate Melton’s Daphne in my eyes) in the Cartoon Network live-action films.

 

And that has carried over into cosplay (and art), as featured in this honorable mention – there’s just something about Velma that adapts so much better from animation to cosplay. Perhaps it’s the glasses?

 

 

Yes, probably the glasses…

 

jessica1f4838bcc30ecb4a9e08b3942b66c465

 

(1) JESSICA RABBIT – WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988)

 

“I’m not bad – I’m just drawn that way”

 

Like Wonder Woman for my Top 10 Girls of Comics, could there have been any doubt for the top spot? The top position has to go to THE animated sex symbol, even though her exposure is primarily limited to the animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (and a few other shorts – notably as nurse and park ranger). I only vaguely remember the plot and characters of this film (including Roger himself) – but everyone remembers Jessica.

 

jessicaravishingred

 

That is because she is designed as the ultimate fantasy figure drawn as a pinup cartoon – green-eyed and red-haired in that irresistibly rare combination (even more so in her signature pose of hair worn over one eye) and an impossibly accentuated hourglass figure in a slinky red dress. Indeed, she was modelled on classic screen sirens Lauren Bacall, Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth – apparently face and voice (voiced by Kathleen Turner) on Lauren Bacall, hair on Veronica Lake and dress on Rita Hayworth (in the film Gilda).

 

jessica_rabbit_tall_by_j_scott_campbell-d25gknq

As her name indicates, she is the human ‘toon’ wife of the titular Rabbit. Although she is a sultry nightclub singer literally drawn as a femme fatale of noir, she actually plays against the type in film (as opposed to the original book) – she is indeed a good girl deeply in love with her ‘honey bunny’. Why? He makes her laugh. (She also proudly lets slip that he’s a much better lover than driver).

 

Cosplay by Claire Ana and Jeff Voet Visuals

Posted in Fantasy Girls, Stark Naked and tagged , , , .

Leave a Reply