OK not really but it definitely is making me crave some variety….

I mentioned it in my Monster Girls review but I’ve come to realize how similar anime character body types are. It’s getting a little boring….

 I remember when I first watched Miss Kobayashi, I was struck by the fact that the girls had thighs! Like actual hips, rounded and full. Some of them more than others. This departure from the matchstick legs and huge thigh gaps was striking for me and I enjoyed the designs considerably more for it. None of the characters were fat by any means but they had some slightly different silhouettes and I suddenly realized it had been something I’ve been missing. I’m very excited about the trend of mixing in some more diverse body types.

I could go on about body image issues. I have some experience on the subject. I do believe it’s important to give people a realistic idea of what a human body should look like because you’d be surprised how easy that is to forget. But mostly, I just like variety. I like when characters look different and unique.

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I seem to have forgotten what I was going to say

Having more body types means having more design options to play with. That’s a big win for me! And it’s not just a question of art style (although that comes into play, I realize) but also of bearing. A good design will add to the character’s personality. It will change the impact they have on the viewer. It can make the experience richer and more nuanced even without ever mentioning it in dialogue.

Although I think we are seeing some progress in the variety of character designs, we still have a way to go. Especially for men.

Lately I’ve been seeing a better range of female characters, with assorted measurements and ratios. More realistically voluptuous figures are being illustrated. Pleasantly muscled but still feminine physiques. Girls can now be tall without being freaks and short doesn’t immediately mean tsundere anymore. We actually see average chest sizes, as in neither huge nor flat. Sadly anything other than objectively thin is still usually characterized for laughs but we’ll get there.

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so why is her personality more fun when she’s fat?

On the other hand, boys seem much more standardized (at least in the anime that I watch…don’t judge me…). Pretty much universally, they are the lean muscular types which vary mostly in height, and particularly short characters are either shotas or there’s a plot reason (running joke, character motivation…) for their height. Older men can be a bit more bulky (if they’re good guys) or overweight (If they’re villains) and grandpas can be tiny, but in general, we stick to the swimmer’s body.

Please understand that I’m making a generalization here, there are characters that break the mold, no need to list them all, but the exceptions are rare enough that they are noticeable. And before anyone grossly misunderstands, I am not complaining about beautiful delicately muscled boys by any means.

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I wouldn’t dare

However, I find myself staring in awe whenever I come across a character that’s short limbed and stocky. I find designs instantly more memorable, I long for an anime teenager with acne problems and awkward growth spurts.

It’s also a little difficult to really get lost in a story where a character’s attractiveness (or lack thereof) is a major plot point, when all the characters look essentially the same and as soon as there’s some distance (or they wear a hat), you can’t tell them apart.

As an appeal to anime character designers, give us some pretty boys of all shapes, sizes and colors. It gets really embarrassing when I can’t tell which on of my husbandos is in the fanart…

I know I have a type but this is getting ridiculous…  (Sumeragi Sora)



67 thoughts

  1. I just found it funny that you used Twogami and Togami as an example(?) (Probably not the right wording but whatever.)

  2. I did wonder how everyone in manga where so slim…. for a while….
    It’s true how similar shapes get VERY boring, and how the fat guy is funny trope pisses me off? Let’s not even go there….
    There’s generally only extreme types of characters. Why can’t we have a general one for once Rin-san?
    Area no Kishi has a variety of character sizes, but Araki grows thin and chubby alarmingly fast…..

  3. thicc is popular right now, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more female characters with thighs in the coming seasons. I, um, may have also recently watched a hentai with some exceedingly chunky gyarus, that was fun.

    In the curvy regard, one artist I’m absolutely in love with is Tsunako, who does the art for the Neptunia series and a bunch of other Compile Heart RPGs. That woman knows how to draw the most iiiiiiincredible curves that make me weak at the knees every time I see them.

  4. Great discussion on body shapes of characters. I agree would be great to see a character with acne or someone with a skin condition. Something on the realistic side of things that would be incredibly interesting. Of the usual body types we get now doesn’t bother me too much but be nice to see mor curvy characters as I am someone who is on the curvy side herself.

  5. The current male style as kinda been slated in this since the late 90’s early 00’s. Prior to that, tall muscle guys were more of the archatype . I agree, some variety would be nice overall for both genders.

  6. Ooh excellent post discussion!

    I find girls are more standardized than males, I look at sports anime or shounen in general and there’s varying degrees of beauty, ugliness and body types. Girls haven’t reached that stage quite yet, but I do hope they will as I do see some strides.

    If I must say 1 mostly all male show that has great variety, Ace of Diamond has male characters of all volumes and heights, and their face shapes are all different.
    I find I don’t tend to gravitate to ikemen shows just because they’re all beautiful, I need story and good characters to hold me.
    That said, sports series tend to have more variety, Ace of Diamond has more because they’re all realistic, the art style and the sports itself lends to it.

    I hope we get to see more breakthroughs in the future of design for animes 💪

    1. see I love Ace of Diamond but found the variety mostly in faces and heights. For instance without glasses Miyuki is pretty hard to distinguish from Eijun and Miyuki is way up in my harem….
      I do understand that players of a similar sport will have similar bodies since they are working the same muscles and particular body shapes are advantaged.
      I would say Yowamushi Pedal has a it more variety but it seems to stick to long legged lean muscle in general….

      1. Even without glasses Miyuki never looks like Eijun because their eye shapes are completely different, but then it could be me that have stared so much at them that I can tell subtle differences 😂

        Maezono is part of the team, he’s decidedly chubby, and he’s not the only one from Daiya that has more weight, even from the same team there’s Miyauchi who is also stocky, and ex members of the team gain weight/get stockier too. Though if we are talking only main characters, of course that will lower the availability 😅

        Yowamushi has variety in faces too, but in bodies not really.
        Another good one is All Out, there’s some chubby/stockier characters there in the team, though most of the team tends towards being more musculed and tall, aside main character being small.

        I’ll always bow down to Danganronpa for doing Sakura, tall muscled female wrestler? Yes please!

        1. Oh Yea Dangan is all about varied designs. Much more in the game – I figure it’s because they don’t have to bother animating all those models.

          1. True, DR designs are much more varied than typical games and anime, but it’s usually mostly the male characters, which is why I really liked their design for Sakura being so uncommon 👌

  7. Bishounen shows tend towards standardifications, while shounen fighters tend towards cartoony exaggeration (I think of it as the Street Fighter approach: how many Fei Longs fit into one Zangieff?). And every single show out there has shows with what amounts to pallette-swap designs (which made //.hack sign fun to watch, because the World had standard character models, and you’d see pallette swapped versions of main characters in the background and it made sense).

    But yeah, on the whole body-type variety could be better.

  8. I see you liked Stein’s;Gate. One of the things I liked about it was that Daru was just a guy-looking guy. The other characters were all too cute, but Daru looks like he spends too much time in front of the computer. I’m having a hard time thinking of a series where the characters are normal looking. Kids on the Slope, maybe.

    There was an American animator from the 1930’s, Grim Natwick, who was known for his ability to draw women…which suggests that most of the others couldn’t 🙂

    1. True – Daru is on of my best boys – he doesn’t get the attention he deserves in the anime.
      I was just thinking that Flowers of Evil that is literally traced from live actors got a lot of criticism for being too unattractive….

  9. When it comes to body types, KyoAni gives there girl characters more realistic thickness. That reminds me of Kabocha Wine, the gimmick of that show was a romance between a short guy and tall girl but the girl is also chubby. Her design was the most memorable thing about that show.

  10. Muwhahaha! You must watch Silver Spoon. One of the women in that show is nicknamed “Miss Fireplug” (not really, but you’ll see) because that’s what she looks like. The story takes place over several years at an agricultural high school in Hokkaido which will eventually feed into agricultural university. The show also has themes about the reality of where food comes from and the fact that you have to kill the things you eat, no matter how attached you are, and that those animals are delicious despite this. Another show for your list!

      1. Put it on the list. All my followers admit to having added stuff to their lists when they read me. And I’ve been watching anime since the 80’s, and even got desperate enough by the late 90’s to rent random anime VCR tapes at video stores. Remember those? And Adult Swim, before digital video recording devices so you have to stay up and watch it in person or suffer with the blurs of a VCR. You have it good. You can watch whenever. You can even call a pal to watch with and comment together while enjoying a tasty adult beverage. Have some pity for the sub-21 readers who can’t. Their lists get longer, too. And someday you’ll have to sit down and watch Voltron and a few episodes of Gundam, enough to get the jokes in Martian Successor Nadesico, which TRUE anime fans have seen. That English dub is one of the best ever made, like Cowboy Bebop, and nearly bankrupted the studio. Its magnificent, but you have to see the other stuff to get the jokes. Its the best space parody. I should probably write a post about it.

      2. Also, Wagnaria has a lot more body styles for the characters. Yes, there’s an oppai loli, but there’s also a chesty normal girl, a chesty ogress, a skinny ogress, a blonde normal girl, a tall blonde guy, a normal height guy, a sleazy guy, a short dumb girl, plus several chesty older sisters with full form and thighs. There’s also Kawai Complex, which has a range of women’s shapes. Just to add a few more to your list.

        1. I couldn’t sit through Wagnaria I’m afraid.. As for Kawaii Complex, it was cute but I don’t remember much in way of unusual designs.

          1. Wagnaria was hard for me to get through the first time, but it pays off. I waited a year to come back to it and was surprised at how sweet it eventually becomes. The initial violence of the ogress is eventually explained properly, and there’s a good payoff on that. I encourage you to continue. Kawai Complex has a number of interesting character designs, from the main love interest being a skinny and almost emotionless girl to the office lady with a full form, mature and ripe and often weeping drunk, much like the older sister of the hero in Wagnaria. They’re actually similar characters.

            1. Well, the one on the far left is ugly without makeup, revealled later as a joke. The one just left of center is the bottle fairy, and she’s pretty lush, though this image isn’t good for showing that. She’s got thighs and full breasts in the actual scenes with her. The one in the middle is skinny, but still the love interest. This image is bad and showing their shapes in the anime. They don’t really look like that.

            2. I’m trolling you a bit. I’ve seen the show, they’re not identical I know but the point I was trying to make was an appeal for slightly more striking variety especially in men.

            3. Oh, well that’s trickier. Cowboy Bebop is going to win you internets, of course, but there’s other shows where the males don’t look like the usual clones of Star Trek. Being the wrong gender to care I am afraid I just don’t pay that much attention.

  11. I haven’t seen Miss Kobayashi, but the girls do look cute and I think the good thing about their thighs is that they make them look real and attractive. I like it when anime decides to include round characters like and it breaks the cliche fit characters. I remember watching the first season of Accel World and the main character is chubby. Many people have fixed feelings about because he was fat and others say he is different and that’s good.

    1. Sorry! I hit reply too early. Anyway, we had a conversation about body types in fiction and how it needs to have more variety while characters don’t fall into stereotypes about their weight.

      1. I do that all the time… I would say not just wight. Different muscle structures or proportions. maybe a girl with a long torso and short legs…..

        1. Sure thing and I agree. You also have different heights of characters, physiques, and proportions. For one book series I’ve been working on, I liked using abilities and skills that people of a certain build wouldn’t be expected to do. Like a shorter powerhouse, an overweight mage who is one of the top magic users, or a skinny guy being able to pull off brutal submissions and reversals against bigger opponents, etc.

            1. Thanks. I’ve been working on it for four years and I came up with ideas for an expanded universe for this particular world.

  12. You will love me then. I’m chubby. 😉
    But yea, all the different anime/manga/ln/wn/vns out there usually stick to the same body types over and over again. It would really be interesting to see one with many variations of body types of the change…

  13. I agree completely. I find it much more interesting to have characters that don’t have literal copy pasted character designs on screen at all time. I would assume, however, that the reason it’s like that is simply for marketing reasons. It tends to be that when a Japanese Otaku (i.e. the only market that the studios actually give a shit about) buys a figurine, or a body pillow, or whatever, they want it to be a more “desirable form” (by the standard of Japanese culture), so idealized body types prevail.

  14. I’m not sure if you’ve seen this anime, but if you like different body types you might like Accel World. The main character is a short chubby little guy who has two girls who love him.

  15. I agree completely. Girls in anime are all skinny loli’s with either no boobs, or boobs entirely dis-proportional to their bodies that completely defy gravity! Lol!
    I also find that anyone who HAS a different body type is usually the sukebe of the show… They’ll wind up being the nerdy, perverted one lurking around or something which seems a little unfair!!

  16. There’s definitely a trend of standard-bodied anime characters and I don’t know how much it has to do with Asian cultural bias on fat/diverse people or marketing issues with selling merchandise of characters that do not fall in the spectrum of immediately ‘attractive/desirable’ people. I’m glad that, as you point out, there has been some improvement at least for what concerns female characters, hope we can have more variety also with male designs in the future!

    1. You and me both! I think it’s also a question of setting yourself apart. Different character designs stand out more maybe?

  17. Title of the Year (TotY)? I, too, appreciate when a show’s character design is varied (especially in regard to body type). Do you think it’s more of an issue in moe-inflected anime?

    1. Actually, I’d think Moe has a specific esthetic – art style is very similar from one show to the next and faces tend to look alike but it does include a lot of different body types, i think.

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