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.
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.
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.
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…