BEING UPFRONT: A Pictorial Guide to Bodacious Women in Anime--Page 1 (.-Al)

Print/licence statuses at the end of the entries refer to North America (that's where I live, so...).
Just a Line.
.hack//Legend of the Twilight
(Jpn: .hack//Tasogare no Udewa Densetsu, AKA .hack//Udeden; Eng: .hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet, AKA .hack//DUSK)
unnamed player; Ouka of Shinken (left to right)
'Miss Collision' from .hack//DUSKOuka from .hack//DUSK
The .hack (pronounced "dot-hack," for those who don't know) phenomenon started with .hack//SIGN, a very stylish TV series about a very involving, elaborate internationally-networked computer RPG called The World, the people who play it and, occasionally, the people who wind up hospitalized because of it. It has since gone on to spawn honest-to-Skuld real video games and a card game--all of which are now available here--and several splinter anime series. While SIGN definitely looked good (character designs by Gainax's Yoshiyuki Sadamoto), the long stretches of good-looking characters standing around talking to each other made some viewers weary--including myself. During club showings, sometimes I'd space out and my eyes would start slamming shut; not a good thing. The people behind the franchise probably realized this stasis themselves, and wondered what to do to switch things up a bit. The answer--grab the cute bucket and empty at least half of it into a new arc of the story. In .hack//Legend, junior-high-school-aged twin brother Shugo and sister Rena Kunizaki are separated when their parents divorce, and each takes custody of one of them, with Rena and their mother moving far away. Rena introduces Shugo to The World and explains that she entered them into a draw to use the legendary player characters Kite and Black Rose (who had previously been retired after an incident which also affected events in the real world), which they both won. Rena is happy; this will allow the two of them to meet and talk in The World. It's not without its problems, though; the player characters tend to draw attention. Shugo has difficulty getting into the worldhood of The World at first. While freaking out and running away from a male player who was coming on too strong, he runs face first into the female player above (who, for lack of a proper name, I call "Miss Collision"). The POV in this still is Shugo/Kite's, from the ground. It's not her last appearance, though; you think they're going to keep someone with such a great body strictly a one-off? Not long afterwards, Shugo and Rena find a big but cute dog in The World. Shugo is quite drawn to it and wonders out loud if he could keep it as a pet in The World. When things start happening, the dog turns into a beautiful (in a nice unpolished way) young woman named Ouka, a member of the Werewolf Tribe and a strong fighter whose specialty is kickboxing. She comes to regard Shugo as a little-brother type, protects him and even flirts with him now and again just to see how cute he gets when he's embarrassed. The scene in the OP sequence (with the nice upbeat theme song by Round Table, who also did Chobits' OP) where Ouka almost kisses Kite/Shugo still makes me smile to this day. While .hack//Legend is much lighter in mood than SIGN was (including snappier background music), it's still a .hack series, and still primarily dramatic. Also, Shugo and Rena's notable closeness have earned the show the nickname ".hack//INCEST"--and not a few particularly-themed H doujinshi. On one hand, slimy thinking, but on the other, their player characters are shown getting a bit goo-goo eyed at each other now and again, so...still, recommended.

Out of print (previously on
Bandai Entertainment, Inc. on bilingual DVD).
ANN Encyclopedia Entry
Just a Line.
Lt. Yeager; Arisa Mitaka (left to right)
In this interesting romantic comedy with a light action sauce, Takuya Isurugi, a service technician in the Japanese Self-Defense Force, is transferred to the 801st TTS squadron, which specializes in aerial acrobatics. He finds out quickly that all of the members of this squadron were basically cast-off troublemakers from other units (in his case, for being an otaku over hobbies like modeling). Sgt. Arisa Mitaka has an attitude a mile wide (and the problem is nobody's but yours) and is definitely the fighting sort. Most of the time, it's with fellow pilot Miyuki Haneda, a relatively sweet woman who landed in this outfit for slugging a superior officer who tried to pick her up, over Isurugi, who they both eventually fell in love with (you know that an anime caters to guys when not one, but two attractive women fall for the good-hearted geek male lead). While Arisa definitely can't let the tough girl act go (and I don't think she should--she looks delectable shoehorned into motorcycle leathers), she winds up letting the mask slip frequently around Isurugi and saving a little girl from an accident in another episode, so she's really not all that bad. The producers of this series also decided to have the most fun with her in The Obligatory Hot Springs Episode, which, as we all know, is perfectly fine with me. In one of the later episodes, a unit of the American Thunderbirds team comes to the unit to collaborate with them in a show, but when the arrogant (she's American, so they have to make her that way) Lieutenant Yeager gets up in Mitaka's face, trouble ensues--and no, it's not because of the fact that her bust is bigger than Mitaka's, or that she jumps up out of a chair at a party and some things jump another second longer. Those are just the reasons for including her in this entry. dB) When all is said and done, really, this is a light-hearted piece of work, especially driven home by a sweet final episode that doesn't focus on the characters above. Check it out at least once. Created by Toshimitsu Shimizu, who also gave us Rei Rei and Android Ana Maico 2012.

Out of print (previously on ADV Films on bilingual DVD). Anybody got a copy of the R1 DVD set they can sell me?
ANN Encyclopedia Entry
Hitoshi Doi's Aozora Shoujo Tai Page
Yeager and Mitaka from Airbats
Just a Line.
In this show, a tomboyish girl named Rin Suzuki (nicknamed "Kotetsu," or "little Tetsu") comes to Tokyo from "inner Kyoto," looking for the detective agency her brother Tetsu once worked for. She carries a strange sword called Gassan and an even stranger past, and for some reason quite a few people want her dead. One of the people sent to try to kill her is Kagari, who manages to look both seductive and frighteningly evil at the same time. She also uses illusion to change her appearance to other people, which she does to very comic effect in the second OVA. Unfortunately, it seems that this show lasted for only two OVAs, which means that characters and situations (including a couple that were decidedly ecchi) hinted at in the OP sequence were never explored, and some loose ends in the plot were left untied. I guess this means having to track down Mee's original manga.

Out of print (previously on ADV Films on VHS; never even made it to R1 DVD).
ANN Encyclopedia Entry
Kagari from Adventure of Kotetsu
Just a line.
AIKa (AKA Agent Aika)
Aika Sumeragi (transformed version); Neina Hargen (upper row, left to right);
White Delmos captain ; Bianca; unnamed waitress (lower row)
Aika (transformed) from AikaNeina from Aika
In the future, most of Japan is submerged under deep water by an earthquake (only about 30 feet of the Tokyo Tower can still be seen; yes, it came to this series pre-ruined!), and some people are making a living salvaging objects and data from the depths, including the titular woman. Against the wishes of Gozo Aida, the president of her salvage organization K2 Corporation, Aika takes on a job searching for data on or samples of an energy source called Raggu (no, not spaghetti sauce). We find out that, not only does she do her job well and hold her own in a fight if need be, she has a very unique weapon--a sentient bustier made of a unique metal that reacts in times of crisis and transforms her into the version pictured here, also known as Shivie Aika (although this name isn't mentioned in the anime). It also seems to have a bit of an ecchi sense of humour, as it not only barely covers her body, but it gives her the occasional jiggle when she's wearing it. Also after the Lagu are a brother-and-sister villain team named Dr. Rudolf Hargen (you never hear him called by his first name in this story arc, but he's named that in an artbook/guide to the series) and Neina Hargen (a reference that you
new wave and Tenchi-Muyo! fans should get a little yuk out of). The power-drunk (and loopier than Fatboy Slim's production work) Neina obviously has no sense of modesty, as the outfit in this picture will testify. I guess she figures that this is a sure-fire way to hold people's attention; hey, it worked for me! Aika is most notable, however, for having more gratuitous panty shots and cheesecake than almost all of the leading brands combined (including U-Jin™, and that's saying a lot!).
White Delmos captain from AikaBianca from AikaBunny waitress from Aika
The main source of the constant panchira is the Delmos (a take on the word "models"), a large crew of beautiful women in short-skirted outfits (which are colour-coded for different duties) who Dr. Hargen surrounds himself with. Their shots are mainly offered during the many fight scenes against them, mostly by the women in the main cast (at least the few instances featuring a guy fighting them are not dwelled on as much as the all-girl fights, and the guy even stops short once). You can guess how they land. Mm-hm. The Captain of the bodyguard White Delmos is very stern, but is given a nice build (and tightly-contained wobble) to add levity. After the main story arc, in the Trial 5 OVA, we meet Bianca, a member of the Golden Delmos whose fighting style is as compressed as the top part of her outfit. You gotta envy her shoehorn. The Delmos' diabolical plot in Trial 5 includes trying to undermine our heroes' ability to strike back by indulging several of them--for a while. Gozo is brought to a casino where he has fun rolling high, singing karaoke and enjoying a little extra service from a waitress, who is one of the few female charactrs whose knicks we don't get to see. Yes, her mouth is open like that all throughout her one scene. Aika is a classic example of how comical blatant fan service can be--if you can appreciate that sort of thing. Seeing as this was created by Katsuhiko Nishijima, who specializes in parodies of anime cliches (Project A-ko), that seems to be its intent. Then again, he preceded this with Megami Paradise and followed it up with Labyrinth of Flames and Najica Blitz Tactics--all of which use Yamauchi Noriyasu's nice (face and hindquarters) character design style, so I think he's just locked into what sells dB). Whatever the case, don't be so uptight about it and just laugh; that's what all this stuff makes me do in the end anyway.

Out of print (previously on Bandai Entertainment, Inc. on bilingual DVD; before that, on Central Park Media on bilingual DVD). Even if you have the CPM discs, buy Bandai's collection; they use the Japanese remasters, are well-encoded (I used my copy for these replacement captures), have more extras and all of the Special Trial. They have also released the prequel OVAs AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission (with Aika at 16). If you haven't got these and want them, buy these both now while they're still easily available. So far, no one has licensed the third OVA series, AIKa ZERO (with Aika at 19). More on those two series once I've had another good watch.
ANN Encyclopedia Entry
Just a Line.
Mina Nakatoni
(BWH: 105/61/92cm; but she says 103 in episode 2); Kaori Sakiyama (86/58/85cm)
VAP's official Air Master website; episode 2)
Mina from Air MasterKaori from Air Master
Once upon a time, 16-year-old Maki Aikawa was an illustrious high school gymnast who was regarded as the "Queen of Japanese Gymnastics." Now, for reasons unknown, she's a street fighter whose incredibly agile moves and high jumps (not to mention pretty brute strength) have earned her the nickname "Air Master." She immediately stands out from the crowd because of her 6'/188cm height and rough, delinquent appearance. She's not anti-social, though; she makes friends with a group of fellow high-school girls, especially since she's wearing the same school uniform as most of them; hi, transfer student. The most prominent member of the group is Mina Nakatoni, a nice but quiet girl from a different school whose shyness is surpassed only by her bustline. Since Maki stands up for Mina a couple of times when she has a bit of trouble due to the attention her chest draws, Mina quickly grows to admire Maki very much...or could it be more than admiration? Nonetheless, her features are almost relentlessly played for gags, including the ED sequence, where we see what problems she has when she runs. And it isn't long--second episode, in fact--before Maki finds herself with a rival. Kaori Sakiyama is a very...let's just say primadonna-ish young woman who aspires to be a supermodel, and gets quite deeply upset when she finds out that the photographer she brought to the public pool to capture her beauty not only took a picture of Maki while she was there, but got it published in a magazine. She tracks down Maki with intent to inflict some bodily harm on her, with some attempted humiliation thrown in; not very bright, is she? Now, Air Master seems to have quite a bit against it: The character designs are as homely as a mud fence (which immediately sharply reduces the yuri appeal); the big doses of fan service, Maki fighting everything intensely--including the laws of physics--and the scoop or two of angst blatantly pander to the (director Daisuke Nishio is best known for his work on Dragonball); and Renge Inui, one of the group of friends, who is so ugly, bratty and irritating (with a skin-ripping voice to match) that it could possibly cause you to stop denying (but still suppress) your urge to kill something. However, if you don't take it seriously, you wind up with a pretty good (and very active) lowbrow comedy series. Take that however you will.

Out of print (previously on Toei Animation America) after only three screwed-up bilingual DVD volumes. Toei announced plans to make streaming versions of this and other series available, but they'll most likely find some way to ruin that, too.
ANN Encyclopedia Entry
Just a Line.
Miyabi Kagurazaki
; Taeko Minazuki (right in picture); Tina Foster (left to right)
Miyabi from AYAAoi and Taeko from AYAKaoru and Tina from AYA
Many years ago, Aoi Sakuraba (left in centre picture) and Kaoru Hanabishi (left in right picture) were heirs to large industries in Tokyo, and in an arranged engagement. We first see them as children, when Kaoru kindly fixes the broken strap of Aoi's sandal. In the present, Kaoru has left his family (for reasons I won't give away here), and the engagement is annulled. We see an older Aoi on the train, wearing an old-fashioned but beautiful kimono, looking at a childhood photo of the two of them. She has not accepted the annulment because she remembers how sweet Kaoru was to her, and is heading to an old address she dredged up to find him again. She has some trouble in the subway station she has to transfer at, and Kaoru notices the young woman and helps her out. After a few turns of events, in his small room, they both find out that he was the one she had been looking for. She wants to bring him back home so they can get married, because she had never stopped loving him all this time. He insists that he'll never return home and explains why, so Aoi insists on staying with him, and he finds that he doesn't disagree with the idea. When Aoi's strict (and frankly uptight) governess Miyabi Kagurazaki comes to get her and bring her back home, she runs away from her and back to Kaoru. Other forces intervene, and Kaoru winds up being moved onto Aoi's property so they can remain close, but the uniquely Japanese protocol about this sort of circumstance means that they have to keep their relationship a secret. Meanwhile, back at Meiritsu University (where Kaoru studies economics), we meet new student Taeko Minazuki, a friendly but clumsy and kind of airheaded girl who is immediately accepted into the school's photography club because the cosplay otaku member was able to convince her to wear various types of outfits and pose for pics for him. Later that same episode, American-born Tina Foster re-enters the picture after travelling around the world for a year. She's a very brash one; she greets Kaoru by diving on top of him as he's laying in the grass, has this bad (to the recipient) habit of greeting other women by grabbing and hefting their breasts (she convinced me to put Miyabi on here, actually), and moves her way onto this page pretty easily, despite her initial appearance above. Some have described Ai Yori Aoshi as a more mature version of Love Hina. In some respects, it is (no hair-trigger girls constantly slugging wimpy guys), and in others, it isn't (the more pronounced fan service), but the overall mood is still calmer and sweeter, and having the male and female leads become a couple quickly and early is a nice little twist on the standard love comedy cliché. I will warn you right now that if you think Belldandy of Ah! My Goddess is too servile and you hate that, you'll probably hate Aoi; tough darts, she's still very charming and far from spineless. She was awarded "Miss Sexy" in the Newtype Japan Heroine of the Year reader's poll in 2002, and placed #3 in the poll itself. So there.

Licensed by
FUNimation Productions, Ltd. (previously on Geneon Entertainment (USA) Inc. on bilingal DVD).
ANN Encyclopedia Entry
Just a Line.
Akiko Natsume (two pictures); Choko Izumishikibu; Alisa Sono (left to right); Atsuko "Nuku Nuku" Higuchi (below right)
Akiko from NNDash!Akiko from NNDash!Choko from NNDash!Alisa from NNDash!
Nuku Nuku from NNDash!We first got to know and love Nuku Nuku thanks to the original Bannou Bunka Nekomusume OVA series, which ADV Films released here as All-Purpose Cultural Catgirl Nuku Nuku. The sixth OVA left us hanging, but a TV series based on the characters came out in Japan a few years later. I watched the first two episodes of that and thought it was stupid and condescending, despite the fact that it was intended to parody several anime cliches. By accounts, it didn't do as well as hoped, and word had it that the people at ADV Films wouldn't licence it because they thought it sucked. For all the bad things they've done (dub script doctoring, horrendous VHS--and DVD in the beginning--quality control, initially handling Sakura Diaries with boxing gloves), I had to give that call to them--until they changed their minds, licensed and released it; that litter box still stank. However, they took a good look at the second OVA series, Bannou Bunka Nekomusume Dash!. The scenario is different than the first two incarnations: Ryuunosuke is 14 years old, and his parents are still together (Akiko is still pretty high-strung, though dB) ). In the first scene, he's bicycling along the river and looking at the sunset, when he spots a beautiful woman (who looks like his old "sister," only with olive-green hair, yellow eyes and a more pronounced build) walking on the roadside. When he gets home, he sees that same woman sitting in his living room! His dad decided to take in the demure, mysterious 19-year-old Atsuko Higuchi ("Just call me Nuku Nuku") because she lost both her parents in an accident, and Ryuu, who is presently in puberty's iron grip, is immediately smitten with her. Cheers to the screenwriters for not making Ryuu lecherous about the whole thing; in fact, when things start to look even remotely intimate between the two of them, he gets immediately embarrassed and flustered, just like every normal boy going through his first crush. What is more amazing is that they managed to put in a noticeable (but not too high) measure of jiggle and not seriously affect the balance at the other end. When Nuku Nuku goes into battle transformation stock footage mode, her red outer suit runs up her body, including a lift-and-drop, but at least the stock footage isn't always used. Akiko is subject to a couple of comical turns--the scene in which she marches toward her fighter plane (to search for an escaped fighting-model androbot) in full flight suit is classic--and a hot spring scene which tastefully supplies about the only nudity in Dash!; Ryuu's mom sure is buoyant, isn't she? The only character in the series who is there strictly for fanservice is Choko Izumishikibu, who appears only in the fifth OVA (of 12, spread over three tapes/LDs; excellent value for money for OVAs in Japan). She is a beautiful, sexy and vain as all get-out scientist at Mishima Group who manages to get all her projects approved (in this case, an extremely gaudy style of sunglasses that enables the wearer to spot androids; that's what she's holding in the still above) by mesmerizing the male executives with her, erm, rhythm. Also returning from the originals are Akiko's henchwomen, the ditzy Alisa Sono and the gun-happy Kyoko Ariyoshi (an inexplicable role-reversal from the first OVA series). Neither of them bounce (if Kyoko ever did, she might shoot one of them off by accident!), but Alisa's post-shower plushie hug definitely places her here. Unlike the first two series, there is almost more emphasis on drama than comedy, especially near the end, and Nuku Nuku's own personality is a lot quieter, so fans of either/both earlier series who expect more of the same might be disappointed. Just don't expect another metric tonne of zaniness and you'll likely enjoy this.

Out of print (previously on ADV Films on bilingual DVD).
ANN Encyclopedia Entry's Nuku Nuku TV News page (thanks to David Park of for the screen captures)

Compiled by Dave Watson (remove spamtrap word before sending). Don't hold it against him.

Return to Watson's WorldWideWasteofTime Page: Music and Anime.