Edited by The Davoo
Welcome everyone to Cool Character Designs, a new series in which I’ll be highlighting shows that feature what I find to be interesting or exceptional character designs. To start us off, we’ll have a look at last year’s uber-raunchy high school comedy/dystopian social commentary light novel adaptation, A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist, or Shimoneta for short.
The theory behind Shimoneta’s character designs is tied directly into the show’s concept: in Japan’s future, censorship has become overwhelming to the point that people can be arrested just for saying dirty words, as monitored via collars around their necks; or even for drawing dirty images, as monitored by bands around their wrists. These bands are the first important design element, as they communicate visually the idea that in this world, everyone is directly shackled to and controlled by the moral system of their society. In particular, these band communicate subservience and obedience, as we typically associate them with pets or slaves.
As is the case with most anime in general, given how much of it takes place in highschool, the most prominent outfits which we’ll see our characters wearing in this series are their school uniforms–but while the grey and blue uniforms of Tokioka Academy would seem pretty typical at a glance, what makes them interesting is the length of the girls’ skirts. Most anime school uniforms aim to hike their skirts up as high as they feasibly can–but given the focus on chaste morals in the world of Shimoneta, it only makes sense that their uniforms tend toward the opposite.
Being the paragon of mental purity that she is, at least in outward appearance and common understanding within the show’s universe, Anna Nishikinomiya naturally sports the longest skirt; and from there, the lengths could be seen as a gradient corresponding to the character’s self-perceived lewdness. Hyouka Fuwa and Otome Saotome wear their skirts fairly long, whereas Ayame Kajou wears hers shorter than anyone else when she’s not at school, barely compensating by wearing thighhigh stockings in full knowledge of their true lewdness. These skirt lengths end up being hilariously subversive in the long run, as each character’s actual lewdness is inversely proportional to how they first appear.
Ayame’s design is overall the most interesting, as she transforms her appearance during and after school, as if assuming a secret identity. She puts her hair up in a tidy braid, wears her skirt longer, and puts on bulky glasses to look more serious and studious as a member of the student council; but literally and metaphorically lets her hair down at the end of the day, transforming into the more free-spirited girl that she really is. But of course, this isn’t even her final form.
Blue Snow is Ayame’s terrorist alter-ego, and easily the most memorable design in the series. It’s simple enough–white panties over her face, and a white smock covering her naked body; but what’s great is how it simultaneously communicates the idea of a superhero dressed in mask and cape, which is exactly how Ayame sees herself, as well as the idea of a huge pervert, which is what she’s the hero of. White panties are a universal symbol of sexual purity in the world of anime, which gives this design an interesting level of depth. Ayame believes her ideals to be pure, even if her ideals are that dirty jokes and perversion should not be censored. She’s directly subverting the idea of purity in both ours and her society, by suggesting that true purity comes from embracing sexuality, rather than from trying to hide it. Her outfit manages to be a powerful symbol, and Blue Snow is both the hero that we need and the one that we deserve.
Continuing on the purity train of thought, we get Anna, whose hair is not only a shimmering silvery white, but whose eyelashes and eyebrows are colored lighter as well, giving her whole face a shining, sort of angelic appearance. I wonder, though, if her hair doesn’t turn to the darker shades of silver to reflect how much her purity is to be tainted across the series.
Fuwa Hyouka has one of my favorite designs in the show, being as I’m a big fan of that tired look–and does appear that way for a reason, as it reflects her tireless pursuit of scientific knowledge. Her sickly green, seaweed-looking hair in combination with the dark circles under her eyes gives the impression of something like rotten or bruised fruit–which suits her character well as someone who’s sort of turned away from the purity of her society and slowly gone bad. Her oversized lab coat goes a long way in making her look goofy at times, yet strangely professional and cool at others, which reflects the way that her character appears in different scenes throughout the show.
Rounding out the main students, Otome Saotome is nothing special in terms of meaningfulness, but her design is pretty cute nonetheless, and the image of her in a headband and robe drawing porn with her mouth is especially memorable. Raiki Goriki is obviously meant to look like a gorilla, and to be somewhat imposing at first, only to have that image flipped on its head when he becomes attached and attracted to the main character.
Which reminds me: the main character, Okuma Tanukichi, is also a guy! His overall design is pretty generic and typical. When he develops his own terrorist alter-ego, it pretty much just riffs off of the Blue Snow design, but kind of has a more mischievous and burglar-esque look to it, perhaps meant to evoke a Robin Hood kind of feeling. Overall, though, it’s less of a powerful design than that of Blue Snow.
Oboro Tsukimigusa shows up later in the show and has a pretty basic, unremarkable design, which is most likely on purpose as their lifestyle involves swapping out characteristics to match the missions given to them by their boss.
Moving on to characters outside of the school, Kosuri Onigashira’s outfits and design are fairly unremarkable besides the fact that they’re usually kind of cute. The main point of attention is her pink hair, which, as Ayame points out, resembles the head of a dick. Kosuri’s hair can actually be seen inflating and deflating in accordance with her energy level and happiness, which is obviously meant to mirror the states of male arousal. I don’t know how much I’d say this reflects her character uniquely, though, so much as it’s just one big dirty pun on the part of the show.
Lastly, we’ll have a look at another of my favorite designs from the series: the head of rival terrorist organization Gathered Fabric, named White Peak. What’s fascinating about this design is its contrast with Blue Snow. Both terrorists aim to utilize the purity of white panties in sending their message, but whereas Blue Snow is modelled to look like a superhero, White Peak’s twisted and haphazard placement of panties makes him look like a psychotic villain. The way all of the panties are stitched together is reminiscent of things like the sewn-together face of modern Joker incarnations, or the look of Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Right from the first time he appears, it’s obvious that he’s perverted the message and goals of Blue Snow into something corrupt, which turns out to be exactly true of his long-term goals.
That about wraps up this rundown of what I find interesting and memorable in Shimoneta’s character designs. I’ll be putting out other videos like this in the future, so stick around on my channel if you’re interested in seeing more along these lines. If you’d like to support me in being able to create more content like this, then consider donating via patreon by following the links below, and if you want to hear more of my voice, then subscribe to the Pro Crastinators Podcast which I do with my friends, or to my let’s play channel which I do with my brother. Thanks again for watching, and I’ll see you in the next one!
Huh, I guess I never really thought to think beyond the raunchy comedy and equally raunchy (but valuable) message behind the show to really take a close examination of what was going on with the character designs. Kinda wish I had something more poignant to say the subject of the show or its themes here, but I really appreciate seeing examinations of the actual implications of chracter designs and really hope to see more like his in the future. I’m honestly kinda befuddled I never noticed the skirt length as a visual moral compass beyond ‘Heh, they wear longer skirts because it’s too lewd to obey that anime convention in this context.’. If you are to do this again I’m thinking something like Paranoia Agent, Redline, or Gurren Lagann would be prime territory for a further examination and I really anticipating what you see next.
On an unrelated note, I saw your video on /r/anime and I just want to say I’m sorry for what happened to you and I assure you it’s bad, but it’s not as bad as it looks. As a common face on the /r/anime irc, I apologize for your experience with Airen. He is… well he’s a character, he is certainly the holier than though ‘ I have the authority, it’s not up for discussion’. I wish it hadn’t come to this but this certainly sounds exactly like something he would do. In a lot of ways I hate the people that run the sub, and a lot of the people in the channel, but over time it’s a good place to talk to people who would otherwise be turned away because the people here aren’t very good. I really hope that you have a better experience in the future, but fighting Arien really is like what you said, it’s like fighting the ocean. I’m sorry this happened to you.
Also, and I’m aware I’m reposted this from a comment I made on the actual video but youtube has filtered comments I’ve made before for no reason and on top of that you didn’t reply to any comments on the video, so I wanted to at least put this somewhere where you would read it… hopefully.
I’d add that Okuma Tanukichi’s outfit contrasts well with Blue Snow’s outfit given the way his character is presented in the story. Tanukichi’s outfit is noticeably more restrictive than Blue Snow’s free-flowing sheet around a naked body. As a guy, Tanukichi had the option of going topless without appearing perverted, but kept (what looked like) a green sweater on his back. This, coupled with the garter belt and stockings that go up to the thighs, added to the “half-naked; half-covered” look that represented whatever residual ambivalence Okuma Tanukichi still had about everything that was going on, or a certain reluctance to submit completely to SOX. By contrast, Blue Snow’s outfit exudes conviction in her definition of purity. Seeing those characters in their SOX outfits side-by-side leaves no doubt that Blue Snow is the leader of SOX.
This is more apparent in the last episode when members of SOX were reduced to wearing the bare minimums (e.g. bottoms, or bottoms with a bra). In those moments, whatever hierarchy existed within SOX was flattened because every member of SOX was practically as exposed as every other member. They were less like an organization led by one person, and more like a group of equally powerful people sharing the same vision working together towards a common goal (and depicted by having them all using their strengths to open the “dirty” vault).