Bishojo, the famous "beautiful girls" of anime

Bishojo, the famous beautiful girls of anime


"Hello, young lady, just imagine, anything for you": on the stereotypes of "beautiful girls", myths, legends, cultures, sub-cultures and an entire manipulated area of ​​our brain have been created , which pushes the world to always kneel in front of beauty, especially if it is a beautiful woman. Needless to deny it, it has always been like this, we will always remain social animals driven (also) by preconceptions and irrationality. But what does "beauty" mean? Who are the " bishojo " of anime and manga? We have already addressed this topic in our special dedicated to the "beautiful boys", the bishonen, another socio-cultural phenomenon born in Japan, extended to neighboring areas such as China and Korea, but now also widespread in the West. Obviously the female counterpart could not be missing, so here we are ready to explain who these beautiful girls are, who are the most famous and above all why they really exist.

Bishojo: what does it mean and what are the most famous “beautiful girls” in manga and anime?

What does bishojo mean? The history of bishojo The characteristics of the bishojo The most famous bishojo

What does bishojo mean?

Same linguistic "game" that we have already had the opportunity to discover with the term "bishonen": "bishojo" literally means "beautiful girl" in Japanese. There are other ways to describe the aesthetic beauty, of women as well as men, for example many of you may have already heard "kawaii" or "kakkoii" or even "suteki"  and "kireii", but in this specific case the three kanji,  the phonetic ideograms, which form the term "bishojo", have the specific purpose of identifying an aesthetically beautiful person, according to a specific standard.

The three ideograms derive from the same translation of " shojo ", time divided into two kanji, “sho” meaning “small” and the suffix “jo” commonly used for the “female figure”. The prefix "bi" is trivially a prefix often used to identify a "beautiful person" and once again the intricate mechanism of joints that give rise to the etymology of the term is revealed.

The bishojo story

Who came first, the pretty boy or the pretty girl? Difficult to give a single answer, even more difficult to give a short answer. The origin of the two terms is lost in the culture of Japan itself, extremely artistic, idealized and sophisticated, made up of floating worlds, mystical dances and silk kimonos in which the essence of the flesh is highlighted rather than its shape. Japanese aesthetics has never been based too much on explicit sexuality, to the point that the first "beautiful girls" were identified after the war, with westernization and the diffusion of other standards of beauty: women with large eyes, colored hair and delicate shapes, introduced new themes on sexuality, psychology and socio-cultural evolution.

Towards the end of the 70s specialized magazines for adults spread which contained nude photos, fiction and essays on attractiveness some girls. This trend waned, also due to the innumerable bans on showing genitals and pubic hair under Japanese obscenity laws. It was never a phenomenon that went away, but many men preferred the more androgynous images, highlighting some aspects over others. Thus it was that the lolicons were born at the turn of the 70s and 80s, the female characters with the "Lolita complex". Drawing inspiration from Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel, Lolita , which describes the protagonist's obsession with a twelve-year-old girl, for whom he also feels sexual urges, Japanese lolicons have over time embodied the stereotype of "pretty" girls ”, with physical traits closer to adolescence although sometimes they are inserted in a love context.

Thanks to controversial works such as the dojinshi by the artist Hideo Azuma, the lolicons “grew up” abandoning more and more the sphere idealized to represent more of a concrete sphere. Azuma's characters combined the round bodies of characters from pornographic manga and the round, emotional faces from shōjo manga. In doing so, Azuma developed a “ cute eroticism ” (kawaii ero), a form of delicate sensuality.

Several important authors, over time, have promoted the imaginary of bishojo girls, including Hayao Miyazaki , with Poor Clares from the film Lupine III: the Castle of Cagliostro , and Nausicaä of the valley of the wind. Another creator strongly associated with the bishojo boom was also Rumiko Takahashi with Ranma and Inuyasha, as well as Urusei Yatsura with her Lum.

Characteristics of bishojo

Bishojo and bishonen are often mistakenly considered similar in the same country of origin. This creates quite a bit of confusion abroad too, but speaking of characteristics, there are big differences, aesthetic and otherwise. The bishōjo aesthetic is designed for a male audience, which is why we find precise graphic canons, typically focused on young girls, designed in such a way as to always appear "pretty". The bishonen, on the other hand, are mainly aimed at a female audience, which is attracted by an elegant, graceful and superfine masculinity.

The reasons why these canons exist in Japan, because it has been preferred to represent men as women and women as men, is a theme that we have already mentioned in the special dedicated to the bishonen, but we could summarize in a few words the very essence of Japanese culture, made up of nuances, contradictions and masks that hide by showing themselves.

Another A common misconception is to assume that female characters in bishōnen manga and anime are all bishōjo. The bishojo par excellence are usually small, recalling their "lolita" origins, with features that take the expressiveness of the gaze to extremes, with large eyes, small lips, minute and basically "childish" features. They are less sexualized, less buxom than many female characters in bishonen and appear in almost all genres of anime and manga, although they are typical of many video games, especially in dating simulators and visual novels.

The most famous bishojo

A list of the most iconic bishojo cannot be started without talking about Sailor Moon , alias Bunny, which after about thirty years after its debut, still remains one of the most popular “beautiful girls”. All the protagonists of the work written and drawn by Naoko Takeuchi reflect the canon of "innocent" beauty and there's more, the same original title of the work is Bishōjo senshi Sērā Mūn, literally "the beautiful Sailor Moon warrior girl". One of the greatest shojo successes, as well as one of the most famous anime of the nineties among the audience of children, adolescents and young adults who are passionate about anime, Sailor Moon undoubtedly represents one of the best known expressions of Japanese pop culture in the world, capable of conquer you under the sign of the Moon.

Among the other most famous bishojo of anime and manga are always carving out their own corner of success in our world, girls belonging to alternative realities and reinvented universes: Examples of this are Rem from Re:Zero: Starting Life In Another World and Asuna from Sword Art Online. The first is a helpful waitress, now known to many: since October 2016, she has reached the first place in the survey of the most popular female characters among Newtype readers and in the same year she was the winner of the Newtype Anime Awards in the best category female character.

Asuna, on the other hand, is one of the best swordswomen in the SAO universe. Her popularity began in the virtual world, but has spread widely both online and offline, earning her appreciation even outside the bishojo rankings: in fact, she is often even among the ideal female characters to "marry", competing for the first places among the most loved waifu. So why didn't we also include her in that ranking? A matter of ethics: unlike, for example, Hinata , most fans would "marry" the underage version of Asuna and, honestly, we didn't think it was the case.

The beautiful girls seem to be very popular among school desks: there are countless bishojos who have made their fans fall in love with a story set in high schools and universities, including Komi from Komi Can't Communicate and Nagisa from Clannad. But the rankings speak for themselves, among the names that stand out the most among the favorite bishojo, there is Yuzuki Eba of Kimi no Iru Machi. Just like the other girls just mentioned, Yuzuki is beautiful, kind and a little naive, who even without realizing it or wanting to, greatly influences the small town she moves to.

Another beautiful girl who originates from a story born in the "time of apples", is Kuronuma Sawako of Reaching you. This work written and illustrated by Karuho Shiina, in 2008, two years after its serialization, won the Kodansha award in the shōjo category and led to the creation of an anime, a live action and even two video games inspired by the story. All thanks to the delicate and moving love story between her and Shota: Sawako embodies the perfect ideal of the bishojo, a shy but adorable, kind and refined girl, despite being bullied because of her resemblance to a character that is anything but cute : Sadako of the famous horror The Ring . This strange similarity gives her an unexplored aspect of the bishojo, a "cursed" beauty, which allows us to see these "beautiful girls" in a new light until the end of the story.

Follow the trend of bishojo different from the "usual", we also mention Kaga Kouko of Golden Time, considered one of the trendiest romantic anime in the last period. Kaga is a young law student in love with a companion of hers who repeatedly rejected her. Despite her clingy and childlike attitude, she is a devoted, intelligent, elegant and loving girl.

Another must-have beautiful girl in the list is Chitoge Kirisaki from Nisekoi , a special case, as she is half American.

This explains her different spirit from the shy and introverted Japanese personality: Chitoge is energetic and expansive, sometimes a little too lively, she embodies the very bishojo figure "gal", literally the transliteration of "girl", a more "mature" variant of the "beautiful girl", characterized by stereotyped feminine attitudes sometimes almost to excess.

Powered by Blogger.