When animators go to design a new character, they have an unlimited number of potential features they can draw on, from glasses to cat ears to purple “drill hair” that rotates when the character gets angry. Another feature that shows up a lot is dark skin coloring, and whenever I ask my Twitter and Facebook followers who their favorite tanned or brown anime girl is, I’m overwhelmed with the variety of responses I get. I believe the brown anime girl trope can be organized into three groups:
- To show how athletic and energetic a character is, always out frolicking in the sun.
- Characters who are gyaru (gals), dressing in outrageous fashions and tanning their bodies as part of a specific rejection of mainstream society (kind of like some anime fans I know).
- Characters who have a mysterious “otherness” because they’re not Japanese, like Umiko from New Game, who’s from Okinawa, or Nadia who is from Africa (via Atlantas). Also, dark characters are used in sci-fi shows to show what a multi-cultural and happy world the future will be, and in fantasy settings to differentiate character races, e.g. “dark elves.”
So, who’s your favorite tanned or brown anime girl?
It’s funny to observe the trends that come and go in anime. Like the still-continuing boom in stories about normal Japanese males who are transported to a fantasy world, where their knowledge of video games allows them to do interesting things. Or the Heisei Imouto Bubble, when every third anime was required to mention the word “younger sister” in its title. Monster girls are big right now, and I started watching Centaur no Nayami (A Centaur’s Life), a charming slice-of-life about an alternate world populated by centaurs, satyrs, angels, mermaids, and serpents, who all go to school together. Like Daily Life with Monster Girls and my beloved Demi-chan wa Kataritai, the show works hard to define the physics of the world the characters live in, including a biology lesson in which we learn that in their world, humans evolved alongside centaurs but died out along with all four-limbed animals. The show covers many interesting details, like how centaurs would drive cars, the mechanics of how P.E. uniforms would work on centaur rumps, and social rules requiring equal coverage in magazines for all kinds of monster races. It’s a fun show if you like “cute (monster) girls doing cute things.”
(If you like yuri monster girls, you should consider our popular Lightning Warrior Raidy RPG series, it’s loads of fun, too!)
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