I was reading the manga Hoshi no Samidare recently — haven’t gotten to the end yet so I shan’t speak about it — and the manga brought to mind (quite intrusively) the defining element in all anime and manga of the 21st century. This is usually present in many anime — sometimes even anime that take themselves seriously — and certainly no less in Hoshi no Samidare. Even in anime that don’t have it, we keep a sub-conscious eye out for it, especially during the action scenes.
Ready to guess what it is? Panty shots.
Panty shots have always dominated the anime scene, even in Miyazaki Hayao’s My Neighbour Totoro (and some other Studio Ghibli projects), where the girls had such strangely billowing skirts and their little petticoats were always peeking. However, in recent years, the rise of hentai allusions in even non-hentai anime has resulted in panty shots being a thing. Even without them, characters would remark on them, as in the case of Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou desu yo ne?, where Kuro Usagi, or Black Rabbit, was said to have the magical skill of being able to jump about in her little miniskirt without ever letting anyone see her panties. And in one scene, male lead Izayoi was determined to see her panties at least once (well admittedly in the entire show everybody seemed to be perving on Kuro Usagi). And of course, in Hoshi no Samidare, panty shots are a recurring joke whenever Samidare is fighting.
In the past century, boobs had been the thing. Everyone had ridiculously big boobs showing from excessively revealing clothing. In this day and age, moe becomes the winning factor, and breasts have correspondingly been scaled down to more realistic limits, and cleavages covered by slightly more decent clothes. Flat-chested girls are also seeing the limelight (though still continually being pointed out) and so the focus has shifted to underwear and the adorable panties, or “pantsu”, that ladies wear. It seems most girls delight in pink panties with ribbons and cartoon faces on them. Women out there, if you’re dating a man who watches anime, be sure to visit the children’s section when buying lingerie.
So, yes, if a little girl is too young to have boobs, she must have panties. This is the new hentai of the century. And speaking of hentai in general, I don’t know if this is because I’m growing up and seeing anime of my age range, but there seems to be a staggering increase in pervy jokes (like Seitokai Yakuindomo, an anime dedicated entirely to pervy jokes, with Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to coming in a close second). Even Sword Art Online had a strange undressing scene (between adolescents, no less), though SAO did turn into a hentai/harem fantasy towards the end of the show. I can see now why some Japanese men say that they see so much hentai that they’re immune to it.
Then again, Japanese men have the most peculiar sexual fetishes in real life, so I’m not sure what to believe. Either way, it can’t be good if your plots keep getting derailed into X-rated humour. Please show the ladies some respect, even if anime has traditionally never really done so.