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If you have seen enough anime, you have probably seen a lolita. It doesn't matter if you're watching ecchi, harem, slice of life, supernatural, horror or mecha; lolitas are common character types in anime. What exactly is a lolita, though?
The opposite of shotas, lolitas are essentially young girls or girls who look like prepubescent girls. This is a general use of the term, of course. There is some sort of infatuation involved when it comes to these lolitas that may have to do with their attractiveness, innocence, or some other sort of charm that might cause an individual to have a loli-con (lolita complex).
Some people may have the misconception that lolitas are a Japanese concept. That is false. The term comes from the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which was published in 1955. It was the nickname given to Dolores, a young prepubescent girl that the main character had become infatuated and sexually involved with.
So you see, the concept of a lolita was not started in Japan. The Japanese have merely expanded and adapted the idea of lolita as their own!
The idea of being attracted to lolitas seems like such a foreign, if not morally wrong, concept to many of us, but a lolita is not limited to just girls who are young. Lolita can refer to a girl who looks young. You may have seen this phenomenon the most when talking about Asian girls, though I prefer not to be so general when it comes to races, but Asian women tend to look a lot younger than their age. A young face combined with a small stature does not help to distinguish age. I saw this often in my Vietnamese friends who looked extremely young with a height no taller than 5 feet.
People would often times mistaken them as children or middle schoolers. This can be coupled with a young sounding voice giving the illusion that a girl is a child without actually being a child. I was often told I looked like a baby and sounded like a child when I answered phones at work. It does not help you gain respect from customers, let me tell you that! It makes dating an awkward situation for some as well.
Women are typically more obsessed with a more youthful appearance whether it's an eastern or a western society. Women generally prefer to look young. I won't go as far as saying that women want to look like children because no one out there is looking to reel in a pedophile, but women do want to look younger than their reported age in most cases, especially as we age.
With a youth obsessed society, it can be expected that some men want young looking partners so the idea of being sexually attracted to a younger partner isn't too farfetched.
2. In Anime
Now, lolitas in anime are generally adorable young girls or teenage girls who appear really young. I want to step away from that idea that there is a sexuality about these characters because that is not always the case. A lot more often than not, when it comes to anime, there is a moe aspect to them.
The middle school or grade school girls are for that moe effect in most harem anime. What male wouldn't feel absolutely moe at having an adorable little girl look up to him with respect and call him "onii-chan"? These are such sweet and innocent girls that you can't help but want to hug them with all of your might!
Of course, it's a unisexually love as demonstrated by Kirino from Ore wa Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (OreImo) who just adores the little sister type. For her, it is the epitome of moe. In this instance, there is a feeling of excitement and infatuation involved rather than a sexual desire. This is fairly standard of most loli-cons so I don't want people thinking that just people someone is a loli-con that they are some sort of pedophile.
Now, the other type of lolita would be the young looking type. This would include characters like Kanisawa Kinu from Tsuyokiss who wish to be respected like other individuals their age, but their appearance doesn't exactly warrant it. This is not as common, but it is still standard in harem anime especially, but they can still help fulfill the moe of a loli-con such as the case with Koshigaya Komari from Non Non Biyori.
I personally do not see any issue with having a lolita complex at all. They aren't all the pedophiles or sexual deviants that we hear about on the news. I have known a few shota-cons who just want to cuddle a little boy but sex was never on their minds. Loli-cons are very much the same way. I can see it being very moe to see a little girl with tears in her eyes. You can't help but want to give them a big hug!
3. Lolita Fashion
A way in which Japan has made the lolita completely their own would be in fashion. Much like other fashions in Japan, lolita fashion is different from what we westerners think of fashion. In fact, lolita fashion is a common cosplay for westerners. Sorry, but lolita clothes are not for cosplaying.
Yes, people do not always walk around in lolita clothes, but that is because they are students and there are uniforms at many Japanese schools. That does not mean that when students choose to dress in lolita fashion that they are cosplaying and just doing it for fun. Lolita fashion is very strict and involves a lot more work.
Lolita fashion is notable for its intricate use of lace, ribbon, bows, and accessories, but there are also other aspects. Lolita clothing is meant to emphasize the youthfulness of a girl. It is a very conservative fashion so exposed skin is kept to a minimum. Shoulders are never exposed and hemlines are kept below the knees, which is a common mistake when people just cosplay as lolitas. Lolita fashion is quite strict and if you're not doing it right, you'll be called an ita, and that is not exactly a pleasant nickname.
There are a few different styles for lolitas. The most common one that we see in anime would have to be the goth-loli (gothic loli) which uses mainly the colors black and white. Anju from Karin (Chibi Vampire Karin and Celestia Ludengburg from Danganronpa dress in goth-loli. Wa-loli uses traditional Japanese fashion and adds in some lolita aspects such as the petticoats, shorter hems, and accessories.
This is probably my favorite as it is a blend of old and new aspects of Japanese culture. Guro-loli is a more morbid take on lolita fashion that involves fake blood and bandages. Then there is hime-loli and sweet loli that make use of brighter colors like pink and are generally more girly in fashion. There's an alternate take on lolita fashion called Oji-loli (prince loli) which uses Victorian-styled clothes for boys like Ciel from Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler).
Lolitas are such interesting characters. They are so full of personality and aren't limited to that little child personality just because of their appearances. I think they add some flavor to a harem, plus they can be just so moe! The fashion is just loveable! It is so intricate and beautiful!
Are you a fan of lolitas in anime? What do you think of them? Is there a loli-con in you?