Warning: Mildly NSFW.
Ok, so seeing as we had a great writeup on fanservice by Sylverfist and Kotaku featured an article that caused the standard amount of damage on the front page, I figured it was time to tackle this subject. Now we’re all adults here right? We can talk about this without going after each other’s throats or giggling uncontrollably? Ok, good. Let’s talk about boobies.
I'm putting this up just to get any nasty thoughts out of your head.
Well, maybe not boobs specifically, but “sexy” characters with revealing clothing. Now I’m not going to argue that sexy outfits are demeaning or that they don’t promote equality among the sexes. Nor am I going to argue that people need to loosen up and chuck off the shackles of conservative tradition. Those things are waaaay out of my depth. Instead, I want to talk about attractive characters from a storytelling and artistic perspective. I actually think that there is a right way and a wrong way to design sexy characters.
For me, it’s the difference between Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.
I don't care if she's part plant, that can't be hygienic.
See, a sexy design for Poison Ivy makes sense to me. One of her powers is a kind of super-attraction. She is able to hypnotize men into her service through pheromones. Her sex appeal is one of her more dangerous powers. So it makes sense if her dress is slightly more provocative. It fits the theme.
She's a clown, right?
But Harley Quinn on the other hand…It seems that with each of her video game appearances, she gets more leather and less clothing. Harley’s a bit of an odd character. Her personality and style is heavily dependent on the Joker. She has a similar clown motif and goofy (if not deadly) sense of humor. She’s like a love-struck puppy following her sociopathic master. It just doesn’t make sense to me that her more recent costumes in games tend to veer more towards “biker chick” than “whimsical villain sidekick.”
One of the more important points that kept popping up whenever I talked about character design was making sure the design reflected the character’s personality, traits, and other important identifiers. The same thing applies if you choose a attractive design for your character. If a sexy costume supports your role of the character, go for it. But the problem arises when an outfit does not support the character.
If the costume does not match the character, it just becomes distracting. And that was one of the bigger complaints I saw on Sylverfist’s writeup about fanservice. It just distracts from the plot and can give mixed messages to the viewer. Whenever you have sexy just for sexy’s sake, it doesn’t add to the story. At worst, it can detract from a story.
I’m not saying all characters should be ugly. I really don’t think anybody would like that. I’m just saying that designers should think a little bit before adding a boob window or hiking up a character’s G-string to ridiculous levels.
Got anything else to add? Got a favorite female character design? Just want to yell at me because of how wrong I am? Sign off in the comments!