A History of Ecchi Part 3: A teacher that everyone loves, the Oni-alien and more

Otakun3000
Jan 29 · 10 min read
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Hi and welcome to this series of articles about a genre so controversial and problematic to some, yet so enticing and interesting to others: ecchi.

“Ecchi” is a slang term in Japanese for “playfully sexual actions” — basically the pronunciation of the letter “H” (from the word “Hentai”, meaning “pervert”). The word “ecchi” was adopted in the West to refer to a genre comprising sexually suggestive content, prominent sexuality and softcore teasing, without ever approaching hardcore 18+ material. In Japan, the word ecchi instead refers to an individual’s perverted conduct. As we in the West understand it, ecchi anime and manga are works loaded with fanservice. While in mainstream titles sexual fanservice is usually a random audience-pleasing occurrence, sexual fanservice is the main focus of an ecchi work.

Take a look at the articles already published about this series:

A History of Ecchi Part 1: Japanese Erotica, Where It All Started

A History of Ecchi Part 2: The obscure Ko Kojima and the controversial Go Nagai

In this article, I will discuss some of the main genre-defining ecchi works that started in the 80s. To discuss each work in fine detail would require a book’s worth of content, and I personally didn’t watch or read them all, so I will focus only on those I know best and those I regard as most important. Finding good fanservice-filled or ecchi anime is not an easy task, so through this article I hope you discover new and interesting material. It’s always cool to discover new things to watch or read!

Let’s start digging (pun intended)!

Early 80s: Miss Machiko, Urusei Yatsura and Space Adventure Cobra

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Go Nagai opened the doors to fanservice and ecchi, with Harenchi Gakuen (1968) and Cutie Honey (1972). One other 1970s work with debatable fanservice or ecchi status was Fushigi no Melmo (1971), a magical girl manga and anime made by Osamu Tezuka. This was intended as introductory sex education for children. The tensions between sex education, children, fanservice and ecchi deserves an entire article, so I will not address it now.

Subsequent works also catered to their audience using fanservice and the first one I’ll discuss is the early 80s work Maicching Machiko-sensei.

Maicching Machiko-sensei (1981, pictured above), known also as Miss Machiko, is a manga series written by Takeshi Ebihara, collected in 8 volumes. The premise is quite simple, detailing the daily life of Miss Machiko, an elementary school teacher who wears a red mini-skirt and is constantly bothered and sexually molested by her students, who devise traps to catch her undressed.

Miss Machiko fully embraced the concept of pantyshots. It probably has the largest number of pantyshots from a single character in any anime. Machiko’s behavior exemplifies common complaints about passive female characters in ecchi works. She light-heartedly shrugs off the little boys’ mischief, laughs off and inadequately disciplines their naughty behavior. She says she is fine with “hanky-panky pranks”. Miss Machiko didn’t avoid controversy, of course. It aired during a “family” timeslot (7:30 PM) and, as expected, the PTA (Parents Teachers Association) went full force against it (said attacks being parodied in the anime itself), though that wasn’t enough to stop it.

A very interesting element about Miss Machiko relies on her being out-going and really… questionable as a teacher. During one episode, a “gang of bikers” bully and hurt some of her students. Her response is to gather her whole class to challenge them to a mud fight. Further controversy ensued in another episode, where one female student feels inadequate about her bust size because all of her friends were groped on the bus by a criminal — except herself.

Miss Machiko gained a small, devoted following years after the anime’s debut, as if she was a pin-up model. Figures and even painted frames depicting her and her lifted skirt are available. Besides anime, it was also adapted into eight live action films (seven by Total Media, one by King Records), where Machiko herself is played by several different actresses. Every movie more or less followed the original work’s softcore pantyshotting comedy.

Another show definitely deserving of mention is Urusei Yatsura (1981), an old masterpiece by Rumiko Takahashi (of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha fame), adapted as a 195-episode TV anime series from a 34-volume manga. The premise couldn’t be more eccentric and hilariously funny: an alien race known as the Oni (that, surprisingly, closely resemble Japanese fairy tale Oni), want to invade Earth, but without the use of military force. For some inexplicable reason, they offer humanity a chance to defend their planet by engaging in a competition, a game of tag, where a single nominated human must touch the horns of the single oni player during the course of a week. The one randomly selected human is Ataru Moroboshi, a naughty high school boy with a girlfriend who promises to marry him if he wins. Although her promise fires him up for the competition, his interest is also piqued by his adversary Lum, the beautiful minimally-dressed tiger-skin-bikini-clad female oni. As he wins the competition by stealing her bra and grabbing her horns, she mishears his marriage proposal and believes he is proposing to her, thus, forming a love triangle.

Urusei Yatsura is a great example of an early anime romcom (romantic comedy) with exaggerated aspects, such as cartoonish violence and a trashy, naughty, useless, horny embarrassment of a male character. Lum is the main source of fanservice, but not the only one. It is almost impossible to dislike her. She is funny, honest regarding her feelings and scandalous in comportment, although unarguably the most sane character in the show. As a mostly episodic anime and manga, there isn’t an overarching plot.. Each chapter details some far-fetched misadventure or surreal situation. The cast of characters is huge, and despite the series’ length, most of them don’t get muchy development, as expected with a lighthearted comedy show.

Urusei Yatsura gave rise to four theatrical films during its television run, producing two further movies after the show ended, alongside other media, such as OVAs, LP Albums etc.

Space Adventure Cobra (1982), an adaptation of Buichi Terasawa’s highly successful manga Cobra, details the story of Johnson, a typical salaryman who discovers he is actually Cobra, the (legally dead) space pirate who altered his own memories and face to avoid prosecution. After recovering his past, his partner, the Armaroid (a type of android) Lady and his spaceship, he travels the universe seeking adventures. The show adapts the first major stories of the manga and builds to a conclusion. It’s filled with pulp-fiction-esque action scenes, gloriously 80s in tone: over-the-top, testosterone-filled, with fanservicey bath scenes and girls in skimpy clothing. This is another show diametrically different to modern media. Instead of girls being embarrassed, in most cases they embrace their sexuality. Cobra himself presents as a macho 80s role model — a very strong man, a womanizer with no consistent moral code regarding killing or not killing his enemies. Most females are there to be objects of his lust, it’s a very chauvinist show. As one of Shonen Jump’s all-time best-selling manga, ite sold 40 million copies..

Tatakae!! Iczer-1, Outlanders and Gunbuster.

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The mid 80s ecchi world started with Tatakae!! Iczer-1 (1985). The show tells the story of Nagisa, a schoolgirl chosen by an alien to partner with her to fight an evil space force. Together, they power up a giant robot to destroy their enemies. Tatakae!! Iczer-1 is a sci-fi horror manga, adapted as a 3-part OVA (Original Video Animation). With copious body horror, Iczer-1 (the blonde up there) uses her Star Wars-homaging laser sword to destroy nameless androids and parasitic creatures. Practically the whole first episode and a great deal of the second is spent depictingNagisa screaming that she doesn’t want to fight while revealing small perky pantyshots (thanks to Iczer-1 dressing Nagisa with a ultra-short skirt that she claims protects her from the aliens, although what really protects her is an accessory she also receives from Iczer-1) and at least one bath scene. Meanwhile, Iczer-1 demonstrates her fighting skills while the camera strategically details shots of her ass. It’s campy, with a typical 80s animation style and soundtrack, combined with shining effects (that we don’t see in modern anime thanks to the infamous 1997 Pokemon incident). Tatakae!! Iczer-1’s follow-up Adventure! Iczer-3 (1990) is a direct sequel and Iczer Girl Iczelion (1995) relates an alternative storyline. Since this one has a focus on the 80s, the other ones may be addressed in a future article, when we talk about the 90s and beyond.

Outlanders (1985), is a manga series by Johji Manabe, compiled in 8 volumes. The plot reuses the basic premise of an alien invasion, but features Princess Kahm, a beautiful human-like alien who doesn’t agree with her father the emperor’s plot to conquer Earth. She decides to marry Tetsuya Wakatsuki, a news photographer taking pictures in the war zone, in order to change her father’s mind. Outlanders has a great focus on romance, while also including suspense and comedy, mixed with tears and drama. Characters develop greatly and the war between Earth and the alien invaders is depicted with great depth and realism, portraying the gritty violence that the topic deserves. It’s the epic tale of a beautiful princess and a plain guy whot gains layers of nobility as the plot progresses. It can be considered primarily space-opera with action, adventure and a somewhat rushed romance storyline. The fanservice is reserved mostly for Kahm and her bikini armor and topless scenes. The anime adaptation comprises a single, grossly rushed OVA that cut several important characters and story points and severely toned down character development, a grave disappointment for most fans of the original manga series.

During the 80s, few shows resisted the urge to include at least a tiny bit of fanservice even if they weren’t strictly ecchi titles themselves. The monolithic Dragon Ball (1986) features the famous Bulma scene (where she raises her skirt to reveal her underwear-less underside to Master Roshi) and even the action-oriented, detective show City Hunter (1987) couldn’t avoid including a bath scene.

Towards the end of the 80s, Gunbuster (1988), an OVA series produced by Gainax, was the first work directed by Hideaki Anno (of Evangelion fame). Gunbuster features an apparently cliched plot about a girl who lost her father to space monsters during a space expedition, and thus decides to train as a space soldier herself to investigate her father’s demise. It includes inexplicably sexy space suits (basically, a blouse with tight red panties) naked scenes (including a full frontal nude bath, no censorship) and it is the first ever recorded anime with the (in)famous “Gainaxing”- the breast bouncing animation. Supposelly (according to Hideaki Anno himself), the bouncing breasts were added to give a more realistic feel, but it clearly got out of hand in episode 1. Gunbuster’s animation IS great, no doubt about that, but the bouncing breasts, for its time, clearly stick out, to the point that the anime received the nickname “Bust Gunner”.

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Something that really bothers me in Gunbuster is that the space monsters barely show up during the first 3 of the 6 episodes. Sometimes it feels that they are more of a myth and sometimes I think the staff were more concerned with how to depict the girls in a way that was simultaneously alluring yet not too provocative.

Even so, Neon Genesis Evangelion fans can thank Gunbuster for EVA’s existence. Gunbuster’s themes connect closely to Evangelion, such as growing up without a father figure, a lack of talent while still being pushed to succeed, mysterious enemies of unknown origin, high-tech science, the fate of humankind in the hands of teenagers, the loss of a precious friend and how that would impacts on anyone’s life. Even the final episode is a precursor, in a way. If you think that Evangelion’s original ending, the trip through the symbolic and philosophical themes of the series while using abstract art, was the first out-of-the-box anime ending, well, Gunbuster did it before. Its ending is inblack and white monochrome widescreen without a filter. The episode was drawn and animated this way from the start, while using still images and a grandiose soundtrack in the final battle to heighten the drama (and probably to cut costs too).

Humans vs. aliens is not a new story, and it wasn’t during Gunbuster, but the anime did uniquely show the lengths to which humanity required to go in order to survive. Gunbuster ( original name Toppu o Nerae!, Aim for the Top!) was originally released on VHS videocassette, subsequently greatly remastered for DVD in 2004, with new extras such as short animations explaining the anime’s science. The follow-up Diebuster (Aim for the Top 2!) was a 2006 Anime film and a 2010manga.

The 80s were filled with fanservice and ecchi works. There are several notable works that I know I didn’t address, such as Gall Force (1986), Project A-ko (1986), Ranmna ½ (1987), Bastard!! (1988), Riding Bean (1989) and many others. Some because I haven’t watched or read them, while others I deliberately decided to avoid discussing because otherwise this article would be too long. Either way, ecchi in the 80s tread a long and interesting road. A road that continued into the 90s.

Coming Next!
In this series’ next article, we will explore some of the main ecchi works from the 90s!

Stay tuned!

AniTAY-Official

Everything Anime and Beyond

Otakun3000

Written by

Public Servant, Computer Technican, Degree in Journalism, Trilingual. Lover of anime, manga and games, little time to enjoy them all. A taste for lust material.

AniTAY-Official

A Community Blog dedicated to East Asian Culture

Otakun3000

Written by

Public Servant, Computer Technican, Degree in Journalism, Trilingual. Lover of anime, manga and games, little time to enjoy them all. A taste for lust material.

AniTAY-Official

A Community Blog dedicated to East Asian Culture

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