Look at the next object you can find. How would it look like an anime girl or boy? Imagine this, create a concept, and if you’re creative enough, you can come up with a clear imagine and draw it! At some point in Japan, someone looked at an old World War II Battleship and thought the same. This is my theory on how Kantai Collection happened, which followed and was followed by a lot of different ideas on how to use Moe Anthropomorphism…
Short explanation: Moe Anthropomorphism is the concept of turning non-human objects or lifeforms into human characters. The picture above shows one of the most simplest form of this concept: Kemonomimi. Animals presented as anime girls. To be specific, those two catgirls are called Vanilla and Chocola, created by Artist Sayori. Both can be recognized as catgirls through an obvious trademark: The catears. I chose this picture in particular, cause there is a lot of other stuff in this, like their clothing on both their upper body and hair, which is really a standout, yet there is no problem in noticing the catears and recognizing both as catgirls.
One of the aspects of when anthropomorphizing (what the hell is this word, I swear) objects into humans is, that there needs to be trademark which signifies what this character is an anthropomorph of. For Catgirls, it can be very simple. Just put catears on it and eventually a cattail and you have the basic visual concept for a catgirl. However, Artist Sayori went a little further with those exact basics…
Sayori gives the catgirls a certain seperation. Both Chocola and Vanilla have the same kind of catears, not very hard to see, however, what about the character Coconut?
Coconut has slightly different catears, they are taller compared to Choco and Vani’s. If you also look at the full character design for both Chocola and Vanilla, Coconut also has a fluffier tail, which is because of certain reason: Coconut is described on the Nekopara website as a “Maine Coon”, a different race of cat.
Sayori did build in different cat races into Nekopara, if you look at the Character Database you can look them up! They did a great job implimenting these trademarks of cat races into the catgirls, even if they’re blatantly obvious. Cinnamon does have the ears of the Scottish Fold as well as the ears, while Azuki is very short and small, similar to her respective race, the Munchkin.
Now, those are the very basics, but artists already found very different ways of how create an anthropomorphic design with something more unusual…
Using Historical Background as Part of the Design
Let’s move on to an example where a non-living object has been anthropomorphized.
I wrote about Panzer Waltz in my last blogpost. But there I did not talk about one of the most important things of the game, which is the Visual Design of the tanks. Now, up there is the Panzer IV G(H), let me show the reallife counterpart first… but wait.
What exactly is the Panzer IV G(H)? There is no report of such a tank and when looking it up, only “G” or “H” exists. An Panzer IV H already exists in the game in form of a different tank, but just calling Rebecca Wagner the Panzer IV G would be plain out wrong, and here is why:
The obvious difference between those tanks is the sideskirt of the Panzer IV Ausf. H. Which exist on both Turret and Chassis. Except for this, there is actually not a lot of difference between those tanks, the Gunbarrel for example is identical. Now, look back at Rebecca and…
This is no ordinary Panzer IV G, IF it is a Panzer IV G. It has both armorskirts of the Panzer IV H. However, you can’t simply call her a Panzer IV H now, because as mentioned, there is already another girl in Panzer Waltz which represents this tank:
Now my theory is the following: Rebecca is, after her new design has the Armorskirts of the Ausf H, meant to be a Ausf G which has those skirts added on, hence the name: “Panzer IV Aus G(H)”.
Now, with this example of this suspicious tank in Panzer Waltz, you should have noticed what I looked at the most when analyzing Rebeccas design. The trademarks which most signify the tank is the turret and followed by the Chassis. The turret (which is on the swordhilt of Rebecca if you didn’t notice it) gave away that trademark of the Ausf H which made me realize that something was odd about her design, and the Armorskirts on her sides only strenghtend that suspicion.
However, when it comes to Rebecca, there is something else you most likely have noticed which is Rebecca being a foxgirl (If not.. Scroll up and look again, are you blind?). Have you ever wondered why this was the case? If you know the Panzer IV’s history and where it was being used, you might see the connection…
If not, let’s get straight to the answer. The Africa Korps in World War II which acted in the North Africa Operations of Nazi Germany was one of the big units where the Panzer IV was being used. Command over that Africa Korps had General Erwin Rommel, one of the biggest german generals. His operation in North Africa gave him the nickname: “Desert Fox”. Using this connection between the Panzer IV and WWII, the whole idea of the “Desert Fox” was used for Rebecca (look especially the foxears, compare them to the ears of a real desert fox!)and also for a lot of the Panzer IV Series (not all of them, you can see that at the Panzer IV H above) in the Panzer Waltz game!
Of course, all models are basically the same with different colours, but all of them have something foxy about them, even if it is only the little fox on their chassis. In the story of the game, Rebecca has the position of the leader of the “Desert Foxes”, which consist of those foxgirls. So as a leader, her design has to stand out, while she still needs to be recognized as part of this squad. The concept of her being a foxgirl has been kept, with some trademarks of the other foxgirls kept as well (like the little fox), while her basic design is a lot different. For example, unlike any of the foxgirls above, Rebecca has a sword and a skirt (which doesn’t prevent that you can still have quite the look at her panties…).
This above was example of a Tank which had a connection to a World War II element, which was the connection between the Panzer IV G(H) Rebecca Wagner and the Africa Corps where the Panzer IV was frequently used and General Erwin Rommel aka the “Desert Fox”. A connection which was used to create Rebecca’s and a lot of the Panzer IV’s designs.
Using Identity for the Design
As you can see, there can be lots of thought behind the design of one of those tanks. I will keep on focusing on Panzer Waltz in the next example. This time however, we will look at a tank which has gotten its own identity,implemented in the design, through its performance and a german-given nickname…
So, let’s take a look at the real life counterpart. The description “Early Henschel” does not exactly exist, and probably was only added to this, so the player doesn’t confuse it to be a Porsche Tiger. I will treat Smug here as a “Tiger I Early”.
Now, let’s compare. You see the turret of the Tiger at Smug’s left side (look at how accurate the turret is, lots of details from the real tank that have been put in there). The turret form is pretty much traditional for the Tiger I, and even people who do not have much knowledge about the WWII tanks know Tiger and about how it looks like. On the right side of Smug we have part of the chassis of the Tiger, with a hole for the machinegun and a little slit to look through.
Most of that is basic, now onto some less obvious things: We have a sparkling effect on the chassis part of Smug,. The Tiger was a tank which in real life would have many successors which were from a military standpoint really damn impressive would have a massive reputation up till today, so the sparkling on the Early Tiger marks the beginning of something much greater. Another thing is, the name of the tank went into the design of Smug. A Tiger is in the animal world a (rather big) cat. If you look between Smugs legs, you’ll notice that she has a cattail. Interestingly the designers did not went for a complete Catgirl design, instead, she has a hair band which have some cat paws added on them. Pretty cute and a different way of showing connections to cats, while not having to rely on simple catears.
However, let’s look at one of the successor Models, a very late one to be exact. The Tiger II Henschel:
Now let’s go through the same procedure from before quickly, since I’m sure you already noticed the main trademarks on Lisa. Turret and Chassis with the MG mount (which is a lot bigger in relativity to the main gun compared to the real life version, not visible on the picture of the Tiger II above) on the right side. On both sides on her hip we see the engine on the back of the Tiger II (For reference) and a little tiger is on top of the turret on the right side. Also, note that some pieces of the girl from the Early Henschel have been took over, red eyes and white hair to be specific, which gives a certain consistency among these two Tiger Henschel tanks.
Now, did you notice that Lisa looks kind of… majestic? Extravagant long hair, a partly golden coloured big cape, her golden eye patch, these stockings which end on her upper leg with this overdetailed pattern? All these and the general colouring of her clothes make her look a bit like a King, don’t you think? Now, some of you might be alerted now, thinking she is a trap (“King” is male, the female word is “Queen”). Don’t worry, she isn’t. Instead, let’s look at another name of the Tiger II.
Because of the strength (and I think some national pride also helped here) of the Tiger II, the Germans gave the Tiger II another name, an inofficial name: “Königstiger”, english translation: “King Tiger”. A name, which would be one to be remembered. Even though it had a lot of technical problems (engine not powerful enough, performance bad and slow speed), it was in terms of armament and weaponry one of the most impressive tanks of the second World War. In fact, The King Tigers Armor was so good that there is apparently no report of a Tiger II being frontally penetrated while in combat! (I guess Lisa likes it only from behind then, hurr durr). The 88mm main gun of the Tiger II gave it enormous firepower, taking out tanks with a range with up to 3500 m.
This is why the King Tiger is a tank that is remembered till today, a fearsome tank with a fitting nickname, resulting in this identity of the feared “King Tiger”, covering up even the many problems this tank had. The artists of Panzer Waltz decided to put in that very identity into the design of Lisa, which is why she looks like we see her in the game.
Nationality and Cultural Dispersion
We will head towards Panzer Waltz one last time! Take a look at the following 4 tankgirls
Can you tell me which nation the teal-life Counterpart of those girls belong to? I think the answer really easy to find if you take a closer look at some of those tanks.
The answer rom left to right: French, Japanese, English, German
One of the biggest hints in terms of Nationality was the colour separation. The ARL-44 Heavy Tank (far left) has a lot of blue on the tank parts, and the uniform has the colours of the french flag (blue, white, red). On her hat, you can even see a french flag symbol.
Similar things go for the Black Prince (the loli on the middle right, who is also a Heavy Tank), lots of white and red and several pieces of the english flag on her cape, skirt and her shield. Also, she wears a typically british uniform, marking her as british and also fitting with the name “Prince”.
The StuG III Ausf. F (Bunnygirl on the far right) is clearly german, you can see the symbol of the “Wehrmacht” on her Sideskirt. Colours consist of a lot of grey, which was kind of the trademark colour for german WW2 tanks.
Now, the only tank left is the Japanese Type 97 Shinhoto (middle left), which I found the most difficult because of one reason: Japanese Tanks were fairly unknown compared to every other nations tanks in World War II, mainly because the Japanese acted mainly in the Pacific against the USA, thus were way more active as a Marine Force. But still, she can be easily recognized as japanese through some very traditional Japanese things: Kimono and two Katanas and once again the colour separation. The clothes are dominated by red and white, similar to the Japanese Flag.
Now, we had it a lot of visual trademarks. In most cases, visualizing those was not a problem because we already know what it looks like, for example: Majestic Looks for a King, Traditional Clothes like Kimono for Japanese or Ears of different races of Cats for Catgirls.
However, what if you want to anthropomorphize something, that you can not see? How would you imagine something invisible?
Anthropomorphizing something “Invisible”
Let’s go away from tanks, and look at Toyota. In January 2016, Toyota brought out “Prius! Impossible Girls”, where they took apart their Toyota Prius and anthropomorphized the car parts into anime girls.
There are a total of 40 girls in this project and no.. I won’t go through every single one of them, even If I want to…
Instead, let’s take a look at car part number 39:
Now, I’m expecting that you don’t know much about car mechanics, but even for people who do have knowledge of cars…. What do you think she is? If you can’t already take it from what stands above, she is not something you can see with your simple eye.
Oh by the way, on the website she says something to you (per text, not actual voice… 😦 ): “I hope you come to like my voice.”
At this point, some people should have already realized what she is meant to characterize. If you want to find out for yourself, don’t look into the next paragraph, because there is the answer!
Image that you’re the artist, and got yourself a request from Toyota: “Draw the Noise of a Door as an anime girl”. Yeah, I am not kidding, this girl is meant to be the Door Sound of the Toyota Prius. Not the door itself (which funnily enough has no Anthropomorph in Prius Impossible Girls), but the sound it makes.
Let’s look at her, and see how the sound has been presented. Now, since this girl has no voice, her entire look has to characterise the sound. Now look at the image and think about what kind of character she could have. Her entire outfit is dominated by a black design and the whole design has something elegant to it. The Elegance factor begins already from her pose, the way her legs are positioned as well as how she holds her hands. Everything hints that she is a charming, elegant and disciplined lady. Now, a charming and elegant sound would be quite pleasant to hear right? Let’s look at the description on the Toyota site:
“In order to improve the tone of the sound when vehicle doors are closed, vibration damping material and door rigidity were carefully enhanced and the sealing material used on both the front and rear doors was optimized to produce a quality sound. The remarkable craftsmanship of the PRIUS extends to ensuring that sounds produced are pleasing to the ear.”
The design is in my opinion spot on. Her charming and elegant design perfectly fits to something which is meant to be “Pleasing”, and I almost adore the idea of anthropomorphizing something you can not see that easily, even if it is something as ridiculous as the “Door Sound”.
However, it is not only done here. In fact, look at this girl:
A Position which characterises Silence and Balance and the ability of the Toyota Prius to have a ride as comfortable as possible (I can’t tell if that is true, I have never driven a Toyota).
Now before I end up really analyzing all 40 car parts, just go to the Website and look through every car part on your own. There is a function to switch to english language which is easy to find, just click on one of the car parts and under the description you should find the option to change the language to english. I find the design mostly pretty damn interesting, look at how parts from the real car are implemented in some of the designs (if they’re visible ones)!
And with that, I have covered everything I wanted. Looking through the whole blogpost again, I spot, next to all those typos, that I have not talked about Kantai Collection. This is rather sad, but everything I could say about the designs there I have already explained via Panzer Waltz, so there was no need for them anymore.
I hope you got a good coverage about the art of Moe Anthropomorphism. Last but not least, I want to mention something important. I did not cover them here because I barely had any encounter with those, but “Moe” is a gender neutral expression, meaning, you can also use this concept to turn objects into something male. Major examples are Hetalia (countries as boys) and Touken Ranbu (Swords as guys).
And since you’ve been seeing anime girls the whole time in this blogpost… let’s close this out…
See ya, Bye Bye then~
PS: This is part 2 of 3 of my Moe Anthropomorphism project, part 1 being about the game Panzer Waltz and part 3 will be me trying to take on this concept and use it on anime studios… look forward to that!
PS 2: I wrote “Anthropomorph” and the varieties of this word 11 times wrong when I first wrote proofread this post.
PS3: On my second proofreading I found 4 more spelling mistakes on the “Anthropomorph” words…