Regarding my last post, ozma914</lj> asked, "What's a plugsuit?" Now, I could have given a simple answer, but it wouldn't have explained the vitriol with which I react to the suggestion of drawing Rhapsody from Sound Waves in such a garment. So here we go with an explanation and another indictment of modern anime and the fandom.
Strictly speaking, a “plugsuit” is a flight suit for pilots of the EVA's in the manga and anime series Neon Genesis Evangeleon. It's no different than any other form-fitting futuristic space uniform. However, the plugsuits have taken on a different aspect thanks to a fandom that should be embarrassed by what they've done.
Now, simply put, NGE, at least, as it was originally created, was just your regular giant robot manga, nothing really special about it. The only real difference was the guy who created it was a clinical depressive. As a result, the feelings of hopelessness and despair that go with a war torn environment became integral to the presentation. All pilots are only fourteen years old, when they should be starting to think about their futures but the characters start realizing they probably won't have one. Shinji actually resented his father making him a part of the EVA project and physically attacks him at his mother's grave once. Hikari, one of the classmates, notices the pilots are all fourteen and coming from the same classroom she is in, and is scared she may get pulled into whatever is going on.
But when it became an anime, things underwent a subtle change. Shinji was reduced to a just plain numb character, and as he was ostensibly the viewpoint character, it reduced any identification and emotional connection the audience could have with him. And with him getting most of the screen time, it didn't give the others much time to really develop until it was way too late (the reason behind Rei's fatalism, the source of Asuka's psychosis).
This could be dismissed as an anime that was a noble failure, that tried to distil the entire manga and not only couldn't do it (the “missing parts” between eps 24 and 25) but couldn't capture what made the characters tick. They became cyphers, leaving viewers to project what they wanted onto them. Big shock – a lot of otaku started projecting sexual fantasies through them. One guy wanted a RealDoll like Rei, but the company refuses to make dolls in the likeness of underage characters. So he had one made with blue anime hair. Once he got it, he had red eyes substituted for the regular ones and posted pictures of his new Rei RealDoll (in lingerie) for the Internet to see. Remember: fourteen years old.
Now, shit like this happens all the time. You can't stop some people from viewing things in a sexual light. There are people drawing porn of the Simpsons characters, after all. What makes the NGE situation so reprehensible is that the people behind NGE actively encourage this behavior. The characters started being depicted with more sexually pronounced features and suggestive poses. An image of Asuka in her bikini on the beach, on all fours while perched on a watermelon, back slightly arched and angled to see down her top (known among otaku as a “golden shot”) was so popular that they made a resin statue. Fourteen years old, folks. That's underage even by Japanese standards. More and more, fan items were officially produced catering to fetish subcultures. Bed sheets with a "life-size" image of Asuka in a sleep shirt and panties. Resins were made of Rei and Asuka as maids (the popularity of maid porn in Japan has corresponded with the increase in women's equality for obvious reasons). Then as loligoths. As race queens. As bike racers with their racing suits unzipped to the hairline. The tamest is the mermaid resins I have, where they just sit and look happy. This has continued with the new NGE movies. I tried watching one. I made it as far as Asuka pointing out that she could “jiggle” in her plugsuit before I hit eject and took the disc back that night. Four. Teen. If you are wondering why so many fan stories and comics feature characters sexually overpowering and violating each other (and, technically, raping each other), it's because of shit like this.
Now, this isn't to say that NGE is the only Japanese anime/manga to do this. And it's not to say that only the Japanese do this. Look at Marc Silvestri's Witchblade (where this discussion started), whose goofy backstory and shamelessly pathetic sexual pandering were mercilessly nuked into oblivion by the immortal Steve Gerber in issue #3 of his Howard The Duck miniseries. And it's not like I object to sex in entertainment. There's a manga called Sand Chronicles that handles the central character's journey of discovery beautifully as she learns about sex and love and how one influences the other. On the other side of the coin, I do consume porn. So it's not like I'm some prude (although I didn't much follow the show, I loved the idea behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer that, cute and sexy though she was, Buffy was a hero first and fans reacted to her as such and not some pin-up doll). It's just that, in this particular case, not only is the sexuality wildly inappropriate, but it isn't even part of the characters. In fact, Asuka is the least likely to ever have sex (due to her unresolved mother issues, she starts going over the edge when she gets her first period and realizes she can have children now).
But NGE has been corrupted by the fandom to the point where it is no longer considered a sci-fi story but a breeding ground for sexual fantasies by people who should know better, all under the aegis of makers who should also know better. I have pointed out that, on anime boards, any discussion about NGE will turn dirty within five responses. I could write, “Asuka is my favorite character because she's such a tragic figure....” and within five responses, someone will say, “Yeah, Asuka is my favorite, too. I'd like to [blank] her [blank] with my [blank] and [blank] her until she [blanks].” On the board one time, a poster asked, “If Rei has sex with her clones, is that incest or masturbation?” I responded, “Does anyone know of a plug-in that will boil these messages before I open them?” In case you're wondering why, after leaving the anime fandom, I've never looked back.
As a result, the original identity of NGE is lost. It is now known more as a shorthand for inappropriate sex than anything else. It's kind of like the Catholic school girl uniform – it has become so loaded with sexual meaning, employing it requires a great deal of caution. I've drawn only one character in a CSGU, Holly in Stress Puppy, and that was because she actually went to a Catholic school. I suppose it is possible to draw NGE related outfits and it be considered a winking nod to a touchstone of anime. But I don't know how to do it, and I refuse to make Rhapsody the test subject. Man, remember when you could enjoy things without having to prove you weren't a pervert?
You are now leaving a Lindsay Lohan/Kim Kardashian-free zone.