Friday, October 4, 2013

The Oversexualization of Holo

When you look at the picture above, what do you see? What kind of series do you think this comes from? How do you think this character acts?

If you only saw a naked, anthropomorphic girl and assumed that it was from a series with a very shallow plot, you'd have had the same impression as I did when I first saw this picture on a poster at a convention many years ago.

The girl pictured above is named Holo and she's from a series called Spice and Wolf. Despite what you might think, Spice and Wolf is not a hentai. In fact, it's not even what I would consider a Type B anime. (Type B is when a series is made simply to feature cute or cool characters, rather than actually having a good plot.) It actually focuses on business concepts, like competitive strategies and the economy, in a highly interesting and fun way. Holo herself is actually one of the smartest, most personable characters I've ever had the pleasure to watch. This is where the problem comes in.

Holo is a wolf that can take on human form. While this sounds cheesy, the series does a great job of making it seem like a legitimate, plausible thing by making her a goddess of harvest that appears in the local town's history. This means that she has several wolf-like tendencies, such as a great sense of smell and being slightly vain about her beautiful tail (yes, it's always there, and, yes, they do address it by having her hide it under her skirt. Same with her ears being hidden by a hat). It also means that she is not used to wearing clothes and, therefore, does not wear them whenever possible.

They get fans used to this idea within the first few episodes by introducing her human form without clothes and by having her get undressed in front of the main male character, Lawrence, who reacts appropriately. While it does cause the initial blush and chuckle to see her in such a state, it's something that you get used to very quickly. In my case, her nudity no longer shocked me after the first time I saw it. It just became a part of her personality instead of a ploy to get Type B fans interested. Why? Because it's presented as something natural that makes sense for her character.

The problem I have with the fact that about 85% the merchandise of her, from posters to figures, features her naked is that is does not represent the series for what it really is. Honestly, I almost never watched Spice and Wolf because I thought it was one big form of fanservice based on all the posters I saw of it. This makes me sad because it is genuinely a great series with amazing characters and depth. I get that the merchandise-in-question is a cheap way of getting horny fans to buy the products, but it also really sells it short for everyone else.

In short, although no one should judge a book by its cover, you also shouldn't have 85% of your covers appear misleading.
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