LOST (and FOUND) in TRANSLATION #019 – “Zettai Ryouiki”

Posted on Posted in LOST AND FOUND

Japan’s manga characters are famous for their cute uniforms, but that’s not the only thing that makes them look unique. In terms of appearance, what do the maids in Akihabara, virtual idols like Hatsune Miku, and many manga heroines all have in common? (Hint: see picture!)

Answer: the knee-socks & short skirt combination!

Today, I’d like to introduce some special Otaku terminology, which was created by fans of this phenomenon!

Today’s word: 絶対領域 (zettai ryouiki)

Simply speaking, “zettai ryouiki” is the thin strip of thigh that’s exposed between the top of a pair of knee socks, and the bottom of a short skirt (knee-high boots and hot pants are also acceptable options).

When wearing or drawing this outfit, there’s a golden ratio which one should follow to maximize “moe” value. This is [4:1:2.5].

4: Length of skirt
1: Zettai ryouiki
2.5: Length of socks above knees

LFT_019 Zettai ryouiki

As you can see, the actual size of the zettai ryouiki is really quite small. To explain this in terms of human nature: once we’ve seen everything there is to see, we quickly lose interest, and move onto something else. But if we only get a little peek, then we want to see more! So if you want to keep someone hooked, “less is more”!

But what does “zettai ryouiki” actually mean? Well, one theory is that it was inspired by the Evangelion series. For those who haven’t watched Evangelion, the zettai ryouiki (literally “absolute territory”) was a kind of impenetrable force field that the Angels used to protect themselves. To quote Kaworu Nagisa: “This is the light of my soul! A sacred territory in which no one may intrude!”

In 2001, an anime character known as Mayura was released as a desktop mascot. Mayura was a cute witch character, whose design featured a short skirt and knee-high socks. Her designer, Mr. MIY (most likely under the influence of Evangelion) reportedly declared:

“As I’ve always said, the area between the mini-skirt and the knee-socks is unequaled! You could say that it’s God’s absolute territory!”

… and this phrase stuck in the hearts and imaginations of Otaku everywhere!

 

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