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The Playboy Bunny... a sexy costume popularized by the Playboy Club, composed of a corset (color varying, though often black), fake bunny ears, a collar with a bowtie, cuffs, a fluffy tail (usually made of cotton, fur, or feathers), some hose or stockings (usually fishnets) and high heels.
For whatever reason, any female character (or even a male as a joke) could end up in this costume. Most often the pretext is quite flimsy, as it is hard to pretend that this is anything but Fanservice. Mainly seen in Anime and Manga; not absent from Western works but rarer, precisely because Playboy has a trademark on this particular outfit, and American copyright laws are a little stricter than in Japan.
This is one of the most common forms of fetish wear, along with its Sister Tropes, the French Maid Outfit and the Naughty Nurse Outfit. If done willingly by the woman, she's certainly trying to seduce some love interest. More often, for comedic value, she's not exactly happy about the dolling up, but can't escape it. Might have involved Instant Cosplay Surprise.
It should be noted that the original Playboy Bunny outfit simply used stiffened ribbons tied to resemble rabbit ears. Many of the more modern depictions have Nekomimi-style ears. (The original costumes were actually custom-made for each waitress by a seamstress who worked for each club, and the design is copyrighted, which is why you'll never find this outfit worn in Real Life in any establishment not owned by the magazine.)
A Sub-Trope of Sexy Whatever Outfit.
Compare Leotard of Power, Of Corsets Sexy, Fur Bikini.
A Spear Counterpart of sorts would be the Chippendales Dancer.
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Anime & Manga
Even when otherwise irrelevant for the series (that is, no Bunny outfit ever appears in the run of the show), it isn't uncommon for some official art to put the female characters in such costumes, just for the heck of it.
The first instance of Female!Ranma wearing such an outfit was in her first battle against Mousse: trapped in female form, and already committed to a man-to-man duel, she dressed up in huge, baggy clothing to fool everyone into thinking she was male, and proceeded to entertain the crowd with simple magic tricks to humiliate the Hidden Weapons master. The coup de grâce was blowing up said clothing and coming out as a Playboy Bunny (just minus the ears) to infuriate Mousse even further, claiming that even "disguised" as a girl "he" would defeat him. It backfired spectacularly when Mousse systematically destroyed her clothing and left her naked as a jaybird.
The next instance is the use of the costume as a disguise (with a wig) during the okonomiyaki-selling competition against Tsubasa Kurenai. Justified in the manga, since the whole school knows about Ranma's curse, and thus she has to hide her identity to attract the boys (though she didn't need something so blatantly sexy, as Akane pointed out). Reconnected in the anime, where the curse is still a secret, to Ranma's deciding that she needs to play up her sex-appeal to match the kawaiiness of Tsubasa. An oversized suit of travel-worn boy's clothes doesn't really look good at the best of time, much less when it has to compete against a charmingly girly skirt.
Rumiko Takahashi is also fond of drawing Ranma and Akane in Playboy Bunny outfits for standalone artwork and chapter breaks.
In early Dragon Ball, Bulma is given a Playboy Bunny outfit by Oolong, as it's the only outfit he owns that will fit her (and he was up all night guarding their car with a shotgun instead of doing her laundry). She even lampshades this in the Funimation dub when these clothes make her look like the Easter Bunny ("What is this, Easter?!"). It becomes a plot point when she is subsequently thought to be part of a group of bandits which are identified by the fake bunny ears they wear (the bandit leader being an anthropomorphic rabbit).
Haruhi Suzumiya: Mikuru Asahina, of course. And Haruhi a few times, most notably in the iconic episode "Live Alive". There's also a picture with all the girls wearing Bunny outfits!◊ Even Kyon's little sister. There are even figurines of the girls in bunny outfits.
The picture of the females of Suzumiya Haruhi as bunny girls was eventually spoofed◊ featuring the girls of Lucky Star.
On Maison Ikkoku, Godai has to work at a nightclub for a while where the waitresses are dressed as Bunny Girls. Akemi even works there for a bit, but that's hardly a surprise. After all, she considers sheer nightgowns without bras to be suitable "hanging around the house" attire.
Haruko from FLCL puts one on for no immediately discernible reason in episode 5. Though "for no discernible reason" covers almost everything Haruko does. The outfit serves as a Mythology Gag to Studio Gainax's famous Daicon IV opening animation, which features a Bunny-suited Action GirlSky Surfingon a flying sword. Hence why she shouts "Daicon V!"
When Negi discovers Chisame Hasegawa cosplaying as "Chiu", she's in a Bunny Girl outfit. And he drags her outside in front of the class, to her great embarrassment. Of course, it gets worse when the costume doesn't survive a sneezing...
Another time, Akira was made to wear a more classic-style costume when the girls were considering a Cosplay Cafe for the school festival.
During the festival itself, Setsuna wears an outfit that kind of resembles a cross between this and a mascot-style fursuit.
Another scene has the cheerleaders trying to play matchmakers with Ako to non-existent Brit Nagi, cousin of their teacher (actually said teacher magically aged-up), by sending him pictures of her. One of them involves a Bunny outfit. ("Wasn't that invented in England?") Negi does a perfect Spit Take upon receiving the picture.
In the manga, this is actually the official uniform of the Destiny Management Bureau — at least for women. Men get stupid Easter Bunny outfits. This causes problems: one cannot bend her waist when wearing a Bunny Girl outfit, and the Easter Bunny outfits are about as hot and sweaty as you would imagine. Without uniforms, however, the (mostly female) cast would not have been able to pursue the Designated Hero into the Bureau's high security areas, where the dork could possibly do serious damage to the universe itself. The Chase Scene which follows is patently ridiculous.
Lum also wears one in an episode of the anime. Amazingly, this is actually much more conservative than her normal outfit.
At the start of Code Geass R2, Action Girl Kallen is forced to work in a casino whilst wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit in a Dirty Harriet situation. She's none too happy about it, and a few episodes later questions why Mysterious Waif C.C. couldn't have done it; though there are valid reasons, the impression we're given is that C.C. just felt like messing with Kallen.
This seems to be a common fetish in the Code Geass universe. The waitresses at a EuroUniverse party in the first episode of the OVA Akito the Exiled are wearing bunny outfits as well.
Mihoshi does dress as a Playboy Bunny in-story on the No Need for Tenchi! manga, as part of a ploy to distract a corrupt planetary regent.
One version of Galaxy Police uniforms has a Do-Anything Gizmo that the poor officer has to hang from their back pocket. Plus a Nice Hat. Just to make Mihoshi look like a Bunny Girl.
Subverted in the Girls Bravo manga, although otherwise rife with Fanservice. Fukuyama tricks the girls into a perverted game, having them put on some fetishistic costumes. And the final loser would have to walk around the block in said embarrassing clothes. But in the end, he's the one to lose, and ends up outside wearing a Bunny outfit. He's enough of a weirdo to enjoy this, though.
Kanokon anime, episode 4: Chizuru puts on a Bunny Girl outfit to try to attract Kouta, but soon finds that the costume does not come off, and is also a demon capable of controlling clothing. Said demon soon proceeds to use Chizuru's body to fly through the school changing the clothes of every girl along the way, gaining control of their outfits as well. (Some costumes include Shrine Maiden, Policewoman, Nun, and China Girl.) Later on, the demon uses this as a counter to the attack from a wind user by destroying the clothing of every girl but Chizuru, since the demon is Chizuru's outfit.
Parodied in the School Rumble anime. Yakumo's bunny outfit is actually an oversized rabbit costume.
Ouran High School Host Club: Haruhi subverts this in a bonus chapter (which inspired the first part of the 12th episode of the anime) by being stuffed into an Easter Bunny outfit by the rest of the hosts in an attempt to fool Hunny before he wakes up to discover his Bun-Bun got smudged accidentally. This is also the source of yet another Imagine Spot (unseen in the manga version) courtesy of Tamaki in the same story.
Hayate is put into a bunny suit several times by his master and her maid. And, when visiting Las Vegas, Sakuya is put into one... even more for the sex appeal, as it's made out of a material that tears as Wataru/Saki lose while playing poker.
There's also a chapter in the manga where Hayate briefly reads Alice's Adventures in Wonderland... sort of... to Nagi, and Hinagiku as Alice gets information from Those Three Girls dressed as Playboy Bunnies. She commiserates:
Alice (Hinagiku): It must be rough having to cover the cheesecake angle for our anniversary story. Bunny Girls: Hey, it's a living!!
Variable Geo: Erina Goldsmith and her team all wear one as the standard uniform of The Rival casino (which she owns). It also doubles as her fighting attire for the VG tournament.
Kamichama Karin: Karin mistakenly thinks Kazune is going to use his "feminine wiles" to convince Micchi to join their side (don't even ask) and pulls a bunch of costumes out of hyperspace for him to use, including a Playboy Bunny outfit.
One chapter of Ai Yori Aoshi involves Tina and Taeko wanting to photograph Aoi in various costumes. They start with a Sailor Fuku, then a nurse's uniform, Qipao, Meido uniform, exercise clothes... "And to finish it off, of course — a Bunny Girl!!" Aoi panics at that point and hides behind Kaoru; somehow they've managed to get her into the costume before she realized it.
Book 30 of the Futari Ecchi manga features most of Makoto's female coworkers dressed as Playboy Bunnies for serving drinks during a reception. They aren't too pleased about it, except for resident lesbian Alissa, who reveals she was the one to suggest it from the start. Naturally, this inspires Makoto who brings home one of the costumes for his wife Yura to cosplay with. The story even ends with a picture of the evolution of the Bunny Girl outfit from the '50s to the '70s (modeled by female characters otherwise not appearing in the chapter).
When Rito first suggested Lala should dress to fit in with Earthpeople, she had Peke transform — and kept picking inappropriate garb to copy: a businessman's clothing, a policewoman's uniform, a Bunny.... That one led Rito to wonder in shock where she'd seen it.
At the start of the "Trouble Quest" arc, the Guild assigning "adventurers" their Character Class had a staff of Bunnies — well, actually, multiple copies of one Bunny (there was also a Bunny on the sign outside the door). Then, when Yami shows up, she's been dressed as a Bunny as part of her character class. Yami, who hates anything Ecchi...
During Peke's (actually Rito's) malfunction in Chapter 143 / Episode 09 of Motto To Love-Ru, Lala ends up in a tiny swimsuit and Haruna in this. Oh yeah, and Oshizu was dressed asEnma Ai.
In One Piece, this is the most common means of dress for revolutionary second-in-command Emporio Ivankov's people, whether male or female.
In Great Teacher Onizuka, the naive but kind-hearted Tomoko Nomura is talked by Onizuka into putting on such an outfit. He then leaves her in a crowded street without telling her what he has in mind. When she gets picked up by dodgy-looking guys, she thinks Onizuka wants her to become a porn actress. She's specifically cosplaying the character Cutey Honey (complete with hairstyle), whose outfit may have been influenced by this trope.
All of the girls from Neko-de Gomen! dress up in the outfit for a student café in chapter 9.
This is Shiage Hamazura's fetish. It's so bad that Saiai holding a stuffed rabbit behind Rikou, thus making it look like Rikou has bunny ears, is enough to give Shiage a Nosebleed.
During the Agitate Halation Arc, Touma is treated to the surreal sight of a girl wearing this outfit plus a Brown Bag Mask. The narrative refers to her as "Paper Bag Bunny Girl". She tries to kill him on sight with a device that resembles a naginata and sprays water with enough force to slice through metal, but he quickly escapes.
In Maicchingu Machiko Sensei, the title character is shown in a bunny suit during the closing credits among other Fanservice outfits. It says something when this series is so chock-full of fanservice that they had to cram a playboy bunny suit in during the credits for little reason.
In Fairy Tail, Erza Scarlet is asked by a reporter what's her favorite "armor" (among the hundred she can "Ex-quip" at will). Her answer? The Bunny suit. And then Lucy, starving for attention from the same reporter, dresses in turn as a Playboy Bunny. (Which may be an Actor Allusion considering which other Aya Hiranocharacter has worn such a costume.)
Pipin's costume from Magical Play is clearly inspired by a Playboy Bunny's, although there are some variations. Notably, the bunny ears aren't on her head but comes from her bunny-shaped backpack (instead, she has carrots as hair decorations).
In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Asuka's opponent Mitsuo used female monsters that wore this costume called Gamble Angel Bunnies. (I'm deadly serious. The dub edited out the fishnet stockings, but really, showing their bare legs wasn't much less risque.) They even made a return appearance, two of them acting as game show models for Kanda's quiz-based deck in season two.
In Book 8 of Sorcerer Hunters, Carrot Glace's friends (and suitors) find him in a hostess bar, having fun with plenty cute girls dressed as Playboy Bunnies. As everybody thought he was going through a Heroic BSOD, they are not amused.
Adam Warren put Kei and Yuri into this outfit in his second Dirty Pair comic book miniseries. Unfortunately, since it was originally published in the U.S., Playboy frowned on the copyright infringement, and the bunny ears and tails were removed from the art in the trade paperback reprinting.
Some of the Touhoufanart and fancomics often have Reisen and Tewi, who are already Rabbit Youkai to begin with, being dressed as Playboy Bunnies by their mistresses Kaguya and Eirin.
In order to celebrate 2011 being the Year of the Hare in the Eastern Zodiac, lots of Japanese artists were doing... pictures of anime girls dressed as Playboy Bunnies. Not that we mind.
In the Naruto fanfic Reload, Naruto makes all of the women of an entire ANBU assassin squad into these. No, really.
New Look Series:
That's the outfit Future Trunks is forced to wear by Kid Trunks and Goten in Trunk's New Look: Babysitting.
Fuyuki is forced to wear the outfit as one of his costumes while trapped in the F.A.N.S.E.R.V.I.C.E by Kururu in Fuyuki's New Look: F.A.N.S.E.R.V.I.C.E.
Suggested by Slouchy Smurfling in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfed Behind: The Passion of the Smurfs" when Snappy complains about not seeing Smurfette dressed up as a bunny for Easter when they're in Jerusalem to see what Tapper says the holiday is really about.
This is inverted in Mean Girls, where all the girls at the Halloween party are dressed as Playboy Bunnies (or something similar), but Cady shows up as a zombie bride (or rather an "ex-wife").
In the illegal casino in Outrage, the servers are dressed as Bunnies. (Obviously, they figured that copyright violation didn't matter, seeing as they were breaking the law anyway.)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? had Hugh Hefner and two Playboy Bunnies as special guests. Naturally, the two bunnies took part in a game of "living scenery".
An episode of Laverne and Shirley named "The Playboy Show" centers around Laverne trying to get a job at a Playboy Club in Wisconsin.
Subverted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Anya, who has a fear of bunnies, dresses up for Halloween in a large bunny costume. Not quite what we were hoping....
Subverted in Mad Men: Lane Pryce dates a black Playboy Bunny named Toni... and it's a totally legitimate, loving relationship. Lane does not seem to be merely infatuated, Toni does not seem to be merely interested in Lane's money, and neither of them seems to be interested in the shock value.
NBC's short-lived series The Playboy Club, canceled after only three episodes. (Inronically, unlike more successful examples on this page, it was officially approved by Playboy.)
SCTV — resident lothario Johnny LaRue (John Candy) owns an ersatz Playboy Club, with similarly-attired "gerbils".
Hello Project group v-u-den wore Playboy Bunny outfits in the music video for their single "Aisu Kuriimu to Mai Purin", as well as in almost all subsequent live performances of the song.
In the stage musical adaptation of Legally Blonde (see above), when called a skank by her romantic rival for her Playboy Bunny costume, Elle Woods recovers by taking someone's glasses and insisting she is dressed as an undercover Gloria Steinem (see below). She then asks her, loudly, if she is calling Gloria Steinem a skank, and a horde of feminists descends upon the rival.
One special species of Pixie from the Monster Rancher series has an outfit like this. Its description notes that it's very popular among male breeders...
Secret of the Stars has a Bunny Suit, which makes anybody who wears it look like a Playboy Bunny. Even the guys. And this is used in a plot point, as you have to put all your male characters into Bunny suits and sneak into a Lady Land.
In the Original Generation games, Excellen Browning often promises to wear one for various (male) characters. In the second game, the promise is actually used to make sure she's freed from enemy brainwashing. In the final episode of the anime adaptation Divine Wars, she actually comes through on it, even roping Lefina Enfield into doing it as well.
In a scenario of Super Robot Wars Z: Saisei-Hen, Kallen was serving as a waitress at Coconna's shop, and it seems that only the bunny suit was available for her. To make things worse, Dimension Beasts appears near their shop and their commander doesn't give Kallen the permission to change back to her normal outfit.
C.C.: So how do you feel riding Guren, Kallen? Kallen: "How"...? Ester: Get back Kallen. DM extermination is my specialty. Kallen: Ester... are you mad about something? Ester: I'm not frustrated... I'm not frustrated! Kallen: You brought your triangle into the cockpit... Ester: You're piloting the Guren wearing a bunny suit, aren't you?! So I'm bringing my work tool into mine too! ''*ding ding ding* C.C.: It looks like she really is that frustrated that she couldn't become a bunny [girl]. Kallen: Sure looks like it... Kiderra: Woman's jealousy sure is scary... Ester: I said I'm not frustrated! Even though I'm not that pretty, or elegant, or friendly, or good as serving... C.C.: To a destructive degree. Ester: I'll live my life as a [DM] buster. So bring it on, DM's. C.C.: Looks like everything got solved by itself. Chirico: Here they come.
It's not as immediately obvious due to the far less developed polygon rendering of the time, but a fair number of these (all of whom are also Rei Ayanami clones) appear in the Gold Saucer in Final Fantasy VII.
Fran from Final Fantasy XII is a Playboy Bunny; she is from a race of seemingly all-female and scantily-clad rabbity creatures.
MMORPGMabinogi has the staff of the Bean Rua nightclub dressed as bunny girls.
Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: The Pokémon Lopunny has been based on this. Seriously, that's not surprising. Too bad that 50% of the time, Lopunny's a GUY. Some people were actually joking that PUSA would call it Playbunny in English-language localizations even before the Japanese release.
The Hunny Bunnies of Banzai Pecan are clad in a Playboy bunny costume.
TERA has them as costumes you can buy for money. Due to copyright issues, the developers were forced to remove the ears and tail when releasing the outfits in the west.
More Hentai games than we're willing to admit having seen. One of the most infamous ones is actually called Do You Like Horny Bunnies? No prizes for guessing what it's about...
The Chiesters from Umineko: When They Cry wear a cross between this outfit and a military uniform. It's not a good idea to be caught off guard by them, though, since they have Improbable Aiming Skills that they can use to kill people.
In SOTF-TV, one of the games on the Survival of the Fittest mini-site, the kids each get alternate outfits that are potentially Fanservice-y and/or humorous. As a result, Sidney Rice gets one of these. At first she hates it, but she wastes no time in putting it on out of curiosity and almost immediately warms up to it.
A few of them appear in The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled". Justified because one of the Special Guests in the episode is Hugh Hefner.
In 1963, feminist author Gloria Steinem went undercover as a Bunny in the New York Playboy Club. Her article, featuring a photo of her in Bunny uniform, exposed how women were treated at the clubs (in short, rotten with ridiculous rules which included regular stool samples, poor pay and sexual harassment) and was a sensation.
Before she became a successful voice actress, BJ Ward was a Playboy Bunny. (Sadly, Princess Alura never wears one.)
In one of her live shows Laurie Anderson told the story of being recruited by a feminist group to help picket a Playboy Club for its exploitation of women, specifically the Bunny suits. During the protest she was approached by one of the Bunnies who said she was a single mother who was doing an honest job and making more than she could as a waitress in other clubs or restaurants. Then she asked Anderson why, if she was so concerned about the exploitation of women, she wasn't protesting sweat shops where women worked long hours in terrible conditions for piece work wages. Anderson admitted that her reaction was "Hmmmmm."