"Oh shit" I hear myself say.
And I would have thought, at my age, no single part of a woman could ever again be this simply breath-taking to behold.
In Japan, kimono hold a very special place in people's hearts, and are a medium of a thousand symbols. For more information about kimono, see the useful notes. For its use as a visual cue for tradition, see Kimono Is Traditional.
Kimono can also be a specific type of fetish, in ways not easily explained to the uninitiated. Firstly, people are expected not to wear western-style lingerie underneath, as a bra would ruin the bustline (which should be smooth), and pantylines are a definite no-no. Secondly, the whole body being wrapped in one lovely package typically spells out (in the case of a girl) "innocent", "proper", "charming" and "eligible" in kimono code. Few people in Japan know enough about kimono to detect every nuance, but the message seems to trigger some subconscious level of understanding. The idea of getting to open up such a prettily-wrapped present thrills many a mind, similar to corsets. There's also the fact that, no matter how much of the body is covered, the Ultimate and Most Bewitchingly Sensual Mystery of the Female Body (i.e. the nape of the neck) is revealed for all to see. Add to that the long shape and restriction of the garment forcing one to adopt a lady-like elegance (or, for guys, a tall and dignified posture) and, well... what's not to like?
Yukata are worn by nearly everyone in Japan come summertime and festivals. The feelings they awaken are rather similar to kimono. By nature, a yukata is relaxed home-wear (comparable to shorts and a tank top), and situations where one can wear it are very limited. A big part of the allure of summer festival or hot springs (filler) episodes in anime and manga is related to having the cast wear yukata. Because there's nothing underneath. On young children, the special fluffy yukata obi presents an excellent opportunity for extra big bows and super-cutesyfication.
Kimono Fanservice comes in two types, which can and do overlap (please note that straight fanservice, where the garment simply happens to be a kimono, but could just as well be a bathrobe or a shirt or whatever, is simply fanservice).
A: Costume PornWhere the audience appreciates the garments themselves. Especially prevalent in period pieces. Can overlap with Awesome Anachronistic Apparel.
B: Pandering to the Base, Fetish (with/or mild Fanservice)Where the audience appreciates getting to see their favourite character in this specific dress. Unlike conventional fanservice, the amount of skin shown will be minimal. Caters to such fanservice tropes as (supposed) Going Commando, (hypothetical chance of) mixed Action Dress Rip and Show Some Leg, and maybe Sarashi. Especially in the case of geisha, a specific sexual plus is that the dress frames the nape of neck, which was the Japanese fixation before Western fashions became dominant.
Another variant of kimono fanservice comes up with some more seductive characters, who wear theirs off-the-shoulder in a way that looks like they are on the cusp of a Wardrobe Malfunction, exposing their shoulders and, in some cases, showing off substantial cleavage.
Due to its complexity and obscurity to modern, and foreign, folk, it's also constantly subjected to research failure-induced faux pas (right flap over left means you are dead and soon to be cremated) and Accidental Innuendo (in modern era costumes, obi tied in front signify a working girl). Kimono wearing in itself has suffered from Trope Decay; a single man can be blamed for today's tubular kimono fashion, its rigid rules, and the death of the more fluid style of pre-WWII times. As per Rule of Cool, many of those rules get kicked out the door in fiction, and heroines won't get accused of "abusing a national symbol" by a mob of angry aunties.
See Qipao for another type of "sexy Asian dress" used frequently in fiction.
Please do not add examples of typical fanservice that just happen to contain a kimono (the kimono falling off or open, kimono used in the same way as a normal robe, etc) to this page. They should go on the Fanservice page.
- Numerous characters in Adekan but especially pretty boy Shiro who's kimono's often are draped haphazardly on him to heighten the fanservice.
- Ai Yori Aoshi has the female lead always wearing a kimono. This is "justified" because her father owns the largest kimono manufacturing company, and it just wouldn't do if his daughter was seen wearing something besides a kimono made by her family.
- Alois wears a red one sexily in Black Butler to seduce a perverted old man and it's shown again when Claude imagines him wearing it while looking turned on. A flashback shows Ciel briefly get a chance to wear it in Alois's place.
- In Chihayafuru, the main characters usually wear kimono to karuta competitions at the behest of Kanade, whose family owns a traditional clothing store. It's noted many times how gorgeous Chihaya and Taichi look in them - in fact, when they promote the club at the beginning of their second year, they deliberately put the two of them in kimono to speak to the school to invoke this trope. Kanade exemplifies it best, though - while she's normally considered cute more than beautiful, when she wears a kimono she becomes a full-on Yamato Nadeshiko, dignified and refined and graceful, and enthralling to watch.
- One of the scenes in a Code Geass game have the mainly European cast wearing kimonos. Hilariously, it even included the Meganekko who has... problems with the Japanese.
- Cruelly and dramatically subverted in Dear Brother. During a flashback, we see Kaoru Orihara wearing a yukata during a date with her boyfriend Takehiko Henmi, and she strips naked in front of him... to show him her physical scars after her breast cancer caused her to have a mastectomy. She then breaks up with him, because she doesn't want to be a load to her loved ones.
- After a Potty Failure in episode 6, Mayu from Death Parade changes into a kimono. Harada hits on her now that she isn't wearing a lot of makeup and looks more homely. She returns back to her normal attire next time we see her.
- The Type B is horribly subverted in Descendants of Darkness. In a flashback, Hisoka Kurosaki is seen wearing a dark kimono. Then it sexily falls off him. And then, what follows is the exact flashback to the time when Muraki raped Hisoka and cursed him into a Cruel and Unusual Death.
- In Drug & Drop the main characters all wear yukata at one point and Kazahaya immediately begins complimenting the beautiful Kakei. Saiga, on the other hand, gets the opposite reaction as he looks like a nightclub worker wearing yukata and Sunglasses at Night.
- Most anime only have girls wear kimonos in Festival Episodes. Free! thrives on having a Cast Full of Pretty Boys and thus Rei and Nagisa wear kimono during the festival episode.
- Akito is frequently shown wearing a kimono in Fruits Basket.
- An omake image for Fullmetal Alchemist features Edward Elric doing kimono fanservice in both senses of the term.
- In Future Lovers while at a summer festival Kento starts talking about how pretty women in yukata are and his lover Akira makes a sulky comment about yukata not suiting him. This of course spawns an Imagine Spot of Akira in yukata that is actually a bit of a fanservice fail.
- Ryougi Shiki of the Garden of sinners hardly ever wears anything else. And she kicks lots of ass, too. It's not usually used for fanservice with her, partially because she tends to wear a jacket over it, but this official image◊ and these concept sketches◊ do come to mind. Rrrr.
- In Gosick Kujo wears a men's kimono for an entire episode. A rare male example.
- Sakaki buys Yuki a kimono in Heart Strings in order to present him as a "yakuza wife." Very much fanservice.
- Japan from Hetalia: Axis Powers doesn't really fit this trope canon-wise, fitting Kimono Is Traditional better... but does fandom put him into yukata and kimono a lot more often than canon does? And use them to play up his Yamato Nadeshiko and/or Moe traits? You betcha.
- Played completely straight when Ukraine and Belarus were drawn in kimonos, as per fan request.
- In Hidamari Sketch, a festival offers free snacks to those who come in yukata (and bring the flyer). Miyako, who doesn't have one, is ready to pull down her curtains to make one, but Hiro offers her old one with a Mahou Shoujo Minky print. It comes down to about a centimeter below her buttocks. She thinks it's a perfect fit, and Yuno and Hiro say it looks "cute" and "fashionable", respectively, though Sae privately thinks she looks like a hooker.
- In High School D×D, this is Kuroka's (Koneko Toujou's older sister) standard attire, with an Impossibly-Low Neckline to boot. And with the series being very much an Ecchi series, it's played for fetish as she's also a Shameless Fanservice Girl. She eventually reveals that she wears absolutely nothing under her kimono as she takes it off and dives into the Hyoudou residence swimming pool, naked.
- In an episode of Interviews with Monster Girls, Sakie Satō, a succubus math teacher, considers wearing a kimono during the Summer Festival. She quickly suppresses the thought as she realize that walking around in a kimono would be an equalivant of an aphrodisiac terrorism on the male patrons.
- Iro Otoko centres around a designer who is trying to market fashionable men's kimonos, which isn't working very well for him. Both he and others models walk around in them to advertise, invoking this trope.
- Tomo in Kamisama Kiss wears one habitually and after she becomes a god Nanami wears a pretty one.
- In Lucky Star, at the festival, Konata muses that if they were in a Dating Sim, they'd trigger a flag because they're at a festival outside, wearing yukata.
- In episode 11 of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid most of the cast wears kimono when going to a New Year's festival. Notably, Lucoa's obi is tied in the front.
- This trope played out in at least three episodes of Miss Machiko. One episode featured the main character acting in a historical drama,another was set during the Lunar New Year, and the third took place during a festival. In keeping with the tradition of the anime, she lost her kimono every time.
- In My-HiME, after Shizuru rescues Natsuki from Nao, she's seen wearing a purple kimono and gives Natsuki a light blue one. Shizuru continues wearing the kimono for most of her Psycho Lesbian rampage, but it eventually gets torn in places, and she changes back into her Student Council President uniform by the time Natsuki confronts her.
- The fourth intro of Naruto ("Fighting Dreamers") features a segment where images of the main female characters dressed in kimono appear on a wall the males are running past. Jiraya stops to drool over Kurenai.
- Often occurs in festival episodes for the Pretty Cure series. May count more as a Type B than A, as the Cures often squeal about how a certain teammate looks good in a yukata.
- While the Princesses in Princess Princess don Elegant Gothic Lolita fashion, Arisada notes that the style depends on who's in charge of the sewing club, and when he was a princess, his costumer preferred this trope, in equal parts Type A and Type B.
- Ranma ½: Akane and other characters often wear lovely yukatas during festivals.
Ranma: It suits you, Akane.Akane: Really?Ranma: Yes. For even overweight girls can look beautiful in kimonos such as the one you're wearing.
- Akane Tendo is forced into one of these in the manga. Due to the relationship between her and Ranma Saotome, Ranma lampshades this trope in a way that makes it a complimentary put-down.
- Yumi from Rurouni Kenshin wears an off-the-shoulder kimono that should not logically stay up (a fact the author himself acknowledged when he got mail from cosplayers who attempted to replicate the look and failed). She is also a former prostitute.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei makes reference to the fact that a kimono would traditionally be worn without underwear, and the whole show is a massive example of type A, thriving in Awesome Anachronistic Apparel. Also, each tankobon features one of the female students in a kimono on the back cover.
- In Seitokai Yakuindomo Shino mentions traditional clothing while imagining a kimono-clad woman getting her obi unwrapped. But she points out that while she'd like to be in that position, she's worried about getting dizzy from the spinning.
- Shakugan no Shana: Shana, a world-innocent Tsundere, sports a kimono during some festival episodes, and almost everyone both in and out-universe agree she's cute wearing it.
- Tanaka-kun is Always Listless: When told that Echizen is wearing a yukata to the spring festival, Ohta's Imagine Spot of what she might look like puts her in a risque, off-the-shoulder yukata with done-up hair and sultry make-up. Tanaka averts this by imagining her instead in a plain, boyish kimono, which at least is more in line with her tomboyish attitude. The reality is somewhere in the middle; she looks pretty, but definitely not the sexy version Ohta had in his head.
- Fai's furisode in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-.
- Amasawa of The Weatherman Is My Lover has a cosplaying habit, so when the cast and crew of his program take a trip to an onsen, he brings along a female yukata. And I quote:
Amasawa: Cute?Koganei: Yeah...I mean NO!
- Ichihara Yuuko has stunning ensembles breaking every conceivable rule of kimono propriety, while remaining elegant and very stylish despite her... suggestive fashions.
- Also notable for a relatively normal teenage male protagonist example. The tradition is carried on by Watanuki after Yuuko's death.
- Discussed in Your Name; Sayaka accuses Tessie of going to the autumn festival because he wants to see Mitsuha in a yukata.
- A rather bizarre example happens in Katmandu. During her debut issue, the main protagonist, Liska, wears something that looks between a mix between a bathrobe with a yukata, thanks to her previous master, Mother Sanna, during her slavery years. The bizarre part came for two important reasons: The first one, Liska's society is based on Native American cultures, and the second one, there's no mention about a society based on Japan, or any Asian culture, for that matter, which justifies its use.
- Tsuruya fits an extreme version of Type A during one chapter of Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Since she wears a kimono much of the time at home, Type B is likely to be in effect, too.
- In Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion, Sayoko manages to take Lelouch's breath away by dressing up in traditional Japanese clothing, which includes a kimono.
- Tobirama offers a Rare Male Example in Unchained, as his Lord-Wife Izuna really enjoys buying him expensive outfits, seeing him wear said outfits and unwrapping him from said outfits.
- O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill seems to be a type A when she's a Japanese ganglord.
- The Last Samurai contains both costume porn and fanservice. The highlights of both are combined in the scene where Taka dresses Algren in his kimono before the final battle. It combines sensuality and tradition in a very elegant way. You also realize that Taka likely did this for Hirotaro before he went off to the battle in which Algren killed him.
- The film version of Memoirs of a Geisha offers type A. Unless you notice and care about such mistakes as incorrect fit in should-be-tailored pieces, less-than-perfect kitsuke, or inappropriate seasonality.
- The Red Kimono is about a woman forced into prostitution. The kimono is the outfit she wears while servicing customers. In an otherwise black-and-white film, the kimono is actually hand-tinted red. When Gabrielle is packing her things after leaving prison (she beat a murder rap), she casts her kimono aside, signaling her rejection of her old life.
- In Traffic in Souls, an Exploitation Film about white slavery and women forced into prostitution, the kimono is a prostitute's work outfit. The kidnapped woman is threatened with a whip when she refuses to put a kimono on.
- Millie: Dirty Old Man Damier gives 16-year-old Connie a kimono—or a "Mandarin coat", that is—as part of his effort to seduce her. It is working, as they share a passionate kiss, when Connie's very angry mother Millie bursts in.
- The Tale of Genji includes pedantically detailed descriptions of about everything the characters wear. In addition to being Costume Porn, this also provided contemporary and history-savvy readers with loads of insight into the character's personalities. Most translations omit these descriptions for obvious reasons.
- The racier U.S. pulp stories of the thirties would often have a Western character wearing a kimono as an "at-night but not actually in bed yet" garment; the fashion took a sudden nosedive in the Forties for reasons that should be obvious.
- One typical example is 1940 detective novel The Uncomplaining Corpses. Private eye Michael Shayne comes to the apartment of sexy Mona Tabor, a suspect, and she greets him while wearing "rich and yellow silk kimono of Oriental design." Shayne can't help but observe the "clinging silk" of the kimono a little bit later, as Mona tries to seduce him.
- In a live action western male version, Blonde, a Marilyn Monroe biopic, is mostly notable for featuring Patrick Dempsey and Jensen Ackles in a threesome. It also is notable for having Ackles swishing around in a kimono, much to the pleasure of fangirls (and probably a few fanboys too).
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy and Angel are walking out of a movie theatre looking rather tense after watching an erotic foreign film.
- The cover picture of Sparks' Kimono My House.
- The cover for Disacode's Ryuu no Hige wo Ari ga Nerau.
- Janet Jackson in the music video for "Call on Me".
- Ditto for Christina Aguilera in the "Fighter" music video and Madonna in the Memoirs of a Geisha inspired music video for "Nothing Really Matters".
- The video for The Vapors Turning Japanese splits between scenes featuring a Japanese girl in Western clothing, to scenes of her in the full kimono, hairstyle and makeup.
- In Double Dragon Neon, Skullmageddon's geishas exhibit Type B with Show Some Leg and low necklines.
- In Final Fantasy VII Remake Tifa can wear one of three different dresses during her infiltration to Don Corneo's place, one of which is an elegant kimono.
- The Hot-Spring Scramble DLC mission in Fire Emblem: Awakening lets you see Lucina, Severa, Owain, and Inigo in yukata. Oh, and Anna.
- The Japan-only DLC mission 'Hoshidan Festival of Bonds' in Fire Emblem Fates shows Midori, Dwyer, Ophelia, Shigure, Forrest, and Nina in kimono for the festival. Rather oddly, half of the characters are exclusive to the Nohrian path (although could possibly be half-Hoshidan). Equally oddly, Nina's portrait shows her with two right feet.
- Persona 3:
- On New Year's Day, when the girls are all wearing kimono, Junpei Iori claims that every guy fantasizes about how there's nothing underneath. Unfortunately, he says this to eleven-year-old Ken Amada, who then asks the girls if they are cold because of thisnote .
- In the PSP version with the Female Protagonist, you can go out with Junpei to the summer festival while wearing a yukata. He sings the praises of the yukata and how sexy the Protagonist looks. And you wear a kimono on New Year's Day too with the other girls. Too bad neither are shown save from the shoulders up. Amusingly, Junpei will directly ask the female main character if the girls are really Going Commando with a kimono and the possible answers are "Yes", "No" and "I'll leave that to your imagination".
- Persona 4:
- Yukiko Amagi wears one when she works at her family's inn.
- It also has all the girls wearing yukata for the summer festival, which Teddie finds very exciting. Kanji is too embarrassed to even look at them.
- In Persona 4 Golden, on New Year's Eve, the guys work themselves into a tizzy over the thought of the girls showing up in their yukata... only for them to instead come bundled up in normal winter clothes, because it's bloody cold! That said, if you go out with Rise Kujikawa, Chie Satonaka, or Yukiko the next day, they'll be wearing an elaborate kimono.
- In Persona 5, the girls wear yukatas during the Fireworks Festival, with Ryuji being vocal about looking forward to seeing the girls in them. Played with when Ryuji asks why the hell Yusuke is wearing one. Though Yusuke simply plays the part that its aesthetically pleasing and normal to wear it for the occassion.
- Persona 3:
- Sumire Kanzaki does the Impossibly-Low Neckline variation in Sakura Wars.
- As alternate costumes in Tales of Vesperia, Estelle gets one, and Judith gets a shorter yukata. There are even accompanying skits about how good characters look in their new outfits.
- One of Musse Egret's costumes in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is her wearing a kimono. She's also The Tease to her instructor.
- Twisted Wonderland: The dorm dress uniform of Pomefiore – a dorm known for refinement, class and beauty-consciousness – is clearly kimono-inspired, with its crossed collar, long sleeves and obi-like belt.
- Amnesia: Memories
- The series has the heroine and most of the characters working at the Meido no Hitsuji café, which is a maid and butler café. It uses kimono as the uniform for the waitresses◊, counting on this as being part of its maids' appeals.
- Amnesia: Memories has a fireworks festival going on in the first half of August. The heroine wears a yukata for two routes, with those routes' boyfriends complimenting her. Ikki plays this straight by admitting that he isn't just looking forward to seeing her in one, but also that she looks beautiful and sexy in it.
- Amnesia: Later has every character in its introductory section New World dressing in yukata while searching for some fireflies. Several characters comment on one or another. Special mention goes to Toma, when he has to hide under a desk with the heroine on his lap, and rather embarrassingly mentions that yukata are pretty thin.
- Used in-universe in Melody. The massage parlor owned by Xianne’s aunt has the girls dress up in kimonos to work.
- Las Lindas Action Girl and Ms. Fanservice Kate Aryoko despite Word of God saying she wears as A she's draw definitely as B as well as Show Some Leg
- Hiimdaisy spoofs the Persona 4 example from above:
Yukiko: I'm wearing a kimono because I'm filling in for my mom at the inn we run.News Reporter: Yukiko Amagi is wearing a kimono because she's filling in for her mom at the inn they run.
- In the last episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) Foot Clan leader Karai wears a kimono to April and Casey's wedding ceremony.
- Kimiko Tohomiko from Xiaolin Showdown wears one in "Tangled Web!". Also, in the episode "Dream Stalker", Wuya wears the same kimono that Kimiko wore in Raimundo's nightmares.
- Geisha are more or less the embodiment of type A. Not do they only master the proper kimono wearing posture and carriage to be always elegant, they also wear certain items (like red underkimono) and such fashions (such as lower-and-looser-than-strictly-proper obi) to specifically tantalize. As the style they wear is obsolete, also counts as Gorgeous Period Dress.
- Some hostess bars have a few girls wearing kimono to cater to the fancy of men who like this kind of thing.
- There have been some Miss World contestants from Japan wearing heavily B2 type costumes on the "national" round. Opinion varies on whether those costumes are an exciting and sexy approach to the kimono or a complete disgrace.