Choux’s guide (not really) to seifuku

Ah, the Japanese school uniform. Since the 19th century, they have been spreading, and now they are a staple part of school life, not to mention various kinds of eye candy. Bakemonogatari has helped me discover my love for school uniforms, so here I am, presenting an image dump disguised as an informative post on school uniforms in anime, manga, and eroge. Of course, these will all be female uniforms. You have to admit, the male uniforms are all kind of boring (I don’t like gakuran much, and all non-ugly blazers look alike). There are two main categories in the school uniform. The first is the sailor fuku, and the second  is the blazer. In some series, particularly in eroge, they really push the envelope in insanely ridiculous outfits. But I’ll get to that later. Now, let’s start with realistic looking sailor fukus. This piece is by Kishida Mel, for the anime Hanasaku Iroha.  Modeled after the British Navy and introduced into Japan in 1920, the sailor fuku is instantly recognized by the pleated skirt and the triangle collar. The colors are generally a mix of dark blue and white, and there is usually a ribbon in the front. In hanasaku Iroha, the ribbon happens to be the triangle variety which is tied in the front. There are many variations of this classic style. This beautiful all black piece is an original character by Sakurazawa Izumi. This, again, is notable, as the skirt length is actually somewhat similar to what a school would actually allow. Here, the color scheme has turned to red and pink instead. However, they still retain the many characteristics, such as the two white lines at the bottom of the skirt pleat (it’s not as common as the lines at the collars or the edges of a sleeve, but it is still quite common). Another defining character seen here is the big bow in front. This style has been quite popular, and shows up in many series and doujins, most notably Lucky Star, where the create actually lampshades the influence.. By the way, this image is by Kawata Hisashi as a promotion image for the eroge ToHeart2 -another days-. This piece of fanart by Misato Mitsumi for Ga Rei -Zero- shows a more daring variation. There is no ribbon in Kagura’s (the short haired girl) uniform, and her top is quite long. This, coupled with a miniskirt, makes for a great look. I love the details on the blouse, with the seam and the buttons. Yomi, on the other hand, wears a fully dark uniform, which really fits her character. The back of the collar is square, a defining characteristic of the sailor collar. However, the front is quite different. This is not the most flattering of pictures, but it’s quite difficult to find a picture with a front shot of the collars. This collar takes on a more Japanese approach, and I like how the small ribbon is off to the side. Now, for some more deviant designs. Another common feature to the sailor uniform is the addition of a sweater. Weather in anime/manga/eroge is almost never realistic, so in most cases, this is all a girl needs to stand the harshest of weathers. The uniform of Haruhi, designed by Itou Noizi, has a very low collar, which almost reaches the top of the skirt. The skirt, instead of the traditional all round pleat, only has two major pleats in the front. This design is rather nice, because it’s form fitting without being TOO form fitting, and is instantly recognizable despite it’s rather common color scheme. Now, here’s the main reason I’m writing this post. I’m not a big fan of the uniform word by the main cast members (purple and orange isn’t my favorite combination) but I LOVE this design. Rather than having a blouse over a skirt, there is a dress over the blouse. The design is sleek and form fitting, plus the puffed sleeves are adorable. What’s not to love? Really, it’s so hard to find properly done puffed sleeves these days. In my opinion, the uniforms in Ef are Naru Nanao’s best work. This picture isn’t that flattering, but it shows the versatility of the dress. The red ribbon is the only color in the uniform, and it really makes it pop. The winter uniform, two pictures above, has a straight collar, like a turtle neck. In fact, it wouldn’t even be in this part of the post if the jacket didn’t have a sailor collar.  Since I brought up jackets, now’s a good time to introduce the blazer, which is the other main pillar of uniform-dom. This is generally inspired by the suit, and contains many variations of the undershirt, the best, the blazer, and the skirt, (which is usually pleated).  My example here is from K-on. Ah, it’s nice to be back to realistic uniforms again, even with the ridiculously short skirts. Let’s face it, the Ef uniform won’t look good on anyone without a particular body shape. The K-on uniform is SO much more forgiving. This is an image from hentai ouji to warawanai neko, designed by Kantoku. This image is long overdue because of the checkered skirt. Oh yes, the checkered skirt. Of course, I picked Kantoku for this because he has an even bigger fetish for checkered skirt than I do. Here is a wonderful example of the tartan check. Originating from Scotland, the tartan check pattern has become a staple in uniforms. Pink is a rather unusual color for such a skirt, but it looks good.

Another unusual color can be seen here, in an original piece by Ryohka. There are some small frills on the sleeves, which adds an extra bit of cuteness. Now, I’m not quite sure if she’s wearing a vest, as the angle is quite unrevealing, so I’ll leave that for the next series.

Mahou sensei negima is a great series by Akamatsu Ken. And, being a fanservicy series, you’re much more likely to see the girls in, let’s just say “interesting” outfits rather than their school uniform. HOwever, that doesn’t negate the simple complete-ness of the uniform. Really, making a uniform that looks good on 50 something people is no easy task, but this outfit does it. This is also out first example of the classic vest and tie combination. In my mind, having two buttons in the front is just perfection. The design is a bit more unrealistic here in Maria Holic, but  the main focus is turned to the blazer and vests, with the shirt and skirt only being a complement. The collars are a bit more daring in this piece, as they are not folded and also sport a cute set of frills. The cuffs are also quite long, and that, combined with the rather unorthodox design of the vest, works wonderfully. I imagine that the outfit would look quite bad if the shoulders didn’t fit JUST right, but they’re from a wealthy school, so I’m sure that every outfit is made individually anyway.  Another design which contains a long skirt and a vest is that of Fate/Stay Night, drawn here in a fanart by takayama kisai. Here, simplicity is retained, with a long, single colored skirt and vest. However, here, the attention is drawn to the elegant red details on the collars and cuffs. There’s in fact some hints of a Chinese influence on the cuffs, but they complement the western style of of the outfit nicely.  Of course, the blazer can also be combined with a sweater, as seen here in ushinawareta mirai wo motomete, designed by Misaki Kurehito. I also like the design of the bow, which is striped, a feature that’s reflected near the hem of the skirts. Also, it’s really nice to see a non-ridiculous outfit from an eroge, for once. Sigh… In Soshite Ashita no Sekai Yori, only the summer uniform is seen. But I’m guessing that the winter uniform would also be a blazer type. The nun style uniform in the back also marks a landmark in this post, as it is the first purely dress style uniform in this post. It also has a nun-like influence. But we’ll go there later. Let’s look at some other dress style uniforms first.The uniforms in Air, designed by Itaru Hinoue, ranks among one of my absolutely favorite outfits, ever. And I think this piece of fanart by mauve captures it quite well. Rather than the traditional blue and white color scheme, she used blue and a warm yellow, two colors which she would later use for Clannad.  While it does retain some characteristics from the sailor uniform, it is the feeling of the one-piece dress which dominates the outfit. I especially like the ribbons at the back, as they add a sense of whimsy. This frilly dress uniform is from kimi to boku to eden no ringo, designed by Cube for the company Alma. The game is from Orbit, so you can really see the influence that Carnelian had (Carnelian was the main artistic influence on Orbit, Alma’s parent company). Now, this uniform brings up something which you pretty much only see in fanservicy series. Please direct your attention to the one on the far right. Notice now the uniform was especially designed to cinched in at the waist, and really makes the…certain body parts pop out. Of course, this would be completely impossible in real life, but it’s some thing that appears much too often in my mind. Also, I love the flying squirrel.  The chest focus can also be seen in the 11eyes uniform. The waist design reminds me so much of a corset, I can only wonder how someone can possible put it on by themselves in the morning. Of course, this corset look-alike is also quite a common feature in such uniforms. Now, back to the chest focus. This is a promotional image for Otoboku 2, drawn by Norita. I think this design is absolutely heinous, but it really is the best example for uniforms that makes the chest pop. It is especially prominent due to the fact that the rest of the outfit is dark and the chest is white. The nun look is much more flattering on Mahou Tsuki no Yoru’s Alice, who wears an actual nun outfit. It might not be a uniform, but there are definitely uniforms like this out there. Something simple and elegant is definitely better than something gaudy. I mean, there’s no way that any proper catholic school will actually allow the uniform of Otoboku, right?Touka Gettan, designed by Carnelian, takes a pretty unique take on the school uniform, with a heavy Chinese influence. The colors remind me of porcelain, a feeling that is inspired by no other uniform, despite the mass of white and blue all around. It seems like they also make all the girls wear pantyhose, which I imagine must lead to its own set of problems…. The blazer variation of a widely improbable uniform can be seen in Mashiro Iro symphony, designed by Izumi Tsubasu. Having a butterfly motif for the collar is definitely an original idea, but I can’t help but think that someone might have their eyes poked out by one of those points. What’s also confusing is the fact that I can’t tell exactly what is what at all. Is the top butterfly collar a collar at all? Is it connected to a shirt? Or is it work like a bib? Are the brown things under the first layer of the blzaer also paer of the blazer? Or is it an undershirt? Even a close inspection of the hcgs yields no answers. Sigh… 

I’ll end things with this image from Next Graduation, drawn by Kurashima Tomoyasu. I don’t even know if the thing on the left is a school uniform, but hey, I’ve seen stranger. In the end, it’s not about the uniform, but the people who wear-oh, who am I kidding? Let’s it be whatever style, whatever color, as long as it looks good, SEIFUKU BANZAI!

10 thoughts on “Choux’s guide (not really) to seifuku

  1. Thanks for writing this.

    Seifuku is fundamental, but too often overlooked by people out half way across the world in USA, simply because it tend to be quite often removed from our daily reality.

    As an aside, I dig checkered skirts too, so thanks for the tip lol.

  2. Hm when I read this I could only think of two things to inquire on.

    1) What’s your opinion on internals. Er by that I mean notice how some skirts/dresses have uh (I have no idea what it’s called). It’s the uh white particles underneath (extra fabric perhaps?). Probably not really in school uniforms. I would say frilly but frills are external.

    2) How would you explain the H2O uniform. It’s like sort of one piece but not really. Guess it goes with dress over shirt or something, not sure.

    At this rate you’ll do a post on like, choux guide not really to traps and then stating common parameters like wearing pantyhose or something.

    • I think you’re talking about a petticoat. As for H20, I would place it in the weird eroges category. Well, it’s pretty much the same as Air’s, except for being in two pieces.

      That traps thing is actually a good idea. Huh.

      • Petticoat, probably. I was thinking more of CCS but I probably mixed up designs due to high variation of outfits in that series.

        H2O is weird, but it’s as you said, the uniform is like Air’s except for being in two pieces, but you mentioned Air’s is like a top quality design while H2O is weird. It’s like wait, they’re similar, but one is great and the other is weird.

        The downside with the trap thing is that there isn’t much variation. By that I mean artist variation. However, if you were to do a guide on traps, there is the irony of traps being drawn in an eccentric manner, exerting appeal not from certain common trends.

  3. I never knew that F/SN piece of artwork is fanart. I always thought it was the official art from F/HA.

    Guess it shows how much I know… Do you by any chance know who the official artist is? The artstyle is pretty similar.

    • Ah, sorry. It’s official art, since it’s from one of F/HA’s mini games. The artist is Takayama Kisai. The character designer for F/HA is Takeuchi Takashi.

  4. my favorite is probably the ones in…what was it…shining wind/heart or whatever. I only watched like half of the first episode but the uniforms were so…military-esque? IIRC it reminds me of the uniforms for the knight of rounds in Geass R2.

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