What is Loli?

Sanya v Litvyak Strike Witches Loli Catgirl Keep Out

Konnichiwa, Mikuites! Females in anime come in literally all shapes and sizes, but perhaps those who have garnered the most controversy are the ones with the least physical presence.

How do we define a loli? Is it by age? Height? Breast size? Each person seems to have their own subjective opinion. For some, age is the only defining factor. Others take a more liberal approach and go by appearance alone. If she looks like a loli, she is a loli, no matter if she’s 14 or 40 (I’m looking at you, Tsukuyomi Komoe). As I said once, even if you’re not a loli, you can still dress like one.

I believe the question that comes up most often when trying to define a loli is “Does size matter?” Not to discriminate against women with washboard chests, but if a fully grown women has a chest with the steepness of the Grand Canyon, is she still considered a loli? Adversely, is a youthful loli who is “well-endowed” still loli, despite being abreast with her postpubescent seniors?

The thing I find most fasinating about the “laws of loli” is that it seems to fluctuate from one anime to the next. While Azunyan may be considered the loliest (is that a word?) amongst lolis in K-ON!, she would look quite normal in an anime like…say, Hanamaru Youchien or Kodomo no Jikan.

Obviously, there’s a distinct difference between loli and moe, but I find both of them cute, so either one is good in my book. I don’t tend to grade women by the size of their cup (although, I will say that my grading scale is quite similar to that used in a typical school classroom).

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Mahou Shoujo Loli CastLolis can overcome any deficit, except perhaps for the ones in their chests

What makes lolis so unique (as compared to older anime women) is that they have a youthful innocence that adult females tend to lack. Imagine if the 501st of Strike Witches consisted of no more than a gang of 20 – 30 year old women. It would lose the slice of life appeal and coming-of-age factor, as the women would probably be too busy training and focusing on their mission to spend time getting to know and playfully tease each other.

Some people will claim that lolis are the downfall of anime, while others on the opposite spectrum wholeheartedly embrace anime for this trope. I don’t find lolis, or even loli anime for that matter, to be intrusive at all––I just see it as another genre of anime such as mecha or shonen. Loli fits right where it belongs, and every otaku has their individual tastes.

In fact, lolis have become so integrated into anime that you can typically find at least one in almost every anime you watch, even if its not loli related. Do I really need to give any examples? Think of the last few anime you watched, and no matter the genre, I bet there was at least one loli in it.

And for those feminists saying that loli characters are demeaning to women, most lolis (Index, Shana, Mikoto, you name it…) are usually the strong––tsundere, if you will––type that are able to defend themselves against much greater opponents––which just goes to show you, you shouldn’t underestimate a person short in stature.

Without lolis we wouldn’t have classics like Nanoha or Madoka Magica. So next time you see a loli in the grocery store, reaching for a cereal box high up in the aisle, make sure to help her out and thank her for making anime 20% cooler.

About MkMiku

Just a neko expressing what's on my mind. Nya~
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27 Responses to What is Loli?

  1. feal87 says:

    “Without lolis we wouldn’t have classics like Nanoha or Madoka Magica. So next time you see a loli in the grocery store, reaching for a cereal box high up in the aisle, make sure to help her out and thank her for making anime 20% cooler.”

    …and get arrested shortly afterward. Especially if you read some of the recent newses…:D

  2. Overlord-G says:

    Lolis have practically been around since the dawn of anime…not really but they’ve been around for a long time. Lolis are anime;s downfall…pfffft. At least it’s better than more than half the stuff on Western television, that’s for sure.

    • MkMiku says:

      While I believe you’re right about lolis being around forever, I don’t think it actually become a “fad” until the late 2000s. In fact, I remember for a time, the anime industry was was cashing in on the loli bandwagon. The Golden Age of anime, people like myself may refer to it as. xD

  3. Nopy says:

    The law seems to apply a double-standard when it comes to lolis. Except for Australia and their ban on flat-chested women from porn, most western countries I know of consider age to be the determining factor for whether someone is a loli or not. When it comes to anime though, it’s the appearance that matters, not age.

    As for the effect on anime, I don’t think lolis are the downfall, but they are saturating the medium. Anime got along just fine when most characters were 18 or older.

    • MkMiku says:

      That’s exactly what I was referring to in the 3rd paragraph! :) I think age is much more appropriate, as we do in the U.S. Breast size has nothing to do with one’s maturity; it’s genetics.

      Conversely, most lolis in anime don’t have a specific age so technically it’s hard to decipher what’s loli and what’s not, though I know there have been strict debates going on about this.

      I think at least one loli in every anime is fine. I mean guys (and girls) have their own personal preference when it comes to women. If anything, lolis add variety to the mix. Like in Queen’s Blade, for example, it’d be boring if all the girls had the same physique. :)

  4. tomphile says:


    I like some lolis, but any of them that are voiced by Kugimiya are the bane of my existence. She’s everywhere.

    • MkMiku says:

      True. Some may say she’s talented; others, like myself, say she’s overused. Not that I have anything against her personally, but I wish the industry would use a wider variety of voice actors, because no matter what anime I watch, every time I hear her voice, all I think of is Shana. =.=

  5. baka~ says:

    Taking Takanashi’s (Working!) valid explanation (of sorts) of a loli, it would anyone that is small and adorable that is worth protecting. In the case of anime, we have to accept the impact of such material. Anime nowadays must include one loli material among its ranks in order to boost appeal. I guess, in a way, this is how the community adapts itself to changes. Who knows, a few years from now, a new trend may surpass loli and it may become the new “thing” for otakus

    • MkMiku says:

      Yes! All small and adorable things must be protected. >___< I kept laughing about Popura being Takanashi's senpai, despite being much shorter.

      I can only wonder what that could be. Maybe a loli loli? Although, I believe that's called chibi, which my friend is really into, but not really my thing. I like my characters to be proportionate, even if they lack in bust size.

  6. Loli…pop?
    fail joke…

    anyway ive always perceived a loli being girl at a young age.. maybe 14 below…
    Mayoi from bakemonogatari is a good example… since well the series is my fav and is the only one that came up on my head

    • MkMiku says:

      You know, that could be perceived as a double entendre. XD

      I believe a true loli is, as you mentioned, around age 14 or younger. Though, I still think many pettanko can give off the plausible appearance of a loli. ^^ Anyway, in the end, adolescent lolis reign supreme due to their innocence and childish nature. =3

  7. Always though Loli was just someone (female generally) that was 16 or so. Well, way below legal age anyway. Although heck, all the shows with teenagers and jrpgs video games with teenagers for heroes (a common stereotype) and what not, are they consider Loli too? Should seem like it should apply anyone in Middle school, but I do not know anymore. Anime has changed on me.

    • MkMiku says:

      Good point. I think you got the purpose of this post. XD A typical loli is any female under the legal age limit, but what may be loli to some may not be for others. For example, a high school anime girl may not be considered “loli” amongst a group of prepubescent kids at a festival.

      For me, I consider anyone 14 or less as loli. Which just so happens to be around Sanya’s and Yoshika’s age in Strike Witches. Does that mean Erica is not a loli? Well, no…but she’s more of a teenager at that point. XD Although, SW is generally regarded as being about lolis only–even though 3 of the 11 Witches are adults!

  8. Yi says:

    Loli really depends on the context I guess. Definitions differ, but the generally accepted ones include below a certain age or just “looks loli” since there are plenty of loli characters who might be hundreds of years old.

    Azunyan I’ve never actually considered to be loli at all. She may be the youngest of the K-On! core cast, but she just doesn’t have that loli vibe.

    • MkMiku says:

      Yea, it’s kinda weird imaging a girl with a 14-year-old body to be 40x her age. @_@ But in anime, I guess anything goes. Still, I follow the adage that “if it looks loli, it is loli.” I’m just into the young, flat-chest type. It’s a “status symbol.”

      Really? I guess it depends on context, as you said. I suppose from you’re perspective you see a bunch of high school students rocking it all out. All I saw were moe blobs. ^^;

  9. kiddtic says:

    I dont really like the Loli character design. Id have to say the only Loli character design I found…”worked” was Tooru from A channel, did you guys watch that show? It was pretty good.

    I think any character that is short, less than 18 and is flat chested is a loli. Azunyan never struck me as a loli as well, shes more of what I call the “Moe type”

    • MkMiku says:

      Lolis are fine with me, but it’s chibi I can’t stand. That’s just too small. XD What channel? Lol, j/k.

      I think any character that is short, less than 18 and is flat chested is a loli.

      My thoughts, exactly!

      Pffhhtt. All the girls in K-On! are moe and under 18, so by my definition they are all loli. >____<

  10. This is an interesting article. I considered to be the defacto of Rule 34 but reading this here I reconsidered my opinions of Loli.

    “…make sure to help her out and thank her for making anime 20% cooler.”
    I can smell the brony in you.

  11. milly says:

    i don’t mind mind loli as lomg as they are portrayed right if they really are children like Sakura kinomoto and Syaoran Li, they were kids but the personalities of typical kids their age to match.

  12. Destiny says:

    From what you are saying that means I’m a loli! I’m 14 and have a really small chest size! (A – cup) And I’m shy but stubborn when I want to be! My friends think I’m cute and childish! This is kinda scary……

  13. Pingback: Ro Kyu Bu! | Gisei ぎせい

  14. Dice Warwick says:

    Personally I am a fan of Loli’s, but at the same time I’m not a fan of young Loli’s, or to be more clear, I don’t realy see prepubescent characters as good kind of Loli, as most people below a certain age could be called that, even the boys. From what I’ve read, the best Loli’s have been the more mature Loli’s, with the Teen Loli’s coming in as a good second. This is the Tsukuyomi Komoe from “Index”, Tsumugi Ryūkishibara from “Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara” and take your pic from the two older Loli’s in “Is This a Zombie”, who have the role of Loli, but also the role of the adult, giving the kind of moments few characters can have without it looking stupid. The only problem is that most shows with Loli’s are dominated with teen characters, and the older Loli’s tend to have a limited place pass being the Loli adult, and the comedy that can be used from it.

  15. person says:

    This is ALL wrong. Please leave the internet.

  16. Awa says:

    A thought, for this old ass post, but since its on the top 5 of google searches on the subject I figure I should add some things.

    Azunyan is not loli. She has entered her teens, and is as such no longer in the “preteen” age, AND she looks her age, if a bit under developed compared to her peers. It is true that loli is indeed constantly debated back and forth, but the common ground is that if someone is portrayed as preteen or otherwise indicated as preteen, they are loli. When they are described as preteen but look developed, or if they are older and look underdeveloped, that’s where the discussion begins.

    However, age is the only objective criteria, anything else is subjective. Thus the age should be the deciding factor.

  17. J says:

    Is there an opposite, I’m looking this up for a brother of mine who also watches anime. A character that looks noticeably older than his or her peers.

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