Design Philosophy of Figures – Why do panties have to be white?


If you are a figure collector, try to look under the skirt of one of your figures, perhaps a scale figure, or a figma. Do not worry, we are not trying to be perverted here, we are being analytical. Now, what do you see? White, I assume? A curtain of whiteness known as, well, panties. But still, it begets the question, why does it has to be white?

White panties everywhere!

White panties everywhere!

There are a few prerequisite for a figure to wear a pair of white panties, or at the very least, heighten the possibility of so. First – skirts. If they are wearing other kinds of outfits that involve a pair of hot pants, denin pants or shorts, you wouldn’t be able to see anything, obviously. I don’t think bikini technically counts either, even if it so happens to be white. To that end, a skirt is definitely a prerequisite. Next, school girl age. Most predominantly, the figures had to feature characters with high school age – girls in the middle of adolescence. For some reason, these types of figures have a very high chance of donning on a pair of white panties.

If the character had NEVER expose their panties even once in the anime, it ironically increases the possibility of their figure counterpart wearing white panties. Incidentally, the color “white” is also usually associated with words like “pure” or “innocence”, and that’s a very coincidental connection. Earlier, I mentioned that skirt is a prerequisite, and indeed, with skirt having a partial coverage on the panties, it provided the slight needed fanservice, while still maintaining the image of innocence. From my observations, this usually occurs for characters originating from non-ecchi/harem shows; although this still does not apply to all generally, but enough to form a pattern of sorts. Some examples from my very collection includes the Natsume Rin Cat Days figure (Little Buster!) by Kotobukiya and the Yui figure (K-ON!) by Banpresto, both wearing a pair of “concealed” white panties.


Additionally, I assume the sculptors themselves know about the shows the characters are from, and since they knew the panties never were the main visual subject even in the anime, they focus less on the design of the panties – thus, making a simple pair of white panties in the process for the figures to wear. There are also possibilities of white panties especially for scale figures with flashy and avant-garde designs, I would assume the makers here were attempting to trap our eyes to focus on the flashiness of the figure, so much that we never even once thought of scrutinizing the figure in every corner – even from under the skirt. Indeed, human eyes and curiosity are easily satisfied when we gaze at something flashy and attention-grabbing, and it could be that the sculptors are taking advantage of this observational part of our human psyche… or perhaps it’s just one big coincidence.

Incidentally, there are also figures where the panties are one of the main focal points of the figure. This applies to figures featuring characters from more ecchi anime, or even R18+ visual novels. The figures, following their original sources, are also sculpted with a more erotic appeal; said panties for these figures are usually more intricate. Furthermore, strings, frills, flexibility and so on; the sculptors actually make quite an effort to make these panties look very real and dynamic. A number of them can even be cast-offed *coughOrchidSeedcough* This is a very clear contrast to the former type of figures where panties weren’t the main focus, and thus, white and plain design were used.

sonico shimapan

At the end of the day however, all these are just speculations – observations I made using my own figure collection, and some figures I had seen in the internet. In order to know why white panties are seemingly such a common sight is probably something we need to ask the maker of the figures themselves. If you’re a figures collector, have you try looking under the skirts of your figures? What color do you see?

This entry was posted by Kai.

8 thoughts on “Design Philosophy of Figures – Why do panties have to be white?

  1. I guess white underwear started to become common sense, it might have started with a lazy figure sculptor,
    who applied the white panty rule from anime and dating games to his work. I guess the panties are the least important part of a figure, but the (modest) manufacturer has to give panties to the figures, so white is probably the most cost efficient way. Anime schoolgirls are often really innocent beings, it is probably ok to give them white panties.
    One the other hand it’s a boring trend, even though some manufacturers try to spice them up with a tight fit look, ALTER for example XD

    Exceptions from the plain design are always welcome among collectors. There have been more sexed up figures since some time it’s a growing trend to have less innocent female figures with thongs and more detailed stuff. I was once really elated to have a Miku with striped panties and I wish there was more variety in terms of pattern.

    I still haven’t found the meaning behind green panties though, I can remember Kurumu, Stockng and Al Azif to wear green, but why. Kurumu and Stocking are somewhat sensual characters with loose morals, when adding Al Azif to the picture it might have something to do with a self conscious personality.

    • I don’t know why I never thought of the cost, which is probably one of the most simplest reason, lol. Since non-ecchi figures weren’t meant to show their panties after all, guess it just doesn’t make sense to make flamboyant or colorful panties or something. Anime schoolgirls are probably the most common ones with white panties indeed, lol.

      Yea, but I would think it’s still white :\

      I don’t really collect a lot, but if there are more “variety” currently, that’s great. And Miku looks great with shimapan :p (dat green and white color <3)

      Hmmmmmm.. perhaps. The Kurumu is an Orchid Seed figure right? Since it's cast-offable, I don't see why they wouldn't think of making the panties "just a bit" unique.

  2. Just so you know, white garments are easiest and most inexpensive to produce, requiring absolutely no form of dye’ing, and can easily be bleached during the production process.

    This is in addition to the fact that many of the anime series, it would take much more effort if scenes involved the flashing of colored underwear. Colors are relatively harder to incorporate in an animation than a greyscale due to things like color shading, folds, etc…
    With white panties, this problem is nonexistant.

    While I realize that your point of white symbolising innocence is definitely true to a certain extent, it’s definitely not everything. If I had to put it to scale, it might be 10-20% relevant?

    As proof, I ask that you take a look at galge/eroge which doesn’t have “fanservice”, but actual sex scenes which involve the heroine wearing underwear with the color OTHER than white (they usually have a tint of a color, despite being faint). In a common sense point of view, this just means that a simple CG is easier to create than a full blown animation.

    As for figures, I also believe it’s a matter of production costs. Frankly, if the buyers do not really have a preference to the color of panties that the figurine is wearing, why put the extra money and effort into coloring it?

    The only exceptions are probably characters who are defined by wearing certain color of panties, and even that in itself is pretty rare and exclusive to some companies.

    In conclusion, the reason for prevalence of “White Panties” is a simple collection of factors like production costs, the maker’s laziness, and ease of creation. Very rarely does it have anything to do with special symbolisms, and it’s a matter of bringing in the most amount of money for the least amount of money spent.

    • Yea, aforementioned in the previous comment, I didn’t know why I didn’t thought about the cost when I was writing the post. Definitely more cost-efficient especially if they weren’t even the primary focus.

      I don’t know about this though. If flashing panties are so difficult even in animations, there are still tons of harem/ecchi anime with thousands of panty shots, lol (And obviously, the panties aren’t only just white either). In particular, both pink and shimapan are also fairly popular choices.

      I don’t quite remember much of the sex scenes from the visual novels I played sadly, but I do faintly remember they were definitely, well, vibrant. Well, CGs in general look better than anime with animations anyway, I’m guessing since CGs are still works, they can focus on the artwork more while in anime, they need to pull off extra work for both the art and the motion.

      “characters who are defined by wearing certain color of panties”

      Hmm, *coughStrikeWitchescough*

  3. like everyone said maybe shown an image of “innocent school girl” Well by coincidence my collection have quite variation in panties color so i never thought that much, but yeah seems white quite dominate,it’s give a great detail aspect for the characters if it’s shown in the game or anime series, about cast off able panties I mostly I saw them looks like a diaper instead.

    • Yea, if the panties are not shown, it will mostly be white especially if it’s an anime school girl we are talking about here. When panties are shown, guess the makers have no choice but to follow :3 I’m curious all of a sudden though, does Mio (K-ON) has shimapan panties? It’s technically *not* shown in the anime (it’s a rice bowl!).

      “I saw them looks like a diaper instead.”

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