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Take it! I'm supposed to be the one who laughs last
—Lucky Star opening theme (okay, it sounds better in Japanese, but...)
The Sailor Fuku is to the characteristic "sailor suit" schoolgirl uniforms worn in Japan. Sailor fuku uniforms are actually based on late 1800s early/1900s "rational dress" girl's fashions (themselves based on European naval uniforms), which progressed into the "middy" dress that was seen in the west till at least the 1920s with Sears offering over dozens of variants, both as one piece and separate tops, for children, teenagers, and even some for adult women and even some articles appearing in the 1941 Montgomery Ward Catalog. Despite their western history, the prevalence of sailor-suited school girls in anime, manga, and other forms of Japanese media show how iconic the sailor fuku is in Japan. This is true despite many Japanese schools having switched to more Western-patterned uniforms. However, there are some American schools that use Sailor Fuku.
Sailor-suit uniforms may be a vehicle for Fan Service as well, as the uniform skirts are often depicted as being unrealistically short. This alteration is so common that it is rarely commented on or questioned, though it may be off-putting to those who are not used to anime or manga based media. Uniforms may be altered in other ways to distinguish certain characters, especially ones considered particularly beautiful.
It may depend on the region, but in Real Life as of the early 21st century the sailor suit (and the traditional male counterpart, the gakuran) has become largely the domain of middle/junior high schools, whereas high schools have shifted towards more fashionable or professional-looking styles of uniform, often with tailored blazers, vests, neckties, and plaid skirts. Elementary schools, if they have a uniform, tend towards collarless jackets and skirts with suspenders—and sometimes, students wear their gym uniforms during class and change into their formal uniforms when outside of the school or attending ceremonies.
In an inversion of a western trope, in the 70s and late 80s, the common image of a female delinquent had an extremely long skirt, but this appears less frequently these days..
See School Swimsuit for another type of Japanese uniform often used to a similar effect in media.
Compare School Uniforms Are the New Black, since some examples here have the uniform as their standard outfit.
Anime and Manga
- Though the central female characters of Sailor Moon are actually junior high-schoolers, not only do they all wear sailor uniforms in their "civilian" lives, their Senshi uniforms seem to be clearly based on them as well; indeed, this is where the "Sailor" in the name comes from. This is later justified when it is revealed that the sailor-suit concept comes from ancestral memories of the heroes' uniform, not vice-versa.
- Toune in Melody of Oblivion, who goes around fighting Monsters wearing sailor fuku.
- Kagome in Inuyasha wears her school uniform while hunting monsters in the sengoku period, centuries before they were invented. She's a time traveler from the present day and Word of God says—tongue planted firmly in cheek—that she prefers it because it's durable.
- Stable Time Loop! Her legendary exploits in the past inspired the invention of the fuku.
- On the other hand, a number of minor characters in the sengoku period refer to her "that strangely and scantily clad woman" as a result.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch
- Misaki of Angelic Layer wears her uniform to play Angelic Layer, as do a few other characters.
- In Tasogare no Udewa Densetsu, one of the fetished-up outfits that Shugo discovers in a treasure chest is a sailor fuku.
- The character designer for the .hack//Another Birth novels has mentioned considering giving Akira a sailor fuku in the real world, but decided against it as they were overused, and gave her a less common blazer uniform.
- Ouran High School Host Club:
- Haruhi, the local wholesome female cross-dresser, infiltrates an elementary school with a 17-year old male classmate named Honey. Honey dresses in his old elementary school uniform while Haruhi puts on her middle school sailor fuku. The rest of the club admits that the two stick out anyway so the disguises are useless: they just wanted to see Haruhi in a schoolgirl's uniform.
- Haruhi's middle school uniform shows up again in the Alice in Wonderland inspired All Just a Dream episode.
- The Ouran Academy has a more elaborate get-up for female students, but that doesn't stop Renge from occasionally cosplaying her favourite Visual Novel's heroine in fuku. Also St. Lobelia has Joshikousei uniforms, which actually resemble long skirts.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei
- Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star and Heartcatch Pretty Cure both have their respective heroines wear sailor suit-esque school uniforms (although the ones in Heartcatch are dress uniforms, they're still sailor suit-esque nonetheless). Miki's school uniform in Fresh Pretty Cure can also be considered an example.
- Suzumiya Haruhi revolves around a high-school club, and thus, sailor fuku appear in abundance. In Volume 1 of the novels, Kyon wonders if the principal has a fetish for this since male students wear blazers and ties, but girls wear the more traditional sailor uniform.
- Lucky Star's Anime Theme Song is titled "Motteke! Sailor Fuku". The CD has a B-side titled "Kaeshite! Knee Socks".
- Mahou Sensei Negima, though only to point out that the fact Sayo wears one is proof that she died a long time ago as the uniform has changed since.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha also based her battle uniform on a sailor fuku, although her young incarnation has a considerably longer skirt than normal.
- This seems to be the uniform at the Mid-Childian school Harii Tribeccah goes to in Vi Vid.
- Kimura in Azumanga Daioh suggests sailor uniforms as a gym outfit.
- Chiyo's two friends from elementary school wear these upon entering middle school. Chiyo's somewhat jealous that she'll never get to wear one because she skipped ahead to high school, but they note that they are not likely get into her school.
- Full Metal Panic Fumoffu
- A delightful sequence occurs where Kaname Chidori, normally dressed in the school's fairly unusual outfit, agrees to become "manager" for a rugby club: and so puts on a more traditional sailor fuku (and carries a kettle).
- When Commander Mardukas has just threatened Sousuke with terrible retribution should he do anything indecent to Tessa while she is staying in Japan, when the girl in question enters wearing a Jindai High School uniform. Cue open-mouthed response from both males, until Tessa asks what they're staring at.
- Hitomi from Vision of Escaflowne wears her school uniform for most of the series, even though she's been transported to another world where Japanese high schools are not present. In one episode, she's given a local dress to wear, only to rip off the skirt so that she can run freely later. Interestingly, the dress rips completely cleanly and evenly, leaving her with an outfit that looks amazingly similar to her school uniform.
- In one episode of Bottle Fairy, the fairies, while imagining going to school, are all in sailor fuku... except for Cloudcuckoolander Hororo, who dresses up in the equivalent iconic uniform for kindergarten and elementary school. The others get her straightened out by the time "class" starts, though.
- The manga version of Read or Die included this when parodying (but using) Fan Service moments, with Yomiko donning one of the much younger Nenene's fuku. It's even lampshaded.
Yomiko: Even though I'm 25, it looks good, right?
- A variant of the standard sailor uniform as a one-piece dress somehow winds up in the thrift store in Haibane Renmei, where Rakka buys it and wears it for the majority of the series.
- Love Hina, the younger tenants are occasionally seen in them, and Kitsune and Naru are prominently seen in flashbacks...and, occasionally, not in flashbacks.
- The sailor fuku's worn in Mariasama ga Miteru are an interesting variety, in that they have very long skirts and are generally not very flattering. In that, they may actually be more like the real thing.
- Also notable in that they appear to be one-piece dresses, as opposed to the typical separate blouse and skirt.
- Nobel Gundam from G Gundam is a Humongous Mecha dressed in a Sailor Fuku. As if that weren't nonsensical enough, it's from Sweden of all places. Presumably the scientists who designed it were a bunch of weeaboos (it does show its Scandinavian roots in another way, though...).
- Similarly the VF-1A "Angel Bird" variant Valkyrie from the first episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Though it never transforms out of fighter mode on-screen, the paint scheme becomes oddly familiar in Battroid mode. One of the many such Easter Eggs thrown into the first few episodes of the series.
- The sailor uniforms in Saki appear to have quite some variation in skirt lengths, ranging from way below the knees to ultra-short, permanently flashy miniskirts—the latter usually reserved for younger characters, sometimes combined with Zettai Ryouiki.
- Aoi Hana: The all-girl high school attended by Akira, Fujigaya, has relatively realistically depicted sailor fukus, with skirts way below the knee.
- Takane Katsu in Burst Angel wears this, wields a sword, and drives a motorcycle. And she's a police officer who snags Jo's arm with a thrown cuff on a chain. Strong candidate for Fetish Fuel Station Attendant?
- While the tops of Hayate the Combat Butler's Hakuou Academy have resemblance to the style, the skirts are ankle length. Isumi still dislikes them for being 'breezy', though she wears kimonos.
- Hanaukyo Maid Tai La Verite episode 8. When Konoe doesn't have any civilian clothes to wear, her assistant Yashima Sana dresses her in one of these and then puts on one herself. They look like a cross between a normal Japanese School Uniform and a Catholic school uniform.
- Cherry Juice: Haruka Fukushima, author of the shojo manga, admits in the omake that one of the main reasons she decided to make a high-school romance series was so that she would have the opportunity to draw Sailor Fuku.
- Kochikame: Special Detectives Moonlight and Venus are male variants of Sailor Fuku who make their role in fighting crime using old fighter jets and made appearances in every TV special.
- Bleach: The high school attended by the lead character does not employ this type of uniform and thus it was not seen for most of the early manga. This makes the appearance of Lisa Yadomaru, a woman likely in her twenties, wearing the fuku a little jarring.
- Following the Time Skip, Ichigo's sisters wear fukus on entering middle school.
- An omake of Naruto featured a high school with these uniforms.
- The associated fetishism was interrupted when said fukus were worn by Orochimaru and Kabuto.
- Nitori from Wandering Son owns one despite his school not using them. When the True Companions split off into various high schools Sasa, Momoko, and Chi got put in schools that have Sailor Fuku. Nitori, Mako, Seya, and Maho go to schools that have the contemporary "blazer" style uniforms, while Takatsuki and and Chiba got into schools that are uniform-free. Nevertheless, Nitori got a new girls uniform.
- The antromorphized Sealand in Axis Powers Hetalia always wears a sailor suit.
- Tomonaga Yoshiko in Sisterism wears one in a chapter.
- A oneshot in Robot: Super Color Comic takes place in The Future where Sailor Fuku are no longer used however the protagonists of the chapter wear them while going to a picnic. They try to cosplay as 21st century girls, eating food from that period (crepes) and going down to the long-since evacuated areas below ground.
- Parodied along with just about every other anime trope in Martian Successor Nadesico. Impractically short-skirted sailor fuku feature prominently in the titular space battleship's "Early 21st Century High School" virtual reality entertainment program and one character trying to seduce another hacks the program to make her skirt even shorter.
- In Millennium Actress Chiyoko is often shown wearing a sailor fuku in the scenes depicting her childhood: unlike modern Fetish Fuel versions it's a genuine 1930s-era winter uniform made out of heavy wool for durability and cut with "room to grow" bagginess.
- The live-action adaptation of Blood: The Last Vampire has finally brought this fetish to the silver screen.
- Emily Browning's character in Sucker Punch appears to do this.
- In Two Brothers Raoul, a French boy in 1920's French Indochina, wears the Western sailor suit fashion that became the basis for the use of sailor suits as school uniforms in Japan.
- Featured prominently in Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (as the title indicates), a film about an Ordinary High School Student who inherits the leadership of a Yakuza clan.
- Almost Angels depicts the Real Life sailor suit uniform of the Vienna Boys Choir. Needless to say there are several variations from the Japanese school girl model, most notably the use of trousers instead of skirts.
- Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill wears a sailor fuku as explicit Fetish Fuel. Her fetish is gutting men who think she's trying to appeal to their fetish.
- Kamen Rider Kabuto: Tendou Juka, Tendou Souji's little sister, is a prime example. Some consider her an example of Lolicon pandering.
- Surprisingly, Star Trek: The Original Series. In the episode "Court Martial", a young girl is wearing a futuristic sailor fuku. Humorously enough, it looks like something Sailor Mercury would wear.
- Chibi from The Birthday Massacre wears a sailor suit in the video for "Looking Glass".
- AIR is not set in a high school, but all the girls wear their uniforms almost all the time.
- Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro na gives sailor uniforms to about half the haremettes; in an odd twist, poster girl Feena is among those that do not.
- Sakura and Karin from the Street Fighter series both dress in sailor fuku. It's so much a part of who Sakura is, that she wears it as her fight uniform in Street Fighter IV, despite Word of God stating that she's over twenty now.
- Guilty Gear: The Jellyfish Pirates wears this as their uniform.
- Hinata Wakaba from Rival Schools.
- Athena Asamiya from Psycho Soldier. Her King of Fighters incarnation was suppossed to fight in a sailor fuku but the creators thought that it would be "too risqué", and limited the outfit to her pre-fight animations. Years later, she actually fought in such outfit in SNK vs Capcom (Neo Geo Pocket version); and finally, in The King of Fighters XI, XII and the upcoming XIII she actually fights using a school uniform... as late as it may seem.
- Kasumi and Ayane from Dead or Alive have, in some games, alternate outfits that are school outfits, all for Fan Service purposes, of course, but also note that they're supposed to be that young.
- Saki from the Oneechanbara series has a sailor suit as her default outfit.
- Ling Xiaoyu and her Palette Swap Miharu Hirano from the Tekken series have sailor fuku costumes in some games.
- In the standard branch of the Tokimeki Memorial series (aka Tokimeki Memorial 1 to 4), actually only the first game has a Sailor Fuku as the High School's uniform, the other three using Blazers. When Tokimeki Memorial 4, set in the same High School (Kirameki High) as the first game fifteen years later, was announced, some fans cried They Changed It, Now It Sucks regarding the change of the school's iconic Sailor Fuku to a Balzer-type uniform : the complain fortunately dried down quickly, thanks to Konami's clever move of making Kirameki High change gradually its uniform, so that the two senpai characters keep the Sailor Fuku as the last class wearing it, while the main protagonist and the characters in the same year as him and below christen the new Blazer.
- Arguably subverted in the Touhou series. Despite having an Fundamentally Female Cast with hundreds of characters:
- the only character who's canonically a schoolgirl never wears a uniform,
- only two of the characters have been officially depicted wearing a sailor outfit,
- both of those characters' outfits featured shorts or culottes instead of a skirt, and
- one of them gets a free pass on account of actually being a sailor.
- In Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, the strongest and most expensive clothes that can be purchased that playable (though the NPCs can be sold it as well, obviously) female characters can equip and be sold is a sailor uniform, whose description reads "Confers great power upon women of any age group." Though if male characters come in asking for clothes, you can sell them this also (though the playable male characters cannot equip it, which would make it funnier).
- In The World Ends With You, a sailor uniform and gakuran can be found as special clothes.
- In Kisetsu o Dakishimete (the 2nd game of the Yarudora series), the school blazer Mayu wears when the player character first finds her is a plot point. At several moments of the storyline, they use it to try and find the school it's affiliated to, and consequently discover Mayu's identity. It doesn't work, nobody they ask has ever seen this blazer. When following the "Spirit of the Cherry Trees" storyline, it's implied the blazer is the one Mayu's sister Mami, who just came back from overseas, wore when she was accidented.
- In Valis, Yuko Ahso wears a sailor fuku for the first few stages before going Stripperiffic. The blue skirt matches the color of her hair. It returns in Valis II as one of her selectable outfits.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace pictures herself and most other female characters wearing fuku in her school-related Dream Sequence. This is probably meant to imply that her impression of school up until that point came almost entirely from watching anime. Judging by the design, it's specifically Azumanga Daioh.
- The heroine of MAQ #41 used to wear Japanese uniforms to school. Since she lives in the United States this was viewed as quite odd and helped make her a target for bullying.
- The Wotch: The spell used to turn Professor Sorgaz into MingMei Wu was allegedly created by a "rabid anime fanboy" which is why she ended up Ka-fuku'd as well as "Ka-Girled." Since it also gave her a Chinese name he must have been ignorant as well as rabid. She ditches the fuku after Anne undoes the part of the spell that is messing with her head.
- Sailor Nothing, as well as Sailors Truth and Beauty, wear embellished versions of their school uniforms when they're in sailor form.
- Vocaloid Rin Kagamine wears a sailor fuku top, though it's sleeveless. Her twin brother / mirror image Len wears a sleeved one.
- In the Whateley Universe, Tennyo's school uniform is based on this design.
- Katana, the (at first) girl Outsider in Batman the Brave And The Bold, wore a sailor suit in Season 1. However, in Season 2, she ditched it for the classic costume of her comic book counterpart.
- Lily wears one in Kappa Mikey, even though she actually is not a student.
- Totally Spies!: Madison, the President's daughter wears one.
- Napoleon Dynamite: In the second episode, a scantron dating machine pairs Napoleon up with a Japanese foreign exchange student named Tokiko, who's sporting Sailor Fuku and every other Japanese schoolgirl-related trope you can imagine.