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Cosplay is kind of a rough subject in the lolita crowd. A good few lolitas get into the fashion through anime or cosplay. However, it gets a bad name for a lot of people because the last thing we want for lolita to be perceived as is a costume. Most of us wear it on a daily or weekly basis, and it’s certainly an established fashion. Combine that with the fact that it’s not uncommon for new cosplayers who’ve not done their research to get the “brilliant and original idea” of making a lolita version of an anime character and it just means bad news for the fashion.

That being said, I’m a cosplayer. I’m very proud of the cosplay work I’ve done, and I’m going to continue to enjoy the hobby and the people I meet through it. I just keep it separate from my lolita. Sometimes though, I find an anime I really like that has a character who dresses in lolita. So I thought I’d talk a little bit about lolita and how it’s portrayed in anime and manga, and what that means for the fashion as a whole.

Kuroshitsuji is the latest anime I’ve seen to have lolita-related outfits. It’s set in the Victorian Era (kind of, Queen Victoria shows up but there’s also mention of TVs and car phones) so the fashion is obviously related. Ciel, the protagonist, is very often dressed in extremely detailed kodona outfits. It’s really gotten me more interested in boystyle. Most often when I see it it’s black and white and fairly toned down, but I like my fashion a little more fancy.
Ai Yazawa gets her own little category, as a few of her characters in different series are lolitas or lolita-inspired. Misato, from Nana is a lolita and Miwako from Paradise Kiss wears lolita on a few occasions. I think these two are probably the most well-known lolitas in the anime world. I had a girl ask me if I was cosplaying as Miwako in my unicorn dress, the huge pink wig probably tipped her off. I like that these characters aren’t just flat. They really have some depth to them, rather than just being a stereotypical girly-girl.
Rozen Maiden is an interesting case, because the characters in it are meant to be dolls. So the lolita styles are particularly exaggerated and more like doll clothing than anything else. However, the style shows a clear influence.
Others: Candy Candy has a good bit of lolita-like clothing, which is interesting considering it was made long before lolita was an established fashion. xxxHolic has a character named Ame-Warashi that often wears lolita clothing, but her style is really hit-or-miss. Pitaten has a lot of art book images of the characters in lolita clothes. Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase features some lolita clothing, but those cat-ears make me cringe. The Wallflower has a group of lolita girls that are kind of a satire of the fashion. Godchild and Count Cain have some definite lolita influence, as it’s suitable for the time period.
Things That Are Not Lolita: Misa from Death Note is not a lolita. I’m really tired of hearing this. There’s apparently this one time in this one episode that she wears a lolita dress for approximately 5 seconds, which no one seems to have a good picture of. But everything else she wears, is not lolita. End of story. Chii from Chobits is not a lolita. Weird cuts, strange colors, you name it Clamp does it, and while there’s some obvious influence, it’s not lolita. Princess Ai is not a lolita. Again, too little clothing.

I hope this has been somewhat informative, or at least interesting to read! Lolitas in anime are sometimes good and sometimes very bad. It’s just important to keep some perspective on it.