Panchira (パンチラ?) means upskirt in Japan. The word is a portmanteau of "panty" (パンティー pantī?) and chira, the Japanese sound symbolism representing a glance or glimpse. Panchira is an expression used by Japanese women to warn each other that their underwear is visible; the term carries risqué connotations similar to the phrase "your slip is showing" in English usage.
In anime and manga, panchira refers to a panty-shot or upskirt take. It has been used extensively by Japanese artists and animators since the early sixties. According to anecdotal sources in Japan, the convention is believed to have started with Osamu Tezuka, whose character designs for Uran ("Astro Girl" in English, from the Astro Boy comic strip (Japanese: Tetsuwan Atom)) incorporated an improbably brief hemline. The practice was transferred to animation when Astro Boy was adapted for television in 1963. Confined mainly to harmless children's series throughout the remainder of the decade, panchira took on more fetishistic elements during the early seventies, most notably in Tezuka's Marvelous Melmo (1971), Toei Doga's adaptions of Go Nagai's Cutey Honey (1973), and Inoue Tomo's Majokko Megu-chan (1974).
From that point on, panchira was inextricably linked with the lewd humor that would, in time, become a staple of Japanese animation and entertainment in general (see Ecchi and Fan service). In the present day, panchira pervades almost every known anime genre, making it—arguably—one of the defining characteristics of the artform. It is particularly prevalent in so-called harem anime, adult romances and hentai.
In what can be viewed as a form of self-referential parody, some anime and related productions feature jokes centered around someone's reaction to off-screen panchira. Examples include:
- In the panchira-heavy anime Agent Aika, a man avoids an all-female patrol by hiding under a grate in the floor. After they have walked overhead he emerges with a huge grin and steam coming out of his ears.
- In an episode of the anime Trigun, a female hostage shoots her captor with a weapon held between her feet, since her hands are tied. The captor's last words are "They were white."
- In Hayate the Combat Butler, Miki sees Hinagiku changing, and reveals that her panties are orange with frills, and then continues by saying that they are rather cute and do not suit her, although Hinagiku says she likes them.
Series with prominent panchira
- AIKa R-16: Virgin Mission, prequel to Agent Aika
- Air Master
- Blue Seed
- Iketeru Futari
- Ikki Tousen
- Kiddy Grade
- Kirameki Project
- Najica Blitz Tactics
- Rosario + Vampire
- Koihime Muso