Best Zettai Ryouiki in Anime: The Ultimate Character ListThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Before we get to the knee-highs, let’s take a quick trip back to the 90s.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a highly influential work of art — and not just because of its character design, philosophical themes, or stunning direction.
You see, NGE gave the anime community the term zettai ryouiki, referred to as “absolute territory” outside Japan.
What started as a force-field barrier in a sci-fi mecha anime became a term for the glorious portion of a character’s thigh between their socks or stockings and their skirt (or even shorts).
It’s a peculiar thing that’s now common knowledge among anime fans. And I’ve got a list here of the best ZR characters in anime history.
15. Nadeko Sengoku
The Monogatari franchise is brimming with best girls or waifu candidates.
But it’s not surprising that Nadeko Sengoku is one of the least faves. In fact, you can easily find hate comments about Nadeko.
But even if you’re not a huge fan of Nadeko as a character, you can certainly appreciate her top-tier zettai ryouiki moments in Nisemonogatari.
Nadeko’s ZR scenes are few and far between. But Studio Shaft clearly went for quality over quantity here.
Shaft chose the best possible angles to highlight her pure white over-the-knee highs, frilly skirt, and sleeveless pink top.
Some people won’t like the generous amount of thighs in her infamous scenes playing Twister and just lying down, but I’m more than grateful for it.
Togami is perhaps the most unusual entry on my list. Mostly because the Katanagatari series itself has a distinct visual style.
Then again, that’s what makes the female MC all the more worthy of her spot:
Togame’s character design is a breath of fresh air from the typical but beloved ZR look of school uniforms and casual clothing, the sort of style you’ll find at Uniqlo or Zara.
Her petite build works well with her (long then short) white hair and oriental, asymmetrical outfit in shades of purple and blue.
Togame’s skirt looks torn — but that’s intentional. Plus, it gives viewers an unusual thigh gap.
13. Maria Imari
Anime: This Art Club Has a Problem!
Like Nadeko Sengoku, Maria Imari doesn’t have a lot of ZR screen time. But it’s the sheer goodness of those few scenes that make her stand out.
If I was only judging by how perfectly the ZR sensation was portrayed, Maria would easily be in the Top 5.
Even though she’s just a supporting character, Mari has one scene where the male MC Subaru Uchimaki carries her on his shoulders. The sacred ZR is on each side of his face, surrounding him with feminine joy.
Subaru then proceeds to close his eyes and feel the ZR with his own hands, an impossible act that only a male teenager in a school rom-com would dare accomplish.
12. Yano Erika
Shirobako has a huge ensemble. Possibly one of the biggest in all of anime.
It’s a necessary choice, given that it centers around life in the tenuous animation industry.
And that’s why character design matters:
It makes it easier for viewers to distinguish and familiarize themselves with each individual.
In the case of Yano, she had blonde twin ponytails, a green cardigan, tsundere-ish attitude, and striped stockings — the last of which being a relatively uncommon sighting among ZR shots.
Yano reminds me a bit of Soul Eater’s Death the Kid due to her eyes and the pins on her hair. And I love her industriousness even when she had personal troubles.
11. Taiga Aisaka
Speaking of tsundere, Yano is followed by none other than the loli tsundere princess herself, Taiga Aisaka.
I’ve actually forgotten that she had black thigh highs because her facial expressions and big head of hair grabbed my attention all the time.
But yes, one of the all-time best girls has a top-tier thigh gap — and her red top uniform differentiates her from many anime schoolgirls.
Taiga is one of the more adorable ZR girls, too. Someone who can kick your butt, but is ultimately a caring and reliable friend who knows her faults and wants to change for the better.
10. Rory Mercury
GATE is a treasure trove of fantasy creatures.
And that includes beauties like the elf Tuka Luna Marceau and the warrior bunny Delilah.
Then you have Rory Mercury, the demigoddess who’s over 960 years old but sports the look of a mere 13-year-old girl.
If she wasn’t carrying her halberd all the time, Rory would fit perfectly in Akihabara. Especially since the gothic lolita style is still quite popular among otaku.
Approachable and funny (especially if you tease about her real age) yet terrifying if you’re on the enemy side, Rory’s ZR is quite something else, given the garters attached to her black stockings that seemingly offer a two-level kind of thigh gap.
9. Kaho Hinata
Anime: Blend S
Aside from gothic lolitas, Akihabara is also home to maid cafes, which is where Kaho Hinata works — and she even gets paid to be a tsundere.
There’s really nothing special about her look:
Kaho has blonde twintails, blue eyes, white gloves, and a blue maid’s uniform. She also has white over-the-knee highs.
And it’s this typical character design that makes her attractive, as if she’s the complete opposite of Rory Mercury.
You’d expect a tsundere maid to look more like Rory.
Instead, visitors get the relaxing appearance of Kaho. It’s the contrast in the behavior she portrays at work and her style that adds to her appeal.
8. Megumi Katou
Anime: Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
It’s kind of funny that the anime (initially) portrays Megumi as this brown-haired girl who barely gets any attention from anyone — and yet she’s one of the most popular anime girls of the 2010s.
Then again, that’s the sheer power of character design.
If you weren’t already captivated by her “boring” school uniform that showcased her thighs and legs, you aren’t prepared for the attire that attracted Tomoya in the first place.
Megumi’s signature summer dress is nothing short of breathtaking with its white frilly design, and the red cardigan that gives her entire look its pop.
Then you see her with the white beret and white, frilly thigh highs, and it makes you want to make an entire game based on her as well.
Often characterized as a useless goddess (who can at least party and drink all night), Aqua has a very mysterious character design:
Fans are unsure if she has panties or not.
Some point to light novel and manga illustrations showing her wearing underwear, but the anime doesn’t show any. Was it all for fanservice and hilarious conspiracy theories?
Regardless, Aqua offers ample thighs between her blue miniskirt and over-the-knee highs, with a purple translucent underskirt as a bonus.
Her blue fantasy attire fits her name (and role as the goddess of water), and Aqua is undoubtedly the funniest character here.
Moving from one isekai to another, Re:Zero has the one and only Emilia, also known as the girl Subaru chose over best girl contender Rem.
Fans can fight to no end over who the series’ best girl is.
But it’s wrong to discount the sheer appeal of Emilia, the silver-haired elf from the Elior Forest who strives to become a worthy ruler.
Moreover, she looks divine in her white and purple outfit. A fine combination of long sleeves and short dimensions in the right places, giving enough focus on her ZR without disregarding her overall feminine beauty.
5. Isuzu Sento
Anime: Amagi Brilliant Park
Does anyone else remember how shocking it was for a Kyoto Animation anime to showcase fanservice from the get-go?
It never crossed anybody’s mind, but there it was:
Isuzu Sento and her backside in full view, fresh from a bath. To say that this didn’t make her instantly memorable is a complete lie.
Of course, Isuzu didn’t have that level of fanservice in any of the succeeding episodes. But she doesn’t need it anyway.
Isuzu’s quiet, disinterested demeanor, magical gun, and voluptuous form are more than enough to steal hearts.
Also, who doesn’t love the black ribbons around her white thigh highs? It’s a small addition with a big impact.
4. Yukino Yukinoshita
Anime: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
Oregairu gets better and better with each new installation.
And it’s this steady improvement of the story, characters, and the production of the anime itself that catapult Yukino’s thigh gap to this spot.
I just love the sheer difference between the Yukino in S1 and the Yukino in S3.
She started as this cold and straightforward individual, someone who had the looks and skills (and wealth) to be popular, but was still hard to approach.
Then you see her come out of her shell, becoming more comfortable with her feminine side and her love of Pan-san and cats.
And before you know it, you already value the zettai ryouiki between her plaid skirt and stockings moreso than the ZR of those considerably more curvaceous.
Chitoge is one of the cutest anime girls ever.
And color choice is a huge factor why.
Her aqua blue eyes are striking, and I love the blonde and pink gradients of her hair, complete with a huge red ribbon.
Then you see her blue collar and skirt — but it’s not your typical blue. It’s a livelier kind of blue, one that fits her (eventual) bright personality.
These careful considerations to her appearance, which include her slender frame and how splendid her outfit fits, make her thigh gap special.
There’s a certain scene of her walking, and the focus is on the thighs between her short skirt and black thigh highs. And it is downright hypnotic.
2. Eriri Spencer Sawamura
Anime: Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
Utaha unfortunately doesn’t make the list because her stockings have no ZR, so the Saekano trio isn’t complete here.
Nonetheless, my all-time best girl Eriri takes the silver medal with her school uniform thigh highs.
Isn’t she just perfect?
Her slender frame, blonde twintails, exquisite blue eyes, tsundere personality, and the fact that she’s both Tomoya’s childhood friend and a doujinshi artist all add up to a character that makes me swoon with ease.
Her black thigh highs are ordinary, for sure.
But Eriri as the wearer makes them priceless; a piece of outfit that enables fans like me to appreciate her even more.
Given that I have strong feelings for her, it makes sense that her ZR is more potent than even Yukino and Chitoge — but not enough to dethrone my top pick.
1. Rin Tohsaka
Anime: Fate/stay night
No one comes close to the zettai ryouiki queen that is Rin Tohsaka.
Seriously, you can read 50 threads about absolute territory in anime — and she’ll be a top pick (or at least a frequent mention).
Ufotable may be known more in 2020 for its ultra-successful Demon Slayer adaptation. But you can’t just discount the goodness in its Fate projects, especially Unlimited Blade Works that showered fans with the god-tier ZR shots of Rin.
Rin has mastered the art of ZR, featuring the most perfect thighs between her iconic black thigh highs and black skirt.
Then you consider her equally iconic long-sleeved red top, black twin tails, and her effortlessly adorable version of a tsundere girl.
Zettai ryouiki wouldn’t be the same without Rin Tohsaka. And the world is all the better with her around.