Zettai ryōiki (絶対領域?, lit. "absolute territory") refers to the area of bare skin in the gap between overknee socks and a miniskirt (or shorts). It can also be used to describe the clothing combination. The term first became widespread in otaku slang as one of the attributes of moe characters in anime and manga, but it is now used by the general public in Japan.
Classification and ideal proportions
Zettai ryōiki fans classify it by visible bare skin area, that depends on height of the socks and length of the skirt. A zettai ryōiki is graded from grade E (too much leg is seen, the skirt is also too long) to grade A (short skirt, high socks, short exposed area).
Japanese advertising agency WIT launched a campaign in 2013 which paid women to wear temporary tattoos on their upper thighs promoting various products and media. They were encouraged to wear skirts and long socks to highlight the area.
The term originates from the 1995 anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, where it was used with a different meaning. In an insert leaflet that came with VHS cassettes, the expression "Zettai Kyōfu Ryōiki" (絶対恐怖領域? "Absolute Terror Field (territory)") was used as a translation of the English-language term "A.T. Field" (A.T.フィールド?) from the anime into Japanese. An A.T. Field was a type of a protective energy shield, dubbed a "holy area no one can intrude upon" (何人にも侵されざる聖なる領域?) and made a being using it impervious to attacks. Also, the term could refer to "impenetrability of souls" (心の壁?). The Neon Genesis Evangelion manga also gave a shortened version of the term, "Zettai Ryōiki", in furigana next to the words "A.T. Field". The idea of a "holy area no one can intrude upon" was where the current meaning of the term originated. The expression first spread in the otaku community and then started to be widely used outside of the otaku subculture. For example, it is now included in the general-purpose dictionary Daijisen.
On February 13, 2006, the Japanese company Banpresto, which produced video games based on Neon Genesis Evangelion, filed two applications for registration of the term "Zettai Ryōiki" as a trade mark. Both applications were rejected on June 26 on the basis of unpaid registration fees.
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- Applications number 商願2005-073265 and 商願2005-074486