I was recently reminded that I originally planned a consideration of GAINAXing as a shorter companion piece or addendum to my remarks on the pantyshot. Perhaps these things are better for being mulled over for a month or so.
GAINAXing is, like the pantyshot, a form of revelation-without-revelation: it draws the viewer’s attention to the fact that There Are Breasts without the animators having to draw any breasts per se (although in Gunbuster‘s case, the animators were quite happy to draw breasts per se as well). Given that this is anime and so everything has to be drawn by a human, GAINAXing is also like the pantyshot in highlighting that what you’re watching isn’t real: the animators are responsible for the exaggerated effects of gravity just as they’re responsible for all those fortuitous gusts of wind which send skirts reaching for the sky. And the more detailed the GAINAXing is (for example, if each breast possesses its own independent movement), the more attention – slightly worrying attention – has been lavished on their work by the animators.
The mention of movement leads me to the element that distinguishes GAINAXing most sharply from the pantyshot: breasts can only bounce in a moving medium. In a static image, the best the artist can do is perhaps some movement lines and an onomatopoeic sound effect. It’s a kind of fanservice which is uniquely suited to animation. Or, to put it another way, .jpgs no, .gifs yes.
Much more recently – only a few months after the twentieth anniversary of Gunbuster‘s first episode – we’ve been blessed (?) with a GAINAXing effect caused by switching from zero-g to artificial gravity in the premiere of Macross F. Although I haven’t seen everything produced in between the two, so I can’t say for sure that this is Satelight’s own invention or an idea they borrowed from elsewhere. To me, this still image drives home the need for movement: if it’s frozen in time, an instance of GAINAXing can produce downright wierd proportions and aesthetically displeasing shapes.
(See, I made it through the whole entry without sounding a note of moral disapproval. Look Mum, no qualms!)