In my journey into the glorious world of anime, I have come across shows that I just could not enjoy. Beyond the sappy high school stories and the excessively mundane slice of life shows, there has always been a corner of the anime spectrum that I could not get behind. They were usually overly sexualized to the point of being uncomfortable to watch.
Ever encountered one of these examples in a show?:
- Those obligatory bikini shots of the busty heroine.
- The protagonist is ripping his shirt off for no apparent reason.
- The schoolgirl in her uniform tripping randomly, landing on all fours exposing her panties.
- Random characters in sexy maids uniforms
- Unjustified upskirt shots from all possible angles
Sound familiar? Congratulations, you have witnessed fan service.
Personally, I never knew there was a term for this type of show element. I would always see it as a category on Funimation but never knew what it was. Yaoi I get. Mecha, Supernatural, Reverse Harem, Shonen; I know what those are. So I just passed the category by without checking it out. Sadly, I learned more earlier this year when I ran across a random discussion on Twitter. Just to give a generalized definition of sorts, fan service is elements added to a show to make it more titillating for the audience. It can focus on both men and women. Like the examples provided above, characters are made to be more sexualized and appealing regardless of its effect on the storyline. It may be thrown in randomly just for the fun of it. It could even be the driving force of the entire show. Believe me, you know it when you see it.
Now, I am not saying fan service isn’t appealing to an audience. Who wouldn’t want to see an extremely fit, handsome, shirtless lead male character or a beautiful, busty female character in a skimpy bikini? My issue with fan service, however, is that it can be a distraction. Such a distraction, in fact, that it can be detrimental to the overall storyline. It can even turn off viewers that want to make it through the show me included. The fan service is so heavy in Prison School and Rosario+Vampire that I never tried to watch them again. I made it through 2 episodes of each and I was done.
I almost missed out on some great shows due to fan service. I remember the first time I tried to watch Food Wars and couldn’t make it past the first three episodes. The characters were popping out of their clothes and orgasming over great food. Really? Really?? It took some convincing from my friend to try again. Now, once I tried watching the second time and just accepted this aspect of the show as (somewhat) necessary, I truly enjoy the show. The fan service is used mainly for emphasis on how outstanding the food dishes are. There are other elements of the fan service throughout the show but they are not quite as bad.
There are also the situations where a show I have started watching has been tainted by my newfound awareness of fan service. Despite the saccharine sentiment of friendship being shoved down your throat every 10 minutes, I watched Fairy Tail. Now, however, when I try to watch it, all I see is the fan service dripping off every other scene. It’s deterred me from watching Fairy Tail as actively as I used to. Well, that and the fact that I got bored with the storylines. But there are shows that I still watch even though the fan service is blatant. Yuri!!! on Ice and One Piece are both shows that I enjoy, but they are notorious for their fan service.
Was the purpose of this article to ruin all future anime for you? Not by any means. It was just to inform about an underlining, recurring theme found in some of the most popular anime. Fan service will always be in play in anime as a means to either attract an audience, maintain an audience’s attention or as a last ditch effort to improve ratings. Do I suggest avoiding any fan service heavy shows? Not at all. You never know what gem of a show you may find among the upskirt shirts shots and jiggly breasts. Just based on the pictures, Kill La Kill looks like it is going to be a large dose of fan service, but I still want to give it a try. I’m in the middle of The Seven Deadly Sins, and each episode has a helping of fan service, but I press on because I like the show.
How do you feel about fan service? It is necessary or just a nuisance?
Leave your comments below.