A long time ago, I have been against fanservice in Anime as myself and some people perceive this as a bad thing for Anime. However, I have seen the light after watching and reviewing a lot of shows. Now, I want to share my reason fanservice and ecchi is not necessarily a bad thing as some people make it out to be.
Fanservice is something that is thrown in the story to reward the viewers, mostly sexual in nature (although it can be pandering as well). However, this aspect of Anime has been a very controversial issue as there is a belief that panty shots and nudity doesn’t add anything constructive to the story. However, this is not necessarily true as fanservice and ecchi can be used as comedy or part of character development. Let’s take one of the episodes of Ore no Imouto as an example. In Episode 4 of the first season, Kyousuke tried to stop Kirino from opening a package in front of her friends and he accidentally fell on her, thus groping her breasts. While this scene caused uproar when it aired back in 2011, it serves as character development for Ayase who eventually finds out about Kirino’s otaku interests, causing her to stop being friends temporarily.
On the other hand, I think one reason western fans tend to dislike fanservice is for the fact that West especially the United States tends to be more conservative. Because of that, some western fans typically disapprove sexual content or nudity. I think it comes down to different cultural values as in Japan, nudity is accepted and their pop culture is focused more on cuteness compared to the West where violence is more acceptable.
Just like the moe debate, I felt that the fanservice is in a similar position as both focuses more on fantasy and escapist aspect. As mentioned in my previous editorial regarding the portrayal of males and females in video games, I mentioned that gamers don’t necessarily want to play an ugly woman or a weak man in a video game, but would rather play an attractive/pretty/cute women or a handsome/strong-looking men. The same holds true in Anime. While some people might not like how women are portrayed in media, like I mentioned before, both genders are going to be portrayed stereotypically. Even so, it’s still considered a work of art. For instance, in one comments on a video game blog I read recently, someone criticized that the characters in Hyperdimension Neptunia are over sexualized without realizing the general appeal of cute girls being personified from video game consoles and having tons of references to video game and anime pop culture. I think people tend to judge fanservice and ecchi shows by their book covers rather than it’s overall experience because intellectual value is preferred over sexual desires.
In a post Froggy-kun from “Fantastic Memes” wrote a few months back, he analyzed fanservice and ecchi as an art form. When I first read it, I realize that I overlooked another reason western fans looks down at these types of shows. He mentions that fans that desire to watch anime for it’s intellectual value rather than the fanservice suppressed their sexual desires and view this kind of humor as a “low art.” I think this is probably the reason why people feel this way is because the conservative views on sexuality in the West cause people to look down at these stuff even though the human mind is attracted to sexual appeal. If people take these shows with an open-minded approach, perhaps there is something that makes fanservice and ecchi something enjoyable without letting controversy ruin that feeling.
As a whole, I think fanservice can be enjoyable when it’s well executed. While people are going to have varying opinions about the subject, I don’t think panty shots and girls in swimsuits are going to ruin the story. The story’s execution matters more rather than the approach the director/author takes. I admit that I had mixed feelings for the first season of Dog Days as it has a good amount of fanservce. Eventually, I enjoyed this show as they used it to make the comedy and characters more enjoyable. Still, I think that fanservice and ecchi can serve as something extra that has the potential to make a show more enjoyable. Still, there are only a few shows where I find fanservice like Yosuga no Sora and Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai become uncomfortable, I generally don’t find it as an issue. At the end of the day, I think people need to have an open mind and not let social norms ruin it since it’s a work of fiction and that not all fanservice/ecchi shows are necessarily bad, but there are some that possibly of being good.
With that, what are your views on fanservice? Do you think that fanservice can be enjoyable if we look past social norms or have an open mind?