Why I've been so fussy about fanservice

Lots of you have been curious, and in some cases incensed, about why I dislike fanservice so much in anime. Since it's been such a touchy subject for y'all, I thought I'd explain why I bring it up so often and have up to now marked down a show.

After reviewing anime regularly for a year now, I have understood that fanservice is intrinsic to modern anime. My issue with it is when it becomes gratuitious; when its presence is clunkily inserted with no rhyme or reason - it's just there. Why is this? Well, simple. Sex sells. Or more specifically - moe. The tropes that have become commonplace in recent years such as panty shots and rampant jiggles appeal to Japanese audiences and the otaku demographic. Couple this with the moe factor, the shrines/trinkets in otakus' abodes as well as the sheer number of sexually active series out there these days and you're left with little ambiguity as to where the studio's loyalties lie.

Also, remember that we're not the intended audience for anime. It may come over to western shores much quicker than it used to and in some cases at the same time, but the first people that get to see it as Japanese and Japanese tastes and customs must be addressed first and foremost. I have been placing western principles on material that wasn't initially meant for my culture's tastes and sensibilites so I have been overly harsh. However, this doesn't mean that I will forgive animators/writers for using it in places when they have no need to.

When you take what I've said above into account, you can spot when fanservice on the sexual level overstays its welcome more pragmatically. For example, I've just reviewed Freezing after tons of requests. This was most likely to provoke a reaction in me due to the content of the show which is quite sexually charged. Having known this, I stepped back and went into the show understanding that this show is R-rated so some instances of nudity could be overlooked as it's more adult in presentation. Once I did this, I could see when the unnecessary shots (such as random panty shots and lingering shots of the chest) appeared amongst the usual fayre in 16+ shows be they asian, western or otherwise. This review that will be screened in the next month will showcase how Anifile will adapt so you'll get my full opinion of Freezing then - but for now, I think it's good. Much better than I expected albeit brutal in some places.

I hope that explains why I've been so touchy about this trait in anime these days. Bill 156 is seeking to address this, but I'd rather anime clean up its own act without the need of legislation to do it. Freezing is for more mature audiences so its sexual content is less of an issue; what gets me is when shows like Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka resort to it when it's meant for younger teens, but hey this is Japan, not America. In Japan, violence is more controversial than sex whereas in America it's the other way around in terms of media content. This is intriguing since I'm in the middle of all this being British and pretty much desensitised to both sex and violence. XD


  1. Good points all around, and I do agree with you a fair amount about feeling that there is a bit too much fanservice in everything. For me, there are times I do actually like fanservice, but only when it's appropriate for the intended genre. A show like Love Hina, part of the point is the fanservice, but most "fanservice" I run into just panders to the kind of fan.... that I've never met actually. (cave dwellers... lol j/k)

    I actually find in refreshing to watch reviews from you that point out that most, if not all of the fanservice that is found recently takes away from the intended storyline, and can alienate potential watchers.

    As a female fan, fanservice doesn't "anger" me or anything, but it does often bore me. It is nice to hear you state exactly where you stand though.

  2. Dude you didn't explain anything. And really? Saying one scene where in Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka the male character is with a bunch of girls dressed in their pajamas? Are you serious?! He's in the women's dorm! What ya expect?! And just cause your doing a show R rated doesn't excuse that your giving that a break while other shows like High School of the Dead which is 18+ and made by a hentai artist are inexcusable! That''s called lack of research my friend!

  3. I think you meant Infinite Stratos, my friend. My point being is that they didn't need to have the 'camera' down there right in front of a girl's butt. The purpose of this post is to show how I've come to understand that there's no going around the matter than fanservice is heavily engrained in anime nowadays. Highschool of the Dead was my first review and I've learnt how better to approach such shows. I didn't hate the show, I rated it a 7 at the time.

  4. I can see your point with most fan service being unnecessary shots. I much prefer where it is necessary. In your example a series meant for older audience. My personal example is the bath house episode of Gurren Lagann. One of the protagonist (a male) is at a bath house with the female characters and wants to get a look at them. Nothing is ever shown, just implied, and they are usually always wearing a towel. It's appropriate to the storyline and added comedy as well.

  5. I find your point of fanservice well made. I don't like fanservice in the first place as I am watching anime for the story and nothing else. When the guys making the anime resort to fanservice, I just don't like how it goes in the budget of the show, like they could do better on some stuff than the other.

    I watched High School of the Dead even though the fanservice is VERY apparent, I looked the other way on this. The Animation is very stylized but with those shots, they shorten the episode number of the normal 26 to 12 from the budget and got what I call a "Gantz progression" because the story went down hill in one part when I watched Gantz and the animation went down with it. They didn't continue afterwords and I get the feeling this is going to happen for H.S.O.T.D.

    I think that you made the point across very well because there is a difference in what Mature rating and fanservice are in the industry.

  6. Meh, I just ignore the fanservice. If I want to see fanservice, I go for the anime that had fanservice as a plot device. Seikon no Qwaser comes to mind....

  7. If you're reviewing for a western audience, I don't think it's overly harsh to apply your sensibilities to whichever show you're looking at.

  8. Sorry I still don't see your point on fanservice if you don't like it you should just ignore it I mean heck in your top 10 you have shows in there that have fanservice as well that don't use it well at all such as Haruhi with the bunny suit or Lucky Star where they actually talk bout their periods and have been full blown naked! Were those essential to the plot?

  9. Fanservice has always been in anime...

  10. I just started watching Anifile about a week ago (via Crunchyroll) and just started reading this blog today.

    Though it seems to get criticized a lot I was actually very happy to find a reviewer that disliked senseless fan service as much as I do. It really is something that (while it may help the bottom line) perpetuates the stereotype that anime is just cartoon porn.

  11. Looking at it, this is what I gather is the beta version of your Bill 156 article on the Crunchyroll Newsletter? Well, that explains why that one was bad, since it was mash up of what you wrote here with a different subject.

    ''Sex sells. Or more specifically - moe.''
    Nothing but an urban myth. Furthermore you've given nothing to prove this. If Sex really does sell, then why did anime like shikabane hime flop? If moe really does sell, then why isn't the sale charts completely dominated by moe shows only?

    '' The tropes that have become commonplace in recent years such as panty shots and rampant jiggles appeal to Japanese audiences and the otaku demographic.''
    If by recent you mean the past 30-20 years then yes, it common place in anime.

    ''little ambiguity as to where the studio's loyalties lie.''
    Production Committees?

    Also, not every studio that produces shows that relay heavily on fanservice only produces these shows. Best example would be JCStaff or Production IG.