Hi guys, for my next trick, I’m going to attempt the daunting task of honestly discussing fanservice without sucking all the fun out of it. Can I do it? Probably not.. tell you what, if you see me starting to loose the thread, just give me the signal and I’ll post some pics of half dressed bishies or something. Sounds good?

I don’t think I m a prude. I have less issues than most with sexual content. In fact, I have none. I really see nothing wrong with expressing and discussing sex in an honest and healthy way. I’m baffled and saddened by a society that declares the sight of a nipple to be as emotionally and psychologically disturbing as the sight of someone bleeding to death. And there I go… I told you to give me a signal!

ok…it’s all good now…

Let me just get back on track here. I have no issue with sexy. I do have some issues with exploitative and a lot of issues with predatory. And this is the root of my problem. Fanservice often mixes all these elements with various degrees of cynicism, to a great number of subtly different ends. I don’t think it is inherently bad or unnecessary. One of the first essays I ever posted was a defense of fanservice. But occasionally I come across a certain variety, that just ruins my watching experience.

I have been trying to figure out exactly what makes one scene perfectly fine for me, while another substantially similar one will creep me out. Certainly on some level it’s a matter of what mood I’m in. On another there’s the fact that a show that is generally great will be more likely to be forgiven for a little indiscretion. However, there’s also the more immediate element of, for lack of a better word, “intent”.

It’s a notion I’ve repeatedly tried, and failed, to explain both in my reviews and when discussing anime with friends. I think the best way I can put it is by comparing the many possible takes of a common fanservice scene.

I love Konosuba so much…

For the purposes of the present exercise I will be using a female chara as the subject of the fanservice in question, but it’s just as applicable to male characters (although I do believe that manservice is often handled a little differently but that’s another post, probably for another blogger).

Let’s all imagine together this little scene: An attractive young woman is on her way to somewhere when she trips, falling to the ground and sending her skirt over her head exposing her panties. You’re all seeing it? Ok good. You can open your eyes now…

In case this isn’t obvious, this is only my opinion and observation. Here are the different ways in which the scene can be handled and how they affect me.

it’s only going to get worse I’m afraid…
  • The camera shows us a quick flash of panties, the MC is flustered and hurries to the rescue while the young lady is very embarrassed.

The point of such a scene is to titillate the audience a bit, certainly, but also to show us what an upstanding and helpful young person the main character is. If the clumsy lady happened to be the cold and distant type, it can also humanize her a bit or give her a deserved dose of humility. If not, it will add to her fragility, a tiny touch of damsel in distress. It can also be used as the starting point of a relationship, a meet-cute situation. Generally, it will also add a bit of levity and humor.

I believe the audience is meant to see themselves in the protagonist. Feel a certain protectiveness towards the poor girl and maybe get a bit of a giggle from it. The narrative point is to establish the different characters a bit and loosen any tension or just add a gag. I’m fine with this, although it’s pretty low hanging fruit and can get boring very quickly.

she seems to know what she’s doing
  • The camera lingers on the panties, the girl eventually rights herself and we get some indication that she either did it on purpose to seduce the MC or is happy about it and plans to use it to her advantage.

By giving the agency of the situation to the girl rather than the observers, it transforms her from the object of the fanservice to the subject. To me, this is much more interesting, and exciting. Usually, this treatment is a little more overtly sexualized as the character is aware of her effect on those around her and is used almost as much to firmly define the characters as it is to add some naughty fun. These scenes tend to be more serious and will occasionally pass some judgment as not all series are particularly sex positive.

Basically, the show is trying to tell us something about the girl here. She is the focal point of this scenes. Unusual painting her as a cunning manipulator which can then be treated with various degrees of reproach. I personally find that overt sexuality and ownership or even use of feminine whiles as a character trait can be fantastic when done well. It is simply a character trait that can be present to various degrees and a subtle characterization of a women aware of her attractiveness and using it to her advantage gets nothing but thumbs up from me. I find it sad when a show decides to punish her for it but I still have no issue with this type of fanservice at all.

you told y…I mean No
  • The camera lingers on the panty shot for quite a while, the MC gets berated and called a pervert even though he hasn’t done anything, the girl is embarrassed or impassive.

This is basically a reframing of the first scenario but with the background characters telling the audience how they should react. This scene is mainly meant as fanservice and usually reveals little to nothing at all about the characters involved as they are completely passive in the situation. The main point is to have something sexy the audience will like and point out how taboo it is. Usually the scene is comedic as well and can be used as a sight gag.

Since there’s little development in these types of scenes, they don’t tend to ever be mentioned again, teach us anything about the characters, or have a larger impact on the plot. It’s pretty obvious that they’re really just meant to have us blush and giggle. Pointing out that enjoying such a sight is perverted is a classic way of relieving any potential unease the audience may feel. You are not watching an hentai when the show itself tells you it’s pervy. We are all just laughing together at this little embarrassing scene. Nothing more to see here. Also, fine with this. At it’s best, it can be a very effective tension break. Generally though, it doesn’t add much but it doesn’t take away much either. In fact, if it’s well illustrated, it does add a little something, something.

great – and I just got off those watch lists
  • The camera lingers on the panties for a bit. The girl who is also the MC gathers herself and tries to go on with her day.

In this scene, as the fanservice girl is not interacting with any other important characters, once again the emphasis is on her. The way she handles the situation will reveal quite a bit about the type of person she is. Does she get mad and glare at everyone as a proper tsun, does she shrink in embarrassment and try her best not to cry the precious angel, does she laugh it off, like a proper best girl? There are many ways to illustrate someone’s personality and why not add a little sexy to the mix.

This scene has an actual point. Now if the character is meant to be very young, I’m not super comfortable with this particular narrative choice but otherwise, I see no issue with. Man, it seems that in general I am a fan of my service…Which brings us to

someone out there probably considers this fanservice too….
  • The camera stays on the panty shot for quite a while, even in some instances zooms in. There is no one around or the people around haven’t noticed so the girl gets up and goes about her day.

Let’s face it, there is one reason and one reason only to invest resources in animating a scene like this. It’s a pure glamour shot and the take away is obvious.

These scenes are really just garnish. The have absolutely no bearing on plot or character. They aren’t even acknowledged by the show in any way. If the scene was removed, the only impact would be on the runtime. The fact that there isn’t even a joke to be had is a bit lame, I mean I can watch actual adult anime if all I care about is something sexy to stare at but what personally turns me off of these scenes is the covert nature of the scene. The girl doesn’t know she was observed. I have effectively invaded her privacy not only without her permission, but without even her knowledge. It makes me feel like I have to apologize to those characters and the fact that the show treats the entire thing in a completely casual, throw away manner makes me super uncomfortable. To me, this is pretty much to closest thing to complete objectification of the character.

In case you didn’t pick up on it. I really do not enjoy the last type. It will ruin or at the very least bog down my watching experience.

it is!

Before anyone gets too involved in the subject, I would like to put in my disclaimer again. A lot of this is based on personal interpretation and which particular scenes/shows fall into which categories is completely up for debate.

I don’t know what the actual intent of any scene is. And the cold hard truth remains that the intent of almost all anime in general is: desperately try to break even financially by any means possible…

So no, I’m not calling you a pervert or a creep for enjoying certain shows. There are many elements in anime (and media in general) which I’ve willfully glossed over in order to enjoy the end product. However, if you ever wonder why one show full of fanservice is in my favorites while I dislike another for it, it’s probably because of the way I’ve interpreted the intent.

Fanservice and sexual depictions in art are a very tricky subject. A minefield in fact. I think respectful and open discussion on the subject would probably be very productive. As such, I would love to know your thoughts on it. I mean it. If you think I’m a big ol hussy for enjoying fanservice in the first place. Let me know and mostly let me know why.  If you think I’m a bit of a prude and possibly disconnected from reality for caring about the rights of imaginary drawing people, tell me that as well. 


94 thoughts

  1. I think these scenes bother me the most when they make me feel like a perv for watching them. I was reading something the other day where there were a handful of boob shots, but they didn’t bother me at all. The pictures felt like when a comic strip shows you the butt of a child getting into a bath and their is nothing dirty in that. Tone does a lot in how I react to nudity apparently.

  2. I totally agree with your points.Fan service is fine with me just don’t use underage characters (I really don’t care that it’s fictional. It’s creepy) and as long as it doesn’t bash my head in with it I’ll usually watch. I’m not going to defend some shows that have more of it then usual, which I don’t even know where that line is anymore lol. I really enjoyed your thoughts on this subject!

      1. You’re totally welcome. I was really relieved to see your points and the similar minded comments.

  3. I’m fine, or at least accepting of it, if the story doesn’t get hit because of the fanservice. If takes away from the plot or characters, then it’s annoying. There’s a way to show shots without it feeling forced or shoehorned in.

  4. I try to take all fan service with a grain of salt and a laugh… some is very odd and sometimes uncomfortable…but, who am I to kink shame? Lol! (I have been saying that A LOT lately!) To each their own…. although, some of it is hard (no pun intended!) and toes a line….

    1. toes…
      Oh I’m fine with it existing, but just like some stories, tropes, narrative elements are not for me (torturing animls – I’m switching channels…) some fanservice is also not for me.

      1. Definitely some weird ones…. For me it’s things like “Criminal Girls” don’t know if you’ve tried those games… I have them because I like a good dungeon crawler… But, the fact that some of the girls are about 8 years old……… Just look into the game *cringe*

  5. If it’s decent I’m fine.
    You always pick interesting topics eh Rin-san?
    (So Skip Beat, Akatsuki no Yona PASS
    Nononono FAIL)

    1. You know what I found got really bogged down by fan service – Elfen Lied. It was a though story to begin with but then – really eird and unconfortable undrage sexual situations…why?

      1. Wow. I barely made note of it. I don’t remember any particular sexuality in it. just lots of people getting sliced up.

        1. There is quite a bit. Te anime cleaned it up some as the manga was ver explicit. It wasn’t particularly bad just came out of left field and wasn’t integrated with the rest of the story in any way.

  6. My attitude is that I’m a grownup and if there’s a reason to show me breasts or bottoms or penises, show them. But a lot of this is just assuming I’ll get my jollies from being teased, and I don’t.

    I love the scene in Kill la Kill where Mako’s father, brother, and dog are all trying to bring her her suit but when they spot her in her panties (and they are granny-style, not tidy whities 🙂 ), they lose total control of themselves. It’s as though they understand that’s how other animes are treating their audiences.

    Your point about the validity of using it as being revealing of character is an excellent one, though. Doing it for a narrative purpose is the key, I think.

  7. I really like your examples!

    I think you hit the nail on the head with idea of agency. Miia exposing herself to Darling-kun in an attempt to seduce him? Good fanservice. Mitsuki Kanzaki being exposed by the antics of the ghost Hiyori Kotobuki in “Recently, my sister is unusual?” Really, really bad fan service.

    A “respectful and open discussion on the subject would probably be very productive…” Yep, and I think your post is a great addition to the conversation!

    1. well that’s probably one of the greatest compliments I’ve gotten and you seem to be understanding exactly where I’m coming from

    2. Interesting that you bring up “Recently, My Sister is Unusual”. I sort of liked the show, but hated the fanservice, but some of it confused me. I remember saying in a forum that I just don’t like humiliation played for laughs. I got a reply that it’s not played for laughs; it’s playing up the masochism and humiliation fetishes (as in you’re supposed to identify with the girl). Things fell into place for me; I’ve been watching the show wrong. [Conversation is here)

  8. Fan service is a tricky thing, personally I don’t care for it so long as there’s a good story and characters. The only time I’ll criticize a show for fanservice is if it’s super common or the show has no other real redeeming qualities. There’s times where I get annoyed by a characters rather revealing outfit when they’re fighting because it makes no sense to me. I don’t think it’s bad but it shouldn’t be the only thing a show has to offer.

    Something I find odd is how some people claim it affects them as if they were a vietnam veteran. There’s also people that only see a character as fan service (these tend to be critics) and hate on the character despite how well written the character was.

  9. Just to balance out yesterday’s easy set of screen shots, I get a tough one today:

    Don’t know (vaguely familiar) – Don’t know (Amagi Brilliant Park, maybe?) – Konosuba (would have gotton this without the caption) – Kotoura san – Don’t know (I’m considering a show I vaguely remember, around 2012 that I dropped pretty early and whose name I can’t remember) – Don’t know (I’ve almost certainly seen this, though) – K-On! had panty shots? (still haven’t seen it) – Love Live Sunshine (?) – Akagami no Shirayuki hime (?) – Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

    What I really dislike is humiliation-based fanservice, but even then there are exceptions. The extended tentacle grope is probably one of the worst offenders (though I was fine with it in Shokugeki no Souma as a response to a bad squid dish). It’s fairly common in shounen (like SAO).

    Implausible-breast character designs are turn-offs, too, mostly because the breasts tend to be eye-level and are harder to ignore than other stuff, like camera angles.

    Ultimately, I can’t really tell why some scenes bother me, other scenes get through on auto-ignore (to the point that I can’t remember them later and embarrassingly recommend the show as “clean”), and yet other scenes get my stamp of approval, either because they’re funny or actually a turn on (rather rare).

    Darling in the FranXX is an odd beast, having at least three layers of fanservice, and some of them being inconclusive because you can’t be sure whether they’re ever going to do something interesting with it. The more inane fanservice is totally out-of-place and runs counter to the world-building though. It’s confusing when you have a beach episode that’s both tamer than the rest of the show and more bothersome, because high-school antics should be impossible considering their upbringing. I suspect a lack of SF-imagination is getting in the way here.

    1. Darling and the FranXX is really sounding intriguing now…
      And you were worried about the screencap game .
      Banner is another great title: I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job! Next is Amagi (great guess) Konosuba (of course), yup Kotoura San, the Highschool DxD, Tari Tari, I think, K-on promo material (for a show that’s not supposed to be about that all the promo stuff is really sexy), Love Live something or other, yup Snow White… and Your lie. You did very well as usual.

      1. Ooh, embarrassed about not getting Yuushibu, since I watched that in the second half of last year (dropped it early while it aired). It was surprisingly fun.

        That’s definitely not Highschool DxD – completely different character designs (tried to watch that last year and gave up around 5 episodes in). A google image search reveals Maji de Watashi Koi Shinasai, which fits the time frame I was thinking of (late 2011, not 2012, though). Here’s the character in the picture. I dimly remember an opening episode that introduces (nearly?) all the girls in a huge fight scene. If that’s the show, I was on the right track, but I can’t be sure.

        Tari Tari? Hm, I can’t rule it out. The character design looks out of place, but a close comparison reveals that the eyes are similar. Maybe. I don’t recognise the character. Either a very unusual picture (none of the main girls at least have that hair colour), or a minor character I don’t remember. It does look familiar, tough, and I’m actually quite fond of Tari Tari.

          1. Ah, makes sense. I saw that show (I watch everything by Gokumi), but it didn’t really stick in my memory.

            1. I tend to watch around 25 shows per season to wind down after work and to relax before work (2 – 3 episodes in the morning, 1 – 2 in the evening). At minimum that’s 21 a week (some days are more busy than others). I watch a lot. I’ve also been watching anime since I was 4 in 70ies, so I’ve seen a lot of stuff whose name I can’t remember. I’ve either seen Dirty Pair or Gunsmith Cats – I look at the pictures but can’t remember what I’ve seen…

              For what it’s worth, on this list I haven’t seen (much of) K-On!!, Majikoi, and Love LIve Sunshine.

            2. Not much of a fan of K-On!! It’s one of the first KyoAni anime that sort of put me off. Reminds me that I didn’t watch much of Amagi Brilliant Park either (guessed solely on account of the brown-haired girl’s head-dress).

          2. I don’t get a long with a lot of KyoAni, and K-On!! was the first of it. I watched around 3 – 5 episodes of the first season and then just forgot I was watching it. Reminds me that I also didn’t see more than one episode of Amagi Brilliant Partk (I solely guessed that on account of the brown-haired girls head-dress).

        1. I found the final image. It’s not Tari Tari, but a little remembered Gokumi show called My Little Sister Is Among Them. One of their weaker offerings; I don’t remember the show much. Here’s the character in question.

    2. “auto-ignore” I like that term. I’ve been auto-ignore for minor irritations for as long as I’ve been watching anime and didn’t even think about it.

  10. Fanservice in Japan is tricky territory, both socially and legally. For instance, Japan is one of those weird countries where nudity can be non-sexual based on context, usually around their strange bathing practices. So a nude underage female in an anime, for example Neighbors Club (aka Bokuwa Tomodachi ga Sukunai) has a scene where the little sister of the thug looking protagonist runs to her brother for comfort after getting scared by something in the bath, usually his blonde love interest who thinks the little sister is adorable. Its not sexual context and establishes the hero as a good older brother. There’s a similar kind of scene with a little sister in SNAFU who strips down and drops her panties on her brothers face and he immediately monologues that he feels nothing and summarizes the whole thing as: “Yup, 100% cotton.” A good brother, again, despite the nudity. You can’t translate that well into cultures in the rest of the world, and these are both very popular anime, but not for porn reasons. They’re about dehumanized/detached/alienated people who have hard lives because of how they look. There’s similar materials in ToraDora where the mother who works as a hostess at a hostess bar comes home drunk every night and her son cares for her needs, cooking and cleaning and doing laundry so she can work and keep up the rent while he goes to school in hopes of someday getting a good enough job to help her more. A good son, oddly enough.
    I agree with many of the examples you provided of nudity being used as a plot method, separate from simply porn-upskirt without plot value being more typical fan service. These things are all done for ratings, of course, and they were like that in the manga too. Manga that don’t have them struggle for ratings or have to aim for a different niche audience while missing all those lonely teenage boys who want girls to be girly and sexy and winsome/moe, while Japanese girls want husbands with good jobs which are hard to find in Japan today, and the suicide rate for both genders is the third highest in the world.

    1. Oddy enough, thi may be personal, I don’t in fact associate nudity with fanservice or sexuality either. I mean years of college and looking a naked strangers has taken that association away. Moreover, sexuality/sensuality is often associated with some degree of mystery or forbidden fruit. That’s why women are willing o pay ridiculous prices for lingerie. I find that a lot of fanservice in anime is portrayed in such a way that the objects can remain fairly *innocent* so to speak, since that’s a huge part of the appeal.

      1. I think this ties back into the problems of Japanese women refusing to be the girls that Japanese men want for girlfriends or wives. Both end up unhappy and the suicide rate speaks for itself. This issue, the desire for tropist girls in real life, sells anime, sells advertising, and presumably frustrates both genders, literally to death (for some).

        1. I’m not sure how much freedom to refuse anything Japanese women have had historically. I mean he entire concept of Yamato nadeshiko sort of implies that ideal women are never immodest or opinionated for that matter of fact.
          We are talking about a society were an unmarried women will still be unlikely to get a promotion simply because she’s single past mid twenty.
          Of course I’ve spent a grand total of maybe 25 days in Japan so I wouldn’t call myself anything close to an expert.

          1. That’s more than I have (none) but I have a friend married to a Japanese woman and is living there for the last 15 years. The Yamata Nadesico is a rare person, and cherished because she’s so unusual. Most men respect that, but few actually want one for themselves. Punk rock girls like Fuuka have their own appeal, and Louise is the Tsundere princess for good reason, as her voice actress has made a good career playing that character despite having a lot more range. I’ve heard and read about the xmas cake rule for women over 24, though the obvious solution of emigrating out of Japan where men still find them attractive is the answer. I met quite a few unmarried 25+ yo Japanese women attending a college in the Bay Area once, and all were still learning English and adapting to a place where they held more social value and were mostly studying medicine at that school. Japan may discard women, and we get disaster zone teacher as a running gag in most school anime. The teacher in SNAFU, quite a few more female teachers in nearly all school anime actually, are disaster zones and bitterly complain about no man wanting them despite being very attractive. Its a joke in these stories. The drunken oneesan characters in Kawaii Complex and Wagnaria are great examples of the discarded xmas cake bottle fairy characters, most of which are based on a character from Love Hina, who was based on a different bottle fairy from Maison Ikkoku, drawn by the same artist who drew Ranma 1/2, based on various Akira Kurosawa samurai movies characters, often brothel madams, the classic fallen woman femme fatale. And those came years and decades after all those Bogart movies, which had a similar filming style.

    2. Then, please, send all those educated, talented, and strong 25+ women to the states. They will be happier here and the US will become out a better place for it.

      BTW, I am a practicing nudist and have been since I was a wee sprout, many decades ago. (About as out of the closet one can get without risking a ticket.) The nonsexual context for nudity I get. I’ve probably seen thousands of nude people of all ages and worked in college as an art model. Did strip-o-grams before I got married so neither sexual nor nonsexual nudity bothers me a bit. Wife and I took baths and skinnydipped with our little boy and girl when they were preschoolers. (Again… decades ago.) It makes for a stronger bond, I think.

      I couldn’t care less if something has fan service or ecchi or even hentai – if it is well done. What bugs me the most is when they push the lolicon (or shoutocon) thing too far. My “daddy’s spider sense” starts pinging me. I know, intellectually, that you can’t hurt an anime character but if I enjoy an anime I usually start having human feelings towards them.

      1. Fred my friend. I will go through your comments more carefully when I get home but I just wanted to drop a quick note to say how much I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. This is exactly what I was hoping for and more!

  11. I don’t mind being punched in the face with fan service, but like you said, it’s all in the handling. I really enjoyed Prison School. You are drowning in fan service but the show is still funny. I also liked how it was handled in Kill la Kill. I can’t remember the show where it made me angry. I want to say High School DxD. It felt stupid. Or maybe I just thought the show was stupid in general. Either way, this was a great read Irina!

    1. Thank you! I mean it’s a personal thing and mostly it tends to be silly harmless fun just once in a while it can get gratting.
      Kinda like me!

  12. Hey there, long time reader, first time poster. Totally agree with your points on fan service. In general, I find it doesn’t bother me too much, and after a while, you kinda get so used to seeing it that you start ignoring when it happens. If it is well done (like your first few examples) I have no issues with it as it explains characters or pushes the story. When it doesn’t make sense in the narrative or it involves characters that look underage, then I find it jarring. Especially the underage part. I don’t like how characters that look like children, but are hundreds of years old are used in fan service…

    But overall, fan service is something that is so entwined in animé nowadays that it would be weird without it. Question for you: How common was fan service in older animés (let’s say from the 80s)?

    1. Damn Mike, how old do you think I am…. I mean i was technically alive but…. You know I would have to look into it. I think the only older anime I remember is Lady Oscar and there was some fan service but I’m thinking the animation quality made it not that sexy…
      You are so sweet for taking the time to comment. We gotta do that diner we keep threatening each other with

  13. There are some fan service moments that are so overdone… When I see the classic oh I fell and then we get the zoomed in panty shot, I tend to roll my eyes and hope that the anime isn’t full of similar scene. Usually if it is a strong story it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes when a anime is trying to survive so it throws in fan service it gets annoying.

    1. I like how you’re only problem is that it’s a lzy narrative hook. I agree been there done that but then again I’m a simple creature that gets entertained out of simple things.

        1. I just realized my reply barely qualifies as English – kudos on deciphering it. Why would I call an esthete a hypocrite?

  14. If anything goes out of their way to make me feel good — I call it fan service.

    If fails then I’ll hear others’ opinions before calling it sex sells.

  15. I like fanservice, and I love its users as long as add entertainment value. I think as long as you are not hurting other people. It is fine.

    1. It’s the hurting other people that’s tricky.
      I mean they’re drawings so that’s not hurting anyone but then again drilling it into people’s heads that it’s ok to invade people’s provacy as long as those people are attractive could be considered harmful, then again again, depictions in media don’t necessarily translate to real world views. Tons of studies have shown violent images don’t make the people watching them more violent. Sorry this was a long reply and it went nowhere.
      I tried…

  16. I appreciate anime, visual novels and games which are open about sex, because more often than not, I’ve discovered in my in-depth analysis of many such titles over the last few years, there’s often (not always, but often) a lot more to it than “just fanservice”.

    Take something like Senran Kagura, which got slaughtered by mainstream critics in its first two installments for its fanservice, but now thankfully appears to have mostly passed into obscurity so far as these people are concerned. In Senran Kagura, the fanservice is not only an important part of the games’ overall aesthetic and the “feel” they’re going for — cheeky, good-natured fun — but it also often reflects many of the girls’ attitudes towards themselves and one another. Compare Ikaruga’s embarrassment any time her clothes get shredded to Haruka’s positive lip-licking glee at exposing herself, for example; it’s another part of their characterisation, among the in-depth storytelling you get in the visual novel sequences.

    Another couple of my favourite examples were so traumatic to the prudes of the world that you’re not even allowed to mention them on several gaming forums — despite the fact that they’re legally available and not even sexually explicit. I’m talking about Dungeon Travelers 2 and Criminal Girls, both of which had a fair amount of fanservice in different ways.

    In the former case, it was often used in a similar manner to one of the myriad ways Senran Kagura treats it: as a symbolic depiction of understanding your opponent completely, “exposing” them metaphorically as well as physically. It also features scenes where fanservice is used to reflect the growing intimacy between the protagonist and his party members.

    In the latter case, the game features mild scenes of S&M-style “punishment”, with its narrative justification being that you are using the techniques to cleanse the heroines bodies of “temptations” that have latched on to them while they are in hell. Flimsy excuse it might seem to be, but it’s also used for characterisation — the core theme of the game as a whole is one of trust, and the evolution of how the girls interact with the player-protagonist over the course of the game reflect growing levels of trust.

    I’ve written about all the above on my site in more detail if you want to know more — look ’em up in the All Games index!

    I could go on and on, but I won’t, as I’m preaching to the choir here. Basically fanservice is, in most cases, more than just “panty shots”, as a lot of people seem to assume. But I love it in all its forms, whatever they might be. Does that make me a perv? For sure, but I don’t care; at the end of the day I come to this media for a complete escape from reality, and, among other things, to safely enjoy fantasies that would be impractical, inconsiderate or even illegal to explore in reality! There’s a whole other discussion on hentai there but I’ll spare you that… 🙂

    1. I would be interested in the entire other discussion on hentai, maybe not in this comments section mind you but otherwise it’s an interesting subject

  17. Ah, such a sensitive topic for so many, I really liked how you handled it here, I always figured this was where your threshold was but still good to know your “line”. I don’t know if I have a specific point I can draw between something I like and something that crosses the line because a lot of it comes down to context and how it’s framed societally within the actual anime. That’s why I have zero issues with something as fan-service OTT as Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid but will have an aneurysm over how tone deaf and borderline harmful Darling in the FranXX is.

    1. Haven’t seen Darling yet. Interesting, I mean trigger has a long history with fanservice of course but if it’s in the vein of KillLaKill, I admitt I’m all for it

      1. Nope nope nope. I love Kill La Kill I bought a ridiculously expensive figure of Ryuko when I was in Japan last year I love it so much. Darling in the FranXX is a different level, like I can’t even process how much I hate how they treat the female characters on that show.

        1. Darling started out slow for me but picked up as it went on.

          I cannot believe they have all these adolescent kids together, a veritable cauldron of raging hormones, little supervision, high risk environment, fighter pilot mentalities, and the level of sexual tension is on par with an LDS day camp for junior high students.

  18. Fanservice for me, is generally fine when it adds to the plot, and actually I do not even pay much attention to it in a great anime. However, when i am already not loving the anime it just ends up being annoying and uncomfortable. Also my level of acceptance heavily depends on the frequency of the fanservice – a little bit here there is fine but full-frontal all the time is very uncomfortable.

    1. See I would be fine with an entirely nude all the time cast, like if it was set ina a nuddist colony or something, but having the camera zoom into a little girls thigh under the table for no reason, squeeves me out. Squeeve may not be a real word.

      1. Absolutely. Here is an example. In the Monogatari series, there is a scene where Araragi (17) is taking a nude bath with Shinobu (looks like 8). He even washes her hair sitting at a vanity. They are behaving like buddies. There is no sexual content at all. In fact Araragi, who is a bit of a lolicon and a siscon, is unusually asexual here. The moment speaks of love and purity and peace.

        A different scene will have Araragi grabbing (10 y.o ghost) Hajikuji’s boobs from behind or pulling his little sisters top off to see if an old scar was still there. These bug me.

          1. Maybe we shouldn’t automatically call nudity “fan service”. There is such a thing as nonsexual nudity and there is sexy nudity that is integral to the plot. (If you scan my blog you will find I have zero problem with nudity in either anime or the real world.) Even a well done panty shot, like Hanakawa at the beginning of Kizumonogatari, can tell you important bits of information.

            My definition of fan service requires it to be gratuitous but doesn’t require an particular state of undress.

            1. I actually don’t necessarily equate nudity with fan service myself. I don’t even equate sexuality with it, since sexual content can be relevant to the plot.
              To me fanservice is a plot element visual or otherwise added specifically to appeal to a part of the audience without necessarily having any narrative or artistic payoff.
              For instance saving a fan favorite character from what should have been a lethal situation simply to avoid backlash even could be a form of fanservice… This isn’t really what we’re talking about here though.
              I forgot my own point. I do that.
              Anywho I agree with you.

      2. “Squeeve” is a word to be found in the urban dictionary. Probably not your definition though.

        I shall remember it forever.

        1. English is not my first language and for the life of me I have no clue how/when/why I learned it. I bet there’s plenty of questionable vocabulary I think is clear

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