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Post Reply Is Fan Service a Bad Thing?
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25 / M / Under fire
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Posted 11/24/13

moonhawk81 wrote:

I accept the premise that not all fan service is of a sexual nature. I also accept the premise that it is rather ridiculous trying to impose Western moral standards on non-Western entertainment media, and vice versa. That said, I think that the biggest problem I have with fan service in anime series is that it is so often delivered in a way which slows, confuses, or even detracts from the actual storyline. (It's supposed to pleasantly distract, not detract!) Most anime series I watch began as manga, a medium which allows a much fuller development of the story. To make a manga storyline fit into an anime series, much of that story must be condensed, with a lot being lost. But the anime producers really want to keep the fan service in order to entice their audience, even when the context in which that fan service was originally introduced is gone. What you tend to get from this approach are either scenes which dilute the storyline of an episode, or even entire episodes wasted on gratuitous eye candy while the story itself careens into the Void. (Eye candy--good! Voided story--bad!)

Fan service in its myriad forms is an important part of any visual entertainment medium, but it should contribute to the story--an effort should be made to retain and provide context!


What exactly is this "western moral standard"? There's plenty of fan service in western media...just nobody gets all up in arms over it like they do for anime.
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44 / M / Memphis, TN
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Posted 11/24/13 , edited 11/24/13

zipzo wrote:


moonhawk81 wrote:

I accept the premise that not all fan service is of a sexual nature. I also accept the premise that it is rather ridiculous trying to impose Western moral standards on non-Western entertainment media, and vice versa. That said, I think that the biggest problem I have with fan service in anime series is that it is so often delivered in a way which slows, confuses, or even detracts from the actual storyline. (It's supposed to pleasantly distract, not detract!) Most anime series I watch began as manga, a medium which allows a much fuller development of the story. To make a manga storyline fit into an anime series, much of that story must be condensed, with a lot being lost. But the anime producers really want to keep the fan service in order to entice their audience, even when the context in which that fan service was originally introduced is gone. What you tend to get from this approach are either scenes which dilute the storyline of an episode, or even entire episodes wasted on gratuitous eye candy while the story itself careens into the Void. (Eye candy--good! Voided story--bad!)

Fan service in its myriad forms is an important part of any visual entertainment medium, but it should contribute to the story--an effort should be made to retain and provide context!


What exactly is this "western moral standard"? There's plenty of fan service in western media...just nobody gets all up in arms over it like they do for anime.


Actually, I believe you hit the nail on the head with your earlier post. Animated productions in the West are usually expected to refrain from overt sexuality, probably due to their lingering association in the Western mind with children's entertainment. Admittedly, quite the unfair burden. But it harkens back even to the classic animated movies of Disney, wherein the heroines were all chaste YOUNG women (read: underdeveloped), while the villainess was usually a mature woman of more obvious curves. . .(That's right--sexuality was portrayed as inherently evil, at least for females. . .)
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Posted 11/24/13 , edited 11/24/13


I think the somewhat confusing aspect of things is that...I see America as sort of a balls to the wall place when it comes to sexuality. Look at the Hollywood movies, the celebrities who are always half naked...I mean American does not seem very stranger to the concept of sex...so why is it that it's judged so irrevocably in anime? Is it because it's an animated form of entertainment? Sex seems to be very much in-your-face in western entertainment, just as much as you see in anime.

What is so special about anime that western fans feel the need to hang it above all of their own entertainment that possesses literally just as much "fan service"? I don't see people complaining about "fan service" in anything other than anime...you can see how this confuses me?


You're right about western entertainment. To me the fanservice in hollywood films is equally out of place. I mean if I want sex, I'll watch porn. I'm watching anime for other reasons.

I think fanservice made sense pre-internet... when it was harder to get hold of pornorgraphy... and the things you saw in film or tv was the most you could get... maybe a kid could get hold of a playboy magazine, and that would be like gold. I don't really get the point of it in the 21st century when sex is all over the internet.
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35 / M / Reno, NV
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Posted 11/24/13

zipzo wrote:

I think the somewhat confusing aspect of things is that...I see America as sort of a balls to the wall place when it comes to sexuality. Look at the Hollywood movies, the celebrities who are always half naked...I mean American does not seem very stranger to the concept of sex...so why is it that it's judged so irrevocably in anime? Is it because it's an animated form of entertainment? Sex seems to be very much in-your-face in western entertainment, just as much as you see in anime.

What is so special about anime that western fans feel the need to hang it above all of their own entertainment that possesses literally just as much "fan service"? I don't see people complaining about "fan service" in anything other than anime...you can see how this confuses me?


I can see from the outside how this can be confusing. The main thing is (and I'll admit that this sounds stupid even as I write it), sexuality and provocative material is okay with most people...as long as it stays within certain boundaries. Most of these boundaries are stupid and arbitrary (photos of naked women with their fingers covering their nipples is fine; show their nipples and it becomes "adults only" and sequestered into its own pop cultural ghetto). Interestingly, frank discussion about sex in television can be even more bound by censors than video of half-naked people writhing around. Its a weird and hypocritical approach to sex, I'll admit.

Someone once commented that Americans tend to be simultaneously obsessed with sex and incredibly frightened of it. This is further demonstrated by (to use a recent example) the controversy surrounding some of Miley Cyrus' actions in recent months. News and talk programs would spend inordinate amounts of time discussing this, often accompanied by the "sexy" videos they are condemning. Its a common tactic in America, having a TV show broadcast a sexual image repeatedly, all the while telling you how awful it is that such a thing is allowed to exist.

What can you take from this? Maybe that the US's relationship with sex is complicated. It isn't that, as a culture, we dislike it. It has more to do with a long-standing cultural belief that sex is "wrong". This actually has gotten more complicated with the rise of feminism in mainstream culture, which brings with it the implication that sexual imagery of women in pop culture is exploitative, and now you have people on both sides of the political fence demonizing things. Personally, I think a lot of the backlash in recent years against fan service anime in America is related to the increasing number of female fans and, perhaps more significantly, the tendency of male fans to criticize fan service anime (many of whom may secretly watch/enjoy it) out of fear of being considered a pervert by female fans. That's just speculation on my part though. However, the sales of shows like Sekirei and Freezing would suggest a lot more people like these shows than let on.

I realize this comment is quite long, and I'm not sure if I even explained anything. To give a TL;DR for this: Americans tend to condemn American pop culture for its sexual content too. And, like with fan service anime, people still watch it.
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44 / M / Memphis, TN
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Posted 11/24/13

imaginarycreatures wrote:


zipzo wrote:

I think the somewhat confusing aspect of things is that...I see America as sort of a balls to the wall place when it comes to sexuality. Look at the Hollywood movies, the celebrities who are always half naked...I mean American does not seem very stranger to the concept of sex...so why is it that it's judged so irrevocably in anime? Is it because it's an animated form of entertainment? Sex seems to be very much in-your-face in western entertainment, just as much as you see in anime.

What is so special about anime that western fans feel the need to hang it above all of their own entertainment that possesses literally just as much "fan service"? I don't see people complaining about "fan service" in anything other than anime...you can see how this confuses me?


I can see from the outside how this can be confusing. The main thing is (and I'll admit that this sounds stupid even as I write it), sexuality and provocative material is okay with most people...as long as it stays within certain boundaries. Most of these boundaries are stupid and arbitrary (photos of naked women with their fingers covering their nipples is fine; show their nipples and it becomes "adults only" and sequestered into its own pop cultural ghetto). Interestingly, frank discussion about sex in television can be even more bound by censors than video of half-naked people writhing around. Its a weird and hypocritical approach to sex, I'll admit.

Someone once commented that Americans tend to be simultaneously obsessed with sex and incredibly frightened of it. This is further demonstrated by (to use a recent example) the controversy surrounding some of Miley Cyrus' actions in recent months. News and talk programs would spend inordinate amounts of time discussing this, often accompanied by the "sexy" videos they are condemning. Its a common tactic in America, having a TV show broadcast a sexual image repeatedly, all the while telling you how awful it is that such a thing is allowed to exist.

What can you take from this? Maybe that the US's relationship with sex is complicated. It isn't that, as a culture, we dislike it. It has more to do with a long-standing cultural belief that sex is "wrong". This actually has gotten more complicated with the rise of feminism in mainstream culture, which brings with it the implication that sexual imagery of women in pop culture is exploitative, and now you have people on both sides of the political fence demonizing things. Personally, I think a lot of the backlash in recent years against fan service anime in America is related to the increasing number of female fans and, perhaps more significantly, the tendency of male fans to criticize fan service anime (many of whom may secretly watch/enjoy it) out of fear of being considered a pervert by female fans. That's just speculation on my part though. However, the sales of shows like Sekirei and Freezing would suggest a lot more people like these shows than let on.

I realize this comment is quite long, and I'm not sure if I even explained anything. To give a TL;DR for this: Americans tend to condemn American pop culture for its sexual content too. And, like with fan service anime, people still watch it.


Great response with some keen observations!
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15 / M / A Wall in the Heart
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Posted 11/24/13
Fanservice is service to the fans- how can it be bad? If you dislike it, then the anime is not for you, but for a different kind of person/group. Fanservice is not just ecchi, etc. And the kind that is- ecchi, etc. is a broad category- you'll find one you like with the right moderation. And hey- it won't kill you to read the manga/LN or play the game if you hated the anime. Besides- fanservice sells.

I mean, would you willingly go to an Italian restaurant and eat there even if you know you hate the food- just to complain about it to others?
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Posted 11/24/13
Worrying about the market shouldn't be the full focus of a show. Really, it should meet its aims and evoke scenes and story effectively and impressively. In anime, fan service is done to such a high extreme that many anime seem to toss it in there as if it's a necessary part of animation.

Recently, a thread was put up asking what genre people dislike the most. Harem was the one that anime fans were sick and tired of seeing. And really, what's more shallow than a single protagonist having a massive number of quickly persuaded love interests? Does the Harem genre have plenty of fan service? Yes, in fact, it has the largest concentration of common-place tropes and references. Not to mention, any fan of a character gets to see their entire love story played out, regardless of who it is. Does that make it great? No.. The show becomes shallow and the characters become cannon fodder. Well, what if the girl/guy you like best doesn't get the attention of protagonist-sempai? Well, that's what fan fictions and Japan's conventions are for.

In circumstances with guns and tanks, etc, they're appealing to a niche sub-group. Most people won't know much about these, but the efforts show that there was some honest research, detail (, and possibly some subtlety) put into a show intended for a wider audience. If the original author liked guns and portrayed them in detail, it's certainly the responsibility of the animators to include them. Otherwise, it's a learning opportunity that adds substance to a show. Not to say that they should put all of their focus into the technology or weapons used.. Doing that gives you very stale mecha shows and Steam Boy. But, if it's done well, and in tandem with the plot, then you get Mobile Suit Gundam, Steins;Gate, and the Star Wars movies. And really, things are more interesting if there are rules and realism to them. An animated plot without some grounds in nerdy reality is so opened that the viewer practically expects a Deus Ex Machina during troublesome situations.
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Posted 11/24/13
I like my porn and anime separate.
So no, i dont like fanservice
The Wise Wizard
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Posted 11/25/13

zipzo wrote:

What exactly is this "western moral standard"? There's plenty of fan service in western media...just nobody gets all up in arms over it like they do for anime.

Another factor to keep in mind is that "fan service" in western media typically involves adult characters, while fan service in anime rarely doesn't involve a character that is a minor.
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23 / Ibaraki, Japan
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Posted 11/25/13
Fanservice is not a bad thing. Just like action, science fiction, horror, romance, and so on, fanservice is nothing more but another storytelling element. Just like any other story elements, fanservice is not bad as long as it is done in moderation.

Although, I must say this. I don't care whether it's Christian morals or traditional western values or, heavens forbid, western "feminism." Western standards/politics DO NOT belong in Japanese pop culture, and will never ever have a rightful place there. Pardon me for sounding a bit harsh, but I'm honestly sick and tired of seeing more and more ignorant, close-minded, and blinded western "critics" and "journalists" unfairly bashing and degrading Japanese anime, manga, and/or video games over and over again simply due to having fanservice, or in their words, "WAAAAAAAAAH! OBJECTIFICATION! WAAAAAH!", instead of actually praising or criticizing them based on their actual content and substance.

I highly suggest that everyone should keep their "western morals" or "western politics" FAR FAR AWAY from Japanese pop culture and maintain an open mind as much as possible. Only then can anyone ever enjoy Japanese media to the fullest.

Then again, as someone who was NOT born and raised in the US and never grew up with these ridiculous western "morals", I guess fanservice and sexuality is just as trivial to me as, let's say, shootout scenes in action movies or jump scares in horror movies.
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25 / M / Under fire
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Posted 11/25/13 , edited 11/25/13

TheAncientOne wrote:


zipzo wrote:

What exactly is this "western moral standard"? There's plenty of fan service in western media...just nobody gets all up in arms over it like they do for anime.

Another factor to keep in mind is that "fan service" in western media typically involves adult characters, while fan service in anime rarely doesn't involve a character that is a minor.


Very good point to make. At that point I think it definitely comes down to a cultural difference. I do know that adult/minor type situations are pretty demonized in America, not that it isn't in Japan, but to a level where it makes people uncomfortable with the idea of looking at "under aged" girls in either or real or animated setting. Do you think maybe that's a possibility? That people feel "dirty" a little bit when they see fan service?

You see I think when most people watch anime, they don't even factor in the age, because rarely in anime do "main" characters even act like minors even when they are. They generally have much wiser world views that are not characteristic of normal teenagers. All too often when any character reveals their age in an anime that isn't a high school anime, you want to think "Whaaaat?". It's just a plain and simple fact that anime characters are very rarely drawn/written to their actual age. So even when you're watching an anime where the age is obvious from context, like a high school anime, I find it common to never even think of the characters age, almost ignoring the high school context entirely.

Let's take Free! for example. Fan service anime through and through. I'm to believe these are depictions of actual high school swim club kids? Yeah right. You're going to look at these boys like they are in their 20s, the age context of the show means almost nothing to you when you watch. Millions of fan girls out there don't even bat an eye at the fact that they are goggling at a group of guys that are actually in an age range they probably wouldn't even touch (unless of course, they're high schoolers too).

It's because of this that I believe it might not actually be as big a factor as it could be.
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Posted 11/25/13
Is fan-service really fan service if it adds to the narrative or situation? I.E. Raul unzipping Fino's shirt to have the boobs busting out. Over-exaggerated, yes, fan-service? no...?
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Posted 11/25/13 , edited 11/25/13
If it's not used to objectify the character, then I'm ok with it. Fan service can be something that's part of an anime/character, but it shouldn't be something that defines it.

Also: I hate it when people say that Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop is an example of "good fan service". Faye's character was beautifully written; she's a sexy character but it's not the sexiness that defines her.
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