As this week of editorials finally coming to a close, I decided to visit an old topic that I used to argue a lot when I first started watching anime. My opinions of anime have changed since then but over all it’s still a topic I have some thoughts about. Despite the clickbait title, I’m not totally against the topic in question and this isn’t going to be turned into one of those feminist arguments of “Why isn’t there any fan service for the female audience?” because it’s been done and honestly I think that whole argument is just dumb for my own reasons that I won’t be getting into. Here we have it kids, my opinions on fan service.
Rewind about four years ago when little weeaboo me began his journey into the unknown of anime. Very quickly I received a somewhat strong personal dislike of fan service. I saw it as pointless and subtracting from the show in a list of ways that I honestly can’t recall. Fan service was just bad to me and despite it being a very early opinion, I still somewhat agree with it. Kinda. Over all, I used to believe that all fan service was bad. I thought that a good show could have been infinitely better if it had been done sans fan service. I blame shows like Kaze no Stigma and Rosario Vampire for why I was rather disinclined early into my journey, since honestly Gonzo is pretty damn near the top of my least favourite studios of all time list. Every time I witnessed fan service it was filler and it didn’t have a place in the show I was watching which, as most anime fans have figured out by now, is a rather common practice. Don’t know what to do? Fan service! Don’t know how to engage the audience? Fan service! Have an attractive female character? Fan service! Even characters like Asuna from Sword Art Online which was honestly one of the strongest female characters I’ve ever witnessed pre-Kirito was thrown under the fan service spotlight because screw having strong female characters, am I right? It doesn’t matter how dignified, strong, independent, or uncharacteristic of fan service you are, if you’re a female character you’re at risk. Why wouldn’t I be lead to think all fan service was bad?
Then along came a few shows that used the element I so despised in a way I could stand behind; the Monogatari Series and Date A Live being the two biggest of this wave of proper use. Monogatari used fan service as what it was for, a service to the fans, as well as used it as an excuse for characterisation within the main character; an explanation that would work wonderfully it for it. Even though the fan service still felt forced at moments, seeing everything through the eyes of Koyomi Araragi made it better in a way. It gave it a proper excuse and I never found myself particularly arguing against it. Maybe it’s because I got over it or because SHAFT’s animation is the visual equivalent of crack cocaine, but I like to imagine it’s because the fan service was properly used; which it is. Date A Live on the other hand was almost centralised behind a primary point which complemented fan service more than any other show. Arguably, Rosario Vampire was also built around the idea of fan service, but for some reason I disagree with that notion. Date A Live seems much more fitting with the girls getting attached to our harem leader because the plot needs them to. Rosario Vampire didn’t need every girl to get attached to the harem leader. It didn’t need to expose every character. The fan service was blind and pointless and it never seemed like it was essential to the plot.
So, generally, I’m much more okay with fan service now, I just like when it’s used with a purpose. I don’t want shows like Sword Art Online, Itsuki Tenma no Kuro Usagi, C³, or the likes, where fan service seems random and uncalled for. When fan service is sporadic and unplanned, simply dropped into a show because it can be, that doesn’t make it feel like fan service, it makes it feel like intentional detraction from the overall quality of the production. At least in shows like Mondaji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?, No Game No Life, and Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko the artistic style of the show complements the fan service. Rather than subtracting from the quality of the show, it feels more like a showcase of everything achievable in that art style and undoubtedly is more appealing than the aforementioned sporadic randomness. It feels more fitting because the presentation is different from the usual and if it has room for comedy it could have room for enjoyable fan service moments as well.
At least, this is my two cents worth. Do I feel like fan service should be done away with? No. Do I feel like it could at least be used in a way that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable (looking at you, Super Sonico)? Yes.
With that, this ends the Week of Tsuyuki. I hope you enjoyed five days straight of me going full steam ahead on releasing more posts for this blog. Since I’ve gotten a bit into the habit of writing these again, I think I’m going to try to turn this into a weekly thing unless I absolutely cannot come up with a topic for one week. With that said, check back every Friday from here on out to catch new posts for Anime Editorial! Exciting stuff, huh? And hey, if you like what I do here and want to see me yell my opinions in micro-blog form, why not come follow me on Twitter? These were a lot of fun to write, and like I said four days ago, it’s good to be back. Come back next Friday for some new stuff!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist 九十九.