Fan Service

Owen S made this point as part of the comments of his Spring 2008 Impression posts:

A lot of the fanservice debate has to do with how it’s presented contextually, i.e. authorial intent, which means that a lot of these naysayers commit the intentional fallacy on a regular basis. The blatant hypocrisy on the part of fans to accept TTGL’s fanservice but not, say, Kanokon’s, is due to how TTGL serves the fanservice for dessert, while Kanokon uses it as the main course. No one ever objected to TTGL on grounds of Yoko’s cleavage, so why is the same for any other anime valid? Double standards. I don’t think anyone ever found fanservice to be disagreeable per se, so the ethical argument is out.

The problem with this is that he just dismisses as a non-issue the very reason why I think people dislike series like Kanokon while they put up with fan service in series where it’s more of a side and that is the fact that people put up with it in those other shows because it’s a side and not the main dish, as Owen put it. Basically the “contextuality” he was talking about. However, I don’t think that this creates a fallacy as Owen claims.

I’m not sure what he would say about my comments in my review of the first episode of Maid Guy when I say that I hope that it is merely an ecchi comedy instead of a “fan service fest” as Owen appears to essentially conflating the two together as if all fan service is created equal (or at least, saying that more fanservice is A-OK since the “context” is that the show is supposed to have more fan service to begin with).

My point on that matter however is exactly the point that Owen appears to be dismissing: I don’t mind shows which are a comedy first and happen to have fan service to enhance that comedy. I don’t like shows which in which fan service is front-and-center. In other words, yes, it does matter whether fan service is a “side” or the “main dish.”

In that sense, I’m not necessarily committing a fallacy because I basically have a gut rejection of all so-called fan service shows to begin with, i.e. my rejection of Kanokon is completely based on it’s context. This is why I have no interest in ToLove-Ru or Rosario to Vampire and why I despise Girls Bravo. However, my reaction to Kanokon is that much stronger than most other fan service shows because of the excessive level of the fan service it contains.

If someone is one who doesn’t mind and/or likes shows whose purpose is to get otaku fapping for a half hour straight, then no, I don’t know of anything that necessarily makes Kanokon a bad show within that context alone. I’m just one who doesn’t like such shows (and I’m actually quite opinionated on the topic, even if I don’t write about it much).

Now, I can’t talk to the point of Gurren Lagann directly, as I haven’t seen it, though images of Yoko practically falling out of her bikini everywhere haven’t given me a great incentive to go see it in fear of it being a fan service fest itself. The fact that it’s made by GAINAX doesn’t help either, though that’s besides the point here.

Owen is right at least in the sense that I don’t have an ethical objection to fan service per se in which I see it as universally bad, but I also see it as one of those things where you can have too much of it (basically a rehash of the “side” vs “main dish” deal), and hopefully what you get is at least an attempt to do it tastefully.

If I had to boil all of this down to it’s simplest form, it would probably be this: having fan service as part of a joke in a comedy or to otherwise add comedy to a series seems fine to me (as long as it doesn’t go overboard). Having fan service for the sake of having fan service is not.

It’s kind of like watching a good movie which has a nude scene in it, then watching a DVD of Girls Gone Wild, and then saying that it’s all the same because Girls Gone Wild is supposed to be that way. That is some logic that I don’t really understand, and reeks of a way rationalizing watching a series which serves no purpose other than helping to get “healthy young boys” going.