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.


7 thoughts on “Fan Service

  1. I actually wonder about why people feel so strongly about this issue though, like why you think shows like there are for the fap factor and nothing more.

    For me, I think that having fanservice just because it’s fanservice is fun, as long as shows are being honest with it. Is there “better” stuff out there that the money for Kanokon could be spent on? Sure. And if I don’t care to watch Kanokon, I could easily watch other stuff without worrying about what it has to offer, since I’m not buying it. As I said at the start, what I don’t understand is the bashing by people who aren’t going to watch it, or other shows of that nature. You can just leave them alone, right?

  2. I’ll hit two points here:

    1) If people like “fan-service-for-the-sake-of-fan-service” shows, then I guess that’s their prerogative, just like some people don’t like shows based off of visual novels while others do.

    Personally, I don’t like them, and I think Owen is wrong to seem to suggest that we have no reason to dislike them if we still watch other anime that may include fan service.

    That’s my first, more diplomatic answer.

    2) Getting deeper into the argument about fan service and less diplomatic about it…

    From my point of view, anyway, anime has a significant image problem in that people think of it as kid shows or as hentai, and little in between, and I think that acts as a barrier both for people to start watching it and for those people who do watch it to do it in any way other than doing so in the closet, so to speak.

    Shows like Kanokon, to me, just perpetuate this problem since all the show is an excuse to flash boobs and panties on the screen over and over again. I’m not trying to exaggerate when I made the analogy to Girls Gone Wild because I actually see them as essentially serving the same function.

    And it’s doing all this while providing basically 0 in added value to the medium of anime in general. All you pretty get is a bunch of fapping otakus (and I question anyone who doesn’t believe that this is the purpose of creating shows like Kanokon. Perhaps some people watch it for other reasons, but that is the primary one), all the while getting another example for people to point at to show how out of the mainstream anime is. I essentially see no reason or value to shows like this in any way.

    I’ll let this comment go without delving into my own person ethical and moral views on the topic, since they’re not necessarily relevant to the discussion.

    Maybe I’m in the minority for thinking things like that. Just reading blogs I seem to think so since nearly every blog I’ve read on the series seem to think that the show’s great. Maybe I’m just not hitting the right ones.

  3. If you want a deep and involving, read a book. Moe girls and fanservice is the POINT of anime as a medium, it’s the thing that makes it UNIQUE as a medium.

  4. I will join you in the minority then. I personally feel that fanservice is required in all types of shows to attract the viewers. However, it is the usage and the centralization of fanservice that makes or breaks a show for me. In terms of shows such as Kanokon, the aim is to simply have fanservice before story. TTGL (which btw i hate due to the amount of fanservice) did not bring the focus on the boobs but more of the story. It’s the subtle shift in terms of whether fanservice is the central theme.

    @Anoy: To me, anime is simply expanding the boundaries of reality since animation can create a reality that is different from real life. This is something that is restricted by the use of real people in terms of human-based drama.

    Hence, I do not see moe girls and fanservice as the unique point. It is more of the exploration of things that cannot be realized in real life restrictions that makes animation unique.

    This means that anime can be used for moe stuff, but it’s also possible to use it to explore deviant and less mainstream themes that will be more disturbing in a real life scenario (how many fricking non-blood related sister moeness do we have already?). Bring one to a real life drama series, and shit goes up the roof.

  5. “If you want a deep and involving, read a book. Moe girls and fanservice is the POINT of anime as a medium, it’s the thing that makes it UNIQUE as a medium.”

    My anime collection would say differently. Sure, anime has more “moe” and fan service than other mediums. But is it the “point” of the medium? No. Nor is it unique to anime, as complaints about sexuality in TVs and movies can attest to.

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  7. Anonymous, not all books are deep or involving. And moe girls as well as fanservice are not necessarily the point of anime as a medium. What makes it unique is animation admixed with the existence of plot, with Japanese sensibilities.

    Should I invoke ‘successful troll is successful,’ Josh?

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