What Is Fanservice And What Is Reality?

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I don’t hide the fact that I watch a ton of anime that people file under the subjects of ‘ecchi’ and ‘harem’, why would I? As I’ve said time and time again, I don’t feel like watching any of these shows does any harm to anyone who is able to distinguish the differences between fantasy and reality. If there are truly people out there who watch this content and bring those views into real-life, there’s already something askew with this person. Don’t look into the fictional content they consume, take a look into their childhood, their history.

But aside from the usual feminist and SJW bullshit thrown in the direction of content like this, there’s one specific term that I want to talk about and define it in the way I truly believe it should be defined, rather than how I perceive it to be viewed as in this present day.

That term of course for those familiar with anime, is fanservice.

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from Bakemonogatari

This is the definition of the term fanservice on Urban Dictionary:

“In general, fan service refers to scenes designed to excite or titillate the viewer. This can include scantily-clad outfits, cleavage shots, panty shots, nude scenes (shower scenes especially), etc. Some broader definitions also include things like cool mecha, big explosions, battle scenes, etc. Basically, if it has little plot-redeaming value, but makes the viewer sit up and take notice, it’s probably fan service in one form or another.”

Now the definition here extends to beyond sexual content, but that’s going to be where my focus lies, since no one really gets offended by mechs, explosions, battle scenes and more. I could also argue that people shouldn’t be getting offended by sexual content, but I’ve said my piece about this over and over again and that’s not the aim of this post, so let’s move on from that.

So essentially, the definition of fanservice is extended towards anything that is considered sexually enticing, exciting or titillating for the viewers, regardless of gender and sexuality. So this means things ranging from shower scenes and undressing/dressing scenes all the way to extremes like the various girls in a harem grabbing each others’ boobs and the classic girl falls on a guy so perfectly that her panty-covered butt is mere inches from his face. Now why am I setting one side of the spectrum the extremes like boob grabbing and the other side being showering and getting dressed?

This is where my own personal definition of fanservice comes into play. While I understand that the intention of a lot of these scenes is simply to elicit a reaction from the audience, my personal view of what is fanservice is just a little different. So here’s my version of the definition of fanservice, specifically for anime:

Fanservice in anime refers to scenes where the actions on screen cannot be perceived as natural or realistic to what could conceivably happen in real life. For example, in terms of scenes labeled as ‘ecchi’, a shower scene does not qualify as fanservice because it’s something that is a normal, everyday action in life. However, something like a girl falling on top of a male character in a compromising position such as her butt directly in front of the male’s face (especially when wearing a skirt) would be considered fanservice as it’s an extremely unlikely event that for the average person would not happen once in their entire lives, let alone every day. 

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from Keijo!!!!!!!!

A moment like the one pictured above from Keijo!!!!!!!!, where a “Vacuum Butt Cannon” strike from Nozomi causes the swimsuits of Sayaka, Non and Kazane to rip right off of them and rendering them topless, that’s fanservice, without a shadow of a doubt. Under no circumstances could a single girl’s butt be so powerful that she could create a gust of a wind so hard that it could rip the swimsuits off of other girls. Maybe if they were made of paper, but fabric don’t rip that easily!

And that’s where my definition lies with fanservice. Again, I’m not denying that a lot of scenes in anime that people consider to be fanservice, they are designed to elicit a sexual reaction from the viewer. What I want to do however, is separate the scenes that I think are plausible and realistic and separate them from the fanservice term, because I think there are moments in anime that yes they can be considered sexual, but they’re normal things that we all do in real life, there just happens to be a camera on it.

So just for some clarity, here’s three cases from the last two seasons that I consider fanservice:

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Here’s a scene from New Game! where initially I would not have considered this fanservice. In the very beginning, it’s just Kou expresses her desire of not wanting to wear pants when she’s alone and expresses this to Rin. The following morning, thinking she has some time before people show up at the office where the two stayed overnight, she does the same. But when Aoba shows up early, instead of doing the smart thing and hiding in her sleeping bag, she tries to shut up Kou and this is how they’re found. They’re both pantsless and they look almost like they were making out. It’s an unlikely situation, not because two girls making out is abnormal, but at work and in this state of attire, it is abnormal, thus I consider this scene fanservice.

01

In this scene from Hundred, Claire after getting her battle suit all dirty during a fight, she decides to wash herself off in a lake nearby. Now normally, this wouldn’t be so abnormal, but there are factors that make this extremely abnormal. One, this is in the middle of a battle going on where friends and colleagues of hers are still fighting. Second, her battle attire got dirty, as far as we know that dirt didn’t get onto her skin. Third and most important, HAYATO IS THERE WITH HER WHEN SHE STRIPS NAKED AND TAKES A SKINNY DIP IN THE LAKE. For those unfamiliar with the show, at this time while there are hints that she’s attracted to him, she’s still very combative with him. Thus, another fanservice moment.

01Lastly, here’s a moment from the second season of Food Wars: Shokugeki no Souma. In this scene, two of the judges during the Autumnal Elections tournament are subjected to one of the major gimmicks of the show, the food is so good it’s literally orgasmic. In this picture, I don’t think the outfits, while ridiculous and unlikely to ever be worn, they’re not fanservice-worthy, because it could just be a Monster Musume cosplay. However, because the scene revolves around these girls moaning and groaning like they’re having an all-night sexcapade by just eating a well-prepared food dish, this scene is extremely unlikely because the average girl doesn’t eat something and sound like she’s climaxing. Thus, it’s fanservice.

from Nisekoi

from Nisekoi

It’s a slippery slope and a tough one to nail down, but I truly think we need to be a little more specific as to what makes a scene fanservice. It honestly has nothing to do with the definition itself, the definition Urban Dictionary gives makes perfect sense as to what it actually is, the problem is that the term is now being used as a word feminists and SJWs alike can pull out of their back pocket to win an argument (at least in their opinion) whenever they’re losing on a logical standpoint. So regardless of what I said earlier where I gave a slightly different definition of anime-specific fanservice when it comes to sexual content, what I really want to do is separate the kinds of content that I think should be labelled with the term now, since it’s abused by feminists and SJWs in the present day.

Anything that we can conceivably believe could happen in real life, that in my opinion shouldn’t be labelled with the fanservice moniker that is used as a source of offense to various people who have become too easily offended. I don’t know what kind of word to use as a new label though, the term ‘ecchi‘ also refers to not just nudity and panty shots, but perverted situations as well, so that’s not an option. So here’s an idea, let’s just not call it anything but ‘real‘, because that’s what the content I’m fighting for in the article is.

from Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

from Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

Here’s a great example of the difference between what I’d consider fanservice and what I’d consider to be real. Here’s a scene from Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation. At the beginning of this scene, lead character Itsuki is just taking a bath in a hot spring, a classic scene in anime, except for once, we’re getting some boy butt instead of the usual 5+ girls comparing breast sizes. At the beginning of this scene, under no circumstance would I consider this to be fanservice and since this is a boy naked in a hot spring, I actually wonder if a feminist would consider this as such as well. Why isn’t this fanservice? Because this is normal, you usually get naked when you are in a hot spring, just like you’re usually naked if you’re taking a bath or a shower.

However, it’s when Aika suddenly appears in the same hot spring as Itsuki that the context of this scene changes. Now if this was the only hot spring and there wasn’t a set schedule for when the men/women use the facility, this would not be fanservice, because in that case you would have to expect there to be moments where both an attractive male and female could be together in the hot spring. However in this scene there are two separate hot springs, one for men, one for women. There is an expectation that males and females obey that and not mix together in either of the baths. By Aika disregarding this, by also being naked with Itsuki in the hot spring, the scene has transitioned into a fanservice scene, because this moment is no longer plausible. In my opinion, I almost feel like this scene was designed as if the creators wanted to be fair and have both naked male and female characters, but felt like having a scene where just having a single boy naked in the hot spring would be “too much” for their straight male viewers and opted to solve that problem by adding a sexy naked Aika into the mix to even things out. But that’s a conversation for another time.

from Izetta, The Last Witch

from Izetta, The Last Witch

So what should make a scene separate from the feminist version of the fanservice moniker? Like I said before, anything that could be considered a normal everyday action should not be looked at on the same level as scenes like Highschool of the Dead where the girls grope each other while bathing together, because how often in life do multiple girls not only share the same bath at the same time, but also decide to take the time to fondle each other? It really bothers me that a moment like a girl taking a shower or a girl undressing is considered as offensive and as sexual as a scene where girls are touching each other in a sexual manner. The last time I checked, a normal solo shower is not as sexual as two girls grabbing each other’s breasts and sliding their hands in between their legs.

So like I did before with what should be considered fanservice, here’s three pictures that while look like fanservice moments, they shouldn’t be considered as such:

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Here’s a scene from Brave Witches where sisters Hikari (left) and Takami (right) are bathing together. Now granted, at their current ages (14 and 17), it’s not as likely that the two would be bathing together as they would be if they were younger than 10, but because the two are sisters, it’s not out of the question that they could still share a bath together, whether it’s at home, a bathhouse, hot spring, etc. Also, during this scene, at no point are they grabbing each other’s breasts, they’re not comparing their sizes, there’s nothing of a sexual manner going on. In fact, while the picture looks like Hikari is fixated on her older sister’s chest, it’s actually because of the scar underneath that she suffered in battle. This is plausible and normal, so it’s not fanservice.

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In this scene from Dagashi Kashi, Hotaru being Hotaru falls into a rice field and gets beyond muddy. When found by Saya, she brings Hotaru to her house so she can shower off while her clothes are washed. Upon exiting the shower, Saya’s brother Tou walks in on Hotaru while she’s still naked drying off. While Hotaru and possibly Saya are stupid for not locking the bathroom door and while Tou is a fucking moron for walking towards the bathroom and going on when if I remember correctly he could hear the shower running while he was walking down the hall, this scene still isn’t fanservice, no matter how ridiculous the situation was. Why? Because all that happened was Hotaru taking a shower, which is perfectly normal. The latter part of the scene was simply a matter of circumstance.

01

This is a tough one to judge, but I think this isn’t fanservice. This episode from Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist pits the main cast in a building after being kidnapped and left in their underwear (minus Raiki, who underneath is wearing women’s underwear, cause the show is insane) upon waking up. Granted, there’s a lot of half-naked girls in this episode and girls like Kosuri (pink hair) and Otome (tiny black-haired girl) are wearing some pretty unique and skimpy underwear, but as far as I see it this isn’t actually fanservice, despite the show being large in part a show that revolves around sexuality and a lot of panties. Why? Because these girls are allowed to wear whatever they want and the fact they’re standing before us half-naked isn’t of their own volition, rather it’s been forced upon them. While yes, this isn’t a normal situation under any circumstances, this also isn’t a situation under their control like say a scene where you have several girls together undressing around each other and comparing breast sizes by staring and grabbing.

from Demon King Daimao

from Demon King Daimao

I think the key thing I want to stress out in this article is that I firmly believe that while yes, shows that are synonymous with being ecchi and fanservice contain a lot of scenes with girls changing, showering, bathing, walking around naked or in their underwear and all that jazz, I don’t think that scenes like these should be painted with the same brush as scenes where far more sexual actions are taking place. I don’t think that a scene of a girl showering should be on the same level as a scene where a girl walks in on a guy bathing and starts washing his back with her breasts, I don’t think a scene where a girl is undressing or getting dressed alone should be on the same level as a scene where a girl starts stripping in front of a guy or girl and starts to climb on top of him/her, trying to bed the person they’re on top of.

We need to start taking a different look at scenes like the one pictured above. The scene in question is from Demon King Daimao where Fujiko is undressing in a school changeroom. While again, yes this scene is designed to grab the attention of those watching who have an attraction to the female body, but when you really sit down and think about it, is a girl undressing in a changeroom really a sexual-related occurrence. If not for the camera being there, this is just a normal thing that happens every single day. Girls go to school. Girls have gym class. Girls don’t go to school in their gym clothes, so they have to change from their normal clothes into their gym clothes. That’s something that happens every day, why is this offensive and overly sexual? The same goes for shower, bath and hot spring scenes, what’s so offensive about that? The majority of us shower and bathe naked, that’s just something that happens. The only real difference between real life and what happens here in anime is that there’s a camera handy to record these moments so that we can watch them.

from World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman

from World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman

The one thing I will concede to a little bit has to do with when the camera closes in on certain body parts, specifically breasts, butts and in some shows, a panty-covered vagina. In some shows this does happen to men as well, a focus on the butt and sometimes the bulge in their pants or underwear, but obviously this is more of an “issue” with it being used on female characters. Again, this is where I will make a slight concession to the fanservice moniker, however this still happens during scenes that I would consider a normal occurrence. Thus, when moments like this happen, I personally refer to them as “camera-based fanservice”, moments that normally I wouldn’t consider fanservice, but because the camera moves and/or zooms in on a specific part of the human body to emphasize how sexy the character in question is.

Camera-based fanservice is usually most specific to girls’ breasts, as there’s a common emphasis on cleavage and bouncing breasts when they’re larger than a B-cup. If a girl is leaning forward just enough, the camera zooms in to their cleavage, as if we’re the male protagonist taking a peek. Sometimes as well, the camera will just focus on the breasts when they’re real big, so we can be mesmerized as they jiggle. Other times the camera will focus on the butt, usually in upskirt shots and perfect views of a girl’s ass when she bends over or is adjusting her panties, just so we can get a great idea of the exact shape of that very butt. In a really rare case (usually only done in 18+ rated shows), the camera will decide to skip out on the two easy shots and go to the front of a girl’s panties, just so you can get the perfect view of the area where your fingers or if you have one, your dick will not ever enter into. But generally speaking the usage of camera-based fanservice is based solely on the boobs or the butt.

from And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?

from And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online?

As far as I’m concerned, while I personally think all fanservice should be acceptable, because the idea that sexual content in non-hentai anime is offensive is absolutely ridiculous to me (granted there are cases against that *cough cough* Sword Art Online…), I think that out of anything I attach the fanservice moniker to, camera-based fanservice is the most acceptable, because the majority of the time it happens, it’s to scenes that are normally a realistic, plausible occurrence. What camera-based fanservice does is really the same thing that we all do with pictures we download online and zoom into with MS Paint or Adobe Photoshop. The scene isn’t harmful or offensive, it’s just someone behind the camera zooming in on that shot and focusing only on a specific body part than the actual normal scene going on.

So in summary, what do I consider fanservice, at least in a sexual sense? Anything that happens in the show that is beyond a normal everyday action we all take in life. Something like a shower scene, changing clothes and choosing to walk around without pants on, those are extremely normal, or in the case of the latter option, something plausible that could happen in real life. Something however like girls changing at school and starting a grope session, or a girl rubbing her bare breasts on a guy who she isn’t in a relationship with in the bath, those are situations that are abnormal, things that you don’t normally see every day. Those to me are considered fanservice. You can make the argument that panty shots and cleavage shots are fanservice, but I still think there’s some realism to them, it’s really just a realistic scene with someone zooming in on the specific body part they want to drool over.

from The Asterisk War

from The Asterisk War

We also need to keep in mind that there are scenes that blur the lines as well. The most common ones are when one or more characters are caught in a compromising position, whether they’re getting dressed, undressing, only in their underwear, only wearing a towel, or even naked. In a sense, the scene is fanservice because it’s an unlikely event, I can count on one hand how many times I saw someone of the opposite sex naked or in their underwear by accident and I can count on zero hands how many times that happened after I hit puberty and reached my teens, y’know the age of those who this happens to in anime. However, we also have to keep in mind that in reality, a girl undressing isn’t abnormal, so the character being half-naked isn’t what is fanservice, it’s the unlikely action of another character walking in on that character that makes it fanservice.

So to summarize that in the simplest terms, a girl in her underwear isn’t fanservice, the male character walking in on her and making her embarrassed is fanservice. Because a girl in her underwear is a normal thing, the reaction of her covering up her body with her face bright red, that isn’t normal.

from Black Lagoon

from Black Lagoon

I understand that there are some people who aren’t comfortable watching shows where girls are parading around in their underwear or they’re naked in a bathtub, shower, hot spring, whatever they’re looking sexy as all hell in. There is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable with sexual content, under no circumstance will I ever say that it’s wrong to feel uncomfortable watching any form of entertainment media where a man or a woman are naked. However, to say the content itself is offensive, insensitive and wrong, that is absolutely wrong of all counts. We need to stop getting in a tizzy about content that contains images of naked women, because apparently naked men is okay, you never hear feminists and SJWs getting upset about that! Especially when we seem to have almost no problem with content where innocent lives are murdered in the most grotesque ways possible. Can we get on the correct path and agree the act that causes death is maybe a little more offensive than the act that turns someone on?

The key term that people throw at anime that they have a problem with sexual content in is fanservice. As in “This disgusting anime is nothing but fanservice!” or “The story is good, but the anime suffers from too much fanservice.”. The idea that someone could possibly think that a half-naked girl causes a show’s story to “suffer” is pathetic to me, clearly you don’t actually like the show that much, because if a butt is enough to make you stop watching it, it must not have grabbed you all that well. I hate excessive gore in anime, yet shows like Hellsing, Highschool of the Dead, the new anime Drifters and especially Gakkou Gurashi!, a show where I potentially could’ve watched tiny schoolgirls die horrible deaths to zombies, yet I don’t have a problem watching them even with all the gore, because it’s that good to me. I cannot stand depressing anime, yet shows like Anohana, Your Lie in April and Charlotte were so good, I could look past that.

If you can’t look past an anime because of a butt or a pair of breasts, that’s just sad to me. If a show is as good as you say it is, a little sexual content shouldn’t be enough to tarnish the fantastic storyline and diverse cast of well thought out characters that the anime contains. But instead, you likely fabricate your opinions that the anime was really good, but the fanservice ruined it in order to hide the fact that you didn’t watch it with an open mind and you have a serious lack of comfort with either the human body or maybe just your own. I don’t pretend to be a psychiatrist, but is you’re bothered by a fictional character being naked, there’s something going on in your head that might need someone to help you out with.

from Monster Musume

from Monster Musume no Iro Nichijou

One of the greatest examples I can ever pull out of being a show that I could look past something I hated about it is Monster Musume no Iro Nichijou. From the very beginning when I saw this anime on the list of the Summer 2015 anime shows to be simulcasted, I looked at it as a show I was going to drop right from the very start. I assumed after the first minute of the show I’d want to drop it. Why? Because the concept of monster girls really doesn’t tickle my fancy, as still doesn’t even after watching the entire season of the show. The sight of Rachnera, a girl whose top half is human (mostly) but the bottom half is all spider, I was like “Fuck that!” upon the idea that I was going to enjoy a show with a character like that not only existing but being displayed in a show littered with fanservice, the kind I consider to be fanservice. Even worse, she’s a bondage lover, another thing that I am beyond against and do not enjoy watching. Then you have a lamia, a slime girl, a centaur, and many other monster girls, there should’ve been absolutely no way I was going to like this show.

And yet despite all the things I was against, when the show started and I watched the first episode…I loved it. Despite the majority of the cast being monster girls, despite there being a spider girl with a penchant for bondage, a slime girl who caused other girls to orgasm and a lamia with one of the most annoying voices I’ve ever had to listen to in an anime, I still enjoyed the hell out of the show and kept looking forward to the next episode. That’s how entertaining it was, despite all the things I was uncomfortable with, the humour was spot-on, the characters were all very unique (not counting their looks) and interesting and the absurdity of the show kept ramping up to the point I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off. There was stuff even by the end of the show’s season that I still hated, the image of Rachnera still doesn’t sit well in my brain, the voice of Miia will haunt me forever, but the anime itself was so good, it surpassed the things I hated about it. It didn’t matter how much I hated something, the anime trumped that hatred.

from Highschool DxD

from Highschool DxD

If simple fanservice turns you off of a show, just admit the show wasn’t that good. I can do that with shows like Highschool DxD, Queen’s Blade and Masou Gakuen HxH. It’s not specifically because of the sheer amount of fanservice that those shows do offer, rather the quality of the show beyond the fanservice wasn’t that good. When I think a show isn’t that good, I give legitimate reasons why, whether it’s things like the story doesn’t make sense, the characters are unlikable, the animation quality bothers me, or maybe I just don’t like the concept. I don’t enjoy magical girl anime and I don’t hide that, I don’t make excuses about it, I bluntly say it.

Just say to your viewers and those who come across your post, video, tweet, whatever it may be, just say you don’t like fanservice anime. Don’t say it’s disgusting, offensive, insensitive or whatever insults you throw at it, because it’s not those things, come up with a legitimate reason. Maybe you prefer more clean anime, maybe you prefer shows that are more story-based than comedy based, like most fanservice anime are. Or here’s a novel idea, just say you’re not attracted to women, so the majority of fanservice anime doesn’t suit you, because it depicts mostly sexual content with female characters and not male characters. I have no problem with you not enjoying extreme fanservice shows like To Love-Ru, Chu-Bra and Keijo!!!!!!!!, I have no problem with you not enjoying harem anime like Infinite Stratos, Rosario + Vampire and Date A Live, but what I have a problem with is you talking about it like it’s offensive, like it harms societal and cultural values and I have a problem with you saying that fanservice is disgusting and does not belong in media. That’s not your decision to make, you are not the arbiter of all things anime, everything is allowed to exist. I don’t like anime with rape in it, but Sword Art Online exists! I don’t like it, but I don’t think it shouldn’t exist.

I’ve said it a million times but if you want something to dwindle, if you want something to go away, don’t acknowledge it. By talking about fanservice anime, you inadvertently advertise it to your own audience. Someone who follows you will inevitably take a look at it and probably enjoy it, that’s one more viewer for that show and that kind of content. Even if they don’t watch it, they might talk about it too, which in turn exposes the show to even more people. If you think Keijo!!!!!!!! is truly disgusting and shouldn’t be a thing, don’t say a word about it. The chances of it disappearing increase exponentially if less people are talking about it.

01

from Infinite Stratos

Fanservice is not a bad thing, nor should it be considered a slight against an anime. But because it is, I think we need to make an adjustment to what the term truly means. Fanservice should not describe something that we also do in our daily lives, just because a camera happens to catch Haruko from Maken-Ki! showering the same way we all shower, that shouldn’t be considered as dirty as a scene like in Freezing where Satellizer is being sexually assaulted by Cleo and Ingrid while Arnett watches on. They are not remotely the same, thus they shouldn’t be painted with the same brush. A girl showering is normal, a girl being sexually assaulted by two other girls is not, let’s not act like they are one in the same.

It shouldn’t be a dirty word to anime fans to begin with, but since it is, we need to make that distinction between what is truly designed to be nothing more than fanservice and what isn’t. Because I think it’s time that we stopped acting immature and getting all offended over a girl drying her hair and she’s just wearing panties.

We’re supposed to be grown adults, how about we start acting like one?

One comment

  1. “Under no circumstances could a single girl’s butt be so powerful that she could create a gust of a wind so hard that it could rip the swimsuits off of other girls” common sentances you hear in anime analytical works.

    Great work on this interesting post, even though i wander why we need so many explainations of what fanservice is and so many times hear about your feelings of a show before watching it?

    Like

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