Fan service comes in many forms, and it somehow manages to weasel its way into almost every anime. It’s not so bad when fan service is done tastefully, but seeing it inserted into every scene is enough to make some viewers uncomfortable.
If you’ve ever watched anime, chances are that you’ve encountered fan service. What exactly is this phenomenon and why does it cause such a stir?
What Is Fan Service?
Fan service refers to the art of giving the viewers what they want. It most often involves nudity, scantily-clad characters, and sometimes even mechs. The fan service you see really depends on what type of anime you watch.
You can find plenty of non-explicit examples of fan service in the Mobile Suit Gundam series. The camera often focuses on each mobile suit to show the audience its features and design.
However, fan service involving women usually transcends every genre. When animators start catering to male viewers, raunchy clips of panties and notorious boob animations always make their way into the show (whether it’s relevant or not).
Male characters can become victims of fan service as well. Take the swimming anime Free! for example. You’ll frequently see scenes of the all-male swimming team removing their shirts. As they flip their hair, the camera pans over their rock hard abs and defined chest muscles.
Why Fan Service Needs to Go
I don’t care if the fan service is of women, men, or robots. All I know is that this trope just really needs to end, and I’ll explain why.
1. It’s Often Used as Filler
Fan service is an animator’s way of saying: “I ran out of ideas for this episode, so here’s another scene involving a partially nude woman!” These asides often have nothing to do with the story, and just exist to buy more time. In other words, you can watch the whole series without the fillers.
You’ll find a beach episode in most anime series. What do you think these beach episodes are used for? You guessed it: to have an excuse to show bikini-clad women prancing around in the sand.
The Gurren Lagann scene above is from a filler episode full of fan service. This type of fan service is more self-aware—the male characters’ reactions are so strong that it’s actually funny.
2. It Ruins a Potentially Good Anime
Fan service has the power to kill my interest in an anime. I’ll tolerate it the first few times, but after a while I’ll start to get irritated. That’s why I tend to avoid the “Fan Service” section on Funimation like the plague.
Anime series like Rosario + Vampire and High School DxD might amazing storylines, but both are known for excessive fan service, which immediately turns me off. It’s hard to even get through the preview of either anime without cringing at blatant upskirting and close-ups of a woman’s chest.
3. It Distracts From the Actual Story
Animators like to insert fan service at all the wrong times. In an anime aimed towards men, you’ll notice that female characters in an epic battle don’t wear full suits of armor—they wear bikinis. I’m not sure how this is beneficial during a fight (aerodynamics, maybe?), but you’ll see this trend running rampant in several anime.
Despite the fact that Lucy from Fairy Tail is one of the strongest women in anime, she’s still the show’s main target for fan service. I just want to see the actual action during a fight without the distractions of absurd outfits that make the whole scene look ridiculous.
4. It Reduces a Character’s Personality to Their Body
If you look closely enough, you’ll notice that fan service serves as a cover for a lack of character depth. Instead of fleshing out a character by exploring all of their quirks, flaws, and strengths, a fan service-focused anime makes a character’s appearance their most important feature.
Take Bulma from the Dragon Ball series for example. She is literally a genius, but her body is constantly exploited for amusement. Master Roshi (a.k.a. the most perverted old man in anime history) constantly harasses Bulma and comments on her appearance. Bulma’s intelligence goes ignored throughout the series.
I’m Just Not a Fan of Fan Service
Fan service, in small doses, is somewhat acceptable—however, that kind of anime is hard to find. Every anime I click on has some character with outrageous proportions, making it a real cringe-worthy watch.
Unfortunately, fan service will remain one of anime’s most popular trope for a long time. This list of the most-anticipated anime coming out this summer will probably contain some shows with fan service, but they still might be worth checking out.