How Do You Feel About Anime Fan Service?

Izetta
Izetta

When it comes to fan service, we all draw our lines differently. Where are yours? We want to hear from you. Do you seek it out? Avoid it?

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It’s almost impossible to wrap hard moral rules around anime consumption. And we all have our own ways of dealing with it.

Bakemonogatari is one of my favorite anime, but in it, an 11-year-old girl is regularly subject to harassment. Despite sirens going off in my head, I keep watching. It’s just such a well-crafted show—from its architecture to its wit.

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But you couldn’t get me to watch Monstser Musume or Keijo!!!!! if you paid me in double dark chocolate cake. That’s because, in their entirety, they feel crafted to turn on straight dudes, of which I am not one. Admittedly, it makes me mad that women’s body parts are plot devices. Commenters on Kotaku have disagreed, arguing that there’s no issue with marketing female sexuality to an audience who wants it.

What do you think? What’s your line, if you have one at all? Tell me in the comments.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

Pikachu-Mariachi
Pikachu-Mariachi

On a news post about Onechanbara, an ecchi game about bikini-clad zombie hunters, I came upon a simple post raising a good question. The poster, whom we’ll refer to as Steve (because I can’t find the old post to tell you who he was), wrote the following: “Honest question. It seems like every time there’s anything remotely sexualized in media, feminists raise hell. How come no one’s come after this game series then?”

The man raised a point, who decides what’s offensive and what can fly? We could add another related concern: when criticizing sexualized characters, aren’t we going against trying to promote a more sex-positive environment in general? This really got me thinking, and I’d like to share my reply below.

“All right, Steve. Here’s an honest reply.

Now, to a casual observer it may seem that every time something is sexual or sexualized, feminists will jump to attack it. Like, for example; if you see that in an RPG all of the main female character’s armor barely covers the character model’s skin. In this scenario you will probably encounter many a feminist opinion stating that this is an issue of sexism, but not because skin or sex were featured in the game, but rather because it’s the only option or the default option for a female character, thus implying that the defining feature of a female character is her sexuality and her ability to sexually arouse men. Whereas if you were looking at the same RPG character drawn in a sexy way on DeviantArt or one of many erotica forums on the internet, you would not see the same comments denouncing sexism because the intended purpose of that drawing IS to sexually arouse and it’s not framed in a larger piece in which men are “normal” human beings and women are sexual objects.

What I mean to say is, a feminist does not advocate banning or eradicating the existence of pieces like Dead or Alive or Onechambara, rather we regret that the hypersexualized portrayal of women is the norm even in pieces in which it is out of place.

A very geeky illustrative example is Highschool of The Dead vs Code Geass: In Highschool of The Dead, fanservice is at the front and there is no pretense at a serious portrayal of the characters in it, therefore one can’t really complain that there is sexual fanservice in it; whereas in Code Geass, there is a serious story being told and then it pulls you out of it when it shoves the attractive sexual features of characters you are supposed to empathize with, in Code Geass I would consider the fanservice out of place and deserving of reproach.

Feminism is not disdain for all things male or sexual, it’s mostly just pointing out the many instances in which the situation is uneven. Heck, I’m a dude and I probably clicked on this article in the first place because I wanted to see some virtual tah-tahs, but I wish I didn’t see them in every game.”

So I guess what I tried to get across then was that, being against the objectification of women (and men in some cases) should not mean that you are also opposed to the distribution of content specifically generated to titillate and arouse. The REAL problem is when it crosses over, when it interferes with characterization and tone and ends up dehumanizing charachters and the audience.