Fanservice and Differing Opinions

I will go ahead and state that this is a rant piece so I apologize in advance.  While everything I write for this blog is from my own perspective, this is going to be a very opinionated article about my personal feelings on this subject.  However, I wanted to share this as I thought it might be an interesting read and it was also incredibly cathartic to me to get this out of my head and onto metaphorical paper.

Recently I noticed someone say on Twitter something that caught my interest.

GrossAndIncorrect

This thread went on for some time, everyone in agreement, and eventually led to:GrossAndIncorrect1

The first thing that struck me about this is that fanservice is not a genre of anime, or a genre at all for the matter.  It’s a method of direction and writing to entice people. It’s using tried and true methods to appeal to what the audience likes in order to keep them invested or liking the show.  Usually, this is adding sexualization into the show but this isn’t the only way to use fanservice, as just as easily, the creators could suddenly bring a fan favorite character seemingly back to life for a shocking twist.

However, these ideas can be done in any show, fantasy, sci-fi, slice-of-life, etc. Regardless of genre, anything can have fanservice in it. A Certain Scientific Railgun has multiple bathing/bathing suit scenes but they’re far and few between and I certainly wouldn’t classify it as a “fanservice show”.  It’s way more focused on cute girls doing awesome psychic action things. Kobayashi-san has several bits involving sexual humor and Quetzalcoatl is almost a literal running boob joke.  However, I’d never call Kobayashi-san just a “fanservice” show.  It has fanservice, sure, but it’s a slice-of-life comedy about a gay couple and dragons, blending comedy and sincere moments to hit on deeper ideas about love, relationships, and family.  The fanservice is just an element of the show.

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Violet Evergarden 9+10 – Loss and Learning to Heal

Episode nine was what this whole series up to this point has been building to and honestly, had they wanted to make a shorter series, they could have cut it right here and have had in my opinion one of the best endings of the season, possibly of the past few years.  For all of those who may have dropped the show because of the pacing, I ask to please reconsider as episodes 7-9 were exactly what you were waiting for, but they wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without the rest of it. The slow burn up to this point and the character and world-building are what enabled this midseason segment to work so well.  To those that were on the fence or those that had written this show off earlier I personally will vouch that this is the proof that it all does pay off and does so beautifully. Because of this, I’ll be interested in seeing what they do in order to continue this onward and what they plan to do for the actual ending, given how final and amazing episode nine was.

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The Art of Peace in War: Emergent friendship in player versus player games

In just a few weeks, Sea of Thieves releases, a zany and fun pirate game filled with magic, mystery, and majestic ocean views.  The world of Sea of Thieves is a dangerous place with no safe zones for players (full pvp) and tons of incentives to attack other crews with your best buds.  Excitement and action abound!  However, one of my favorite things about this game that has me so excited outside of the amazing ship battles, interesting treasure riddles to solve, beautiful rendering of the ocean waves, and amazing weather simulations… are the musical instruments.

From the start, each player is given in their inventory an accordion and an odd stringed instrument called a hurdy gurdy.  Rare, the developer, is no stranger to fun within games and these instruments are very cleverly implemented.  If someone starts to play a song, anyone can join in, with the game syncing up the playing so that it sounds like anyone else just jumped into the tune, automatically assigning melody, harmony, and bass parts to other players.  Because of this, there’s this sensation of unity and fun as a crew performs together using items that would otherwise be a simple addition to the game and wouldn’t really have another purpose.

But it’s the fact the game designers put music that the players can play together into the game that I find so fascinating and important.  In a world filled with cannonballs and cutlasses, Rare dropped an element into the game that has no aggressive action to it (besides maybe playing Flight of the Valkyries as people charge into battle).  In fact, as the saying of soothing a savage beast would indicate, this element of gameplay is really an antithesis of what most games are about.

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Violet Evergarden 3+4 – Learning Empathy

Episodes one and two were a great introduction to this series and definitely laid the groundwork for what is to come. However, this show very early explained to the audience that it was going to be a slow build and we see that build executed well in episodes three and four as we take a bit of a detour from the posts’ offices and crew to build on our individual characters.

As we left off, Violet is learning to be a better auto memory doll and as such, she is enrolled in a doll training course with several others students. Very early on, we see her excel in her technical skills but as we’ve seen in the previous episodes, when it comes to the basis of the job, understanding and effectively conveying the clients’ emotions, Violet crashes and burns. It’s not until a fellow classmate, Luculia, reaches out and works with her, that we see her progress and beautifully, as they work together, we see both this Luculia and Violet understand each other as well as their own emotions better, eventually leading to Violet successfully writing a short but emotionally effective letter from Luculia to her brother.

This episode and the soon to be talked about episode four seem to share the theme of developing empathy and understanding, from characters within the show, but more importantly, the show seems to also be asking the same from us the audience to the issues certain characters face. This brings up a main point I wanted to talk about, here that I think is important in understanding our main character and the issues she struggles with. That it appears Violet may be autistic.

This wasn’t my idea originally as I watched through episodes one and two. To be completely honest, I’m not exactly well qualified to talk about this as I’m horribly ignorant on this particular mental condition. However, what I’ve learned through others that have more authority on this, I find the fact that Violet Evergarden seems to be tackling this mental condition, or at the very least a similar situation, fascinating. While I originally thought this was an interesting theory when viewing episode three, episode four seems to solidify that this is exactly what the show is doing and, personally, that seems wonderful to me.

[HorribleSubs] Violet Evergarden - 03 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_14.56_[2018.02.06_00.29.18]

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Just Because! Episodes 11 + 12 – The Pitch and The Home Run

Quick note for any Just Because! viewers outside of America:  Lucky for you, HiDive got ahold of this one because still at the point of this writing, Amazon has not translated the signs and text for this show along with the official subs.  So if you’re watching this show, might want to head over to HiDive for those translated signs on the last episode given the incredibly important use of text messaging in this show.  Us Americans will just be over here crying and raising a defiant fist against our Amazon overlords who will still not turn over the full rights to HiDive.

Well here we are, the end is near, we face the final curtain, and my friends, I’ll say it clear.  I’ll state my case of which I’m certain…  This was such a good anime.  Since the first episode, I’ve been impressed with this show and I’m so happy that Just Because! never let me down.  Of the shows that we’ve written about thus far as a group on this site, this one was probably my favorite to watch.  And now we’re at the end.  I guess if the previous episodes were the wind up, this would be the pitch… and then the aftermath.  Though, to be less haughty for a sec, it’d probably be better just to call this the exam arc ‘cause hot damn is there a lot riding on these college entrance tests.

We initially pick up from where episode ten leaves off, with Komiya readmitting her feelings.  However, we see that she tells Izumi not to give her an answer until he passes his test, stating it with the assurance that he will.  He promises her he will with the same earnest and serious face I’ve come to love on this deadpan boy.

[HorribleSubs] Just Because! - 11 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_00.56_[2018.01.18_03.31.12]

Hmm, yes, the “I’m very tired but I appreciate you as a person” look.  Vintage.

The next day, Izumi fills in Souma about what’s going on with him and his exams while Souma in turn explains his relationship with Morikawa and his plans for the future.  The standout moment here, however has to be when Izumi tells Souma to stay in touch with Morikawa, as it’ll get harder to message her if he waits too long.  It’s thrown out so nonchalant but the meaning is easily picked up by Souma as Izumi alluding to how they fell out of touch, bringing us back to the beginning of the series and the lost friendship they thankfully were able to rekindle.  It’s a nice touch to one of the last major bonding moments these two have with each other as we head towards the end.  With a promise to stay in touch with Morikawa that also seems to be an affirmation to be there for Izumi as well, Souma then throws it back to Izumi, telling him to stay in touch with Natsume to which Izumi promises Souma that he’ll tell her everything when he passes his test.  A lot riding on these exams, huh?

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Sunstone – Love, humor, and heart hidden in a BDSM story

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do this but forewarning, the content in question is Not Safe For Work.  Before that scares you off, though, this graphic novel is sold in the normal kind of stores and has a beautiful point for it’s use of sexual imagery.  Also, while this topic may not exactly be anime related, the author of this work in question is a super nerd and takes obvious influences from Japanese media. Plus, it’s my own damn article and I just wanna write about this, okay?

Sorry, that got a little confrontational…  Lemme just start.

Sex is often a very taboo topic, particularly when it comes to where I live here in America.  We’ve become more accustomed to talking about violence and aggression than all that other stuff that gives you cooties.  Basically, you can watch people die horrifically and it’ll get a PG-13 rating but if two girls kiss “OH NO!  Grab the pitchforks ‘cause it’s time fer a burnin’!”

With a bit of a flipped morality like that, it can be hard to find well-written stories that approach the topic of sex with the right respect and openness that it deserves.  Honestly, it seems to me that it’s sometimes easier to find a story that uses rape as a means of moving the plot forward than one that uses consensual intercourse.  And while there are efforts to educate and make things better.  Education is only one side of the coin.  We also need it represented tastefully in our media to expose and normalize the topic along with all the other aspects and types of affection and love.

Enter my exhibit A for the court hearing on tasteful representation of sex: the graphic novel Sunstone.

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Just Because! Episodes 3 + 4 – Writing Between the Lines

Author’s Note: Apologies for the lateness of this post.  I’m sure most people have already moved onto to episode five by now of this fantastic show but I was held up with personal issues that couldn’t be helped. To make up for it, I tried to put a lot of effort into this so I hope you all enjoy.  Also, spoilers and such as some stuff goes down in episode four.

Episodes three and four of Just Because! ended up continuing to validate my immediate love for this show.  While the drama and plot aren’t crazy or off the wall, the natural dialogue and slower pace allow me to appreciate all that’s happening for our crew of seniors trudging towards their graduation and murky futures.  Every scene and interaction is chock full of a surprising amount of engagement for a show that relies heavily on realistic drama and humor.  Plus, these characters are just so dang lovable, even when their hearts are breaking from all the pain they give each other.

[HorribleSubs] Just Because! - 04 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_03.16_[2017.11.05_21.38.27]

You know it’s a sad scene when even the dog is frowning.

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