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.
This thread went on for some time, everyone in agreement, and eventually led to:
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.
Every time a new season of anime rolls around, I take some time to look through the season’s offerings and decide what shows I’m hyped about, what I might give a look, and what I will more than likely pass altogether. Generally speaking, I check out most shows’ available PVs and do some digging into the creative teams that have been working on the show. These factors are most often what inform my choices of what I decide to check out, and what to perhaps get excited about. What acts as a preliminary informant to me before I even get to that stage of digging, however, is the simple survey of show genres–in contrast to the great deal of digging I do for shows that I follow, I often don’t pay much mind to shows that don’t seem even remotely interesting to me as far as their purported genres indicate.
Usually, I tend to breeze past shows that are tagged as ecchi, for example. If a show is branded as “action, comedy, ecchi, romance,” more often than not, you can bet that I am not going to be following that show in the slightest. That being said, I don’t have anything against the ecchi genre–I know many people that are fans of shows within the genre as a whole, and I know that, in some senses, it can be fairly diverse in how it appeals to different audiences within the genre fanbase through various modes of sexual fanservice. There’s all sorts of arguments that people can make about the genre with regards to, for example, how it might appeal to a male gaze, which, if you really want to get into that, seems to ignore the existence of any alternative gazes (lesbian gaze, bisexual gaze, etc.). But that’s not a discussion I’m going to get into here. Everyone has their own opinions as far as genre goes, and they’re entitled to those opinions. Some people don’t like mecha anime; some people don’t like slice of life; I myself generally don’t like ecchi.