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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My feelings on the Netflix situation.

Whoo boy, this one is gonna be opinionated.  These are just my own personal feelings on this, this isn’t representative of the whole Backloggers.  I just felt like sharing and one hundred forty characters didn’t feel like enough.

Look, first and foremost, I am not stating people should pirate anime.  Please, support the creators in any way you can and in every way available legally.  A quick look at the Animator Housing project or the median salary of people in the industry should be enough of a wake up call that the people who make anime are in deep shit and they need every ounce of help they can get.  

However, for those that are taking the high ground on this debacle with Netflix, let’s be completely realistic here:  Netflix has metaphorically taken the starter pistol on their first major foray into this and shot themselves in the leg.  The anime community in the western world has a several decades long history of piracy because it was simply the only option for a vast amount of shows.  It’s only recently that we’ve even blessedly had Crunchyroll among others popping up to give us an alternative to waiting for years for Funimation and Aniplex (or Heaven forbid 4Kids) to license something, if they ever choose to.

This is what Netflix should be fighting. This is what we are fighting who want legal alternatives that support the very industry that gives us this entertainment.  But the only way to fight piracy isn’t to say “Hey, we’re legal.  That’s what you care about, right?”  That doesn’t matter to people who just want to watch a show and it definitely doesn’t matter for the multiple people I work with that are casually watching Naruto and Attack on Titan and have me crying every day when I look over and they’re on KissAnime, watching the shittiest of quality streaming with “who knows who translated this” subs.  I mean, in the entirety of me watching Game of Thrones, I had a multitude of friends and family talking to me about the show and the only one among them I knew had an account was my dad.  I understand this is anecdotal but it’s pretty obvious that if people want content, regardless of if they’re “hardcore” or “casual”, they’ll find a way to watch it and the reaction from across Twitter, even from people who work for licensors and distributors echoes this same mentality.

What Netflix needs to be is competitive against this.  The only way to stop piracy is to make things easy, affordable, and more competitive than the alternative.  However, when you hold shows for over a year, it isn’t easy on the consumer, it isn’t affordable if we have nothing to pay for, and it’s the complete opposite of competitive when the pirates already have it up and ready to go day one.  Going back to the runner analogy above, it’s like Netflix finally got into the sprint at the Olympics and then intentionally broke their leg on the starting line.  Why did they even show up?  They stole that spot from some other runner (CR, Amazon, etc.) who would actually try to race.  Instead, we got them.

And that’s another issue here.  We finally have competitive answers against piracy that are doing great work out there.  CR is doing a great job of grabbing licenses and Amazon is definitely fumbling their way through this, but their actual content is amazing and readily available if you have the bank for it.  If Netflix never grabbed these shows in the first place, you can bet your ass CR, Amazon, or any of the newcomers would have snatched these and we’d be watching weekly.  Instead, Netflix sniped the shows and expects people to wait.

Yes, piracy is wrong and yes, with 100% certainty we need to support the industry because they’re barely supporting their own creators.  But the bottom line is that regardless of morality, people will absolutely be pirating these shows because Netflix refuses to work with the community and is putting their own policies over their consumer’s needs.  That is unacceptable.

It just sucks.  It sucks because the pirates are given validation, it sucks because CR and all the others are screwed out of a great licensing deal, it sucks for us because we now have to wait for possibly over a year to even watch shows like Kakegurui, and to top it all off, it sucks for the anime creators because all their hard work is put on the back-burner internationally.  They potentially won’t see a cent from us until a year after their show originally aired unless we decide to buy up merch for a show we’ve never seen.

So thanks, Netflix.

An Alternate Look at Fanservice in Keijo!!!!!!!!

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.

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