I don’t know if anyone else does this but every now and then, I go back and reread my articles I’ve written. It’s not for any narcissistic reason. (Though, that’s exactly what a narcissist would say.) I’m not sure if it could be a smaller side effect of my anxiety disorder, but it’s more for fear. I get so nervous that something I’ve said before will come back and haunt me. Other times, I worry that I’ve written something I completely disagree with now or, just as bad, that I’ve written it so poorly, that my ideas could be misconstrued or actually are terrible in some way. To be fair, thanks to Facebook constantly bombarding me with “Your posts from 9 years ago!” reminders, I feel I have my reasons to get nervous about what I’ve said in the past. Hot damn, high school me was a dumb shit.
Me gesturing to my dumb-ass past self.
The article I constantly go back to more than any other, though, is my Kill la Kill article, my very first one I ever wrote for this blog and the one that started the whole dang project of The Backloggers. I think this one, more than anything, I get so nervous about. For one, it’s been one of the single most trafficked articles for our blog, and has been referenced not only in the blogosphere but also on Reddit as well as on a Chinese forum discussing Western and Eastern ideas about sexism. Which… HOW FUCKING COOL IS THAT?! The Internet is amazing!
However, that’s what scares me. Even after I wrote it, I didn’t feel as hot about it compared to how I wanted it to be. And as time has gone on, I constantly think back to what I said, particularly when it comes to the themes of objectification and sexism versus equal treatment and empowerment. And I’m still not sold. Kill la Kill, to me, has been really complicated in that I feel it does so many genuinely cool and amazing things, particularly when it comes to multiple badass female characters that are so different from each other and fun to see be the leads in a fighting genre anime. However, while at the time of writing it, I tried to have a good answer for various scenes in the show, looking back, it’s a problematic piece on the whole. And after recently reading a discussion about these very same feelings from someone else, I finally caved in and decided I needed to review my earlier ideas.
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.
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.