What’s the Deal With Fan Service?

Do you know what’s wrong with modern anime? It’s not the lack of ambition or interest, it’s not the lackluster writing, nor is it the seemingly constant decline of originality and creativity.

It’s the inclusion of “fan service”.

The ridiculous, stupid, and totally unnecessary “fan service” found in nearly every single anime that has come out recently, ruined what may have been a good show by deviating its attention from the plot entirely, and making you want to drop the series, however much you enjoyed it, erase it from your brain, by using household cleaning products and scrubbing vigorously, and never watch another show again as long as you live.

I’ve just completed my exams and so, I’ve been on summer holiday for a little over two weeks where I watched maybe a good few episodes of anime, changing series around every three days. Series I watched during this period include My Dress-Up Darling (I should say I’ve already caught up to the manga), Monster Girl Doctor, Komi-san Can’t Communicate, Tonikawa, and Aharen-san is Indecipherable, to name a few.


Before you say, “Oh, this guy is full of tosh,” the latter two I am certain don’t include this atrocious idea of “fan service”. In the other cases, the writers of these anime could barely contain their eagerness in including ‘panty-shots’, beach episodes, and, of course, the utterly absurd motion of breasts that defy even the most simple principles of physics.

It’s painful to watch, so much to the point I wish to blind myself in Oedipus fashion. I was just enjoying the show, emotionally investing myself to get to know the characters, living in this fantasy world, thinking that the person who made this series is a masterful genius at his or her craft, and planning to watch or read their other works… and insert a shot of a girl’s underwear and every positive image and opinion I had just shattered. WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DOES LINGERIE HAVE TO THE SERIES, AAAARRGGHH!! And WHAT IS SO APPEALING ABOUT IT?

What is fan service?

To those of you who have continued reading so far and are unaware of what fan service is, it is material in fictitious work that is generally included to appeal to the audience—often sexual in nature.

Fan service can include cleavage shots, panty shots, nude scenes, and scantily-clad outfits like bikinis, for example. They are designed to entice and titillate viewers. That is if their viewers are hormonal teenagers who are roaring with frustration or human beings who have seemingly regressed in society so far back that they now share the same number of brain cells as their ancestors from their Palaeolithic period, who would simply run around naked looking at women and thinking, “OPPAI”. Essentially, they’re for heterosexual males.

Now, watching anime tends to be a solitary thing; if you watch anime with your friends or your partner, don’t you dare rub it in. It gives me the chance to really relate with the character, analyze any subtleties (as if I were reading an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel), and really appreciate and acknowledge the masterful writing of the plot.

Why is fanservice problematic?

Plot is crucial for any show. It’s the driving factor for any sort of entertainment media. Aside from the repeating plotlines that have occurred in recent years, like isekai (that’s a whole rant of itself), when you get a genuinely good plot, viewers will swarm to watch it.

Take for example My Dress-Up Darling. One of its main central themes is creating and wearing cosplay. It even made me consider learning to sew if it managed to get me a hot girl who liked to cosplay—Wakana Gojo was my hero. Then I watched (and read) that episode where Gojo must measure Marin’s bust size, while she’s in a flowery bikini. VOMMITTTT!! The look on his face was an expression far beyond the understandable depths of disappointment. And that was the second episode.

Another example is Fairy Tail. Your typical shounen anime with the hero getting stronger and stronger progressively with the massive emphasis on ‘the power of friendship’. I can’t help but think I’m watching some sort of softcore ‘cultured anime’. For shows with a serious tone, fan service just completely detracts from the plot and it’s simply made worse when those sorts of scenes appear for no reason whatsoever.

If I have somehow managed to create a bond with each of the characters, while feeling content and happy that the writers have made a somewhat relatable character, the last thing I want to see is the main character experiencing a ‘lucky’ incident—falling down the stairs only to latch on to a girl’s breasts, for example.

As if anything like that would happen in real life. This other form of fan service actually has the opposite effect of making me enraged, it makes me rather depressed and in the slums. I was just relating to the listlessness and apathy the main character felt and now he’s experiencing things only a hormone-raging teenager would dream of.

For those who really seek an Epicurean lifestyle, I can assure you that getting ‘service’ should not give you pleasure. If you do manage to derive pleasure from skimpily dressed girls floating across your screen, then I’m afraid that you are rather creepy (perhaps not the mot juste).

Sure, I’m aware that I may be grossly exaggerating some things, however, modern animation and talent is being wasted with half-hearted storylines and an increasing number of breasts jiggling around. It’s bloody everywhere: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (the whole existence of Mariah in Stardust Crusaders), One Piece (I mean, look at Nami’s body structure over the years), Sword Art Online.

There’s also a whole category I regard as “fan service galore” called ecchi, I know. May I also mention that a majority of newer series are under this category…

To make it awfully clear, I am not against fan service, I am merely confused about the reason for its appeal. I’ll come clean and say that I enjoy my share of breasts, thighs, and whatnots, but with shows abusing this material using questionable camera angles, as well as other things, it makes it slightly uncomfortable to watch with the thoughts in my head during these shots being: (i) where should I look? And (ii) are my parents going to come into my room now?

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My pen name is Cheddar and I am currently a student. I enjoy writing, reading manga, and watching anime.

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  1. “hormonal teenagers who are roaring with frustration”

    That’s the primary audience. Teenage boys to be specific. The purpose of anime is to entertain the primary audience. The greater audience is males in general because every man has that teenage boy within.

    Real women don’t look like that but they play the fantasy card, take the traits that a boy might look for and then exaggerate to an extreme. What makes it worse is that the artists don’t even try to make it look natural. The character becomes a symbol for a woman’s parts rather than a woman. A Playboy centerfold (Are you old enough to remember those?) is a paradigm of realism compared to what we see. I keep telling myself that these guys have obviously never taken a figure drawing course. That’s not how anatomy works.

    I don’t have a problem with sexy fan service. per se. I don’t find it interesting when it substitutes for a plot. It is VERY annoying when it feels like the sole purpose of a character is to display gigantic breasts or they play the “my boobs aren’t big enough” trope. Or it gets into the juvenile stuff like prat falls into a woman’s boobs or the excitement of seeing her panties. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed that even when I was a frustrated hormonal teenage boy.

    • You are right, and if many fans didn’t like it, they wouldn’t do it. It’s clearly working if they keep inserting these exaggerated fanservice scenes almost everywhere.
      I don’t mind fanservice but I hate when they insert fanservice scenes where they clearly don’t belong.

    • Of course, I completely agree.

      In truth, as part of the “hormonal teenage boy” demographic, I enjoy sexy fan service. That is if they don’t substitute for a plot or have the existence of a certain character simply to play out certain ‘sexy’ tropes, as you have rightfully mentioned. It certainly gets not very interesting (or rather “bleh” as I would say).

      Then again, fan service has continued existing, so I guess its working…

      thank you for the read, Fred! 🙂

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