Concerning Fan Service in Anime

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Bridgette Valdescona

You finally watch the first episode of that highly acclaimed show your friends recommended, only to be met with multiple shots of the characters taking off or “accidentally” losing their clothes and shots focusing on their body. This is a prime example of fan service. 

Fan service is content made to excite the viewers without contributing to the overall story of the show. It is often associated with anime, a Japanese style of film and show animation. While fan service is made to excite and enthrall the viewers, some types of fan service are uncomfortable.

The term originated in the late 1980’s and was not as controversial of a topic as it is today. Fan service is debated heavily today, particularly on the internet. On online forums, people ask “Why do people like fan service?” and others ask, “Why do some people hate when there is fan service in anime?” Threads on Twitter discuss the issue with the sensual scenes, while many reply with their justifications. Fan service still appears to be working from a viewership perspective, with many popular and well-known animes containing it. 

Fan service is mainly known for displaying characters in a sexual context. Lestat Crow, who has watched his fair share of shows, doesn’t particularly enjoy it, but he understands why others might.

 “If something has replay or rewatch value it’s going to get more attention, and it seems like sexual situations are perfect for it,” said Crow. 

As Crow stated, many shows and media rely on replay value to draw in viewers. This means that the show should be enjoyable to watch over and over again. Sexual fan service gives the viewers a reason to go back and watch the show while continuing to enjoy it.

Sexual situations may provide some arousing fan service for the viewers, but sometimes the choice of characters that are sexualized is problematic. Another anime fan, who goes by Panic, thinks that fan service should not be included in anime. 

“It’s overly sexual and really out of place, especially when it’s an underaged character or one that’s meant to look underaged,” said Panic. 

One prominent example of fan service of a character that looks underage is from the anime Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which began in 2013. The character is named Kanna Kamui, and while her stated age is around 7,000 years old, Kanna is considered young for a dragon. She is drawn to appear like a child and behaves like a child as well. In several situations, she is shown in a sexual manner and is even shown straddling another child.

It doesn’t stop there. Other types of fan service glamorize and sexualize other issues as well. Samantha Dinson, an avid anime watcher, generally has a negative opinion of fan service, but doesn’t mind it unless it’s bad. 

“I am not a big fan of fan service, as it tends to over-sexualize characters and degrade them into sex objects,” said Dinson. “Sometimes fan service includes situations where characters are basically being sexually assaulted which is wrong in so many ways and shouldn’t exist to appeal to any kind of audience.” 

In the Danganronpa series, which began in 2010, a pattern can be spotted with the characters it sexualizes and gives fan service. One of the characters, Mikan Tsumiki, was abused in the past by her lover, and the fan service usually entails her exposing herself by accident and without her consent. The other character, Kotoko Utsugi, is a victim of sexual assault, a minor, and sexualized in the same way. Both of these characters, who were victims of abuse, are the only characters ever sexualized in this series.

It makes some question the type of audience these shows are attempting to reel in with fan service of underage characters and sexual assault. 

“Some people in the world are just into that kind of sickening stuff for some reason,” said Dinson.

Series like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Danganronpa continue to be popular amongst most anime fans. It’s obvious that this type of fan service doesn’t bother many viewers, and some may even enjoy and justify this form of fan service. Of course fan service may just not appeal to some people, but the amount of fan service that sexualizes minors and sexual assault is concerning. 

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