January 03, 2008

Hooray for Fan Service!

There was a Monty Python sketch which included various characters (portrayed by the boys) talking about whether they support nudity in the theater, and the most common answer was along the lines of "Yes, I support it. If it's valid." Or words to that effect.

Of course, they were making fun of pretension. Nudity in art is supposedly some transcendental thing, it says here. Never mind that the reality is that it appeals to the reptile brain inside us all. Sex! Sex! Sex! Lookee them naked women painted on the ceiling of our cathedral!

Same thing: "I read Playboy, but only for the articles." Yeah, right.

Will links to Crusader's rant about there being too much fan service, too much pandering, in anime. Crusader in turn links to TJ, who says that fan service is OK, but only if it's valid. Crusader sez:

Perhaps low fanservice, or fanservice involving nudity, does have a place for younger people, but as the years go by I find it harder to laugh or cheer when that nubile teenager runs about half naked or lies in the sack half naked. The older I get the more if find myself being sickened by low fanservice. I cannot help but feel that low fanservice is a disservice as a whole, as it relies on imagery that caters to the baser instincts in the audience rather than genuinely tugging on heartstrings. In ef~a Tale of Memories I did not really want to see Chihiro’s nether regions up close and personal. In fact it made me feel like some unscrupulous voyeur invading their moment of intimacy. I don’t mind that they were intimate I just would have preferred if the whole scene was less intrusive.

Like anything else, fan service can be overdone and it can be done badly. Eiken isn't sexy, Eiken is just gross. Girl's Bravo isn't sexy; it's too stupid to be sexy. (Besides which, they botched the video transfer.) And there are series which are otherwise really outstanding which have been badly harmed by fan service, like Divergence Eve. But this cupidity about fan service seems to assume that there's something new about this.

Which is silly. Ranma 1/2 was a fan-service show, before the term was invented. Bulma does a nude scene in DBZ and spends several episodes running around in her underwear. The first volume of Tenchi Muyo has FFN and came out in 1992.

The term itself appeared more than ten years ago. There's nothing new about it. Nor do I believe that it's getting any more common now than it was five years ago, in 2003.

And in any case, this is a demand-driven market. If the studios are producing shows with fan service, it's because they think that's what a large part of the audience wants. To somehow sniff and turn up your nose at it is pretentious.

I make no bones about it: I like looking at pretty girls. Amazing, isn't it? When I first went through puberty, and the testosterone surge hit, for a few years I kept getting embarassed when I found myself looking at women with "lust in my heart". Then I got a grip and realized it was normal and healthy, and I never looked back. (Because I was too busy looking forward at the women in front of me.) That doesn't mean overtly leering and making obnoxious comments; I don't do that. But there's nothing at all wrong with just looking.

As I got older, I realized that it's a harmless pleasure. Now I'm a doddering old man, and no longer full of myself, and I like watching "nubile teenagers running around half naked" in anime. Why not? Who does it harm? (Lefty bluenoses, but I don't care about them.)

As long as the series has a good story to tell, about good characters. Or at least a half-way decent story to tell, about interesting characters. (And at least one DFC, because I like DFCs.) As long as it's got that, bring out the girls and let us see them. Godannar didn't suck because of the fan service, Godannar sucked because the characters were stereotypes and the story was formula and the writers were idiots and they loaded it up with angst. But the girls looked great; the fan service was the only thing in the show they did right.

Seriously: I have to wonder whether some of this publicly expressed revulsion is externalized revulsion at the realization that deep down, a part of them is liking what they're seeing. Many of the most militant Puritans, historical or modern, condemn temptation in others because they feel tempted themselves and refuse to admit it.

Well, screw that. I like to watch women, and I'm not ashamed of that fact. And pious proclamations that fan service is OK, but only as long as it's valid, well that's just posturing. I don't believe a word of it.

...but that doesn't mean I'm going to watch Kodomo no Jikan. That is too much for me. NOT interested.

UPDATE: By the way, the first episode of Rosario to Vampire runs tonight. I wonder how it will turn out to be?

UPDATE: Fledge responds.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 06:59 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 869 words, total size 6 kb.

1 All I can say about gratuitous fan-service is that I have the original painting of thishanging on a wall in my house. Visible from the front door, if I open it far enough to let you in. I take it down on Halloween, so I don't scare the neighborhood moms while I'm handing candy to their kids.

(the face looks much prettier on the real thing; the photo on the web site isn't very good)


Posted by: J Greely at January 03, 2008 08:02 PM (2XtN5)

2 Anybody complaining about too much fanservice is either a prude or watching Divergence Eve. Or possibly both.

And don't forget the righty bluenoses.  They're just as annoying, and have God on their side, to boot.  They'll tell you so endlessly. (Living in the deep south, I got far more of them than the lefty type.)

At least, with God, you can argue some tricky quote out of context, just like they do.  With leftists, you can't even argue their amorphous PC convictions, because they'll always claim that any holes found in their questionable logic only prove that you are incapable of reasoning.  Should you not even bother with rejecting their logic and deny their premises (the correct option, IMHO), of course this only proves you are some sexist reactionary from a male-based society.*

Well, DUH!  Like Heinlein said, "viva la difference."

*I would joke about their "moving the goalposts" but a good lefty doesn't believe in goalposts, since the existence of goals (as opposed to Ideals) reflects the mindset of the competitive male-based society.

Posted by: ubu at January 03, 2008 10:41 PM (ireHJ)

3 Well I'm certainly not calling for the end of all fan-service. Playboy and a good pin-up is just fine by me. It's when the pin-up is f*cking 13 years old (and only getting younger) that I start questioning my interest in anime. I've got nieces that are going to be getting to that age soon. Tenchi Muyo at least nodded towards good taste by make all the girls (in real contention) significantly older than the late-teens harem lead.

Posted by: Will at January 04, 2008 08:26 AM (WnBa/)

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