Time Enforcer Anubis here, and I’m here to make an assertion.
I hear a lot that fanservice is “distracting.” Somehow, too much panties can completely ruin an otherwise good series. The presence of large, jiggling breasts somehow rips the viewer away from the compelling things happening in the series, forcing them to focus on the dirty, creepy ecchi-service.
But maybe, none of this is the case. Maybe, just maybe, fanservice by itself isn’t capable of tearing the viewer away from the story and whatnot.
Maybe, when fanservice is “distracting,” that means that, in actuality, the rest of the elements in the series just weren’t worth paying attention to.
It baffles me that some people actually claim to be distracted by fanservice. By “fanservice,” I, of course, mean the modern definition which, conveniently, tends to only apply to sexually-charged imagery such as pantyshots, well-animated breasts, and partial/full nudity. The older definition, which applies to almost everything under the sun, from elaborately-animated fight scenes or transformation sequences, to fandom-specific references (Gundam jokes in Sgt. Frog, for example) to, of course, ecchi and sexual fanservice, is much too broad. Going by the older definition, there would be far too many “distractions” to count.
Even with just sexually-charged fanservice, however, there’s often a backlash against shows that attempt to tell a story and have some titillating fanservice. I’m not saying that it’s not okay to dislike fanservice, but when the issue of it being “distracting” is mentioned, it brings up the question: When fanservice becomes “distracting,” is it because fanservice actively detracts from the storyline and other elements, or is it because the storyline and other elements weren’t strong enough in the first place to remain relevant with the inclusion of fanservice?
The thing about saying that fanservice is “distracting” is that it implies that, with the fanservice removed, these series with distracting fanservice would be substantial experiences. Take, for example, Highschool of the Dead. Without the fanservice, it’s the same standard zombie show that we’ve seen a trillion times. The ecchi adds personality to the show. It knows its audience and endeavours to produce entertainment for that audience, in the form of violent zombie dismemberment and high-powered action, coupled with large, bouncy breasts and pantyshots. Both the violence and the ecchi come together to make one whole package, and removing either would result in half an anime. I usually hate zombie media, but I won’t say, “Highschool of the Dead was great despite the zombies.” That’s half of what the series is about.
Now take Code Geass, an anime with more intermittent fanservice and a greater focus on its story. Sure, when the fanservice is there, it’s very apparent, but does it ever actively detract from or devalue the story? No. That’s completely unreasonable. How does a shot of C.C.’s rear or Viletta Nu naked make the story any less relevant? It doesn’t make sense.
As a final example, take Divergence Eve. Abundant fanservice, as evidenced by the character designs, and an incredibly mediocre story make for a remarkably unremarkable anime. However, is the fanservice at fault for the story’s lack of quality? If the fanservice were removed, would that make the story better? A crap anime is a crap anime, fanservice or no. It’s not that the fanservice is distracting, it’s that the story isn’t worth paying attention to against the fanservice.
If the fanservice of a show that’s half fanservice, half substance is “distracting,” it’s obviously not the right kind of show to be watching. If the fanservice of a show that’s mostly substance, with fanservice peppered in seems “distracting,” it’s either a failure on the part of the show’s substance, failing to be interesting enough to keep the viewer engaged versus the fanservice, or it’s a failure on the part of the viewer for simply being unable to look past some fanservice to see a show for what it actually is.
Fanservice on its own does not have the power to invalidate substance. That is, indeed, the nature of fanservice, to excite the viewer separate from the show’s actual substance. Those who see fanservice as a distraction are jumping to conclusions based on their contempt for it.
I like fanservice. It’s nice to see some eye candy every now and then, whether it occurs in the form of a one-off pantyshot or in the form of breasts bouncing around for half the series. When the substance is up to par, we get shows where the substance and the service complement each other. Shows like Code Geass and Highschool of the Dead. When the substance is lacking, we get shows that are only good for fanservice, like Divergence Eve. Maybe it’s time we learn to live with sexuality and appreciate all of what anime titles have to offer, instead of cutting shows down, saying they’re good “despite the fanservice.”
So… were you distracted by all the fanservice in this post?
‘Till next time!