Fan service in anime: When does it become too much?

Rip off your shirt. Slip off your shoes. Strip off your pants, and prepare to feel awkward. It’s time to talk about all those times your on-screen experience got a little risqué. When was it ok? When was it overpowering – much like Britney Spears perfume, and when did it simply go too far – to the point where you flipped the switch, said “fuck this,” and went elsewhere.

Let’s start with the extreme and taper back to what’s a little more acceptable.

When fan service is too much – like, i’m dramatically walking out the door

There has only been one time when I actually couldn’t go on. And that was when I tried to watch Highschool DxD. While I don’t have anything against this anime/these types of anime, I personally couldn’t watch it. Well, that’s a lie – it was possible to, but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it. The reason? Well, the nudity…

I don’t hate nudity – but here it just felt odd. Questions and thoughts fired through my brain – “why are you not wearing a top?” “Are you against clothing?” “It’s a cloudy day – you must be cold.”

The lack of clothing was apparent and it made me feel dirty. Plus, like, i’m gay, so it did nothing for me. While it’s totally cool that some people like this, for me it just isn’t my thing. I think I can stand by the unspoken rule that i’m making up, that if a character decides to #freethenipple for no apparent reason, I can’t watch it.

The other form of fan service that should be locked up like the criminal it is, is when the fan service is really one sided, really heavy, and appears for no reason. Five girls going crazy over one guy? Clothes coming off in the process? Not really my thing when i’m trying to focus on the actual plot (hi, Infinite Stratos).

The best part about this image is that they try to pass this all off as a convenient accident. Like bitch please - look at him - that is no accident. That is one messed up situation. Source: 8bit
The best part about this image is that they try to pass this all off as a convenient accident. Like bitch please – you don’t accidentally lunge at someone like that. That is some messed up shiz.     Source: 8bit

The bottom line, while I can’t watch Highschool DxD I can appreciate the type of anime it is. However intense fan service shoehorned into an anime for no reason amidst a completely unrellated plot, well, no love from me there.

When fan service is annoying but you can deal – because you rock

We’re now in “roll your eyes and be slightly frustrated” fan service territory. What causes this response? Usually it’s when it comes out of nowhere, or isn’t really needed. Like when you’re watching a story, interested, eyes glued – and then bam. Cleavage in your face. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry does this well.

Gakusen Toshi Asterisk. Two minutes into the first episode and bam. Where are your clothes. Source: A-1 Pictures
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk. Two minutes into the first episode and bam. Where are your clothes?     Source: A-1 Pictures

Whether you’re following a murder mystery or on the cusp of an epic battle – cleavage in your face isn’t what your looking for, and if it is then oops, looks like i’m wrong.

The other context where fan service is annoying yet manageable is when it’s used to define an anime. Take Kill la Kill. The fan service is pretty rampant, but because everything about the series is absolutely insane it becomes one more element in which to craze it up. It has a purpose. Yes, it’s still pretty annoying, but I can understand why it’s the way it is. And strangely for me, that makes it tolerable.

When i’m strangely calm and don’t mind it

Odd, I know. These cases are few and far between. I find most displays of fan service at least a little painful. But the times when I’m ok with it are the times when it rarely comes up, or when it really fits the anime.

Take B Gata H Kei, the story of a girl who’s dream is to have casual sex with 100 guys. The fan service within this anime wasn’t even that intense – and for a story centralised around sex, seeing a little bit of skin felt ok. The fact that it was a hilarious series did help too.

To be honest i'm not sure you can call it fan service. But this is what i'm comfortable with. The crazy facial expression definitely helps. Source: Hal Film Maker & TYO Animations
To be honest i’m not sure you can call it fan service. But this is what i’m comfortable with. The crazy facial expression definitely helps.     Source: Hal Film Maker & TYO Animations

Well. I’m now done. I admittedly felt a little strange writing this, so I hope it didn’t come across that way.

Thank you for reading my thoughts!

*pulls on pants, zips up shirt, walks off*

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