For those who have fallen trap to (or more like craved for) fanservice, I’m sure you already know what it is. But for those who don’t, let me provide a little bit of insight. Thank you to my most trusted resource, Urban Dictionary, for giving me this definition of fanservice:
Naturally, fan service refers to scenes, or clips of certain people or things that are meant to excite the viewer. Although there are many forms of fanservice, it is most commonly seen where most fandoms reside. This can include scantily-clad outfits, cleavage shots, panty shots, nude scenes … etc. Some broader definitions also include things like cool mecha, big explosions, battle scenes, etc. Basically, if it has little plot-rede[e]ming value, but makes the viewer sit up and take notice, it’s probably fan service in one form or another. Writing about this almost feels embarrassing because I know I’ve fallen for it before.
Here are a few different forms where fanservice is mostly used and/or seen.
Often, it can be seen in anime, mangas, manhwas or even kpop, books, fanfiction, or even video games. There will always be more, but those are some, to name a few. Sometimes, it can even be borderline perverted. According to Chris Kincaid at Manga Tokyo Your Otaku Friend In Japan, “[f]or example, comedy anime often features the antics of a perverted male spying up lady’s skirts or a prudish guy surrounded by girls lacking qualms about showing off their assets.”
Now this is why it can be harmful, it is no secret that the most common forms of fanservice mostly caters to men/the male gaze. Women in anime are either submissive and are innocent victims to the perverted male, or they’re more strong-willed and sexually dominant over the male. The second option usually has a lot of potential to create a powerful character that is there for more than the sole reason to exist in this fictional world for a man. Don’t get me wrong, there are many strong women in anime, mangas, books and T.V shows. However, you cannot deny that in the midst of all the progress alongside world and character building, fan service always finds its way in somehow.
The unfortunate reality and the positive side of fanservice
In a Western view, fanservice can be perceived as sexist; as it purposefully violates privacy and reduces women (also men) as objects of desire. There are also plenty of shows that sexualise the male characters as well for the female viewers, however, it is less common as male-dominant fan service is more widespread and almost acceptable. Looking at what fanservice is directly, it’s the action of giving fans what they want, i.e.: shirtless men, cleavage, etc. One of the most recent examples I could use is the game Genshin Impact. There is a lot of fanservice directed in that game for men and women alike. These can be seen in the characters Kaeya, Beidou, Eula, and more. Some of the lines the voice actors have, have very sexual undertones, and yes don’t get me wrong I am very much a Kaeya simp. But it doesn’t take away the fact that a lot of players play for the fanservice. Which is a shame because the entire Genshin Impact universe is complex and beautiful and it’s disappointing to know that many people skip over the story. Yes, fanservice can be useful in attracting new fans. However, it does take away from the storytelling and directs people in the wrong direction. In general, the majority of it is reduced to anything alluding to something sexual (tentacles, kissing, groping, stupid cliche of the pervert accidents, etc) but it, in fact, reaches farther than simply this domain. Overall, fanservice can be harmful when inputting something that does not add to the plot, or is blatantly added to please a targeted audience. If you explained to me why you would dislike fan service, I honestly would not blame you. It shamelessly takes away scenes that could potentially highlight growth, meaningful dialogue, or significant developments in the narrative as well as in the characters.