fledgling otaku posed a question in the comments of this post. He was asking about “fan service” vs. “geek service”. I started to write a response, went off topic, and then realized that the comment thread is already miles long. So I’m just going to move the discussion to a new post. This hits on something I’ve had in my list of stuff to write about for a while now anyway, and this gives me a good excuse to set it all down.
Personally, I don’t mind fan service as long as it is part of a good story and interesting characters. I watch anime with my wife, and she doesn’t mind it either – if the story is good. Fan service for its own sake isn’t something either of us cares to watch, but I think that’s true of most fans.
Newcomers are sometimes shocked at fan service. (I was) It’s certainly unexpected to American viewers who grew up with the idea that cartoons are for kids. But after seeing quite a bit of anime I’m noticing that the Japanese have very different ideas on what should and should not be shown, and in some ways are more reserved than Americans. For example, despite the more lax standards the Japanese have towards nudity or revealing clothing, I can’t think of a single series where the characters actually had sex. I don’t think it has ever happened in any show I’ve watched, not even off-camera. Nobody talks about, or admits to, having sex. Compare this to many American shows where we don’t see the characters naked, but most of the sub-plots involve complex stories of who’s having sex with whom. Even American dramas aimed at young adults and teens (90210 or Dawson’s Creek type stuff) have webs of changing partners and continuous infidelity. I find this to be endlessly tiresome, so for me Anime is pretty refreshing and a lot less objectionable.
Another amusing thing about this is the way the Japanese handle the for-television shows where nudity is required by the story. Instead of using scenery to obscure the forbidden parts they sometimes simply leave them off. I’m thinking now to Ai Yori Aoshi, where the characters are built like Barbie and Ken when we see them “naked”. It’s an interesting way to handle things. Of course, it’s only possible using animation. You couldn’t get away with that in a live-action show. (ewwww)
We’re going to be watching Najica Blitz Tactics in a week or so. It looks enough like the excellent Noir to capture our interest, but the series is also notorious for its copious supply of panty shots. We’ll see how the balance plays out.
For my own site, I try to keep things more or less family friendly. My kids are sometimes in the room when I’m writing, so I don’t post stuff I wouldn’t want them to see. So, no Ecchi. Mireille and Kirika in short skits is fine, but I’m not going to be posting Mahoro deploying her brassiere launcher. I don’t think I want to try to explain that one to the kids. Or anyone else.
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