One interesting subject is the role of “fanservice” in anime, the little pantyshots or boob jiggles that studios add to productions to give us, the viewers, a tiny squirt of dopamine and serotonin inside our brains, which are really just wet computers reacting to stimuli we feed them. While anime fanservice has its fans and detractors, here are a few observations I’ve made over the years.
- First, fanservice isn’t new, and has been with us since 1974’s Space Battleship Yamato, with the robot IQ-9 lifting up Nova/Yuki’s skirt.
- The number of fanservice-centric shows increased in the mid 2000s with the popping of the international DVD/broadcast licensing bubble. With no lucrative market outside Japan, studios suddenly had to create content it could sell to its core fans, which is where all the imouto panty stuff came from.
- While fans often perceive fanservice as being “everywhere,” it’s really only in a sub-set of shows defined by those themes, like Infinite Stratos, Monster Musume or my recent guilty pleasure, Okusama wa Seitokaicho. More often, series will restrict themselves to a single “fanservicey” episode (an onsen trip or plotline involving a panty stealing animal) or offer some other quick jolt to get fans’ attention, before getting on with the story.
- Smart studios actually “hypnotize” fans into thinking they’ve seen fanservice when they really haven’t, like when Mio falls down exposing her underwear to the audience in K-On!, which isn’t actually shown on screen, though we all believe we remember seeing it, or when they make an anime whose title promises female pirates wearing mini-skirts floating in zero-gravity, while providing no actual visual stimulation. This allows them to get the fanbase interested in their characters through dopamine/serotonin addiction while remaining “respectable.”
So, what are your thoughts on the place of fanservice in anime?
There are certain eternal mysteries about the Japanese. Why do they obsess about blood types so much? Why are Japanese females constipated their entire lives? Why does my wife think that freshly laundered socks are still somehow “dirty” and must never be placed on a dining table? Then there’s something that occurred to me is when I moved into my wife’s house: at least in my semi-rural city of Isesaki (population 200,000), why do unrelated families with the same name live grouped around each other?
In the neighborhood around J-List (which you can see in Nichijou, strangely enough), all the families around me are named Yanai, and about a kilometer away, there’s a large grouping of families all named 細井 Hosoi, though no one is related to anyone else. Since the family name Hosoi (whose kanji mean “narrow well”) sounds phonetically like 細い hosoi (meaning thin, skinny), anyone with this name can expect some light razzing if their physique doesn’t quite measure up. Recently I caught a TV show that specialized in showing truly random things, like gears made out of the naruto pressed fish cake seen in ramen. They also sent a team out to Isesaki to look for a family with the skinny-sounding name of Hosoi but whose members were actually overweight, and found a florist I sometimes shop at, interviewing them. Now the family is happy since they’ve been on TV!
Enjoy what the Japanese call “2.5D,” which is between the cute perfection of 2D anime waifus and the real world we all unfortunately inhabit, with parody onahole toys from J-List. We’ve got all your favorite characters, recreated in high quality materials made in Japan. A great way to lose your stress at the end of a long day. Browse now!