Is that it exists.

I am a fan of anime, and have been since I was about twelve. The earliest stuff I remember seeing was Ghost in the Shell, Akira and Vampire Hunter D, with some snippets of Rurouni Kenshin and Gunsmith Cats thrown in for good measure. The first series I ever properly watched were Evangelion, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040Cowboy Bebop and Noir, with the Lain soundtrack providing background music to many a high school party. Later, at the start of university, I was introduced simultaneously to Ninja Scroll, Love Hina, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and the works of Hayao Miyazaki, which is a surprisingly thorough gamut for the range of anime narratives. Since then, I’ve been watching pretty much anything that gets recommended to me or which catches my eye, the most recent examples being Last Exile, Fruits Basket, Bamboo Blade and Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. All of which is a way of saying: I love anime. It’s been part of my life for thirteen years, and at no point during that time has my interest for it been passive or half-hearted. Which is perhaps why it’s taken me so long to come to realise that there is, in fact, a caveat on those affections. Because when you love something deeply – and particularly when it’s a thing you’ve loved since the cusp of adolescence – it can be very, very hard to pull back and deal with that thing in a critical manner.


I hate fanservice so fucking much.

Anyone who’s ever watched anime knows what I’m talking about. For anyone who hasn’t, allow me to demonstrate the scope of the problem as follows:

Yeah. About that.

To be clear: I still watch anime that contains fanservice. Partly because, in the case of shows I knew and loved prior to the revelation of my hatred, it doesn’t taint my appreciation of them; partly because fanservice does not, by itself, make the rest of a show terrible; but mostly because there isn’t an alternative. While there’s certainly anime out there that lacks fanservice, it’s a definite minority and can be tricky to find, particularly if you’re wanting to watch a show with multiple female characters. Fruits Basket and Nadeshiko, for instance, while both awesome and non-fanservicey, are also examples of male harem shojo, meaning that the female protagonists – respectively Tohru and Sunako – are effectively lone women surrounded by gorgeous men, the extent of whose Regularly Demonstrable Sexiness tends to hinge on bishie sparkle, cross-dressing and occasional shirtlessness. Which is, of itself, noteworthy, because I can’t think of a comparable genre/form that regularly creates male harems or caters to female sexual fantasies that way. What strikes me in the comparison, though, is that moments of male sexiness are almost never built into costume design in the way that female fanservice is. The practical upshot of this is that while Fruits Basket looks like this:

and Nadeshiko looks like this:

Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex still has to spend a season like this:

while Cowboy Bebop’s Faye Valentine gets to wear this:

To highlight the disparity further: both Fruits Basket and Nadeshiko are romantic shojo, meaning that they are specifically aimed at women and actively concerned with relationships – in other words, the type of show you’d most expect to get fanservicey if it were written for men. But Ghost in the Shell is a cyberpunk political thriller with existential undertones, while Cowboy Bebop is a hard SF drama about bounty hunters in space.  Which begs the question: if that’s the base level of fanservice in shows that aren’t aimed purely at men and which don’t have any inherent investment in sex, romance or relationships, then how bad does it get when those elements are also in play?

Internets, allow me to introduce you to Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls. It looks like this:

It’s shows like this which make me love Boobs Don’t Work That Way so very much. And that is the only good thing I will ever say about Samurai Girls.

The strongest attraction anime has for me is the profusion of female characters doing every conceivable type of awesome thing. They are hackers, warriors, starship pilots, psychics, mages, priestesses, ambassadors, thieves, bounty hunters, police officers, mothers, students, friends, sisters, daughters, alchemists, mechanics, cooks, wives, dress-makers, geeks, villains, heroes, anti-heroes, athletes, goddesses, demons, chosen ones and unchosen ones, carpenters, cleaners, queens, doctors, psychologists, nurses, witches, waitresses, writers, gunsmiths, swords-fighters, shapeshifters, teachers, confidantes and lovers. They are everything, and what’s more, they are everything equally, as though there were never any question that a top-level military submarine might have a female captain or an experimental space station be populated by as many women as men. I cannot describe the thrill of elation that went through me as a teenager when, after channel surfing one night, I landed on SBS and caught the last ten minutes of what I only later learned was an episode of Gunsmith Cats. Still new to anime, I was amazed by a cartoon that depicted violence, but flat-out hooked by the idea of one where the gun-toting, badass protagonists were women. I didn’t notice the fanservice, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to call it. What mattered was the ladies themselves: the fact that I was watching, not just a show where women did awesome things, but where their ability to do so went unquestioned.

Here’s what saddens me about anime: that shows like Samurai Girls pass the Bechdel test at the same time as their visuals undermine everything that it stands for. So do Full Metal Panic, Azumanga DaiohLucky Star, Love Hina and just about any other shonen-oriented, slice of life or female harem story you care to name – but all while upskirting, side-boobing, cleavage-enlarging, skintight-wearing, fetishenabling, proportion-warping artwork creates a visual dissonance with characters whose dialogue, friendships and personalities would otherwise stand on their own merits. Even in shows which don’t pass, like Ghost in the Shell: SAC and Cowboy Bebop, lone female characters who are tough, multifaceted, intelligent, complex, competent and believable still end up drawn like Playboy bunnies for reasons that have nothing to do with plot and everything to do with pandering to a horny male fanbase. This isn’t just an argument about unrealistic portrayals of women (though that’s certainly a parallel concern), but of what happens when you draw beautiful girls for the sole purpose of sexually objectifying them – and worse, when doing so is deemed to be such an integral part of a given culture that you not only start to expect it, but make allowances for it. Because anime is just like that, and how can I say I like anime if I’m going to criticise it? Isn’t that like saying I like fruit, then bitching about strawberries?

No, actually. It’s like saying I enjoy sex, then bitching about rape.

Some of the shows I’ve listed are ones I love; others I’m ambivalent towards, or actively dislike. But in almost every instance where I’ve ever stopped watching an anime, the reason has nothing to do with a dislike of the plot, premise or characterisation, and everything to do with how the women are treated. Samurai Girls and Full Metal Panic both have plots and settings that appeal to me; in both cases, I’ve turned away, furious, because I can’t stand to watch another upskirt shot or listen to another hatefully forced conversation about women’s boobs or underwear. And then I see something like this:

and end up angry all over again. Because, look: I know that poster’s meant as a joke. And I have a sense of humour! But for female viewers, fanservice is not gravy. Fanservice is sexism’s way of making us accept our own objectification for the sake of a good story, even where the story would be just as good – if not considerably better – without it. Because ultimately, the logic behind all fanservice can be boiled down to the following sentiment: that female characters, no matter how powerful, awesome and complex, are at their most interesting and relevant when drawn to look fuckable.

And to that I say: FUCK NO.

  1. Curvaceous Dee says:

    Yes. Yes yes and yes. I love watching anime, but you’ve just enumerated very well exactly what I find annoying about it (even as I find myself appreciating it. Dammit!).

    Do I like fanservice? Sometimes. Would anime be better without it? Definitely.

    xx Dee

    • fozmeadows says:

      Thanks Dee!

    • IAMGOD says:

      What you meant to say was
      Do I like fanservice? Extremely. Would anime be better without it? Fuck no.
      fucking pleb.

      • fozmeadows says:

        Wow. What a convincing argument. You truly have won the internet.

      • Kyrin7 says:

        Anyone who wants fan service is someone who doesn’t want to watch anime. Fan service is used so that morons will watch the show and think it’s good because they’re visualizing banging the women in it. You’re a basic bitch. That means piss off, loser. Go back to your parents basement where you watch your crap anime and have your way with stiff socks.

  2. I totally agree. I’ve pretty much had to switch off any of my feminist analyst brain while watching anime because I think it impossible to watch without.

    Also, if you’re looking for more anime to get into, I definitely reccommend Gun X Sword (although, from what I remember, the sexism is rampant), Avatar and Ergo Proxy, although most people I know either like Ghost in the Shell or E.P., not both.

  3. E.Markham says:

    You’ve summed up exactly how I feel about anime. I actually reached a point where I stopped watching any rated over PG altogether because I was sick to death of the violence against women – frequently sexual. Probably just a bad run in the anime I was watching, but it bugs me enormously.

    Mind you I have exactly the same problem with the heavier music I love. So much of which is sleazy, objectification of women and often very nasty thematically.

    And equally considered normal.

    • fozmeadows says:

      I know the feeling! This is a single example, but whenever Bust A Move starts playing, I always tart out loving it, then get progressively saddened by the lyrics. Can’t we have awesome songs that aren’t about women being greedy, manipulative bitches?

    • Courtney says:

      Dam if I could agree more lol it makes me so sick to my stomach when I see these sorts of things in anime and I stopped watching anime as well to avoid it. One anime that i will always be in love with is Ano hanna, its not very long and the fan service is extremely minimal for an anime. I believe the only part is one of the female characters is in a towel but she isn’t sexualized anyway since she has the body type of more of a child, it was more to make a joke then anything.

  4. I agree entirely, though I regret that I hadn’t really actively noticed the broad problem. I am a mostly-straight male, and I do enjoy the fanservice on an obvious level. But you’re entirely right — it’s a pretty wretched constant promotion of objectification.

    But I don’t think it’s fair to use Faye Valentine as an example as a character, she actively chooses to use her Fanservicey Aspects to her advantage. She uses them to amaze and distract. Now, this may be questionable in its own right, but.

    (It’s been a while since I watched Cowboy Bebop. I may be exaggerating in my own mind the extent to which she actually used them. Because, well. I was a teenage boy at the height of my Bebop watching. :-/)

    • fozmeadows says:

      I take the point that Faye does use her body to her advantage, but the way her boobs are drawn (they’re massively, impossibly unrealistic) and the outfit in general irritates me. That being said, I just finished rewatching Bebop recently and it is still one of the best animes – hell, one of the best shows – ever.

  5. I think there’s also a difference between fanservice and other forms of nudity/revealing clothing etc… fanservice is just done for no plot relevant reason except titillation. Which causes a certain level of cognitive dissonance when unavoidable nudity is hidden while over the top fetishism is heavily catered to. i.e. with Ghost in the Shell, in the original movie the Major spends a goodly chunk of time naked because her optic camouflage is in her skin. While it could be argued that this is just an excuse for nudity it’s at least explained… and this being Shirow it has bearing on her characterisation. But when they do the series they can’t have her naked because, y’know, TV they want as big an audience as possible… but then they stuff her in that fetish fuel outfit for /absolutely no reason whatsoever/. And then it’s just plain old fashioned fanservice… despite the fact she’s wearing more than she does during a lot of the original movie.

    But yeah, way too much fanservice in most anime.

    I’ll give into my modus operandi and advise you to watch Blood: The Last Vampire. Again, there’s one scene of nudity but there is zero fanservice in it, less even than the original Ghost in the Shell.

    And Blood+ which is the heavily alternate universe series. Fifty episode series, the closest it gets to fanservice is Julia’s early attempts to attract David’s attention, two outfits, and she gives those up once she works out she’s going to get more attention through verbal wit than daring outfits. No full frontal (or rear) nudity and hinted nudity only when it makes sense and once semi-shown for an attempt at being arty in the series itself and twice in one of the OPs (and one of those is some blink and you’ll miss it male nudity).

    Oh, also, Studio Ghibli is good times if you’re avoiding fanservice.

    • fozmeadows says:

      One of the most subtle forms of fanservice – as pointed out by the Boobs Don’t Work That Way tumblr – is that women are drawn in ways which are, frankly, impossible. This frequently transcends clothing, so that even when a female character is fully dressed, her boobs can still be so ridiculous that even without any revealing camera angels, overt nudity or cleavage shots, her actual design is still perpetrating fanservice.

      I watched Blood: The Last Vampire a while ago, but I didn’t know there was a series, too – will have to check it out! And I am a massive Ghibli fan. Nausicaa and Mononoke FTW!

    • Brendan Podger says:

      While it is true that at one level, Major Kusanagi’s dress is fan service, I also allow them the benefit of the doubt since a major theme of the series is the inner humanity within cyborgs and constructs. Bato asks at one time why she never swaps into a different type of body and she says “Only this one will do”. Along with the watch she wears it is the only thing about her that doesn’t change, and I think it is fair to say this makes her look of femininity very important to her.

      • Gustr says:

        this character is not real, the show is not a documentary, and she’s being written by a dude so the argument about what “she wants” doesn’t hold any water, especially when what “she wants” is exactly what horny dudes would want: a black thong and no pants.

        • Brendan says:

          So I take it Gustr, that nothing that has not been presented in a way that is not explicitly suitable to your taste can ever have a message or meaning that can make us think in a positive way?

          I am glad to know this, so please post a list of things you approve of so I can comment on sub-texts within those alone and not waste my time on other works.

  6. Kitty-Chan says:

    Might I suggest D.Gray-Man as an anime with relatively little fanservice?

  7. The tragedy of great stories ruined by visuals beyond redemption. :/

    Perhaps more difficult for me than the completely over the top anime (which often don’t have stories I care for) are the ones where it’s only _some_ of the females who are disproportionate and the panty-shots are minimal. Because you get caught up in the story and then are handed something so improbably gratuitous it’s like finding something salty and gristly in your strawberry icecream.

    Have you tried Blood + or Haibane Renmei?

    • fozmeadows says:

      I watched all of Haibane Renmei a while ago, and you’re the second person to recommend Blood+, so I’ll have to give it a look-see. I agree about the disorientation of sudden fanservice, too – that’s what irritates me about Full Metal Panic, because only Chidori gets treated that way (or so it was circa episode 8) and it was really, really frustrating in an otherwise good show.

  8. […] Shattersnipe has some smart things to say about the problem with fanservice.  “This isn’t just an argument about unrealistic portrayals of women (though that’s certainly a parallel concern), but of what happens when you draw beautiful girls for the sole purpose of sexually objectifying them – and worse, when doing so is deemed to be such an integral part of a given culture that you not only start to expect it, but make allowances for it. Because anime is just like that, and how can I say I like anime if I’m going to criticise it?” Category: NotesTags: 2010s, animation, anime, comics, fanservice, feminism, gender, manga, objectification, sex, sexism, the ladies […]

  9. Brendan Podger says:

    It is one of those weird juxtapositions with so much anime-that while on one hand recognising women and girls as being capable, independent, adventurous and important, there is also this weird sexist atitude. To an extent this is a result of looking at Japanese media from a Western perspective(although that isn’t a reason not to get squicked out). Japanese society is deeply sexist and the fan service in programs is just the tip of a iceberg.

    Unfortunately it is to attract the Fan Service audiences that some of the modern anime is being drawn(there was one about girl soldiers fighting aliens that I thought might be promising but turned out to be a thin excuse for panty/crotch shots of little girls(ICK !)) though even the Japanese are realising it is all going to far based on some of the recent uproar about the portrayal of juveniles in the recent media.

    I wonder though which is worse, the Japanese or Italian media which also seems to be highly sexist?

  10. JC Olivr says:

    Try madoka magica! it has next to none fan service, yet an all female cast! Its a deconstruction of the magical girl trope.

  11. The Fallen Sentinel says:


  12. jc says:

    I can think of a few anime that don’t give fan service: Samurai Champloo, Planetes and Black Lagoon. Of course both these had scripts and animation that other anime can only dream of.

    Faye in Beybop seems to be a marginal case to me. Yes, she does show a lot of skin, but some she doesn’t go into those weird damn “Look at my ass! Yeah, right below with a macro lens!” poses.

    Major K’s costume choice GITS is so bizarrely inappropriate that it almost metafanservice. Especially when combined with the amazing voice work for the character in the English version. K is written tough, cold, controlled and infinitely ruthless and has the voice to go with it. There’s nothing coquetteish about her voice and she never adopts a pose that is remotely seductive – it’s like the show creators are saying “Yes, we had to promise to the Major a world class ass, a thong and a skirt allegy to get the money to do this show – but isn’t this stupid?” The one real fan service shot I can remember – an exteme from-below close up of her ass as she climbs out of a Tachikoma – reinforces this thought – it obeys all the rules for fanservice but it’s so dam close that it is bizarre and abstract rather than erotic.

    The of course there is Aeon Flux – which is meta about everything, but especially about fanservice. Is Aeon the heroine, an anti-hero, or the villain? More importantly, is she primarily a revolutionary, an exhibitionist, a lunatic destroying civilization as a form of foreplay, or a foot fetish model and dominatrix?

  13. jc says:

    Oh – and don’t forget the episode where Major K is very scathing about men who buy girlfriend-bots. Yes, she disses fanservice and the served while dressed in a leather jackt and bikini panties.

    Some quick research I did indicates that the manga Major was less complex – she’d often be put in positions (possibly literally) that remind the reader and those around her that she was really a subserviant female, damn it. So I think what we have in the anime is a cyborg in revolt against its fanservice – very Frankenstein:

    Not to make much of a cartoon character’s butt, but I’ve always though that the real motivation for K’s Visible Panties was so much simple titilation as empathic exhibition – a sort of cross dressing experience for the author and the reader. “Yeah, if I was a woman I’d be totally hot and I’d dress so that everyone would look at MEEEE!” Remember that K is both the focal character and ***the only female character in her world who dresses this way.***

    At least one person seems to partly agree with me:

  14. […] The Problem With Fanservice, 28 August 2012: A takedown of the ubiquitous, deeply problematic presence of fanservice in anime, […]

  15. CD Covington says:

    Late response, but your Year in Review post was linked in Jim Hines’ blog.

    Did you watch Mouretsu Space Pirates? I was pleasantly surprised that in a show about high school girls there were NO panty shots, even in the zero-G scenes! The pirate ship’s doctor wears tight, revealing tops, but the rest are in fairly normal clothes. I was *very skeptical* when I saw the promo art, but I gave it a shot. Glad I did.

    For currently running shows, are you watching Psycho-Pass? It’s perfectly creepy, police procedural, and I’m not thinking of any gratuitous fanservicey stuff ottomh.

  16. Yaki says:

    ” is that moments of male sexiness are almost never built into costume design in the way that female fanservice is.”

    Let’s take a look at some MASCULINE titles aimed clearly at a MALE audience

    Google Macross Frontier
    Brera Sterne Pilot dress?
    or even the protagonist Alto, Designed especially for Yaoi fanfiction

    Even Gundam is starting to have boys love in it,
    This is the equivalent of Twilight replacing Stephanie with Denise Milani.

    Not that’s maybe a little too soft? Of course, those weren’t even aimed at women from the start!
    so here have this link.

    Or google up some Otome-games. And see the opposite side of shameless harem games.

    You can’t stop fanservice, But you can join the other side to balance it out.

  17. mjiang says:

    So what exactly is the problem? It makes you feel uncomfortable?

    That’s not much of a reason to stop fanservice. People like sex. So what if someone is offended? Nobody is really hurt, and your slippery slope arguments to “this’ll lead to rape!” are unconvincing. This is why I have a hard time taking western politics seriously, it’s all feelings and rationalizations of said feelings.

    • end says:

      Fuck you so much. Fanservice is part of a larger sexist culture that torments women every day. I bet you boys would be screaming for male fanservice to stop if it existed on anywhere near the level that female fanservice exists. And remember, it is only “service” for straight men.

      • end says:

        Also, saying fanservice leads to rape was not her argument at all.

      • Micah says:

        Your definition of fanservice is narrow and only focuses on sexual fanservice (As does this entire article we’re talking about). To accurately measure how sexist fanservice should be considered you would have to take into account the opinions of Japanese women and how much influence the Japanese populace feels anime has on their society as a whole.

        Indigenous cultures have many traditions in their society that are gender based and individuals of the opposite gender cannot participate in them because it would be a cultural taboo. Are you going to go tell a bunch of Native American men they’re sexist because the women in their society are allowed to participate in certain male-exclusive traditions? I think not. You would probably receive more backlash from Native Women for assuming that you could speak on their behalf in regards to an aspect of their culture that you have absolutely no understanding or say in as an outsider.

  18. Webster says:

    I’m a freaking guy and I hate the shit out of fan service, it fucking irritates me so much, fuck just how much is enough for the creators and dudes in general, for me it totally ruins the anime to the point i often stop watching it. Fan service just creates the opposite reaction in me, pure fucking hate! I’d love to watch animes where the main character is a girl, but then all this gay fucking upskirts being seen naked, or falling and touching their boobs happen and I literally just lose my shit and respect, I mean the if the anime is designed to just be plain retarded than whatever wont bother me, but if its a serious anime, FUCK FUCKKKKKKKK FUCKKIITTYYYYY FUCK EDGHSDJGHJKSHG Sorry, just gotta let out my frustrations -.- so dissapointed fucking anime these days, its like nothing exist without fanservice, I.E. High school of the dead. I had liked the show for the most part but sadly it fell short because of all the FUCKINGGGGG FANNNNN-SSSSEEERVIICCEEEEEE FUCKING LOSER FUCKING CANT GET A GIRL RUINING ANIME FOR ME FUCKING HENTAII OBSSEDDDED BTICHES FUCK!

  19. Micah says:

    The problem with this post is that it’s trying to use western cultural standards to measure and rate an Japanese/eastern form of art and entertainment. We can make demands for change in our own culture and deem what we want as necessary or unnecessary but we don’t have the right to do so with someone else’s culture. In the end if you find that certain anime/manga series aren’t your cup of tea then don’t part take in them. Not liking an aspect of someone else’s culture because of your own political/social beliefs doesn’t mean you have the right to try and change them.

    • end says:

      There are western dub companies that bring these shows to the west. Like it or not, this medium is affecting a western audience, so they have every right to criticize it. No one is free from criticism.

      • Micah says:

        Your entire argument doesn’t follow logic. So because a western company sought to purchase the dub rights in order to sell them to western audiences now those audiences have the right to demand that Producers change the content of their product? That’s like saying if an artist who works in painting landscapes in an impressionist style has a series of his/her paintings picked up by a gallery and that gallery sells them to people, then the buyers have a right to demand that the artist change the content/subject of his/her work because the people gained access to it via a third party (i.e. the gallery). Its absolutely absurd.

        Like it or not anime falls under the category of art. Buyers of art only get to control subject matter with they directly commission an artist to produce a piece of work. Even then they can’t completely control how its rendered. However, for those who are simply shopping around as are western fans of manga/anime you only have the option of buy or don’t buy, watch or don’t watch.

  20. jay francis says:

    Ghost In The Shell’s fanservice is simply insane. No one else in her world walks around like – what the hell do people at a crime scene think when she turns up? And as a previous poster said, the character is written and voiced as if she resents it. Except when she’s not, because I remember her proposing that Section 9 go and look at female strippers after work. Sometimes I think she’s a male writer’s fantasy of how he’d behave as a hot female badass – Kampfer without the deliberate camp.

    Otoh, the attempt to compare male and female fanservice just doesn’t quite work. In fact, it doesn’t work at all. Women get turned on by quite different things to men – or at least the things they admit to are different – and so you shouldn’t expect fanservice for women to be the same as for men. Instead of underboob you might look for, oh, two hot brothers who act out incest fantasies for women in a host club? The acting part letting the fans have the thrill without the guilt. That the animation director doesn’t show the equivalent of trouserly Gainax bounce for the twins is because it would freak rather than intrigue the audience – not because it’s more depraved than twincest.

    You also have to consider that Spike Siegel doesn’t look like people in real life. Like a lot of male characters his entire appearance – facial type, bodily proportions – is pure female fan service: he’s 100% bishonen.

    …Which isn’t to say that the deluge of panty shots some anime have is a good idea, just that you’re not thinking through some of your arguments.

  21. jay francis says:

    ***mjiang says: That’s not much of a reason to stop fanservice. People like sex. So what if someone is offended? Nobody is really hurt, and your slippery slope arguments to “this’ll lead to rape!” are unconvincing. ***

    The author didn’t make that argument. Learn to read before replying, hmm?

    *end Fuck you so much. Fanservice is part of a larger sexist culture that torments women every day. *

    That’s an easy assumption to make. But easy assumptions are often wrong. It’s an article of faith among some people that a man’s interest in sexual material and his propensity for bad deeds are related. But really, they’re not. I think this argument attracts a lot of women more than it should because it engages the awesome power of slut shaming at men, and if there’s one lesson most women learn during puberty, its that slut shaming is the next thing to nuclear weapons. This argument and its extension – that there are good and bad types of erotic reference to women and context and agency are the key – shouldn’t be unfamiliar to anyone who’s serious about feminsm, unless they skipped the 9-s and Third Wave Feminsm.

    What’s important is to understand is the behaviour towards women and the ideas about them that an anime suggests. For example, no one would get the idea from Panty And Stocking that all women are nymphomaniac psychotics just because Panty is – she’s presented as an extraordinary case. What they might get is that women have agency, including their own reasons for having sex, and are not moe doormats. In the case of Cowboy Beblop and Faye’s underboob… not a fan, ***but isn’t she presented as a character who manipultaes people in every way, including sexually?*** So the clothes are part of that and the question is whether all women are portrayed as being bad in the show. That a sexually manipulator dresses sexily is part of the show’s character – in Bebop the violence is showy too, and complaining about a femme fatale showing underboob when you’re watching fictional people being killed for your entertainment is problematic.

    Highschool Of The Dead is problematic though – and is Fruits Basket, which is like an indoctriantion program to set women up fro abuse. Because, in each case, of agency and context – in Dead, female characters who cluster like flies around the Marty Stu and the lack of context for panty display.

    As for Black Lagoon and KLK, things get really difficult…

  22. jay francis says:

    Micah says:
    June 17, 2014 at 7:29 am

    >>>The problem with this post is that it’s trying to use western cultural standards to measure and rate an Japanese/eastern form of art and entertainment. <<<

    If someone is paying foir an anime and it is being sold in their twon, they have a completely proper concern with its content.

    Also, the idea of "The East" as you use it is racist. Japan has far more in common with the USA than it does with, say, India. More really than Mexico does, or possibly even Sweden. In any even, things like the right to human dignity are something that morally decent people hold to be largely invariant. For example, we don't say that slavery is none of our business in an African country because we're "Western."

    • Micah says:

      Wow you’re really showing your ignorance. I am a Person of Color and I can start off by saying that referring to Japan as part of the East is not in the least bit racist. We use such terms in political discourse to describe regions (i.e. Near-East, Middle-East, Indian Sub-Continent, Far East, Southeast Asia, East Asia etc.) But you know what is racist? (Besides your ignorant correlation of Slavery being an African problem) Trying to press your cultural values on another society because you think that you know better than they do about what is best for them.

      It doesn’t matter that you are paying for something. Its a form of entertainment that you actively seek out. Nobody is twisting your arm to buy it. You went in search of goods from a foreign market and have to deal with the way they choose to handle THEIR intellectual property.

    • Brendan says:


      Bad choice of examples when you talk of slavery. Just google Japanese Comfort Women, or look at what Japanese attitudes have been to imported Korean workers. It aint a pretty picture.

  23. fawn17 says:

    This entire post is just the greatest thing T-T so beautiful

    I stopped watching anime entirely because of the way women are treated. I simply couldn’t handle it anymore. But I recently wrote my own post in this vein as well

  24. […] but seriously: God, I love anime (except when I don’t, but that’s another story). It’s a medium that has exactly zero fucks to give about […]

  25. […] Meadows discusses anime fan service and the different standards for male and female centric […]

  26. […] Foz Meadows discusses in a post on fan service, the two aren’t equivalent. Anime offers harem fantasy set-ups for men and women alike, but […]

  27. Mongkey says:

    Bad article. Only women will relate to you. Me? I am a guy and I love sexy looking anime chicks.

  28. YourMom says:

    The problem with articles like this… is that they exist.

    • autochron says:

      See, when I tell people that as a straight man I am basically evil incarnate, they look at me like I have rocks in my head… but I look at this, and I think “Fanservice is dehumanizing, but when I see a woman I’m attracted to, what’s in my head? More dehumanizing ‘fanservice’! And as if that weren’t bad enough, I’m supposed to find a relationship with a woman who not only tolerates, but actually fucking LIKES that I think about her in that way? How many women would see me with the disgust and contempt I deserve before that happened? So humiliating…” So it goes. And people just don’t understand how I wish my sexuality would just die, because after all I’m the privileged one, so what do I have to complain about?

      And yes, before I’m accused of strawmanning, I’m being 100% sincere, and am interested in dialogue, for what it’s worth.

  29. Kid says:

    Ok, here’s my argument. It’s pretty logical.

    Japan needs to simply make more fanservice for women.
    Make it equal.
    And by equal “fanservice” I mean have a male character trip and have panty shots of his ass because his pants slip or rip in front of a girl and have him blush and be embarrassed. Have a MALE character come out of the shower and have a female character walk in and say, “oops sorry” then have the guy go “Eek, pervert” and blush like crazy.

    Have a girl/woman trip and fall on a guy with her hands on his pecs. Lawl….. then have the guy look away all ashamed and shit….

    Have a warrior guy get captured and tentacle assault from some fat pervy female villain.

    Don’t forget to have weird angles of the dude’s ass and big pecs….

    Have the guy characters in any anime, wear revealing clothing. OF course it has to be hot and masculine, but having the guys wear no shirt is fine too, even if they’re warriors…. even if it’s NOT practical, like showing man cleavage.

    Have the guy character get sexually assaulted by some pervy ugly ass old hentai woman/women, and have him be all scared and shit and do absolutely nothing about it, yet protests about it.


    Let the WOMEN have some fanservice for once…. yaoi simply ain’t enough, baby…..
    Japan needs to hire more female animators.

    If you can’t get rid of fanservice against women…. then add WAY more fanservice against men….. EQUALITY! Plus it’s hot…… and not fair that only lesbian women seem to enjoy anime fanservice since it’s done mostly to women, why not do it to men too? Ya dicks!

    The anime, “free”, doesn’t count. It’s not perverted enough…. there aren’t any guys coming up behind another guy and groping his chest…. and there ain’t no nipples… like for real yo……..

    • Kid says:

      Oh snap!

      Don’t forget to have a fight scene where a guy gets his clothes ripped off around revealing parts and show weird ass angles of his body. Like the birds eye view of his big juicy pectorals, then the worms eye view of his booty and pectors too….. like shiiieeett…… It’s so hypocritical to do this to female characters yet show respect to male characters, like how fucking sexist Japan…. America too, but Japan is worse.
      Have a scene where a guy is knocked out by a really buff broad, and have a girl totally nose bleed over his sexy sexualized unconscious body.

      History’s strongest disciple Kenichi is a horrible example of fanservice against women…. it starts out okay…. but as the story goes on more and more revealing shots of women’s body when they fight happens, and their clothes get totally ripped off. Like wtf? It became a porno.

      I hate fan service, but since we can’t get rid of it girls, let’s make it fair.
      I want more fan service of male bodies in future animes PEOPLE.

      You have created a monster that is me.

  30. hz hz says:

    uh yeah so i dont think its that bad. I dont think anybody needs to represented fairly in animenbecause its fantasy. I always have this issue with people that care what a gender looks like or how their represented or who they date. I have an issue because i dont understand well i do but i dont i understand you dont like fanservice but what i dont get is why anyone cares about it and choses sides. So im gonna be honest im a dude and if a dude in a show video game anime etc is naked i just dont care. Like in smash i always pick the beach shulk because i dont care, and i dont understand why people do either. In my opinion and you can think what you want i think fanservice episodes or their called beach episodes are just episodes where the mc goes to the beach to rest from something (after a fight exam etc). in my opinion fanservice usually happens here and it occupies 1 episode. I dont think fanservice kills the show or saves in (non ecchi category of course) but its kinda just there i dont think they mean anything from it either. In my opinion i just think that fanservice is meh it depends on the show really its all right. In general ill admit that i do like it, but then again i dont see it as anything i see it as the little thing that happens in anime for like a second for a quick chuckle. I think rather than sexual its mostly funny like when a feminine guy get embarressed when he takes of his shirt its not sexual its kinda just funny

  31. Vincent Furnier says:

    The problem with your stance is…you’re an idiot. Fanservice is the only thing that makes anime watchable. Anime in general is a pathetic insult to the intelligence of anyone with an IQ above 75. The repetitive utilization of classic anime tropes and conventions is the antithesis of cleverness and creativity. No genre is more effective at draining the entertainment value from an otherwise innovative and interesting story than anime.

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