If you are an avid anime fan, the word fanservice is no stranger to you. Fanservice refers to the intentional indulgence of what pleases fans. It is commonly executed by introducing eye-candy characters or showing skin in voluptuous female leads and antagonists.
The use of fanservice in anime has left fans split into two sides: the side that welcomes fanservice with open arms and the team that deems it unnecessary and excessive. Anime scenes depicting fanservice stir the visual, emotional, and psychological aspects of the viewers. As such, fanservice for male viewers is entirely different in the case of female audiences.
In a way, fanservice can be redefined as ‘seducing’ a group of viewers into investing more attention and emotion to a character, scene, or series. As was mentioned, gratuitous service for male and female audiences vary, in such a way that the former focuses heavily on graphic imageries while the latter draws from emotional responses.
From showing off cleavage and skin to zoning in on charming princes and mysteriously attractive villains, fanservice never fails to earn a distinctive squeal or cause a heart-racing reaction from both male and female fans.
How else do male and female fanservice differ from each other?
- Male fanservice is mainly surface level
Perhaps the first few instances of sexually arousing scenes in anime mostly involved busty and curvy female characters. Visually enticing scenes never fail to get instant approval from fans, especially the male viewers. Female fanservice also has its fair share of showing skin in the most inappropriate areas, but it has a heavier and more apparent emotional approach.
- The damsel-in-distress formula works well with female fanservice
In anime, there is a genre called ‘reverse harem,’ which is the opposite of a harem anime. A harem anime involves a single male protagonist surrounded by dozens of female supporting characters. It is common in both harem and reverse harem anime that the supporting characters eventually develop feelings for the main character. Reverse harem is often depicted by having a group of good-looking men (called bishounen in anime lingo) build varying levels of platonic to romantic relationships with the female lead. It is this growing connection between the heroine and her gorgeous group of supporting characters that trigger the emotions and engagement in female fans.
There is also a common ground for both types of fanservice.
Aside from the traditionally sexy approach, it can also take on multiple approaches. Some anime series introduces an extremely cute and adorable female character (referred to as ‘Moe’) that can quickly warm the hearts of viewers. There are also anime scenes that still focus on eye candy, but by dressing popular characters in stunning outfits. For example, a female heroine could don a yukata in a festival scene, or a male protagonist is portrayed wearing a warrior costume. In other instances, male-to-male and female-to-female relationships—both subtle and mainstream—are also injected.
Appealing to what audiences’ desire can either go positively or negatively. When an anime series is equipped with effective fanservice, it is akin to drawing the viewers into a form of a mind game. It is also very risky because, when done ineffectively, a series could lose a good chunk of its loyal fanbase.
Author – Mike Johnson