The term ‘fan service’ in anime rings a bell among anime fans. Usually, a lot of them would scoff at the word, while some would have lightened up at it.
For its namesake, fan service refers to any type of content or performance that has the purpose of pleasing the fans. Even real-life celebrities can also do it to make their fans happy. So from its concept, it does not seem negative at all.
Usually, fan service in anime refer to something related to more sexual shots and angles of any character’s body parts. However, that is not always the case. Fan service in general can encompass a lot of things, as long as it is meant to fulfill what the fans wanted.
For example, fans wanted two enemy characters to be together, the manga or anime creator decided to make the two enemies fall in love despite their previous grievances. It does not have to make sense plot-wise, but fans will appreciate it nonetheless.
But is fan service all that bad? Can it have its good side as well?
Giving the fans what they want regardless of the story and character is not good. It feels inauthentic and even forced. It does not add any relevance to the story, nor does it give any meaning. It can just fall flat, and it is very obvious that it only panders to what fans want. It may have diverted from the original source material, and changes may have been made.
These changes are not going to be received well by fans who have read the original source material. Particularly, major changes that affect the characters and the plot will not bode well.
These can refer to characters that did not have any previous chemistry end up together, or the story changed its original tragic ending to a happy one without any build-up. The sudden change will fall short in its storytelling.
However, there are times that they are just minor changes, in which dialogues are added. Character appearances can also change, and even certain shots of scenes are included.
Minor changes are not necessarily bad just as long as it does not affect the overall plot. However, too much of these minor changes may become annoying. They can be repetitive to the point of being a source of cringe.
Character designs can also be uncomfortable to some. This applies to characters dressed in skimpy or revealing clothes. Shots and close-ups of their exposed body parts are getting more emphasis. This leads to some anime getting censored, and even banned in certain countries. Even that, the decisions on character designs sometimes do not make any sense with regards to the character’s personalities or abilities.
Unfortunately, fan service can also ruin the characters or the plot itself, especially when it is being excessively used. Characters who have big potential to be interesting can be reduced to just being a source of fan service. In a way, it does a great disservice to the characters and plot, as it can be something better with an identity of its own rather than relying on fans.
Business-wise, fan service helps a lot by raking in money for the creators of anime and manga. The fans will become even more invested in the story, and can definitely make the anime popular. The merchandise the anime will put out will be bought by fans, which can secure its financial success.
This could be one of the primary reasons some anime engage in fan service. It can be a guaranteed way to make an anime successful. Although not every anime with fan service can become popular, it can still have a small, dedicated fandom.
A fan service can be good if it actually makes sense to the plot and characters. If the creators added and tweaked some scenes that can show a build-up to the change, then it would have been better. Sometimes, even during the author is in the process of writing the manga, they can even get inspirations from what the fans want. They will be able to incorporate it into the story smoothly, as if it comes naturally. The fan service is not so blatantly obvious, and fans can even mistaken it as something planned ever since the beginning.
Or rather, fan service does not overshadow the anime’s overall plot and characters. It is still interesting and intriguing to the point anyone can just ignore the fan service parts. It does not affect the relevant story, nor the character’s uniqueness.
Fan service can be a tricky way to navigate. It will be received with either overwhelming negativity or positivity. While it may bring happiness to the other half of the fandom, the rest may not receive it well. This could also lead to an online bashing and fierce debates between fans.
In other words, an anime with fan service may be able to pull it off, or it becomes a cringe-y mess. Let us hope that fan service will not be too excessively used in our favorite anime.