Fan Service in the Anime, Sexism in the Fandom: Why Fan Service in Anime is a problem
Fan service is a rather infamous thing in anime. It seems to be, well, almost everywhere. Yes, there are plenty of series that are blissfully free of fan service, but it is one of those things that pops up more than it should.
We define fan service as the hyper-sexualization and objectification of women’s (and sometimes even young girls’) bodies within anime. Fan service is framed in a highly sexualized context and is aimed at a male audience. It should be noted here that not ALL “revealing” outfits are fan servicy. Misty from Pokemon, after all, wears a bare midrift and very short shorts, but isn’t fan service.
Fan service takes the form of panty shots, boob shots, useless bikini armor, and is deliberately framed in a sexualized male-gazey way.
So, why is that a problem? Who cares? Isn’t is just good fun? Well No.
Fan service turns women’s bodies into a PRODUCT to be sold to men. It is a SERVICE after all, remember? It frames women as simply eye candy, there for men to drool over, a ploy to male boys by DVDs because there’s tits on the cover.
That’s dehumanizing and alienating to many female fans, and it often leads to very poorly written female characters in the text.
Not only is it just a problem within the text however, but it bleeds into the fan community as well.
There is a very real problem at many cons surrounding Cosplay harassment. Female fans is cosplay are seen as fair game for harassment, unwanted groping, and the like. After all, the characters these women are dressed up as exist as objects for men to droll over, so men see women dressed like that as objects to drool over too.
It is important to remember than fan service does not inherently RUIN an anime or a character. But it is a problem, and the sooner we confront that problem as a community, the better.