Fan service (ファンサービス, fan sābisu), fanservice, or
service cut (サービスカット, sābisu katto), is material
in a work of fiction or in a fictional series which is intentionally
added to please the audience. The term originated in
Japanese, in the anime and manga fandom, but has been used in
other languages and media. It is about "servicing" the fan –
giving the fans "exactly what they want."
Fan service usually
refers to "gratuitous titillation", but can also refer to intertextual
references to other series or story and visual elements that
audiences tend to desire.
3 In translation
4 See also
6 Further reading
Direct and deliberate audience titillation is nearly as old as fiction
itself. Examples which can be found in early works include
meta-references, where the work or audience is referenced within the
work itself, homage or parody where the work references another work
familiar to the audience, asides where a character in a work directly
speaks to the audience, cameos where characters or persons familiar to
the audience outside the work (such as the author, a celebrity, or a
character from another story) make an appearance in the work for the
audience's sake, and other examples of breaking the fourth wall to
directly engage the audience. An ancient example can be found in
The Frogs where two characters speak in the
Dionysus: But tell me, did you see the parricides / And perjured folk
Xanthias: Didn't you?
Dionysus: Poseidon, yes. Why look! (points to the audience) I see them
These nods to the presence of the audience not only acknowledge the
narration, but invite the audience to become a co-creator in the
Gratuitous sexual titillation has also been a common feature of
entertainment throughout history, but when it serves to enhance the
work itself and when it could be simply be called "fan service" is
debatable. Since the 1950s, professional sports, especially American
football, have used cheerleaders to entertain the audience. These are
typically scantily-clad females who dance and perform for the
titillation of the fans. These, along with mascots, musical
performances, and halftime shows are commonly known as "fan service"
in Japanese sports, although the term is less commonly applied to
sports in the US.
In cinema, external factors of fandom such as societal norms and
celebrity status can often affect a work of fiction. The 1952 French
Manina, la fille sans voiles
Manina, la fille sans voiles (Manina, The Girl Without Sails) was
not imported into the United States until 1958 after the success of
the film's star
Brigitte Bardot in that country. In the US, the film
was renamed "Manina, The Girl In the Bikini" to highlight the appeal
of the star and her revealing outfit (then a matter of controversy),
despite her not appearing in the first 40 minutes of the 76 minute
film. In the United States, from 1934 to 1954, cinema was limited
Hays Code in what it deemed appropriate to show audiences. In
spite of this, foreign imported films and exploitation films
specialized in providing sexual and taboo content which audiences were
unable to view on television or in approved films.
Keith Russell regards the beginning of modern fan service as taking
place in a permissive context, when "kids were just doing kids'
stuff", which he believes allowed authors some latitude in regards to
their subject matter. Beginning in the 1970s with Cutey Honey, and
continuing later with other magical girl shows, fan service in manga
became more risqué. By the 1980s full frontal nudity and shower
scenes became standard content for anime and manga fan
service. In the West, obscenity laws and rating systems (such
Comics Code Authority in the United States or the MPAA rating
system, which replaced the Hayes Code for film ratings) prevent or
limit gratuitous displays of nudity in films and comic books. However,
bikini shots and topless scenes were still popular forms of audience
titillation. In the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, Carrie Fisher
portrayed the character of
Princess Leia wearing a metal bikini and
chains while enslaved to the gangster Jabba the Hutt. The motivation
for this change in her character (previously portrayed in the series
as a strong, empowered leader) to a seemingly vulnerable sex symbol
was an attempt to feminize the character and appeal to boys'
fantasies. Some critics point out, however, that by portraying
Leia as the object of desire to a crude monster, the film is
reflecting the crude fantasies of its audience.
Marvel Comics began publishing a special series catering to
fan service, Marvel Swimsuit Specials, which features both male and
female characters in swimsuits and skimpy clothing. In the same year,
Marvel released a
Sensational She-Hulk issue wherein the title
character wears a bikini and jumps rope nude (blur lines cover any
displays of nudity).
Although the concepts had been used previously, the term itself "fan
service" (ファンサービス, fan sābisu) most likely originated
in the late 80s to describe such scenes in anime and manga. The
term is used in the 1991 film
Otaku no Video.
Later, excessive fan service content came to be considered gratuitous
regardless of its justification in relation to the narrative in which
it takes place. Hideaki Anno, who had promised Neon Genesis
Evangelion would give "every episode... something for the fans to
drool over," began removing the fan service imagery in later episodes.
Those later episodes that did contain fan service elements juxtaposed
them with imagery of the character in some kind of emotional trauma.
Since then, fan service rarely contains full nudity.
In modern anime, fan service has often been received with varied
reviews. While some series, like Fate/Zero, have received positive
reviews for their fan service interposed with humorous effect or an
overall good story, others, such as Rosario + Vampire, Code Geass, and
Highschool of the Dead, have often been panned for their fan service,
which is often seen as unnecessary, distracting and out of place.
Long shots of robots in mecha shows, sexual elements, violent
episode-long fight scenes, and emphasis on shipping can all be
considered fan service as they are specifically aimed at pleasing the
fans of any given show. Christian McCrea feels that
particularly good at addressing otaku through fan service by adding
many "meta-references" and by showing "violence and hyperphysical
activity". Baseball teams provide events which are described in
Japan as fan service, such as dance shows, singing the team song, or a
performance by the team mascot.
The typical, but not only, variety of fan service in anime or manga is
racy, sexual, or erotic content, such as nudity and other forms of eye
candy (for example, sexy maid costumes).
Fan service is
especially common in shonen manga (aimed at boys). In shonen manga,
pin-up girl style images are common "in varying states of undress",
often using an "accidental exposure" excuse to show a favourite female
character, or an upskirt "glimpse of a character's panties".
Series aimed at an older audience include more explicit fan
service. Jiggling breasts, known as the "
Gainax bounce", are an
example of fan service, created as a way to make a scene of the
Daicon IV opening video a bit more "H". The "bounce" was taken up by
other animators, including the creators of the hentai series Cream
Shower scenes are very common in movies and in anime of
the 1980s and 1990s, while many more recent TV series use trips to
onsen (Japanese hot springs) or trips to tropical locales (or in some
cases a swimming pool) in order to showcase the characters in bathing
suits. Series aimed at males can also include fan service for women,
as an attempt to court a wider audience.
Keith Russell defines fan service as "the random and gratuitous
display of a series of anticipated gestures common in
Manga and Anime.
These gestures include such things as panty shots, leg spreads and
glimpses of breast". Russell regards fan service as being an aesthetic
of the transient "glimpse", which he contrasts with the gaze, as it
takes the mind unaware and open to "libidinous possibility" without
mediation. He considers the fan service object to be reassuring in its
unrealistic nature and to be confirming the "freedom of desire".
Shoujo manga, aimed at female readers, also includes fan service, such
as showing male characters "half-naked and in enticing poses". Robin
Brenner notes that in the US comics culture, fan service aimed at
women is rare, and also that in Japan, series can be famous for their
fan service content. Chris Beveridge explains this mindset with
Agent Aika: "There's some sort of plot in there, but that's not the
reason you're watching it. ... we're watching this for the sheer
amount of fanservice." Male homoeroticism, such as accidental
kisses, is a common feature of fan service for women, and has been
described as "easier to get away with" in terms of censorship than fan
service for males. In the
Boys Love genre, fan service is "artwork
or scenes" in products that "depict canonical characters in a
homosocial / homoerotic context".
Shoujo manga series may
eroticise its female leads as well for crossover appeal, as fan
service aimed at a potential male audience.
Brenner notes that fan service can be offputting to teen readers, as
in a male reading shoujo manga or a female reading shonen manga, and
that in general fan service is more criticised when it features a
female character. She cites
Tenjo Tenge as an example of a fan
Intertextual references are intended to be seen and understood by the
fans, as a way for the creators of the show to acknowledge and engage
the more knowledgeable members of the fan-base. Intertextual fan
service is now being inserted into media aimed at younger children as
well; this can be seen in Shrek 2's upside-down kiss scene, which is a
reference to an upside-down kiss scene in Spider-Man (2002).
When anime and manga are translated into English by U.S. companies,
the original work is often edited to remove some of the fan service,
making it more appropriate for U.S. audiences. Mike Tatsugawa
explained this change as a result of a difference between cultural
Japan and the U.S. In fact, some anime seems to have
little more than fan service as their selling point. Some believe
that the prevalence of fan service indicates a lack of maturity within
the fandom; an editor of
Del Rey Manga joked that manga Negima!
Magister Negi Magi, which contained fan service, should be rated as
"for immature readers 16+" rather than for "mature readers 16+".
Anime and manga portal
Bad girl art
Easter egg (media)
Good girl art
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