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Fanservice and Anime - My problem with Free! and fanservice in general

Hi Ani-Tay I wanted to have a discussion with everyone about an issue that's pretty prevalent in anime today, and gather everyone's opinion. So I was having a discussion with TUT last night when I got the idea for this article. I've been watching the anime Free! that's come out this season, it's a very good sports anime and I've been enjoying it pretty thoroughly, but something that's been bothering me came up in our discussion. Fanservice.


Free! has it in spades, but it's not the usual type of fanservice in anime, because it focuses on the male characters. Usually fanservice takes the form of panty shots or bouncing cleavage, which can be annoying in it's own way. I usually define fanservice as some sexually charged shot of the characters for the sake of being sexy. Now, I'm a guy and it didn't bother me too much, I still enjoy the show, but I found the show lingering on a shot of abs or biceps or whatever for just a beat or two too long and I noticed myself saying "alright alright c'mon get back to the plot already." Although it seems to be self aware about the fact that it's providing fanservice it even can seem a little tongue in cheek at times, but that doesn't change the fact that a part of each episode has had fanservice in it that I actually noticed and said "really?" It made me wonder what girls who watch anime feel about anime featuring fanservice of the female variety.

Now fanservice in general tends to bother me just because I feel that it oftentimes detracts from the overall story. For instance, one of my favorite shows of all time Hyouka has a fanservice episode called episode 11.5, in which the characters go to a swimming pool for a very contrived reason just to show off the characters in swimsuits, it seemed out of place and even though the end of the episode had a nice moment plot wise, the rest of the twenty minutes or so were totally pointless. Typically if the show is centered around fanservice I won't watch it at all. So, while there's some pretty blatant fanservice in Free! there's enough of a plot for me to continue enjoying it so far, but then again we're only four episodes in so that may change.

  • So what does everybody think?
  • Is fanservice something you enjoy in anime?
  • Do you have an example of where it actually enhanced plot?
  • EDIT FOR CLARIFICATION: All female Ani-TAYers out there, do you have that same experience with other shows that I did with Free!? or does it not bother you?

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