Welcome to the first in an occasional series looking at the rights and wrongs of fanservice and other questionable content in anime. A warning to start with: this series will have plenty of spoilers and sometimes NSFW discussions and images. Let’s start with the first episode of the edgy anime rom com, Eromanga Sensei.
What’s the deal?
Masamune Izumi is a light novel author. Despite being only 15, he has had a great deal of success, but he doesn’t have the skill to illustrate his own work, so somebody does that for him, an artist with a skill for lewd art known as Eromanga Sensei. During this opening episode he discovers that Eromanga Sensei by a huge coincidence happens to be his little sister Sagiri, who is a shut-in girl who rarely emerges from her bedroom. She also seems to have a bit of a crush on him, but they’re not blood related, so that’s fine… right?
Why it’s not OK.
I’m not going to stand in judgement over another culture, so let’s just say there are some elements that take some getting used to: a couple of kids who have lost their parents, living alone; a 12-year-old girl who never goes to school but nobody seems to mind; a 12-year-old who draws rude drawings for a living but that’s apparently OK. The little sister character has been a staple feature of anime for a long time, and is often a lot of fun, but there is a recent trend to pervert that with a twist of incest, sometimes using a non-blood-related status as a get-out-clause. It’s getting a bit icky. Also, some of the “camera angles” chosen when Sagiri is on screen are questionable.
Why it’s OK.
This is a difficult one without getting into the realms of later episodes, but this series does do some interesting stuff and does it well, and there is restraint shown in terms of the degree of fanservice, at least where Sagiri is concerned. There is also restraint shown in how the relationship between Sagiri and her brother develops. At this early stage the series is already a lot of fun if you can stomach the slightly uncomfortable stuff, and is at times a compelling portrayal of crippling social anxiety. It’s also aspirational to some extent. The main characters have beaten the odds of the loss of their parents and made a success of themselves through hard work and using their talents. The series will continue to show us a cast of young characters who have achieved amazing things. Masamune just wants his little sister to come out of her room so they can be a family, and that’s quite touching, as is the dedication he shows in caring for her, making all her meals. Oh, and the opening and closing songs are both brilliant. RP
Read more: The Fanservice Debate: Eromanga Sensei Ep 2