Can fanservice ever be justified in anime or is it a disturbing and unnecessary aspect of the genre? In this occasional series we look at the rights and wrongs of fanservice and other questionable content in anime. A warning: this series will have plenty of spoilers and sometimes NSFW discussions and images. This week, the second episode of harem anime Haganai.
What’s the deal?
Kodaka Hasegawa is a transfer student who makes some bad decisions on his first day at a new academy. He turns up late, so exhausted that he nearly collapses and everyone thinks he is lunging forward to attack the teacher. Then he mentions to the girl next to him that he has forgotten his book and she is intimidated enough at that point to assume he is demanding hers. Immediately he has the reputation for being somebody dangerous and best avoided. A life devoid of friends awaits him. One day he happens to see Yozara Mikazuki talking to an imaginary friend when she thinks nobody is looking. It turns out he’s not the only friendless student at the academy. Together the two of them start up a club with the aim of making new friends. Surprisingly, their first new member is the most popular girl in school, Sena Kashiwazaki, who is lacking any genuine female friends. In this second episode, the two girls are not getting on very well at all. They try to bond over some video games, which quickly turn competitive, while Kodaka is caught in their crossfire.
Why it’s not OK.
It’s pretty clear from the opening credits to this anime that there is going to be quite a bit of fanservice, although the first and second episodes don’t have any… apart from this one moment in the second episode. The two girls are looking at the computer screen, and for a couple of seconds the “camera angle” is looking right up Yozara’s skirt. Now, if you look at the picture on the right you can see that Kodaka is standing on the right of the frame at this point, so we are not seeing things from his perspective. No, this is the pervert eye view. Leaving aside the lack of practical underwear and degree of realism thereof, the problem with this kind of thing is that there’s just no justification. If the animators are showing something a character can see, then there’s at least some reason for it: so maybe if Yozara caught a glimpse from this angle himself and got all flustered or whatever that wouldn’t be quite so bad. At least then the viewer is experiencing the character’s world through his eyes. But no, this is simply the animators placing the viewer in the position of the extra person in the room, and that extra person is being a creep.
Why it’s OK.
Nope, I’ve got nothing. This is a series that has so much potential to explore different kinds of loneliness and its consequences, so that’s a great shame. RP