The Fanservice Debate: Nagato Ep 15

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 beach episode of Haruhi Suzumiya spinoff The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan.

What’s the deal?

Nagato Yuki-Chan Haruhi BeachThis series veers back and forth between slice-of-life, rom com, the usual Haruhi shenanigans, and a compelling amnesia storyline for a few episodes. Approaching the end of the series we are firmly back in slice-of-life territory, riffing on the original Haruhi Endless Eight arc as an excuse to show the characters having fun and slowly move the love angle between Kyon and Yuki along. This week, the group of friends are having fun at the beach.

Why it’s not OK.

Nagato Yuki-Chan Beach Mikuru and Kyon's Little SisterThere was an element of fanservice to the original Endless Eight arc, but this series goes much stronger with it, and mainly that distinction comes down to shot choice. If you are focussing a shot on Kyon’s little sister, and she is being upstaged by Mikuru’s chest, that’s not an accident. Poor Mikuru doesn’t even get her head in shot at that moment. Her costume also doesn’t fit with her character. She’s supposed to be a shy, nervous thing. Would she really choose that bikini? And Tsuruya’s costume is just crazy – surely no teenage girl would wear that for a day at the beach with her friends? Also, the way Kyon ends up on top of Yuki is rather contrived, although it is quite amusing. Where Kyon’s little sister goes, trouble will always be found.

Why it’s OK.

As a general rule I tend to think these kinds of episodes have their place in anime series, simply because they throw familiar characters into a very different setting and see what happens. That can be a golden opportunity to move character development along. In particular here, the focus is on Kyon’s awkwardness around Yuki after her alter-ego’s love confession. It makes for an interesting contrast. They are in a fun setting and should be enjoying themselves, but instead Kyon is full of pent-up frustration at his inability to “just be normal”. And I think this episode puts something important into perspective with Kyon. Faced with a barrage of busty girls in revealing bikinis, he still obsesses over the quiet, visually unimpressive girl in her modest outfit. That must be love.   RP

Read the individual episode reviews: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Read more fanservice debate articles:  The Fanservice Debate

About Roger Pocock

Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com Co-writer on junkyard.blog Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Anime, Television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Fanservice Debate: Nagato Ep 15

  1. scifimike70 says:

    The perspective that enables you to accept and love who or what is imperfect, as I just learned yet again a moment ago, is a message that I have always enjoyed in animated classics. Thank you, RP.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ShiraDest says:

    What’s fanservice?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roger Pocock says:

      It’s a fairly wide ranging term, but most commonly getting characters into skimpy clothes (or no clothes at all) to please the fans. An example that comes to mind from outside the world of anime would be 7 of 9’s outfit in Star Trek Voyager.

      Liked by 2 people

      • ShiraDest says:

        Ah, I remember some of the comments on 7/9’s outfits!

        Liked by 1 person

      • scifimike70 says:

        There are also fanservice points on the Junkyard about female companions in Dr. Who that are well made by RP and ML, with some of my comments too. As for 7 of 9, I could accept her as an identifiable character for striving for her own identity. Because this is a characterized tradition for Trek roles starting with Spock. Then there was Data, Odo, the EMH Doctor and B’Elanna. So thankfully I could see that there was more to 7 of 9’s beauty than her physique and outfit.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Roger Pocock says:

        Very rare with Doctor Who companions, Mike. Apart from Leela and Peri, you could only pick out isolated moments.

        Liked by 1 person

      • scifimike70 says:

        Indeed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Does fanservice only apply to overly sexualized content which is ultimately extraneous to the story and is solely there to titillate and bring in male viewers / readers?

    I was under the impression that fanservice also encompassed any sort of reference to old stories or long-time continuity or obscure characters in order to appeal to longtime, hardcore fans. Several years ago, when I did a blog about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. One section of my write-up, which listed all of the blatant shout-outs and homages to the original 1977 movie, was sarcastically titled “There’s No Service Like Fan Service” (a play on “there’s no business like show business,” naturally).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, that was my write-up on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I enjoyed the movie, but it was obvious that Disney was trying much too hard to appeal to all of the people who saw the original back in 1977 when they were six years old and who were still furious that the prequels had not exactly recaptured that magical childhood experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Roger Pocock says:

      The meaning has shifted a little over the years, but your use of it is still valid, although may lead to some misunderstanding if you used it in that context now. It’s nearly always used to describe lewd content, but it’s not always extraneous or just there to bring in male viewers. When there is no other reason than that, it’s in my opinion the worst kind of fanservice, but there’s more often a point to it beyond that. It’s a distinction I discuss quite a bit throughout this article series.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. scifimike70 says:

    I for one prefer to see the magic revitalized. Recaptured, yes, but with a sufficiently newer identity for the next chapter. That’s why I enjoy the current Dr. Who and why I enjoyed Blade Runner 2049 despite whatever mixed reviews they may have received. So if something’s all too familiar in some cases, maybe out of insecurity for trying anything new, then that expression of fanservice has truly been a continuing problem.

    This topic on the junkyard therefore makes me contemplate how every movie and TV show for all their fanservices will be looked upon many years or decades from now. Because quite undeniably we’re all evolving enough to look at such controversial artforms from clearer perspectives.

    So thanks again, Ben, for another valuable point.

    Liked by 1 person

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