Higher Grade Material, Please

Over at THAT Animeblog, an editorial by Crusader about low and high classes of fanservice generally reflects my own views:

Perhaps low fanservice, or fanservice involving nudity, does have a place for younger people, but as the years go by I find it harder to laugh or cheer when that nubile teenager runs about half naked or lies in the sack half naked. The older I get the more if find myself being sickened by low fanservice.

Whereas “low level fanservice” is about showing charcters scantilly-clad or less, “high level fanservice” comes across as a well developed character who’s above cheap tricks, someone with self worth, someone with a commanding or witty disposition.

Lasting fanboyism depends on high fanservice that is burned into the human memory banks not cheap tricks […]. Despite this[,] high fanservice remains scarce while low fanservice abounds. Low fanservice is hardly worth praise given how it pales in comparison to the win and awesome of [higher fanservice]. … Ecchi is so ubiquitous that any bishoujo who is used in such a joke comes off as exceedingly average. It hints at a lack of intelligence to use [ones] body instead of [ones] head to win the objective.

This is the kind of talk that gets you called an elitist who things he’d better than everyone else—at least that’s what I tend to meet with. The idea here isn’t that everyone should want “high fanservice”, nor is it that “low fanservice” should vanish. If anything, it’s a call for more of the higher grade material.

Thinking back to many anime series I’ve seen, offhand I can’t think of a single character who’d fall under Crusader’s words about “high fanservice”. I’m sure there have been some, but I can’t recall any. This isn’t to say I haven’t seen some wonderful series. I can go on forever about how great Princess Tutu is, with its well developed characters and plot. I do wonder what I may be missing out on by focusing on watching safer series, though.

Here’s my own comment to the editorial:

Well, I sure know whose posts I’ll be paying more attention to.

I think this “low level fanservice” is one of the reasons I tend to avoid anime with older characters, and instead I watch so much animated material centered around young characters. Unless you’re watching that “Nymphet” series, a series revolving around a young cast is quite safe. Not once was there a moment in “Ojamajo Doremi” or “Janggeum’s Dream” where I felt I had to quickly abort before someone in my vanpool sees what’s on the screen. Not once has “Cardcaptor Sakura” or “Petite Princess Yucie” made me feel I should turn and look away for a portion of a scene.

Of course, I’m the type who gets squeamish over parts of “Bottle Fairy“‘s beach episode.

I’m one of those people who can say, “I enjoy ‘Love Hina‘ for the characters.” (I actually had high hopes for “Negima!“, but dropped it without even finishing the second book.) The only reason I gave “Love Hina” a chance was because a friend assured me I’d appreciate the amount of work put into the characters’ personalities. I do prefer the anime in that it’s “cleaner” in what it shows (up until the final episode and “Love Hina Again“, of course), even though it can’t live up to the manga when you ignore the low level fanservice.

Eh, wake me when there’s another “Saint Tail” or “Azumanga Daioh“. If I can’t get well developed characters in a strong plot, I’ll take easygoing and clean comedy over lack of clothing any day.

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