Anime fanservice (or fan-service) is always a debated topic in the industry. Mostly from people outside the culture, but sometimes from fans within it.
I’m not a fan of fanservice when it’s out of context, but there’s no issue with it inherently.
So why do so many:
- Radical feminists.
And so many more types of people have an ISSUE with it?
More importantly, why do they act like over 90% of anime is nothing but fan service?
I get that it can feel that way at times, but….
It turns out that’s not really the case, especially in the mainstream.
Fan service does sell, but generally speaking it’s not at the top of the food chain. Or a contributing factor to success, sales, or popularity.
Let’s start with MAL’S top 30 list to make a point.
1. TOP 30 ANIME BY RATINGS
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
- Hunter x Hunter (2011).
- Gintama (season 4).
- Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu.
- Gintama (season 2).
- Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2.
- Gintama’: Enchousen.
- 3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season.
- Kimi no Na wa.
- Koe no Katachi.
- Gintama (season 5).
- Gintama (season 1).
- Gintama Movie 2: Kanketsu-hen – Yorozuya yo Eien Nare.
- Clannad: After Story.
- Owarimonogatari 2nd Season.
- Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2.
- Haikyuu!!: Karasuno Koukou vs. Shiratorizawa Gakuen Koukou.
- Mob Psycho 100 II.
- Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi.
- Gintama.: Shirogane no Tamashii-hen – Kouhan-sen.
- Kizumonogatari III: Reiketsu-hen.
- Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai?: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen.
- Gintama.: Shirogane no Tamashii-hen.
- Made in Abyss Movie 3: Fukaki Tamashii no Reimei.
- Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen.
- Cowboy Bebop.
- Fate/stay night Movie: Heaven’s Feel – III. Spring Song.
- Haikyuu!! Second Season.
MonogatariSeries: Second Season.
Looking at that list we see:
These are the most common genre’s in the list.
The top #3 anime are anime nobody would think of when it comes to fan service.
In fact the only popular anime you can say “fan service” is a thing is with:
- Code Geass (bits and bobs).
But they’re NOT anime that embody fan service.
Anyway – the ratio is clear. Fan service plays no role in almost all of these popular anime (according to MAL).
2. TOP 30 SELLING ANIME FILMS
- Your Name.
- Spirited Away.
- Howl’s Moving Castle.
- Weathering with You.
- Stand by Me Doraemon.
- Pokémon: The First Movie.
- Princess Mononoke.
- The Secret World of Arrietty.
- The Wind Rises.
- Pokémon: The Movie 2000.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly.
- Detective Conan: The Fist of Blue Sapphire.
- Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer.
- One Piece: Stampede.
- One Piece Film: Z.
- Doraemon: Nobita’s Treasure Island.
- Yo-kai Watch: The Movie.
Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.
- Pokémon Zoroark: Master of Illusions.
- One Piece Film: Gold.
- Pokémon 3: The Movie.
- Tales from Earthsea.
- Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo.
- Detective Conan: The Darkest Nightmare.
- Doraemon: Nobita’s Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi.
- Doraemon: Nobita’s Chronicle of the Moon Exploration.
- Detective Conan: The Crimson Love Letter.
- From Up on Poppy Hill
- One Piece Film: Strong World.
Off this list, One Piece is really the only anime movie I can imagine having fan service.
All the others like
You can see that by counting from top to bottom. And yet they made $100’s of millions (the top 14 in particular).
3. TOP SELLING MANGA (No data for the anime counterparts)
- One Piece.
- Dragon Ball.
- Golgo 13.
- Detective Conan.
- Black JackiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops.
- KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops.
- Slam Dunk.
- Astro Boy.
- Attack on Titan.
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
- Fist of the North Star.
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
- The Kindaichi Case Files.
Ignoring One Piece (an anomaly as far as sales success), you can’t say most of these manga (or even their anime) are filled with fan service or rely on fan service.
One Piece (and Bleach sometimes) have fan service, and Jojo for unique reasons, but that’s about it.
Fan service is not a strong factor in these manga’s success and sales.
The further down you go on the Wiki page, the more you understand this to be a fact.
That’s about as far as we can go (and need to) with hard data.
So there you have it.
The most popular and the anime/manga with the most sales don’t have fan service and aren’t built on it.
Of course there are anime like:
- Kill La Kill.
- High School DxD.
- High School Of The Dead.
And plenty of other anime with fan service that are popular, but when you look at the data – fan service is a weak factor in creating success or the most sales.
It just happens to be a scapegoat used by critics that blows its relevance out of proportion, even though the MATH says otherwise.
Maybe that’s why anime fanservice doesn’t end up being too popular in general?