Why Are Anime Characters Sexualized So Much? (And More Questions)

kuroko shirai thinking face
Written by Theo J Ellis

Is it really that bad? Are anime characters really sexualized as much as we’d like to believe?

Are they sexualized at all?

Or is this a case of choosing to only see this aspect of anime characters?

I’ll leave the answers to you for the moment.

Before I get into anything like that… Let’s first talk about why anime characters are sexualized at all.

And the reason why this won’t change anytime soon.

 

Why Anime Characters Are Sexualized:

 

1. Most anime fans like it… 

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This fact reminds me of Nami from One Piece. One of the most famous One Piece itself.

In one scene… Nami is damaged, and the first thing that’s pointed out is her “knockers”, followed by a torn top and a subtle push from her left arm to keep her chest at bay.

 

Why is this necessary, and why do most anime fans like it?

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Well that’s simple: who is anime’s dominant target audience?

Here’s a hint…

Gender Range Pie Chart Anime Motivation Company

 

That’s right – anime’s audience is MOSTLY male.

So when you see this kind of sexualization of female characters, it’s self-fulfilling.

Especially when you realize anime’s age range is mostly teenagers and people in their early twenties.

Age Of Visitors Pie Chart Anime Motivation Store

When you look at it from this point of view (based on facts) it’s hard to debate the reason.

Don’t get me wrong – fan-service and sexualization has its place. As does everything.

But the fact is – people enjoy it. So let them enjoy it. It’s not going anywhere. Though I’m not too fond of it myself (when it’s overdone).

I’m guessing anime fans in Japan enjoy it more than international audiences do, but I can’t say for sure.

The answer lies within their culture.

 

2. Fan Service has its own demand in the industry

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This is Hestia from Danmachi. A fantasy series with TONS of fan service.

Enough fan service to make you “choke” in disgust, or happiness. Depending on what you like or don’t like.

Personally I think it strikes a good balance, and is done within context.

But here’s the thing:

 

Danmachi isn’t the only anime with fan service

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You already knew that, but this video from No Game No Life takes things a step further.

This is only a 0.37 second clip and there’s plenty of fan service from the No Game No Life squad.

Regardless of age they’re being sexualized to the extreme. And there’s no argument about it.

But… the reason this kind of thing exists is because:

  • Fan service has its own demand in the industry.
  • People LOVE fan service.
  • It’s not a genuine issue.
  • Fan service works, and so anime creators continue to use it.

The last point isn’t pleasant, depending on the type of fan service we’re talking about, but it’s the truth.

Fan service plays a big role in why anime characters are supposedly sexualized in the industry.

It’s not an issue to begin with anyway.

 

3. It’s a good tactic to get people’s attention, and Japan knows it

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It’s not like western media is any better when it comes to sexualizing characters. In fact I’d argue it’s even worse, depending on which part of the spectrum you’re looking at.

Child beauty pageants in the UK and USA is one example, and it’s sickening. No one complains about it, least of all anime critics.

That aside: the media all over the world, not just with “anime”, has been doing this forever. Meaning sexualizaiton in general.

And it’s because it works so well.

Show a half-naked body of a woman (in particular) and what do you get?

Clicks, views, and then eventually: money. Because most people are lured in by the sexualization of the image.

Americans do this more than most, and these are the same hypocrites hating on anime, calling it misogynist because it doesn’t pander to their feelings and so on.

Related: Is Anime A Bad Influence?

 

4. Japan doesn’t give a sh*t about what people think

This is something I’ve mentioned before: Japan mostly cares about how the anime industry is doing… in their own country.

It’s why so few dubs are created overseas.

Or why there’s so few companies across the world in the anime industry.

I suspect the same is true with fan service and sexualization of characters: Japan doesn’t care what we think.

 

Is it wrong to sexualize anime characters?

If you ask me… no. Everything has its place.

It depends on the anime, what’s happening in the story, and where the focus is.

it’s not wrong when it’s within the right context. Though admittedly – sometimes it’s taken a step too far. But that’s me personally.

I’m mostly talking about how cringey it can be.

 

When is it OK to sexualize anime characters?

Continuing from my last point – the anime above is Gurren Lagann. The character is Yoko Littner.

In this kind of series – it’s understood from the beginning that fanservice is part of the series. For both male and female characters.

And in other anime like Kill La Kill – it’s expected because it’s an Ecchi anime.

Ecchi anime are a “watered” down version of what you’d see if you watched something explicit (I’m sure you know what I’m implying).

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So with that said – yes, there is a time and a place for sexualizing anime characters.

And that’s regardless of how YOU perceive it. Or the west perceives it. Because remember – that’s the point of Ecchi.

Man, woman, it doesn’t matter who’s being sexualized. Ecchi is Ecchi and that’s that.

Regardless of Ecchi – that applies to anime in general.

But that leaves the question:

 

What about other anime genres?

In truth – most anime as a whole.

And before you roll your eyes, yes, it does happen in other genres. Just not as often as Ecchi.

For example:

  • Shounen.
  • Romance.
  • Fantasy.
  • Adventure.

Sometimes you tend to see “exploitation” in these kinds of series. No Game No Life and One Piece are examples I gave earlier in this post.

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Fairy Tail is another culprit of this.

As long as the context makes sense, it doesn’t matter. And even then, it’s not always a cause for concern.

My problem with fan service and characters being “sexualized” is when it makes no sense to the overall plot, character, story or development.

That’s when I’m forced to facepalm myself, and walk away with disappointment dripping from my taste buds.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing in the grand scheme of things. It’s preferential.

Related: The TRUTH About Anime Objectification That Nobody Talks About

 

Is anime any worse than other forms of media for its sexualization?

Absolutely not.

Have you seen the way celebrities dress in the USA?

Or the things they “get up to” in general?

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Look at this video. It’s Miley Cyrus.

She’s insanely popular.

 

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This is Brittney Spears and Rihanna. I don’t need to say much because you know who they are.

I laugh when I see this bullsh*t being labelled as “empowerment”. That’s a fallacy delusional idiots love to believe to condone bad behavior.

Aren’t they sexualizing themselves and”objectifying based on how they’re dressed? Yet nobody says anything because they’re celebrities?

Same for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion these days, and all that WAP shit..

The same people who have no issue with this are the ones who hypocritically target anime.

 

What If the roles were reversed?

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Male fan service has happened for YEARS.

Gintama, the Fate series, and too many others have done this forever.

The only reason people complain about sexualization in the anime industry, which is slang for “women”, is because female characters are targeted.

That by itself is sexist because it assumes it can only be about women.

While I don’t enjoy extreme fan service, it’s not THAT big of a deal.

Most fans don’t have an issue with it. Even when it’s out of context.

As for the gender argument – It’s the same issue I have with the concept across most forms of media.

Because…

  • If the roles were reversed, would we complain about too much male sexualization?

I’m not asking this personally, I’m asking this objectively.

If most women were anime fans (70%), and male fans only made up 30%, would women complain about too much sexualization among anime characters?

I’m not convinced they would.

This is more about political correctness than it is about addressing a real problem.

Relevant: Anime Double Standards: How Men And Women Are Treated Differently

 

Outside of that – can we finally put this argument to bed now?

Let’s focus on REAL problems of sexualization in society itself. Like how the same SJW’S in the US complaining about anime characters will sexualize their own teenage celebrities, teenagers in general, and so on.

THAT is a problem.

Not some fictional sh*t happening in a fictional universe that doesn’t affect the world we live in. And has no correlation whatsoever.

Complaining and being politically correct in general… is mostly about bias, SJW nonsense and hidden agendas.

It’s easy to point fingers rather than clean up your own mess in your own back yard.

 

Recommended: 

7 Types Of Fans That Make The Anime Community TOXIC

5 Anime Shows That Take Fanservice To A New Level Of Stupid