Ecchi can be both
This post was being written as a primer to both Prison School posts I wanted to write and a panel I want to plan. Sadly it has taken longer than expected. Nevertheless here it is!
I have been watching anime for a long time. This includes many different genres that I have watched for many different reasons. One of the most controversial topics in both anime and entertainment as a whole is the use of fan service. It is no secret that many series and movies exist merely to provide erotic entertainment. In fact the adult entertainment industry does not even need an excuse to service people's most primal desires. Despite the controversy there is nothing inherently wrong with sexual or erotic entertainment. I think the bigger question is can something be both erotic and thought provoking? I have thought a lot about both of these things in recent years. Sometime people watch anime because it is thought provoking, sometime they watch anime because it is erotic, and in some rare cases they want a series for both reasons.
|Official art by Ishizaki Toshio|
It is no secret that one of my favorite anime series in recent memory is Kill la Kill. This is a fun show to talk about in this topic as there are a lot of divided options based on the fan service alone. Many people claimed they could not watch the show do to its fan service. I for one respectfully disagree. In fact I feel the average panty shot in most anime series contains more fanservice than most of the scenes in Kill la Kill. This is because despite the fact most of the characters fight in next to nothing it is not intended to be erotic.
In Kill la Kill alien fabrics known as life fibers are used to make clothing that enhances a person’s strength. The tradeoff is that these fibers also eat away at the wearer’s life. Do to this most uniforms made with life fibers only have few strands stitched in. There are also uniforms known as the Kamui which are made of 100% life fibers. In order to keep it from taking over the user it is made to cover very little of the user’s skin. This gives the Kamui a “skimpy” look. Later in the show it is revealed that the life fibers are a parasite that plan on taking over the world and were hidden in clothes all over the planet. Rebels fight back dressed in nothing but tactical gear as part of a group known as Nudist Beach. The show is based on several plays on words. As director Hiroyuki Imaishi describes it: “When Japanese pronounce the English words ‘fashion’ and ‘fascism’, it sounds nearly the same.” Much if the plot makes reference to history including Nazi Germany. Do not let the lack of clothes fool you as the show is more about how fashion affects our lives then erotic fan service.
I can easily write a whole post about this topic but that will have to wait. If you want to read more about the hidden depth behind Kill la Kill you can start by reading Kill la Kill: The Fashion of Fascism on Art-eater. To close out I want to point out the moment being naked is no longer a big deal in Kill la Kill. Satsuki Kiryūin dons her Kamui Junketsu for the first time to fight the main character Ryuko Matoi. Ryuko is still embarrassed in her Kamui Senketsu and tells him, “I’m wearing you right now! You’re drinking my blood and I’m dying of embarrassment! What more do you want from me?!” To that Satsuki replies, “Exhibitionist? Nonsense! This is the form in which a Kamui is able to unleash the most power! [Sic] the fact that you are embarrassed by the values of the masses only proves how small you are! If it means fulfilling my ambitions, I will show neither shame nor hesitation, even if I bare my breasts for all the world to see! My actions are utterly pure!” From this point on the show rarely stops to point out the character’s lack of clothing. Unlike many anime series that go out of their way to look up a girl’s skirt Kill la Kill goes on to have some of the best fight scenes I have seen without drawing attention to their half-naked cast. Despite this I do not consider it to be a show that is both erotic and serious. Even though the show would not be the same without the brief nudity it is on the borderline of being needed. The show could have been done without it (called Gurren Laggan). That being said it would not have been the same. More to the point however is that fact that I just do not find the show erotic. Being naked is not the same as being erotic. Of course I could just be desensitized by other anime I have seen…