Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blatant Fan Service in Gintama

You may not want to admit it, but every single anime out there has fan service. In one way or another, the studio was thinking of the target audience and how to increase its marketability when creating the anime . Every studio is looking to increase sales and make money in the end. A lot of anime is sneaky about doing it, though. They weave their "the fans would love it if..." moments into the plot and make it so that the fan service is more difficult to see. Most good series do this. Most bad series don't know how. They just can't craft their fan service into the anime without it sticking out like a sore thumb, being totally blatant and obvious that you're supposed to like this.

This is especially evident in the routine beach episodes where the women all show off their jiggly bits while still trying to cover that little bit of nipple area. It's blatantly trying to entice the male audience and increase their marketability (buy the swimsuit version figma! Only $150!) They've just forgotten that the anime kind-of sort-of has a plot, and they end up sacrificing credibility for pleasing their fans. It shows that the anime really is one-sided and not trying to accomplish much of anything except get your money into the studio's pockets.

Gintama, however, is different. I just watched episode 166, and it included quite a lot of completely blatant fan service. It was much less offensive, though. Here's why.

1. It caters to a different audience. 
It's quite obvious that Gintoki x Hijikata is one of the most popular yaoi couples among female fans of Gintama. It's hard not to run into it when searching for Gintama fanart, and the Gintama anime has even acknowledged the couple's popularity before, joking about making a Gintama DVD cover featuring Gintoki and Hijikata kissing.
This episode, in which Gintoki and Hijikata are handcuffed together at both wrists by the sadistic Okita, is a perfect example of fan service targeted towards yaoi lovers, specifically ones who love Hijikata x Gintoki. It's a bit refreshing to see fan service that is directed towards women instead of men, because it seems that most of the time fan service is for the latter. 

2. The concept of the episode wasn't the "same old, same old."

It wasn't on the beach or anything cliche like that, instead it centered around Gintoki and Hijikata being handcuffed together and trying to catch these rebels that the Shinsengumi had been after for ages. The episode actually had a fair amount of action and comedy, making it fairly enjoyable. Being Gintama, the comedy mostly centered around Gintoki and Hijikata having to take a dump, but not knowing how to go about it when handcuffed. The result was hilarious. XD
 The action near the end of the episode was pretty kickass as well. Both men had to find a way to defeat a bunch of rebels while being handcuffed at both wrists. I'm not a fan of the Hijikata x Gintoki couple, but both men are deliciously badass, so the fight ended up being awesome.
There were parts of the episode that were completely blatant that this was yaoi fan service, though. It was pretty obvious from the start considering they were handcuffed together, but the part where Gintoki had to wrap his legs around Hijikata's waist to ride a motorcycle made it increasingly obvious.
 Not that it was a bad thing. I''m a yaoi fan, but I don't really care for Hijikata x Gintoki, and I enjoyed this episode. Not only did it make me laugh, but I was thinking "hell yeah!" as Hijikata and Gintoki teamed up and whooped everyone's asses.
Thanks, Gintama, for being able to pull off blatant fan service and not turn to crap.

Are there any other shows that you've seen that have been able to pull off blatant fan service and still be entertaining? Let me know in the comments.