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Fanservice - Meaning in Japanese - ファンサービ

Friday, October 14, 2016
As the seasoned anime watcher I know you are, I'm sure you've already heard about the word fanservice when talking about anime, and by fanservice I actually mean  fansaabisu ファンサービス, which is totally a Japanese word.

Fanservice vs. "Fan Service"

I'm sure you've wondered this already: is it fanservice or fan service? Are all these baka 馬鹿 spelling "fan service" wrong all the time? Or is there an actual difference between fanservice and fan service?

As it turns out, there is a difference! Except there is not a big different. It's complicated.

To begin with, fan service isn't English. I mean, obviously. Hotel service is a service done by the hotel, therefore, following this pattern, fan service would have to be a service done by the fans, but that's not true. If anything it's done for the fans.

Origin of the Word Fanservice

The word fanservice is a different transliteration of the word fansaabisu ファンサービス, which is a wasei-eigo 和製英語, a word that's actually Japanese based on English words "fan" and "service" because the English sounds cooler in Japan that Japanese does.

Further, saabisu サービス in Japanese, which comes from the English "service", is a service done as an extra for a customer. From there. fansaabisu ファンサービス is born, which is an extra service done for fans of a show.

(it's similar to omake 御負け, but that's added separately while a saabisu in mixed within)

On top of that meaning several words related to fanservice were created, each used when fanservice appears in some way or form. These words are:
  • saabisu katto サービスカット
    Service cut. (clip of a video)
  • saabisu shotto サービスショット
    Service shot. (still image)
  • saabisu shiin サービスシーン
    Service scene. (same as clip, perhaps storywise)

Origin of the Word Fan Service

So now we know that fansaabisu is made up from English, but then what about "fan service"? If fansaabisu in Japanese doesn't come from "fan service" in English then how the hell does all of this works?

Well... you might have figured this out already.

The word "fan service" in English is a different way to spell "fanservice", which is a loan-word coming from the Japanese fansaabisu, which is a Japanese word made up of the English words "fan service."

So, basically, it's a English word based on a Japanese word based on the same English word. Before fansaabisu existed, the words "fan service" meant nothing in English so it had to become a broken Engrish-Japanese word first before it became an actual English word.

You probably regret having asked this now, but hey, at least you got your final, definitive answer about the matter. So there's that.

What is Fanservice

Now that we know how the word fanservice came to be, a little about what fanservice actually is, just in case you don't know yet.

In Japanese manga, anime, games and shows, fanservice regards to content which is added only to appeal the fans. Most of which is erotic content targeted at males in the form of unnecessary panty shots, unnecessarily gigantic tits, unnecessary wardrobe malfunctions (clothes falling off, being ripped apart) and stuff like that.

Niche Fanserivce

A note, however, is that fanservice isn't technically restricted to that. Depending on the show's main audience and how desperate the creators of the show are, some entirely unnecessary niche situations may show up only to appeal certain niche audiences.

Such is the case of scenes with random tentacles coming out of nowhere attacking girls, random sadistic characters holding whips and crops on hand for whatever reason, and random bishounen 美少年 characters having very tense encounters with other male characters in order to appeal fujoshi 腐女子 and fuel their BL / yaoi やおい fantasies.

Why is Fanservice Necessary

You're probably wondering if all these shenanigans are necessary. If fanservice is necessary, even. After all, per definition, you fanservice is largely useless, happens at random, and can be entirely removed from an anime without affecting much (if any) of the story.

Indeed, you don't need fanservice for the story, so it's not necessary for the story, however, you do need fanservice for the viewers who want to see fanservice.

What happens in most anime, specially those with blatant fanservice, is that the fanservice is part of the package. You, as a viewer, are expected to like the fanservice of the show or else you don't like an essential part of the show itself. That is, the show isn't counting with people that don't like fanservice to begin with.

Focus of a fanservice-filled anime, a screenshot of the anime kore wa zombie desu ka? これはゾンビですか? illustrating how anime filled with fanservice focus on the female characters' breasts all the time.

Just like some serious anime have a little of comedy here and there because half of the audience might like a joke once in a while, some anime have fanservice once in a while because half of the audience might like it.

Plot vs. Fanservice

Looking at it from another side, gag anime is full of comedy and barely cares about its own plot. The same with fanservice-filled anime, also called ecchi エッチ anime.

The anime is the fanservice and if you're interested in the story you're watching it for the wrong reasons because the story is most likely shit to begin with. See these examples:
  • Kill la Kill キルラキル
    A girl wears a slutty suit that makes her super powerful.
  • Zero no Tsukaima ゼロの使い魔
    A boy ends up in a magical world as the magical creature of a magicless magician.
  • Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Ken'ichi 史上最強の弟子 ケンイチ
    A boy trains under several martial arts masters simultaneously to beat up other high school kids.
  • Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka これはゾンビですか?
    A boy becomes a zombie and then becomes a magical girl

There is no scenario you'd say "I'm very intrigued by how this started and extremely interested in how it will end" when the story starts with some unreasonable amount of bullshit already. You won't get satisfying explanations and certainly not any meaningful romance out of it.

It's like, "saving Princess Peach is important, but stomping Goombas is where the fun is at." Without that little bit of plot, the game becomes about a fat enraged plumber and his brother going on a genocide rampage against the creatures who were chilling around that land. Imagine what would happen to ecchi anime if there was no plot, then.

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