An opinion piece in which I explain my thoughts and opinions on fanservice in Yuri anime. This might be the start of another series of posts, too. We’ll see.
Before I get started, however, I have to acknowledge the posts that inspired me to share my mindset. That would be D’s post where they discuss their complicated relationship with fanservice and Zeria’s post where she gives a brief explanation for the relative dearth of yuri anime. Also, please look forward to Zeria’s upcoming series, Yearning for Yuri, where she will be recommending a selection of yuri that is not restricted to the schoolgirl genre.
Frankly, I’m a fan of slower, more chaste Yuri media. I’m currently working through Aoi Hana and greatly enjoying it. Nurse Love Addiction and Flowers -Le Volume sur Printemps– are two of my favorite visual novels and both have a distinct lack of fanservice compared to other Yuri visual novels.
The thing is, Aoi Hana didn’t sell well. Neither did Nurse Love Addiction. I’m not sure about the numbers for Flowers, but I imagine they did relatively well considering they’re about to receive the fourth and final installment for the franchise later this year. Be that as it may, I started thinking about potential reasons for these repeat occurences. Perhaps such anime and visual novels are paced too slowly to secure widespread popularity. Or perhaps the lack of fanservice is what causes viewers / players to balk.
Similar to D, I also have a convoluted relationship with fanservice. Admittedly, my tastes have changed over the years. I remember being a teenager and becoming enthralled whenever there were gratuitous and racy camera angles. But that was several years ago.
These days, I find such titillating stimulations to be unnecessary and believe them to be a cheap way to seize viewers’ attention. Let me be clear: I mean no disrespect to people who enjoy such content. I am just saying such presentation simply isn’t to my taste. As seen in my review of the first episode of Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai, excessive fanservice can easily cause me to become disinterested in a series.
But despite my preferences, I find myself personally wanting a particular subset of fanservice to be more prominent in the shows I review. I’m talking about earnest depictions of girls displaying attraction to other girls. Subtext simply isn’t enough. Kissing or more intimate activities would be ideal. While added intimate moments in Yuri anime may serve to boost sales and enable growth of the genre in the process, this type of fanservice would have to be handled very carefully.
The type of fanservice I have in mind should be restricted to female characters who are of high school age or older out of moral obligations. Otherwise, instances of elementary school girls making out with each other would happen as seen in Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!. While not as outrageous as the Fate/kaleid franchise, Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon would also be guilty of this with Riko and Kanna. It’s difficult to justify such moments, which is why I’m being stringent over this.
Furthermore, the fanservice in question shouldn’t consistently happen every episode. I know this may seem contradictory to what I stated earlier about wanting to see more “earnest depictions of girls loving other girls.” However, having the characters do the same actions on an episodic basis lessens the impact. Sakura Trick would be an example of this with Haruka and Yuu. The viewers are left feeling as though these intimate activities are meant to cater to an audience with fetishes for Yuri fanservice.
Honestly, I would prefer if the girls actually slowed down and thought things through. A major frustration I have with Sakura Trick is that the characters don’t really consider their feelings or situations. Haruka is convinced she’s just friends with Yuu, yet they are continuously shown sharing deep kisses whenever possible. Haruka’s unrealistic, infuriating obliviousness makes it almost seem like she’s leading Yuu on and playing with her feelings.
Kuzu no Honkai does a better job with this, admittedly. But the series is also reliant on the characters explaining everything via inner monologues. A series shouldn’t have to hold a viewer’s hand. It’s okay to let the viewer infer, hope that the viewer is paying attention, and be discrete enough to not spell everything out. Sometimes, less is more.
Most of all, there shouldn’t be any queerbaiting. Your mileage may vary, but Love Live! Sunshine!! could be considered guilty of this. Although Riko confesses her love to Chika at the end of episode 10, it is never addressed afterwards. It is as though the confession, essentially, never happened. Perhaps it’s only a “platonic love,” but this series of events can cause viewers to feel like they’re being toyed with.
In addition to what I said earlier about incorporating tasteful fanservice to help bolster popularity, I feel like doing so would also help distinguish genre lines. What I mean is that The Lily Garden (and other yuri blogs) feel forced to blog about shows that may not necessarily be Yuri, such as schoolgirl series. “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” shows are scrutinized for shipping moments and thus are counted as Yuri whenever there’s subtext. But can those shows truly be considered Yuri? These sort of thoughts are on my mind whenever someone asks me to recommend Yuri shows for a beginner.
It really depends on an individual’s opinion, to be honest. Ano from Kindred Spirits on the Roof refers to Yuri to being “a more pure thing” and claims that even two girls holding hands to be “splendid Yuri.” In other words, your mileage may vary (again). But if shows within the CGDCT genre don’t “count” as Yuri, there’s a huge lack of Yuri anime as a result.
Anyways, that’s my thoughts on the matter. Hopefully I was articulate to convey my thoughts in a manner that could be understood. I would love to read your thoughts in the comments section!