Fanservice, Fantasy and Flashing: Ecchi in anime and manga


A nice little image to start off with, nothing mad, but still ecchi and fanservice

So I thought I would write a piece on the ecchi content on anime and manga, perhaps mainly anime since I have recently been watching a few series that have a significant or perhaps more accurately a more obvious amount of ecchi content in them. Ecchi describes a genre of manga and anime, which is seen as a softer variant of hentai (basically in Japanese that means “something with sexual content”, and is used as a synonym for “perverted” in many situations in anime and manga). For the most part it does not show sexual intercourse, but can show: panty shots, nudity, and perverted situations. In general Ecchi in anime and manga can take the shape of toilet humor, misinterpretations and general slapstick involving such things as the bath, the beach, and women’s underwear/swimsuits being popular.

This is a good start for ecchi images - plus its Tamaki

Now ecchi content has effectively become a cornerstone of anime and manga as far as I can tell. It constantly appears in the series that I have been watching or perhaps reading if manga, to a greater or lesser extent. In fact I can note there are scenes along with entire episodes in the current anime that I have been watching which would be classified as ecchi. Essentially ecchi has ceased to be a genre of anime or manga for me but has just become an aspect of other genres.

In series such as Seto no Hanayome, Astarotte’s Toy, Dog Days, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi etc, rather than there being an ecchi genre, rather as I see if there are ecchi scenes, essentially it is something similar to British toilet humour, except often far more explicit when it comes to showing off female underwear, breasts etc.

Just to show that even in anime that are not focussed on it - ecchi scenes and fanservice will always appear.

There are of course whole series which are entirely about the ecchi content, along with another theme, but the ecchi elements take a significant portion of the episodes. Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, Freezing, Queen’s Blade, Fight Ippatsu Juuden-chan, and Girls Bravo to name but a few. This is also true of many manga where the ecchi elements take center stage and the other elements often appear to be extras to be squeezed in around them. In the case of Freezing and Queen’s Blade there number of times that the girls or women get there clothes ripped beyond repair (and yet miraculously appear in brand new clothes a scene later, oh the wonders of animation) are far too many to count.

This is a good example of the constant tearing and slicing of clothes in Queen's Blade along with other forms of fanservice

The main reason for these series often appears to be simply the fanservice, without the constant undressing, clothes being torn, sex related jokes there would not necessarily be as much in these series. This is not necessarily a bad thing, Freezing, Girls Bravo and Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! are actually quite entertaining in places and the sexual content is often used to provide the audience with numerous gags and slapstick humour (not so much with Freezing where the nudity is usually accompanied by large quantities of blood and severed limbs, but each to their own I guess).

I like this screen shot since it shows the humor in fanservice, within a few secs he gets his head kicked in - comedy style.

There are however times where its use to be is a little questionable, albeit mostly acceptable, such as in the anime Astarrotes Toy and Kodomo no Jikan, both of which feature Loli characters of about 10-12 years old. In these cases while the series in particular have a fairly innocent approach to them the ecchi content can come across as questionable and perhaps misplaced or perhaps badly judged (this would obviously depend on the viewer and the context in which it is viewed). The fanservice and ecchi content here still manages to be at least quite innocent and is not necessarily full of ill intention, yet I think it says a lot that content which can be classed as ecchi has become so mainstream it can be used in such series.

It is actually quite difficult to find pics of Lotte or even screen shots - but I think this might provide a good example of what it is like

What fascinates me about the whole idea of ecchi and fanservice is that as far as I can tell there are almost no series in which it doesn’t feature, in fact all the current airing series, which I have watched so far, have had an element of fanservice. And that it has become an essential part of any title and is in fact accepted or perhaps no one even really notices. I think this says an awful lot about the kind of audience that watches anime, or rather the kind of audience that the anime and manga produces are aiming for (mainly male, although I do think there are far more girls and women who read and watch anime and manga than you might think).

A little pic to illustrate that womens swimwear, mainly bikins feature heavily in both anime and manga.

Personally I do not see a problem with ecchi in anime and manga, it simply takes the place of all the sexual jokes that you might for example find in a James Bond film, or perhaps on soaps and other shows on the television, the major difference being that it is 2D not 3D. in fact there the majority of my favourite anime seires have in some way featured ecchi content, Cowboy Bebop, Asobi ni iku yo, Martian Successor Nadesico, Outlaw Star, etc (not a complete list obviously, there wouldn’t be space). And in fact I think the use of ecchi to create comedic scenes to be great, and of course very funny.

A good example of fanservice with a slightly lighter side - Asobi no Iku yo! uses fanservice primarily for lighter more comic moments.

However I do find ecchi to be occasionally overused, there is a point where the show is merely about the fanservice; how often can the clothes be torn, how often can bare breasts be shown, how many panty shots etc. At this point I find ecchi to be actually quite annoying, and slightly pointless. Queen’s Blade seemed to suffer from this, there were times while I watched it when I thought they might as well stop drawing on the clothes since they would simply be ripped off in the next scene, it felt shallow basically (I still watched it mind you, says quite a lot I suppose).

Another pic to show that almost every anime has some fanservice

And of course the use of ecchi in series which involve younger children, while often very innocent cant help but feel a little wrong to me, luckily the series of late which are like this have had enough story, and enough comedy to allow the ecchi to be more innocent and light rather than full on fanservice.

But in general I do not see a problem in ecchi content, for how serious it seems to be taken by various Japanese publications that I have read and other online sources it just comes across as fairly harmless. Because lets face it, if we cant take the ideas of sex, sexuality and underwear a bit more lightly there is no hope for society anyway, and it would be just plain boring.

Added this becasue I like the picture, no fanservice though.

About illogicalzen
An Illogical anime fan in a very Zen-like way.

2 Responses to Fanservice, Fantasy and Flashing: Ecchi in anime and manga

  1. archaeme says:

    Interesting post on ecchi and fanservice. The question is what is your POV on this issue?

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