Fan Service

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Synonyms: fanservice, eye candy, "plot"
See also: Fourth Wall, metafic, Slashnip, Homoerotic Subtext and TPTB
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Fan Service is a fannish term, originating in anime/manga fandom, for decisions that TPTB make with the goal of "energizing their base," i.e., adding elements that are unnecessary to the storyline, but will make the fans happy. In anime, it's used to refer to flashes of undies or cleavage. In western television fandoms, a fan service moment might be a hug between two fan favorites, a scene where a hot character randomly takes his shirt off for no reason, or a geeky reference that only devoted fans would recognize.

Media Fandom Usage Examples

  • "To sum it up, HP7 is as close as you want for TOTAL FANSERVICE. LOOK it's Harry in a skirt who later strips off. SRSLY. FANSERVICE. There's like so much of it in it. You want Bromance? You got it! RonxHarry. GOSH. Could you be anymore obvious? You want Drama? You got it! Try RonxHermionexHarry on for size. It nearly killed me from the bloody angst!" [2]
  • "House, M.D. has always written intentional House/Wilson subtext while using its own unanswered questions as fanservice - audience-teasers to keep us intrigued about the nuances of their relationship." [3]
  • "In Eclipse, the Jacob fan service is so prevalent that a character actually asks, "Doesn't he own a shirt?" (This is immediately followed by competitive embracing, which sounds like it ought to be added to the next Olympics.)" [4]

Media Fandom Canon Examples

  • The TV series Babylon 5 included fannish references such as naming a character Alfred Bester (after the science fiction author); he was played by Walter Koenig, who played Chekov on the Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • The character Q was named for the fan Janet Quarton, an example of tuckerization. [5]
  • A 1998 U.S. newspaper article about slash had an interview with Paul Gross of Due South, one in which he has a sly comment. An excerpt:
Gross co-wrote a Due South episode in which Fraser saves his drowning partner by buddy-breathing underwater - a scene that was shot to look remarkably like a passionate kiss. Was he tipping his hat to slash fans? 'No, not at all,' he said. 'It's too marginal an audience to worry about. Anyway,' said Gross, '... no one's clever enough in television to be putting anything like that in.' [6]

Anime Fandom Usage Examples

In anime and manga, fanservice usually means sexual material, usually gratuitous or unrelated to the plot. Gainaxing is an early example of sexual fanservice taken to extremes. Panty shots and gratuitous cleavage (including nip slips and wardrobe malfunctions) are common fanservice elements for female characters; male characters are more likely to be shirtless or sweaty.

The main thing that manages to make the fanservice work in [Nisemonogatari] is the fact that from the get go it set up its characters and the way they interact with each other in a way that seeing them in sexually exploitative positions or camera angles totally made sense. The characters frequently interject conversations with sexual innuendo and some of the jokes made even make light of subjects like lolicons.[7]

On Fanservice in Anime

[M]ost fanservice seems to come from the female characters and directed toward male audiences. However, that doesn’t mean only women are objectified in fanservice. Certainly not. Men can be hunks of meat on display as well.[8]

- Unlimited Discussions: Fanservice in Anime/Manga

I saw more wardrobe malfunctions than at a Janet Jackson concert. In other words, they went way out of their way to give us fan service for the sole purpose of just that––giving the fans what they want, or rather what they think we want.[9]

- Queen's Blade: Not so Bad After All?

However, in anime and manga as in other fandoms, fanservice can also refer to other elements designed to please fans--for example, increasing the number of appearances a popular character makes in a new adaptation, or making a reference to a popular old series.

When it comes to non-sexual fanservice, the best possible example I can think of would be Toei's Precure All-Stars movies. To give some brief background, the movies are crossovers encompassing characters from all previous installments up to the franchise's current iteration (since the sixth Precure season, Toei has been releasing them on a yearly basis). What this means is that fans get to see their favourite Cures in action, beating up baddies and unleashing their finishers alongside many of the other heroines (accompanied by some amazing animation). As such, the movies are a nice reward for longtime fans or those who have watched multiple seasons, since they'll be more familiar with the characters, and will be able to pick up on the multitude of cameos, inside jokes and references Toei has carefully slipped in.[10]

- Topic: Non-Sexual Fanservice

Long shots and descriptions of weaponry or technology are often considered to be fanservice as well.

According to one poster on a Straight Dope discussion board, fanservice can be unclothed women, or "Exploded diagrams or closeups of transformations of mecha or other devices."[11]

Anime Fandom Canon Examples

  • Queen's Blade has been called "the Quintessential Fanservice show"[12] for its costumes and situations.[9]
  • In Fairy Tail, there are frequent but brief interjected scenes of soft light and pastels surrounding a female character in a sexy pose and/or costume, accompanied by a "wow" sound effect.[8] Sometimes these are played for laughs. The series also features Gray Fullbuster, a male character who regularly strips off all his clothes in public without warning, though his genitals are always conveniently occluded from an audience point of view.
  • Since OAVs can be released without the same restrictions as television broadcasts, some OAVs of series aimed at an adult audience have more explicit fanservice than the original version, sometimes including full nudity and sex scenes.
  • Free!, a sports anime about a swimming team, has abundant fanservice, though the main focus is on boys and yaoi subtext.

Video Game Fandom Usage Examples

Video Game Fandom Canon Examples

Meta/Further Reading



  1. ^ By Grand-sophy in a review of Supernatural episode 4.9
  2. ^ Jin-chan, Oh the Magic. Posted November 20, 2010. Last accessed December 05, 2010.
  3. ^ bookshop, Five OTPs, and how (this post) grew. Posted April 02, 2010. Last accessed December 05, 2010.
  4. ^ cleolinda, And yet, somehow, I never finished my master's degree. Posted July 04, 2010. Last accessed December 05, 2010.
  5. ^ This is reported in Gene Roddenberry's authorized biography - "Star Trek Creator" by David Alexander.
  6. ^ the article (newspaper, author, or date not cited) was excerpted in greater length in DIAL #8
  7. ^ On Fanservice in Anime, posted March 6, 2012. Accessed Nov. 28, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Unlimited Discussions: Fanservice in Anime/Manga, posted Aug. 3, 2012. Accessed Nov. 28, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Queen's Blade: Not so Bad After All?, posted Aug. 20, 2011. Accessed Nov. 28, 2012.
  10. ^ Topic: Non-Sexual Fanservice, comment by Don_Don_Kun posted on January 25, 2014. Accessed February 24, 2015.
  11. ^ SDMB Challenge: Name an Anime without any fanservice, comment by E-Sabbath posted on May 18, 2005. Accessed February 24, 2015.
  12. ^ On Fanservice in Anime, posted March 6, 2012. Accessed Nov. 28, 2012.