Over the years I found myself more inclined to approach fanservice (the sexual kind) as a plus than a minus. I think part of it has to do with recognizing it as a value to be delivered for some people. Part of it has to do with my growing appreciation for it as I sink deeper in that dark, dank ditch.
Is this why I think Yozakura Quartet – Hana no Uta is the best, at least on a technical level, animation on TV for this season’s anime? The way it simply just puts the light-hearted fanservice out there is natural and fluid and I didn’t even bat an eye half the time. On the flip side there are some characters who are simply walking sex symbols, even with developing personalities and roles to play as a part of an ensemble cast. Then there are the usual moe tropes. And the “We Dollars gonna protect Ikebukuro” nonsense. Except YZQ’s hood is nowhere as cool.
Maybe I feel that way only because Kyousougiga is also on the air, and it shows when you compare and contrast. Not to say that show isn’t well-animated–it is pretty nicely done at times–but as far as the “sakuga” of the thing, as far as hand-drawn animation of moving things, YZQ is a must-see this season. In my mind it blows away Kill la Kill on a technical level, at least purely on this point. And that other point–it’s way more fanservice-y? Maybe? Kill la Kill has full-blown naked people covered by only the shadows of censorship standards. Or clothes. Or what you see when you read Hentai Kamen. But it’s played largely for laughs. Ryuuko doesn’t come across as some pin-up looking to be exploited so she can exploit the viewer for viewership ratings or video sales. Nor anyone else in the show for that matter. Very different than YZQ.
I guess in that sense, we are blessed. All three aforementioned anime are very good storytellers. They’re preoccupied with the narrative and with the characters (when appropriate). They’re not as concerned (well, I’d argue Kill la Kill is very concerned, but it’s easier to argue they’re concerned about everything) about giving fans what they want as much as giving fans what they want but on the show’s own terms. They’re here to awe and I think most of us are okay with that.
And that statement, in some ways, is only not-as-ironic in a post-moe, post-tsundere-song world.
I would also include some other titles in this bin, for this season, like Samurai Flamenco and Non Non Biyori.
Not included would be Arpeggio, Galilei Donna, VVV, NagiAsu, Kyoukai no Kanata, OBC, Gundam BF. But just because they aren’t giving us ultimatums, it doesn’t mean these show can’t approach things their own ways either. I think Gundam Build Fighter is a good example, only because Gundam fandom is sufficiently convoluted and twisted that the meta juice is dripping like a baked turkey during its final hour. The gravy makes itself.