This is probably a lesson I’m learning in constructing an audiovisual narrative. People who go to film school probably learn this as well. I say “probably” because, well, it’s kind of a thing that I just think up and talk about with random people on the internet.
[Just imagine how difficult it is to have a straight-faced discussion about the effect of inserting various explicit sex acts in a film or a TV series or an OAV series. It just doesn’t happen unless you get lucky with someone who can do it and is willing to do so.]
To cut to the chase: sex is just like anything else that happens in an audiovisual narrative. In that how the typical ero anime is terrible aside from the way one enjoys a B-movie or like any other kind of porn, it is constructed in such a way that it does what it sets out to achieve. However, when we’re talking about inserting a sex scene as a coda or conclusion to a relationship, it just seems to be a poor choice.
In some ways you have to be a bit of a psychologist. Sex in media is a divisive topic especially in the more prudish parts of the world, but even in audience groups who are less fidgety about it, explicit sex acts draw reactions from the audience on a per se basis. This reaction can be distracting, and it’s uncertain how it furthers the point of the story when it has already been resolved to that extent (think of a romance story that has nearly ended).
A good distraction can be a useful tool. REC, for example, does a wonderful job with that as a hook, and they didn’t even have to be explicit about it. Looking back at it, REC is a story about reliance of people, so having a sex act by itself was a good thematic stake that pegs one corner of the bigger context and frames the issue in a distinct way.
But that’s still kind of shameless. It’s a shock tactic. Is it really fair to say that sex or fanservice, when used per se, is of a “lower” use? It may distract some people from looking at the underlying narrative, but what if the show isn’t about that?
To look at the typical TEROGE, it’s a wild goose chase, and sex is the golden egg to get the player’s bodily organs pumped with blood? Yet do people lay acclaims to these TEROGE’s virtues through the geese? I mean, the characters within? Or the chase itself?
I suppose in Fate/Stay Night anime’s case, it was a wild dragon chase.
The point is this: if we abhor poorly and cheaply pandering fanservice and sex scenes, do we have a rational foundation to make our claims credible? Obviously it doesn’t make sense to complain about having sex scenes when we’re talking about a porn piece. But is it true in the inverse, that pornographic scenes are inappropriate in non-pornographic works? And I phrase this not in the artsy-fartsy context, but even in popular, mass media. We definitely can have implications of sex, and even actual depictions of sex acts when it is fairly or even critically relevant to the purpose of the show (Rahx, Eva, Berserk, just to name a few).
Do you like it? Do you hate it? Is this really, killing the goose to get the golden egg?