The recent discussion on fanservice has gotten me thinking a bit, especially after I found this infographic about Kill la Kill. It’s true that the fanservice in Yozakura Quartet is just bad and distracts from what makes the show good or interesting, and the fanservice in Kill la Kill is much better because it objectifies everyone, and it has a reason behind it, and the argument you often hear is “it’s awesome so who cares?” – but still I see no reason to bring some more nuance in the discussion.
I mean, reason or not: Kill la Kill cashes in on the popular female empowerment trope. A woman kicks ass while dressed in skimpy clothing. Alone, this would be fine, but with how often this is done, it’s hinted that it’s almost a requirement that if you want to kick ass, you need to show some too. The good shows indeed build all sorts of symbolism around it, but does that make it right? Personally, I still prefer watching strong female characters who can just be empowered because of who they are, and don’t follow the cosmetic trends. Does having fanservice alone ruin a character? Nah. It’s just one part of a show. But the problem is that everyone reacts to it in a different way: for some people it weighs more heavily than others. And in my personal experience, the best shows are the ones that don’t care about the shounen or shoujo label, but are just catered to create a good story for everyone.
But I do think that Kill la Kill is among Hiroyuki Imaishi’s best attempts at this kind of nuance. I mean, Gurren Lagann was basically a sausage fest (the most badass woman: Yoko, who both fits the badass female character to a T and pretty much got a short end of the character development stick), and Panty and Stocking WAS a series that was partially based on making fun of female stereotypes. This show finally feels balanced, and it’s really enjoyable because of it. This episode was no exception by the way.
The same goes for the other way around, of course. I mean I’m also tired of the series that objectify men. Hajime no Ippo currently is a good example of taking that a bit far, with all of the current penis jokes and all. But also the series that go out of their way to make their characters bishies hereby alienate most of the male population just because they have nothing to watch it for. The truly good shoujo series have guys who are good looking, but who can appeal to everyone.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Great)