Anime is Full Of Fan Service But Is Anime Doing Its Fans a Service?

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 2

Fan service: Essentially something added to a work of fiction for the sake of pleasing the audience.

Now that means fan-service isn’t limited to nudity, groping, and other things of a sexualised nature that most people immediately think of when we talk about fan service, but it does include those elements. I’ll hopefully get back to what else fan service is in a future post, but today I’ll probably just be discussing what we mostly think about when the term fan service shows up.

This season brings us How Not To Summon a Demon Lord, The Master of Ragnarok, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Free, Harukana Receive and the list of anime that would immediately spring to mind when someone mentions fan service just goes on.

Now before you think I’m about to launch into a rant or a tirade against the various half-clad girls flouncing about the screen (or equally shirtless men who are striking a pose while flicking their hair about), I’d like to reassure you that while I’m not a fan of fan service, nor do I deny that there is an audience for it and that it serves a purpose within stories.

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6 - Is toe licking fan service?

Let’s move the discussion momentarily away from the current season of anime.

Fan Service isn’t just for anime.

We all know Hollywood movies have used these kinds of gimmicky moments forever to draw the audience. There’s little reason for the various Bond girls to be shown so often in swim-wear, formal wear, or wearing very little while in bed (or for the Daniel Craig scene where he emerged from the water).

There’s practically zero reason why Amanda Hunsaker (Lethal Weapon 1) makes her only appearance in the movie wearing an open robe that is blowing open in the wind before she takes a dive off the balcony. And anyone who watches a lot of bad horror and slasher films will know that there’s definitely going to be a sex scene at some point and inevitably the girl who participates in said scene is going to die fairly soon after. That’s been done so often it is now a running joke in self-aware parodies of horror.

But while I say there’s no reason for these scenes, we all know the reason. Even if that isn’t the part of the film appealing to you, someone out there was waiting for that scene and they enjoyed every second of it. Whether that girl or guy was hot or not will make or break their enjoyment of that film.

And while sometimes these scenes are fairly well integrated into the plot, Amanda’s death worked because she was working as a hooker, she was on drugs, and the whole scene played into the tragedy of her death, others are clearly there just so they have something to put into the trailer to get audiences to watch.

If you were advertising a movie, wouldn’t you want the shot of Daniel Craig walking out of the water wearing that?

Daniel Craig - James Bond - Swimwear - fan service

It plays great for the trailer, gets people talking online, gets images shared, and while no one is talking about the plot of your new Bond film, everyone knows there is in fact a new Bond film and Daniel Craig looks hot (if you are into that kind of thing – personally I’m all for Antonio Banderas in the Mask of Zorro, but to each their own).

Now anime may take things to a whole new level, but it more or less does the same thing (save for when a show is entirely built around fan service moments and the plot is entirely jettisoned – there’s a commitment there but I’m not sure I’m interested in the end result). This season I’ve been watching How Not To Summon a Demon Lord and The Master of Ragnarok.

Both are essentially isekai stories and as normal they are both filled with fan service moments. And this is something that in individual episode reviews I definitely take a negative take on but this isn’t actually condemning the existence of fan service itself but rather speaks of what I’m looking for in an episode.

For me I’m looking for moments that move the plot or help flesh out or develop the characters and the issue with the way fan service seems to be delivered in these kinds of shows is it not only doesn’t do either one of those things, it actively eats screen time which could be used for parts of the show I’m actually interested in.

The other issue I find, and the reason I probably seem fairly negative when I discuss fan service as part of a review, is that so often it is females being seen in this light and it is regularly extremely sexualised content even if it is played for laughs.

The boob grab, the rubbing breasts against the guys arm, the low camera shots, touching other girls; I’m clearly not the target audience for this kind of content so while such sequences don’t make me instant drop as they would some people, they certainly aren’t adding to my engagement of the story or helping me to actually care about the characters as people. That doesn’t necessarily make the show or the fan service bad, but it does mean that I’m less likely to really be drawn in as a member of the audience.

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How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Episode 6 - fan service characters
I’m certain someone somewhere is thinking ‘damn she’s hot’. I’m mostly just wondering why her skin has random glowing patches and whether or not she’s used double sided tape on that top.

Of course, I’m certain there’s a writer somewhere who is now all upset and about to lose sleep because Karandi isn’t interested in his content (heavy sarcasm there). Because of course, for every viewer that determines that the weight of fan-service is just bringing the story to a screeching halt there are clearly plenty of viewers happily checking in.

If I ever needed evidence of that (and I didn’t mind you), then this season really did prove it to me. In the last 30 Days, How Not To Summon a Demon Lord episode reviews have been my most viewed posts. Also most searched for terms to find my blog via search engines.

Top Posts 30 Days

However, even looking over the last three months, the first three episode reviews which have only been up for perhaps a month and a half at most, are the most viewed posts.

Top Posts 3 Months

Then if I look back over the entire year, the first episode review of the show is now the second most viewed post, surrounded entirely by Killing Stalking reviews (and I don’t have to wonder what fan service that particular title was delivering).

Top Posts Year

So here’s a show I started watching out of curiosity because I don’t mind isekai stories, but wasn’t really thrilled about. It delivered two episodes that had me sitting on the fence before it finally launched into its actual plot. Episode six took us back to nearly sixty percent of the episode being fan service focused moments rather than plot and I wondered once again whether the show was really worth my time or not. But it most definitely appeals to its target audience. It has left the other isekai fan-service filled title, The Master of Ragnarok, for dead.

Which of course made me wonder why?

In terms of actual plot, both stories are more or less the same. They both have an interesting idea, potentially interesting directions they could go, and both have regularly come to a screeching halt because they’ve wanted to show off the numerous girls in the show in various states of undress.

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Episode 6 - Diablo and Shera - fan service outfit

In this at least How Not To Summon A Demon Lord tried to come up with a semi-plausible explainer linking all that grinding on the bed action to some kind of magic that may or may not eventually free Shera from being a slave (I’m not sure I buy magical boob gropes, but whatever). Still at least they tried.

If the scene had been a little shorter and there had been a little less orgasmic panting, I may have even not felt distinctly uncomfortable while watching it. Master of Ragnarok didn’t even really bother. They just had another character tell the MC to take a break and go to the hot springs where the girls then pounced upon him.


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The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6 - hot spring fan service

It was thinking about this where I realised the difference in these shows really lay. Even with its non-fan service moments, The Master of Ragnarok isn’t subtle. The main character always just explains his battle plan to someone, usually waving his phone around to remind us he’s from the future, and usually making a reference to the fact he’s a cheater using future knowledge.

And it delivers fan service in an equally blunt and matter of a fact way with the girls just coming straight onto him and declaring they want to be his wives. Its very much like they have a tick box list of events that they need to shove into the narrative and so they’ll just have the character say whatever is needed to progress us from A to B.

As such, despite the more interesting setting, the Master of Ragnarok is actually a fairly sub-par show even when compared to How Not To Summon a Demon Lord, even if it does have more girls of more types and so far a lot more nudity.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord - Episode 5 - Diablo - main character fan service

How Not to Summon a Demon Lord has several advantages. Firstly, Diablo as the main character also provides some fan service as he has been shown on more than one occasion to be shirtless or posed very dramatically. While there are less girls (so far – the harem has been growing however) the characters of these girls are infinitely more developed and entertaining than the girls in Ragnarok.

For instance I even remember Rem and Shera’s names and what their motivations are and the why they hang around the protagonist. While the story isn’t all that rich and deep, it is logical enough and there’s a lot of fun to be had with the idea of a socially awkward over powered demon lord who is role playing his way through his current life.

And then the fan service itself has often been used to build connections or tension between the characters, and while there are plenty of other ways the show could have gone about it, we all probably have to admit that Rem’s ‘torture’ session where she ended up confiding in Diablo definitely kicked both the plot and character development into gear.

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Though I think we’ll just leave aside the whole issue of slavery and ownership for a whole other discussion because there’s a lot of that going around this season as well.

So I’ll get back to the question from the title about whether anime is doing its fans a service through the inclusion of fan service? The answer, whether you individually like it or not, is probably yes. It sells and there’s clearly a market for it. Does that mean everything needs these elements in it?

Not really. Does it mean you have to watch them? Also no. There’s plenty out there without these sorts of scenes, and yet, I know that there are some people who haven’t watched Dan Machi because of Hestia and I can’t help but feel that perhaps they missed out on a fairly extraordinary adventure because of one element.

And while there are plenty of shows I have dropped because the balance of fan-service to plot tipped too far away from plot, provided I’m getting some decent character moments and plot development, fan service isn’t likely to make me turn something off.

Though depending on how loud the girl is moaning I may end up muting the episode.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 6 - Shera - pure fan service

What are your thoughts on fan service in anime?


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Karandi James


The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 6: Who Needs Plot?

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

In the absence of a new adversary, Yuuto and the group engage in pointless hot spring action before randomly deciding to start compulsory education. The Master of Ragnarok seems to just be reeling from one event to the next without much direction.

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

You know, hot-springs are a pretty common thing in anime. Even anime set in the past and not in Japan. So I’m not annoyed that the Master of Ragnarok sent Yuuto and all his female advisers and wannabe wives (and a slave because why not) to the hot spring. I’m more annoyed that they didn’t find anyway to make this a meaningful part of the plot (other than one of the girls washing Yuuto’s back with her boobs, because that’s a thing).

They leave the wolf clan for a vacation because Yuuto’s been working too hard. The girls basically do things girls only do in these kinds of fantasy settings until Yuuto’s nose explodes in a fountain of blood and then they all apologise before attacking him again.

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Meanwhile, Yuuto’s left someone else in charge while he’s away and they’ve made a big deal about that. But nothing happens. There’s no threat from outside to be dealt with or anything unusual that occurs. The guy in charge doesn’t try to usurp power or do anything underhanded. In fact, we don’t see a thing that happens while Yuuto is away. So why even make a point of leaving someone else in charge? More importantly, why send Yuuto away? Did anything of note happen at the hot-springs in amongst the over-the-top fan-service? Nope. Not one single plot or character point. This entire section was just there for the sake of getting characters naked, which they do anyway in bath scenes without a hot-springs trip, and it brings nothing of note to anything.

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We then return and we see another of Yuuto’s innovations from the future is earning the Wolf Clan money and somehow this ends up leading to Yuuto deciding to invent schools and compulsory education. Which is where the episode ends. Not sure why I should care how much Yuuto advances this particular society. Not sure why he isn’t looking for a way home. Not sure where the story is going because at this point and time we’re just kind of watching characters do stuff but not sure what their purpose is.

It’s all just a little empty.


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Karandi James

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 5: To Catch A Tiger

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The fight against the lightning guy (and I’m not even going to pretend I can spell his name) goes according to Yuuto’s plan and while it is fun enough to watch, don’t expect much in the way of surprises given Yuuto’s strategy is fairly apparent.

Master of Ragnarok Episode 5

I’m not going into any specifics about what happens during the confrontation between the Wolf and Lightning clan, though I will happily say that at least they didn’t stretch this out longer then needed. While Yuuto’s assumption at the end that the Lightning Clan Leader is dead is proved false, it was fairly obvious that character wasn’t bowing out of the show just yet so that was hardly a spoiler.

Again we see the Wolf Clan succeeding through group work, using technology and strategy to overcome a weakness in numbers and sheer battle strength. No one member of the clan works to be above the others and all of them are happy to play their part in the conflict and assist where needed. It’s a nice army that is slowly conquering the world Yuuto is currently living in (or time).

The Master of Ragnarok - Episode 5

We do still get a phone call to the present and this episode also gives us a brief glimpse of what Yuuto was like prior to becoming the patriarch, but neither of these points is made to be overly significant here so it seems we’ll continue to wait for the story of how and why Yuuto ended up where he is. I’m not entire sure it matters given I’m quite enjoying the fact that we skipped over all the boring introductory stuff Yuuto would have gone through on first arrival.

This Master of Ragnarok remains a fairly average anime in all regards. It works well enough and hasn’t done anything grievously wrong, but nor has it done anything terribly exciting.


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Karandi James

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 4: Is Crop Rotation Really The Best They Can Do?

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With the majority of this episode being kind of chatty filler and backstory before the conflict kicks off, I had plenty of time to wonder why so many anime in historical settings focus on the introduction of crop rotation. Any ideas?

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This has happened a few times now (admittedly I don’t watch a lot of historical anime) where a protagonist from the future, or someone from a different culture is interacting with a less sophisticated one, and for whatever reason to show off their advanced knowledge they devise a system of crop rotation. I’ll admit crop rotation is a lovely idea and we do need to thank it for a lot of things, but when you think about the myriad of other developments that could be equally beneficial, it makes me wonder why this one is the one we come back to again and again.

And the Ragnarok faces the issue of introducing the idea to fill some time early on in the episode, but it doesn’t really want to become a farming anime and so we quickly just leave people to it and move on. At least Maoyu had the decency to make the idea a central part of the ongoing developing plot. It kind of made it feel more like it was necessary rather than feeling like a tacked on aspect just to point out that the main character does in fact have some knowledge.

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But forget all of that, or at least so that anime says after crop rotations, naked girl in the room getting rejected, pep talk from hero boy, naked girl declaring she won’t give up, and finally we reach minute 15 where suddenly we need to get serious because the Lightning Clan are going to attack. You know, the clan we heard about last week when that random just kind of walked into the celebration and then seemed to agree to some shady deal with the temple. Anyway, he’s apparently an unstoppable one-man army who for whatever reason still takes his army but only uses the strategy of charge straight ahead, so I guess we’ll find out how the wolf clan will beat him soon. I mean, they might change things up and have the wolf clan lose but then I’m not sure where the plot of this has left to go.

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 3: Everyone Wants to Be In The Wolf’s Fan Club

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Whether they are his own clan, members of a conquered clan, potential rival clans, or anyone else, everyone in this show is fixated on the young patriarch of the wolf clan and I have to wonder if he is really worth all this attention.

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He likes him, right up until he’ll try and kill him later in the show.

This week Yuto is joining in the celebration for the Horn clan having not been wiped out last week before returning to his own clan and generally being nice (he bought slaves to give them jobs, he totally must be nice). As is fairly standard in this type of show every character who meets him ends up either in love with him, infatuated by him, or at least intrigued with the idea of playing with him, and so everything revolves around him. On the bright side, at least he occasionally demonstrates aspects of a personality.

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They also continue to keep a lot hidden about how he ended up where he is, how the communication with the modern world actually works, and how he even rose to the position he’s in. I don’t mind being in the dark about a lot of this given watching the initial dealing with a ‘new world’ setting has been done to death and seeing it already in motion is kind of more fun, except that the characters keep referencing events meaning we’re either getting a flashback or an exposition dump in the future and neither is all that appealing.

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With a support cast that remain completely hollow outside of their affection for a protagonist who is good enough but nothing really noteworthy, this anime is falling very much in the middle for its genre being neither horrendously offensive nor particularly good. The conflicts between the clans might end up being interesting, or it may all just remain background as Yuto builds up his harem. This week he nearly added twins to the mix so we’ll see what happens next time.

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episodes 1 + 2: Why Not?

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I wasn’t going to cover this one initially but was still trying to decide between this one and How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. After two episodes the overall opinion is both are riddled with problems so I might as well go all in (or drop them both but we’ll see what episode 3 does).

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Right, so we’ve got another average guy in a strange world with a smart phone that for whatever reason actually works and he’s surrounded by beautiful girls. So, we’ve seen this already, what is this doing new other than giving us an even more annoying title to type?

Well, the first episode didn’t give us much new, except perhaps a more overt sexual advance from one of the girls that we would normally see. Or at least that’s what I would say if this was an already established show. However, this one seems to have dropped us head first into the middle with Yuto having already been in said world for two years and already risen to a position of power in the Wolf Clan. This at least means we don’t have the fish out of water experience with our main character because he’s already relatively acclimatised. While this might seem like cheating, it actually does cut through a lot of the standard points that would normally bore me silly as characters make similar observations to ones we’ve seen before.

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The other thing it did that was a little bit novel was strongly suggest that we’re still on Earth but in the past and gave Yuto the ability to call to the present day with his phone seemingly provided he’s near some weird device which from the OP seems kind of critical to the whole travelling to where-ever he is situation though nothing has been explained about that. Now while neither of these points makes for a totally new experience, they at least shake up the formula a bit.

The second episode gave us a bit more combat focus and while it wasn’t amazing and having Yuto explain his strategy and reasoning throwing in healthy doses of all the usual war quotes in the process really undermined any sense of tension, it wasn’t terrible. Even the hot springs sequence where the leader of a clan Yuto conquered in the previous episode wasn’t as painful as it might have been.

While I’m not expecting much of anything from this anime, it so far has been watchable. And in a season that has been pretty flat in terms of first episodes, this one is kind of on par with the rest of the pack so far so we’ll give it a little while and see how it goes.


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Karandi James

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