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Wikipe-tan, a personification of Wikipedia, wearing a swimsuit, an example of typical "fan service"

Fan service (ファンサービス, fan sābisu), fanservice or service cut (サービスカット, sābisu katto)[1][2] is material in a work of fiction or in a fictional series that is intentionally added to please the audience,[3] often sexual in nature, such as nudity.[4][5] The term originated in Japanese[6][7] in the anime and manga fandom, but has been used in other languages and media. It is about "servicing" the fan[8]—giving the fans "exactly what they want".[9] Fan service can also refer (by means of text, symbol, image, sound) to other stories[3][10] that contain visual elements.

When anime and manga were translated into English by US companies, the original work was often edited to remove some of the fan service, making it more appropriate for U.S. audiences. Mike Tatsugawa explained this change as a result of a difference between the cultural values of Japan and the US. [11]

Today, especially outside anime and manga, the term has expanded to hold a wider meaning. This includes any elements, be it visual nods, referencing older or forgotten media related to material, plot detours or otherwise, that are not needed by the actual plot or character development, but are included as nods to, or pandering to the long-term fans of the material, especially in context of sequels or prequels, or later seasons of series.[12] Taylor Swift has been referred to as a "ringmaster of fan service" for her use of cryptic clues in her lyrics and accompanying media.[13]


The 1952 French film Manina, la fille sans voiles (Manina, the Girl Without Sails) was not imported into the United States until 1958 after the success of the film's star, Brigitte Bardot, in that country. In the US, the film was renamed "Manina, the Girl in the Bikini" to highlight the appeal of the star and her revealing outfit (then a matter of controversy), despite her not appearing in the first 40 minutes of the 76 minute film.[14]

Keith Russell regards the beginning of modern fan service as taking place in a permissive context, when "kids were just doing kids' stuff", which he believes allowed authors some latitude in regards to their subject matter.[15] Beginning in the 1970s with Cutey Honey and continuing later with other magical girl shows, fan service in manga became more risqué. By the 1980s, full frontal nudity and shower scenes became standard content for anime and manga fan service.[5][16] In the West, obscenity laws and rating systems (such as the Comics Code Authority in the United States or the MPAA rating system, which replaced the Hays Code for film ratings) prevent or limit unnecessary displays of nudity in films and comic books. Bikini shots and topless scenes were still popular forms of audience arousal. In the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, Carrie Fisher portrayed the character of Princess Leia wearing a metal bikini and chains while enslaved to the gangster Jabba the Hutt. This was an attempt to feminize the character and appeal to boys' fantasies.[17][18] Some critics say that by portraying Leia as the object of desire to a crude monster, the film is reflecting the crude fantasies of its audience.[19]


Long shots of robots in mecha shows, sexual elements, violent episode-long fight scenes and emphasis on shipping can all be considered fan service as they are specifically aimed at pleasing the fans of any given show.[5][self-published source?][4][self-published source?] Christian McCrea feels that Gainax is particularly good at addressing otaku through fan service by adding many "meta-references" and by showing "violence and hyperphysical activity".[20] Baseball teams provide events that are described in Japan as fan service, such as dance shows, singing the team song or a performance by the team mascot.[21]

The typical, but not only, variety of fan service in anime or manga is racy, sexual or erotic content, which may or may not include nudity or fetish content[5][4][better source needed] (for example, maid costumes). Fan service is especially common in shounen manga (aimed at boys). In shounen manga, pin-up girl style images are common "in varying states of undress", often using an "accidental exposure" excuse to show a favourite female character[22] or an upskirt "glimpse of a character's panties".[23] Series aimed at an older audience include more explicit fan service.[22] Jiggling breasts, known as the "Gainax bounce", are an example of fan service,[24] originating[citation needed] from the opening scene of Daicon IV. The "bounce" was taken up by other animators, including the creators of the hentai series Cream Lemon.[25] Shower scenes[4] are very common in movies and in anime of the 1980s and 1990s,[example needed] whereas many more recent TV series use trips to onsen (Japanese hot springs) or trips to tropical locales (or in some cases a swimming pool) in order to showcase the characters in bathing suits. Series aimed at males can also include fan service for women, as an attempt to court a wider audience.[26]

Keith Russell defines fan service as "the random and gratuitous display of a series of anticipated gestures common in Manga and Anime. These gestures include such things as panty shots, leg spreads and glimpses of breast". Russell regards fan service as being an aesthetic of the transient "glimpse", which he contrasts with the gaze, as it takes the mind unaware and open to "libidinous possibility" without mediation. He considers the fan service object to be reassuring in its unrealistic nature and to be confirming the "freedom of desire".[15]

Shoujo manga, aimed at female readers, also includes fan service, such as showing male characters "half-naked and in enticing poses". Robin Brenner notes that in the US comics culture, fan service aimed at women is rare, and also that in Japan, series can be famous for their fan service content.[22] Chris Beveridge explains this mindset with Agent Aika: "There's some sort of plot in there, but that's not the reason you're watching it. ... we're watching this for the sheer amount of fanservice."[27] Male homoeroticism, such as accidental kisses, is a common feature of fan service for women and has been described as "easier to get away with" in terms of censorship than fan service for males.[28] In the Boys' Love genre, fan service is "artwork or scenes" in products that "depict canonical characters in a homosocial / homoerotic context".[29] Shoujo manga series may eroticise its female leads as well for crossover appeal, as fan service aimed at a potential male audience.[30]

Brenner notes that fan service can be offputting to teen readers, as in a male reading shoujo manga or a female reading shounen manga and that in general fan service is more criticised when it features a female character. She cites Tenjo Tenge as an example of a fan service–laden series. When the series was localised, a large amount of this fan service was removed, leading to outcry from fans.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Example: 吉田陽一, ed. (25 June 1999). Encyclopedia Cutie Honey: Go Nagai World (エンサイクロペディアキューティーハニー : 永井豪ワールド). Nakano, Tokyo: Keibunsha. p. 028. ISBN 978-4-7669-3236-2. A frame (numbered "25") from the English opening sequence of New Cutie Honey, in which character Danbei Hayami fires a Rocket Punch as main character Honey Kisaragi lies topless and prone in the background, is shown and captioned "サービスカット! 団兵衛がジャマ……"
  2. ^ Barrett, Grant (2006). "fan service". The official dictionary of unofficial English: a crunk omnibus for thrillionaires and bampots for the Ecozoic Age. New York City: McGraw-Hill. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-07-145804-7. OCLC 62172930. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  3. ^ a b de la Ville, Valérie-Inés; Durup, Laurent (2009). "Achieving a Global Reach on Children's Cultural Markets: Managing the Stakes of Inter-Textuality in Digital Cultures". In Willett, Rebekah; Robinson, Muriel; Marsh, Jackie (eds.). Play, creativity and digital cultures. Routledge. pp. 45–47. ISBN 978-0-415-96311-4.
  4. ^ a b c d Harcoff, Pete (23 May 2003). "Fan Service". Anime Glossary. The Anime Critic. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d "Fan Service". Animetion's Glossary. Animetion. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  6. ^ "ファンサービスとは (ファンサービスとは) [単語記事] - ニコニコ大百科". ニコニコ大百科 (in Japanese). Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ "Fan Service and Fanservice - Meaning in Japanese". Japanese with Anime. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  8. ^ Carrie Tucker (17 January 2009). I Love Geeks: The Official Handbook. Adams Media. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-60550-023-2. Retrieved 9 April 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2007). Reading comics : and what they mean. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-306-81509-6. Retrieved 22 April 2011. fan service.
  10. ^ "Encyclopedia: Fan service". Anime News Network. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  11. ^ Gardiner, Debbi (January 2003). "Anime in America". J@pan Inc Magazine. Japan Inc Communications. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Fan Service - What does fan service mean?". Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  13. ^ Kheraj, Alim (9 November 2022). "The curate's Easter egg: how Taylor Swift turned pop into a multiplayer puzzle". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Richard W. Nason (25 October 1958). "MOVIE REVIEW Manina la Fille Sans Voile 1952 Girl in the Bikini". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  15. ^ a b Russell, Keith (2008). "The Glimpse and Fan Service: New Media, New Aesthetics". The International Journal of the Humanities. 6 (5): 105–110. doi:10.18848/1447-9508/CGP/v06i05/42444. hdl:1959.13/38651. ISSN 1447-9508. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  16. ^ Galbraith, Patrick W. (2009). The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan. United States: Kodansha. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-4-7700-3101-3.
  17. ^ Noah Berlatsky (5 November 2015). "The 'slave Leia' controversy is about more than objectification". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  18. ^ Emmet Asher-Perrin (25 October 2013). "Carrie Fisher's Sound Thoughts on Princess Leia in 1983". Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  19. ^ Alyssa Rosenberg (23 October 2015). "The fraught history of Princess Leia's infamous bikini". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  20. ^ McCrea, C. (2008). "Explosive, Expulsive, Extraordinary: The Dimensional Excess of Animated Bodies". Animation. 3: 9–24. doi:10.1177/1746847708088732. S2CID 192025106.
  21. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2011.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ a b c d Brenner, Robin E. (2007). "Fan Service". Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 88–92. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5. OCLC 85898238. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  23. ^ Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). "Plastic Little: Not What You Think" in Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press p.329 ISBN 1-880656-72-8.
  24. ^ "Media : Top o Nerae : SFE : Science Fiction Encyclopedia". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Toshio Okada on the Otaku and Anime". Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  26. ^ "Fanservice Friday: A Girl's (G)Fantasy - Manga Bookshelf". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  27. ^ "Agent Aika Vol. #1: Naked Missions -". Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  28. ^ Thompson, Jason (July 31, 2006) Boku no Shonen Ai (or "Jason overanalyzes something and takes all the fun out of it") archive
  29. ^ Levi, Antonia; McHarry, Mark; Pagliassotti, Dru (30 April 2010). Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4195-2.
  30. ^ Lamarre, Thomas (2006). "Platonic Sex: Perversion and Shôjo Anime (Part One)" (PDF). Animation. 1 (1): 45–59. doi:10.1177/1746847706065841. S2CID 193228688. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 April 2020.

Further reading