In Response to Kotaku, Anime Feminism and The Harm of Fanservice.

anime feminism

Trust me when I say that a show about butt wrestling isn’t the biggest problem plaguing the treatment of women in anime. 

You know I love to get political on this blog, I just love it a little less when the same three discussions pop up over and over again, all of which will eventually do more harm than good. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? ’Wah, anime is sexist!’ and then ’Wah! fanservice objectifies women!’ and finally ’Wah! titties ruin the medium!’

I’ve had my say about this, didn’t think I’d have to say it again, but a very recent article on Kotaku  (arguably not the most taken seriously anime website ever, but I digress) kind of (read: really) rubbed me the wrong way. I hate people who go out of their way to go against anything they deem ’too social justice-y’ but I hate people who are overly social justice-y over things than don’t even matter just as much.

You see, complaining about Keijo being problematic is almost like you’re making fun of the issue at hand – the issue, which is, essentially, the influence the medium has on the people they represent. In this case, women.

“(…)So no, I don’t hate Keijo!!!!!!!! but it sure would be nice if zero-fanservice sports anime about women were as common as zero-fanservice sports anime about men.”

Says the newly formed Anime Feminist blog after an interview with Kotaku’s resident feminist Mrs.D’Anastasio – who I don’t have a problem with at all, in fact, apart from some things I disagree on, she seems pretty cool.

Going back to the comment at hand (one of the many quotable things that have been said, but again, I’d digress) – this is problem number twenty four in the “Wah! Anime is sexist!” debate. Which is, we don’t recognize male fanservice the same way we recognize female fanservice.

Which is to say, we don’t look at unrealistic chocolate abs on the male body in the same way we look at unrealistic curves on the female body. If it’s about showing skin and perfect figures or if it’s about queerbaiting the fuck out of a show, Mr/Mrs.Anime Feminist, this statement is downright untrue.

Sports anime about men are created for the sole purpose of pandering and making the girls, the buyers, squirm in their seats over the pretty perfect and unrealistic boys represented on the screen. This is their core, this is fanservice.

With that said, I get where Anime Feminist is coming from. What she probably meant to say is the same thing I said in my Ping Pong Girls episode one review, which is, this is the closest thing we’re going to get for a serious sports anime with an all female cast. Being serious, however, does not mean it’s void of fanservice.

Sex simply sells, no matter the gender. In sports anime, I can only think of Ping Pong the Animation and Taishio Baseball Girls as two examples of where sports anime isn’t directly sexual. Should there be more of this? Oh, that’s just asking whether there should be more diversity in anime – which is what it essentially boils down to, and I have yet to meet anybody who disagrees.

Which brings me to my next point. Mr/Mrs. Anime Feminist, I appreciate where you’re coming from, but getting political over a show like Keijo is not doing the cause you’re fighting for justice. Moreover, I think fanservice is the least of the problems anime has when it comes to treating women right.

What does it mean to treat women right in anime? Again, we go back to the word that would fix all the problems fiction has – diversity.

Feminism is not having a bad bitch who shoots missiles out of her nipples and wears cat suits all the time. Respecting women in fiction would be having a character who can cry, who can look for love, who can hold a job position just like any other man, they can be bossy, they can be kindhearted, they can show off their bodies and they can feel empowered by covering up, they can be short flatchested and bigger than the standards. Treating women right is giving them real representation.

And that is something fiction is not obligated to do.

As I’ve said many times in the past, fanservice makes its target audience look stupid. Men are stupid and dumb and you’ll win them over just with a pair of breasts. In Keijo, the girls get their own money with their own efforts in a sport which is, all jokes aside, just a sport.


“What I don’t understand is why, despite cultural differences, a lot of American anime fans see Keijo!!!!!!!! and laugh it off, unmoved that, in this show, women are valued at the sum total of their body parts.” Kotaku’s article finishes.

This is my favourite part of the entire thing, because I’m sorry for people who actually think that anyone sees Keijo for more than what it is. Which is stupid and over the top and in your face, kind of like Prison School. Complaining about fanservice in an anime that’s upfront about its stupidity is a waste of time, it’s never been that deep.

So what is the actual problem with anime and its treatment of women? It’s exactly the anime that is aimed at younger girls, which is the shoujo genre and just like tweeny bop fiction in the West, has mysogny tailored in its very existence.

I’ll leave my article about shoujo and its harmful effects here. I’m not going to repeat myself because this is already getting too long, but I think this is the elephant in the room which should be adressed, if anything, because young girls won’t see it as a dumb fun time like they do when they see shows like Keijo.

Feminism is about choice. We have power in our bodies, and using this to our advantage is nothing that should be shamed. Of course, anime is not that deep, and if we’re going to analyze every little thing anyways, then fanservice shows like Keijo are more empowering than they are anything else.

It’s about diversity. It’s what it boils down to. A lot of moral problems you might have with anime would be solved by this. Finally, we reach my second favourite part in the interview and I’ll finish up my little rant with it:

“(…)Were not asking people to ban anything. What we’d like to see is more anime being created to give more options to people.”

Please, oh please, for the love of Christ. Don’t give us even more anime.

Conclusion: Fanservice makes everyone look stupid. Nana is a feminist masterpiece. I hate people who actively go against anything “too social justice-y” but I hate people who are too social justice-y just as much. Go watch some Ghilbi movies, or something.


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