Okay, so a bunch of people have been kind of iffy regarding Kill la Kill and its use of fanservice. Specifically, they’re skeeved out at the fact that it seems to condone rape culture and such. Or the fact that it seems to want to promote feminine views whilst exploiting female skin. Or the fact that the jokes regarding those topics consist of people attacking Ryuuko and the show pointing it out, automatically making it funny.
Obviously, I’m not the guy who is in a good position to talk about that stuff. I’ve tried being intellectual regarding those kinds of serious topics and…yeah I’m embarrassed to read my attempts at being an elitist. All I can do is talk about my experience with fanservice and how it’s affected my enjoyment of fiction.
I’m going to be honest, I LOVE the use of fanservice in Kill la Kill. It’s wacky, it’s insane, and it never makes me feel like a pedophile for enjoying it. It’s the kind of fanservice I like about Go Nagai stuff, other OVAs from the 80s and 90s (yes, even in the ones I don’t enjoy, the fanservice was never a problem), and a ton of movies both in and out of the exploitation genre. I don’t really care about the feminist goals that are seemingly affiliated with Kill la Kill for the same reason I didn’t care about it much in Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch: the former is fun and the latter was dull, feminism be damned. You can argue that I’m a sick pervert for not caring about these issues, and given how I’ve watched and read a ton of animated porn and have enjoyed some stuff from that field, I won’t blame you. But just like there’s good and bad ways to do exploitation (porn or otherwise), there’s good and bad ways to do fanservice. And I think Kill la Kill is doing it in a good way.
So if being wacky and all that is what I consider a good way to use fanservice, does that mean that anything that doesn’t fall under that category is a bad way? Well, not exactly. One of the reasons I can’t enjoy most VN and LN adaptations (pictured above is H2O, a VN adaptation I despise the fanservice in, amongst other things) is because of the fanservice, and it can get wacky as shit. Monogatari fans love the “clever” usage of fanservice in that show and I’ll admit it’s done better than most other stuff, but I still think it’s a huge turnoff. And I fucking hate NTR, which has some of the weirdest (and stupidest) excuses to get women naked I’ve seen. Why is that?
I could say it’s because I hate how exploitative it is, and that’s true. But that would also be dismissing the fact that Kill la Kill, as well as some of my favorite movies like Ichi the Killer and A Clockwork Orange also exploits sexuality, even if it is to make a point. Surely, they can make their point without showing those scenes, right? After all, Kite is a much better film with all the nasty stuff removed, even if you could argue that the sex scenes that were in the original version were vital to show Saya’s fall or whatever. And yet I get pleasure (not the sexual kind!) from the scene where that prostitute is beaten to death in Ichi the Killer whilst hating that same scene in any NTR I look at. And I feel no shame.
Is it because Ichi does it cleverly (or I think it does)? Is it because of Takashi Miike’s direction? Is it because the guy who does that gets beheaded later by Ichi’s bladed shoes, thus justice is served? I could make all sorts of excuses for that shit, but at the end of the day, there’s no getting around the fact that I got enjoyment out of a guy beating a bloody nude woman to death. Yes, it’s fiction. And fiction is allowed to get away with stuff like shooting random civilians and supporting jailbreakers. And I’ve made it clear that I enjoy fiction precisely because it can never happen in the real world (or I can ignore it happens in the real world entirely). But there’s a reason why no one’s ever released a fictional story that justifies the Holocaust you know. Because that would be fucking suicidal!
I honestly have no real definite answer for that, or an answer for how fanservice should be utilized in a product. All I can say is “give me more scissor fights, student council members, and Mako getting pummeled!” Because let’s face it: everything is flawed at the end of the day, but we still love the stuff we do. You could probably dissect classics like The Neverending Story for hours if you tried. But in the end, that doesn’t matter because it’s still a good movie where the pros outweighted the cons. I know Kyoukai no Kanata is mostly just a by-the-books LN adaptation at its core with some bland action choreography (yeah the fights may run on crazy and are beautifully animated, but it’s more Jojo than Air Master), but I LOVE the setting, the animation, the cool monster designs, and the playing to my love for the supernatural. People love Jormungand, even though I hate it and everything it represents, because they think Koko is enough to excuse the bad action scenes, writing, and everything else that was wrong about that show.
The same goes for Kill la Kill. What I love about it is enough to make me overlook, or at least acknowledge but still love, the flaws it has. There are people who are going to feel the other way, but it all comes down to taste at the end of the day and there’s nothing I can do about that. Other than tell them that they are WRONG, that is.