Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Zusuchan » Sun Apr 18, 2021 4:24 am

^Sex, sexuality and their role in human relationships are obviously pretty important themes of Eva-however, there's still certainly instances of sexualization that could have been avoided and can legitimately be argued to be unnecessary, insipid and pointless. That does not mean that for the most part, whatever sexualization there is, is not something with a deeper meaning-it just means that a deeper meaning is not always to be found. I don't think that this fact somehow deters from Eva and its messages (the show has horny vibes on general, so the sexualization tends to work as a part of that even when it has no point besides from that), but it's there and should IMO be viewed at as something that's there.

BusterMachine4: I used to be one of those who argued Eva had little to no actual fanservice myself, heh! But I've come around to realize it has its moments.

I think most people who talk about Eva not having fanservice dislike fanservice and think it'd be bad if they were to like a work with such fanservice in it, despite the facts that ignoring flaws isn't the best of options and that works can still be masterful all-time greats despite having qualities we personally would rather it not have. And Eva's pointless fanservice can be considered as something that adds to the show's horny vibes, so I would argue there even is a way out here. (Not saying it's all a thought-out artistic intention, though!)

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:11 am

View Original PostNuclear Lunchbox wrote:The conversation begins and ends with "they are not real people", but I'll humor the question!

[...]

TL;DR: anime girls aren't real and people who judge you for fapping to them are puritans.

Eh, there's a little more to it than that. While I won't go around arm-chair psychoanalyzing people who enjoy certain things, regardless of what those things are, I do know a bit about art itself and how it functions in society.

While I certainly sympathize and agree with the "They're not real" argument, I only agree with it to the extent that the individuals depicted in illustrative and non-performance based art works are not real people. They are fictional characters depicted in drawings, paintings, statues, poems, novels, and other literature/visual arts that are not based on performance of real flesh-and-blood people in the form of on-screen professional actors or amateurs. So, in this sense, no real people were harmed in the creation of said art work, and that's actually a really good thing! But art, regardless of the form it takes, isn't just a series of things that aren't real representing thoughts or ideas that would otherwise be dangerous to recreate in person. Art is, at its core, a cultural expression of cultural phenomenon. If it wasn't, then the work in question wouldn't resonate with audiences in any way whatsoever, and wouldn't even be recognizable as art. But it's the fact that art is a cultural expression of cultural phenomenon that makes erotic art of underage characters that much more of a murky territory. Sure, it's not real. But it is, in some fashion, a cultural reflection of cultural phenomenon that is real. This makes the conversation way hairier to have than just "lol! it's not real," and causes a lot of people's reaction to vary widely across the spectrum.

Some folks rest on the "Underage erotic art helps prevent real harm against minors" argument, and there is some studies to back it up that idea as being true to a lot of people. There are some people who can successfully use underage illustrations to alleviate urges. There are other people who side strictly with the "Underage erotic art feeds into the desire to commit harmful acts towards minors" and, sadly, there's also a lot of study that backs this up this idea as well. There are plenty of cases where real life pedophiles and child molesters have been found with erotic illustrations of underage characters on their computers. There's really no one who is wrong in their arguments on this, and that is what's troubling about it. And that's the difficulty of having simple discussions about underage erotic art: Because it's art, and therefore is a cultural expression of realm life cultural phenomenon, no work of art "returns void" in the cultural sphere in question. It always has impact and meaning to it, regardless of whether or not the characters depicted are "real" or not. So, in the end, the question of the purpose of erotic underage art remains an eternal one. And, again, no one is here to be the thought police about it. We can only attempt to contribute to and curate a heathy communal discussion about things. (In this case, Evangelion.) And, while these questions of the effects of erotic art of underage characters comes up a lot in Evangelion specifically, I think that this discussion actually plays a more minor roll compared to the actual attempts being made when depicted the sexuality of any of these characters.

Evangelion is mainly about the emotional human experience, and therefore uses the sexuality of the characters depicted to better flesh out that human experience. Everything about the fan service of that show, "seriously presented" or not, is there to support the character, not to pigeon-hole the character. And that's what I appreciate about Evangelion. Shinji is a sexual being in the process of self-actualization. That's a major part of being a teenager. He's also a lot of other things, which help inform his actualization as a sexual person, and vice versa, which helps present Shinji as a fully formed character. The same thing goes with his pilot friends, especially Asuka. There's nothing wrong with depicting their sexuality in the contexts surrounding that depiction. It's emotionally honest for a coming-of-age story (which generally focus on growing up in broader, more harmless narrative lenses), and doesn't shy away from the more angry and confused aspects of growing up. And, partially because there are a lot of people at the very least presenting as creeps with their 4-chan speech, this depiction generally tends to be discussed in only the "perverted or no" sides of the conversation. I think there's far much more to it than all that in the case of Evangelion. Evangelion isn't just showing fan service to be horny all the time. It is showing certain sexual aspects of people's lives in an appeal way in order to better flesh out the characters featured in the show and explore all of their character quirks and personal growth.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:19 am

I don't think it's a question of if the sexualization of the characters is intended in all the lofty, artful ways we're positing it is; I think it's a question of how much. Certainly there are shots that are used for character development, but I'm sure none of us are denying that some of the shots in there are for us, for the audience, that are there for our eyes.

Art may be a reflection of cultural phenoms, but it is no more real than a reflection in a mirror.

Meaning in art may not always be something that makes us comfortable, but there is absolutely compartmentalization between what is in the real world and what isn't. People enjoy things in fiction through lenses that are impossible to recreate in real life, such as enjoying the appearance of a character through a mental lens that the viewer generated ten, twenty years ago, while the character themselves has stayed the same age, never changing. The purpose of art is to be interpreted, and some of us may like what it says less than others, but we decide what it says.

That's what I mean when I say it isn't real. Art only speaks as loudly as we care to hear it. (I'd argue similarly about videogames, even though those involve human participation even more explicitly than watching a show does.)

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:04 am

View Original PostNuclear Lunchbox wrote:I don't think it's a question of if the sexualization of the characters is intended in all the lofty, artful ways we're positing it is; I think it's a question of how much. Certainly there are shots that are used for character development, but I'm sure none of us are denying that some of the shots in there are for us, for the audience, that are there for our eyes.

I mean, a character being incidentally sexy (usually being depicted as "for the viewers' eyes") is still an exploration of that character. It obviously doesn't reveal some great, hidden truth about them, sure, and doesn't do as much impressive developmental work as some of the more "seriously minded" stuff, but it's there.

Like, if someone can't have fun with the idea of sex, then what good is it for anyway, right? :nyao:

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby BernardoCairo » Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:35 am

Zusuchan
I'm not arguing that every instance of sexuality in Evangelion has a "deeper meaning" behind it. In fact, I legitimately thought about ending my last post with: "As for fan service, it is there and I don't really care about it". However, I figured this would be self-explanatory.
Anyway, these instances don't bother me at the slightest. Again, the female body plays an important role in Evangelion. Therefore, I have no problem with it being shown in a sexual context. I'm against female objectification, but NGE never seems to go for that. Instead, it portrays women primarily as sexual creatures (which we all are). By the way, we are following the story through the eyes of teenagers. Again, what you would even expect?
I believe that we are dealing with a subjective matter here. "Have you ever been bothered by the sexualization of Evangelion characters?" No. I haven't. To be honest, fan service was the last thing that crossed my mind while I was watching the series. Anyway, if someone doesn't like it, I respect that. There is no "right" or "wrong" in this situation.

Zusuchan wrote:Sex, sexuality and their role in human relationships are obviously pretty important themes of Eva-however, there's still certainly instances of sexualization that could have been avoided and can legitimately be argued to be unnecessary, insipid and pointless.

I don't see myself in a position to decide what is "unnecessary" or not in someone else's work. If sexual imagery is used, it's for some reason. It is not for me to say whether it should be there or not. To state that sex has everything to do with the core identity of the series is not the same as saying that each instance of sexuality has a "deep meaning" behind it. I'm just acknowledging that it definitely plays an important role in defining what Evangelion is.
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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Sun Apr 18, 2021 8:54 am

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:
View Original PostNuclear Lunchbox#920589 wrote:I don't think it's a question of if the sexualization of the characters is intended in all the lofty, artful ways we're positing it is; I think it's a question of how much. Certainly there are shots that are used for character development, but I'm sure none of us are denying that some of the shots in there are for us, for the audience, that are there for our eyes.

I mean, a character being incidentally sexy (usually being depicted as "for the viewers' eyes") is still an exploration of that character. It obviously doesn't reveal some great, hidden truth about them, sure, and doesn't do as much impressive developmental work as some of the more "seriously minded" stuff, but it's there.

Like, if someone can't have fun with the idea of sex, then what good is it for anyway, right? :nyao:

I'm pretty sure you and I are in agreement in that some of Evangelion's sex appeal tells a story, and some of it... is just for the audience, is surface-level, and may not have a deeper explanation. I'm flashing back to all the arguments about Quiet in MGS5 and how people argued over "She needs to breathe through her skin!" vs "She just looks sexy!" (At least Yoko Taro, the creator of Nier: Automata and 2B, is honest about his intentions!)

It's fine for fanservice to be servicey. Sometimes a show wants to make its viewers feel good.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Zusuchan » Mon Apr 19, 2021 1:00 pm

BernardoCairo: I'm afraid that I can't be certain what you or anyone else really thinks-there have been several instances where people have said things I'd never have thought I'd see them say, so therefore a level of clarification will never be bad, I think.

Personally, as I've said, I'm not really against the fanservice and/or sexualization seen in the series, but I'm not going to say it's not there. How much one is bothered by it is a subjective matter of course, but I don't think anyone's seriously arguing there is no fanservice (meaningful or meaningless) in Eva-and how justifiable the fanservice is, is a matter of contention even now and I think it being discussed in this thread is perfectly fine and understandable, especially since a large part of this thread already consists of such discussions.

About the "unnecessary" comment, I don't think things are as simple as you're saying. Yes, usually when something is a part of an artwork, one should assume it's meaningful and try to derive meaning from it by thinking how it could make sense as a part of the whole. However, there are times when there can be legitimate arguments made that some element is unnecessary and adds nothing, so therefore that should be accepted, or at least the one arguing that it's unnecessary should not be shooed away with "it's not for you to say whether it's there or not". Especially since this is a forum meant to discuss an anime-yet I doubt anyone here actually is one of the top members in the production of any Eva franchise material. That does not mean we can't discuss the work and our personal feelings about it-as a matter of fact, if we weren't to do so because we're not the artists, who would reasonably discuss the works? (I would say I am irritated by the amount of people who jump to "it's pointless/stupid/unnecessary/etc" whenever brought up against matters they're not used to, but that doesn't mean there aren't times when such things can't be said legitimately.)

Also note that I said "instances" of sexualization, not "sexualization". I'm by no means arguing that every instance of sexual imagery in Eva can be argued to be pointless, but that some can.

Nuclear Lunchbox wrote:Art may be a reflection of cultural phenoms, but it is no more real than a reflection in a mirror.

I'm pretty certain that's what most people mean when they say art is an reflection. And reflections in a mirror are real, they're just slightly distorted when compared to reality.

Also, I doubt it's as easy as "art only speaking as loud as we care to hear it". I think we've all had instances where we can't stop thinking about a certain piece of art and what it means, how it reflects on this or that issue or facet of life and I think we've all had the realization it's not an easy thing to just stop this thinking. Art is something that always stays with the recipient in even the smallest doses and will affect them. Art has been used to spread and enforce the ideas of religions and governments; art has been used to catch the deepest wishes of people so as to ensnare them; art has been used to create beautiful worlds that inspire countless others; art has been one of the cornerstones of many social movements. Whether or not we like it, art matters always, all the time and even if it's not real in the way a stone or a chair we can touch is, it has so many consequences upon the material world that it just as well is real in terms of its influence.

Now, the (im)morality of masturbating to underage teenage anime girls when not a teenager yourself is something that is probably more tied to pornography than it is to other artforms, but, well, it still matters, no matter with what it's tied.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby BernardoCairo » Mon Apr 19, 2021 2:53 pm

Zusuchan wrote: I'm afraid that I can't be certain what you or anyone else really thinks-there have been several instances where people have said things I'd never have thought I'd see them say, so therefore a level of clarification will never be bad, I think.

Yeah, but here's the thing. I wasn't talking about fan service in my post. It had nothing to do with anything that I wrote. Instead, I was commenting about a different side of the Evangelion's sexuality spectrum. Therefore, it wouldn't make sense for me to conclude my ideas by talking about fan service. That would be incoherent and cheap. I never said that every single instance of sexual imagery in Evangelion has a "deeper meaning" behind it. I didn't tackle this subject. It's a valid discussion, but I wasn't talking about it. So, why should I end my text with it?

Zusuchan wrote:How much one is bothered by it is a subjective matter of course, but I don't think anyone's seriously arguing there is no fanservice (meaningful or meaningless) in Eva

That's exactly why I chose not to tackle fan service while finishing my post. I mean, no one here is denying its existence. In fact, this specific subject is all over the thread. Instead, I was trying to highlight a different side of things.
By the way, I wasn't judging the "validity" of this discussion at all. I never said it was pointless and, as far as I'm concerned, people can debate whatever they want. I just took the opportunity to reinforce that I'm not bothered by the use of sexual elements in Evangelion (now in the context of fan service and everything else you pointed out). That's subjective! Other than that, I obviously have no problem with people sharing their thoughts about sexuality in anime.

Zusuchan wrote:About the "unnecessary" comment, I don't think things are as simple as you're saying. Yes, usually when something is a part of an artwork, one should assume it's meaningful and try to derive meaning from it by thinking how it could make sense as a part of the whole. However, there are times when there can be legitimate arguments made that some element is unnecessary and adds nothing, so therefore that should be accepted, or at least the one arguing that it's unnecessary should not be shooed away with "it's not for you to say whether it's there or not".

I think you misunderstood me. I wasn't talking about you, Zusuchan. I was talking about myself. I personally do not feel comfortable deciding what it is "unnecessary" or not in someone else's work. I have nothing against criticism and analyzing other people's stories can be fun. That's why we are on this forum, right? That said, I like to criticize and praise things for what they are. Of course, we all have an idea or two of how Evangelion, for example, could be "improved". However, these are just our own opinions, which are reflections of our preferences. Picking what is necessary or not about an established work of art? Well, that's not my thing.
I said that to place myself out of that discussion. I have nothing against the debate itself and respect your opinion.

Zusuchan wrote:Also note that I said "instances" of sexualization, not "sexualization". I'm by no means arguing that every instance of sexual imagery in Eva can be argued to be pointless, but that some can.

Yeah, that was pretty obvious. I never questioned anything about it.

I hope this post was clear to understand, as I'm trying to avoid misinterpretations.
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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Zusuchan » Tue Apr 20, 2021 11:50 am

We seem to be at least partly talking over each other here.

I think the main problem is that IMO fanservice and sexualization often go hand-in-hand, inevitably being deeply tied. So when I read this post, it seemed to me that you were unfairly ignoring the parts of Eva's sexualization that do not matter, so I brought it up. The difference really does seem to be that you and I have different views on how tied fanservice and sexualization are, so that's how the misunderstanding arose.

As for the point of the discussion, that was more of an over-all comment meant to show I'm not a mean ultra-puritan that wasn't meant to indicate you of anything really.

Now, for the "unnecessary" comment, I can understand you feeling as you do, but the way you worded it came off to me as if you were stating that if something is part of an artwork, then it's above criticizing (through the lens of "does this have a point or not", at least) and I once again stated that I don't think things work like that.

All-in-all, this seems to be an issue of miscommunication more than anything else, really.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby baldur » Tue Apr 20, 2021 1:53 pm

I can't say I'm very interested in joining in on the discussion on how morally appropriate it is to sexualize underage characters, but I do have a few thoughts about fanservice as a phenomenon.

Full disclosure, I can't really say I like fanservice at all, no matter its incarnation. Now, to be fair, if you stretch the meaning of fanservice far enough, one could use it to describe any moment designed to broadly satisfy the audience, but I think the word is really only used to refer to a very cheap brand of audience gratification. Particularly when it comes to anime and manga, it is of a sexual and objectifying nature.

In the discourse surrounding fanservice, you often hear stuff like "there's nothing wrong with pleasing the audience" and I think this is a wrong-headed platitude for a number of reasons. For one: there is, in fact, something wrong with 'pleasing' the audience if it's done for the wrong reasons. If something is inserted into a story for no purpose but cheap audience satisfaction, especially if that story demands to be taken seriously, I see no reason to consider that anything but a flaw of the storytelling. Furthermore, fanservice intrinsically draws attention to itself, and personally, it drags me out of the narrative in a really unsatisfying way. Beyond all that, though, the argument is framed in a way that ignores, in my opinion, a pretty vital detail - who's being pleased; the audience or a sub-set of the audience? When it comes to typical anime fanservice, the people being pleased are usually straight and male and, might I add, the sort of straight males who'd enjoy the kind of objectification fanservice employs. I can only speak for myself here, but as an audience member, fanservice does not actually "please" me very much at all - as a matter of fact, I find it uncomfortable and disrupting more often than not. Beyond any moral qualms I have about sexually objectifying characters, underage or not, I think fanservice is detrimental to storytelling itself. Frankly, most often it comes off as really pathetic to me, because it either feels like I'm being grossly pandered to, or it feels like the creator couldn't resist inserting something embarrassingly indulgent and frivolous into the work.

As far as Evangelion is concerned, there definitely is an undercurrent of fanservice present. All things considered, though, I feel that it's handled in a relatively tasteful manner. A lot of the sexual elements, up to and including the on-screen nudity, has a legitimate purpose in terms of storytelling and is not even meant to be gratifying. Whether you agree with the idea that the Asuka hospital scene is a deliberate attack on fanservice (I think it's a cool interpretation, but not necessarily an intended one), it's undeniable that Eva often takes moments that would, in a lesser series, be used for cheap gratification and instead twists it into something more uncomfortable and subversive. Even a lot of the fanservice that's played straight, the male-gazey stuff, can be excused* as communicating Shinji's burgeoning sexuality, especially in light of the series leaning so heavily into that direction near the end. But, again, I would never deny that the more typical elements of fanservice are present to some degree - after all, every single episode preview unashamedly announces that reality.

* I'm aware that not everyone feels an excuse is warranted.

I think 2.0 probably has the most blatant fanservice of the entire series, but I'm okay with it because so much of that film feels like a parody of itself. My thinking with a lot of stuff in 2.0, including the excessive fanservice, is something along the lines of "even if this is being played straight, as a creative decision, it still brings up interesting questions", and I think the course-correction in 3.0 further makes up for any problem I'd potentially have with it.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby BernardoCairo » Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:38 pm

Zusuchan wrote:All-in-all, this seems to be an issue of miscommunication more than anything else, really.

Yeah, you're right. I should've kept the last line of my text (about fan service). It had nothing to do with what I was talking about, but it would avoid misunderstandings (considering that there was already an ongoing discussion). Anyway, I'm sorry for that.

Just to make things clear, I'm going to share my views on fan service.
In short, I'm usually not bothered by it. However, this doesn't mean that I like it either. I'm more in a "neutral" zone. What do I mean by that? Well, I just don't really care about it. It doesn't make me feel anything. In a "perfect" world, it wouldn't exist. Yet, it does. With that in mind, what exactly dictates whether it is tolerable or not? You see, I think there is a "line" which divides how intrusive fan service can be for the narrative or not. It is tenuous and varies from person to person. Honestly, I don't watch any anime in which I consider it to be "problematic". That said, I know it exists.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a unique case. I'm not going to sit down and ignore the few occurrences of "pure fan service" in it. However, when it comes to the use of sexual elements, it has a sizeable amount of instances with weight behind it. To be honest, I didn't even notice some of the examples you gave before reading this thread. As I said before, fan service was the last thing that crossed my mind while I was watching the series. It never distracted me from the story and it never came close to hurting my experience. Again, this is subjective and I respect everyone's view on it.

baldur wrote:I think 2.0 probably has the most blatant fanservice of the entire series, but I'm okay with it because so much of that film feels like a parody of itself.

Yeah, NTE is definitely a different beast altogether. Let’s say it’s "rougher at the edges". I think the only instance in which it broke the "illusion" for me was during the activation of Unit 03. It's such an important moment and it gets me emotional every time. It's one of NTE's defining segments, in my opinion. However, they choose to put that weird scene of Asuka trying on her new plugsuit in the middle of it. It doesn't make me uncomfortable, but it's a bit laughable. It just doesn't fit with what's going on. Well, maybe other people feel different about it.
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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby UrsusArctos » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:09 am

Well, I've used very specific (non-salacious) fanservice in my fanfiction before, aimed at a handful of old friends who used to read my work. It was all meant to be fun and had no pretense of having any commercial or artistic merit whatsoever. I don't have any absolutist feelings about fanservice being bad because they appreciated it, and that made me happy.

That being said...

View Original Postbaldur wrote:Full disclosure, I can't really say I like fanservice at all, no matter its incarnation. Now, to be fair, if you stretch the meaning of fanservice far enough, one could use it to describe any moment designed to broadly satisfy the audience, but I think the word is really only used to refer to a very cheap brand of audience gratification.


...I find myself agreeing with you on this and the other points you make regarding fanservice a lot more strongly than I would have in the past. How so? Because it occurs to me that narrative in many forms of modern media has been replaced by glorified fanservice. It doesn't matter whether it's anime, or live-action TV or movies, it seems like pandering to whatever is perceived to grant the audience cheap gratification takes priority over coming up with a sensible story. And it doesn't have to be the usual oversexualized garbage, I also see things like an overreliance on foreshadowing, excessively overblown worldbuilding, "mystery boxes", or loading up on numerous cool but trivial details ("easter eggs") that are being used as forms of gratifying audiences (or simply a subset of obsessive fans) in place of having an actual coherent story.

Game of Thrones in its final season was so heavily weighed down by a perceived need for audience gratification (through the previously tried-and-tested combo of sudden shocks, sex, brutal violence and gore) that its narrative turned into a shambles. The A Song of Ice and Fire book series combines that with some of the points I mentioned earlier, using excessively complex and bloated worldbuilding as a prop for the lack of a proper plan to end the series. The Rise of Skywalker seemed to be using the Emperor's memetic status in the fandom as a kind of crutch for its own nonsensical plot. Both GoT and TRoS were highly disappointing and left even dedicated fans upset, because they threw away meaningful stories and characterization in favor of cheap pandering, and that ended up pleasing nobody. From the anime side, I look at everything in the Madoka franchise after the original PMMM - there was the Rebellion movie, which was a complete mess, and utterly pointless fluff like Magia Record, which exist solely to titillate a select portion of the male audience at the expense of actually making sense (when the original PMMM masterfully told a complete story in a little over four hours).

I agree that with Evangelion, the main TV series and the Rebuild movies were never as high in terms of pointless audience gratification as Misato's promises of "saabisu, saabisu" suggested - and 2.0 practically parodies itself on the matter, as you note. However, male gaze aside, there are moments when the TV series engages in self-indulgent fanservice of a different sort, for both the creators and very specific portions of the audience. For example, the huge naval fleet depicted escorting Eva-02 in Episode 08 is essentially a form of fanservice for warship nerds - perhaps not as cheap as the usual examples, but nevertheless sailing close to the wind in its level of indulgence. I imagine Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi had plenty of fun drawing dozens of meticulously detailed American, Russian and Japanese warships or all those Su-33 fighers on the carrier deck! However, all the warship fanservice is integral to the plot of the episode itself and makes complete sense in context. I actually enjoy indulging in the plane/train/tank/firearms/warships sort of fanservice as long as it is a sensible part of the plot and does not draw attention to itself as something gratuitous or blatantly out-of-place. But for the usual sort of fanservice...I'm dead set against it.
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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby baldur » Sat Apr 24, 2021 2:01 pm

View Original PostUrsusArctos wrote:...I find myself agreeing with you on this and the other points you make regarding fanservice a lot more strongly than I would have in the past. How so? Because it occurs to me that narrative in many forms of modern media has been replaced by glorified fanservice. [...]

I heavily agree with almost all of your points as well.

View Original PostUrsusArctos wrote:The A Song of Ice and Fire book series combines that with some of the points I mentioned earlier, using excessively complex and bloated worldbuilding as a prop for the lack of a proper plan to end the series.

I think this is the only part of your post where my opinion differs from yours. I think the sort of tasteless fanservice that's been present in GOT since the beginning is largely absent from the books, and I also think that the story hasn't actually been bloated with useless worldbuilding or narrative expansion and the perception that it has is more a byproduct of Feast/Dance being split and the wait between books being so long. Overall this is a very minor part of your larger argument though.

View Original PostUrsusArctos wrote:However, male gaze aside, there are moments when the TV series engages in self-indulgent fanservice of a different sort, for both the creators and very specific portions of the audience. For example, the huge naval fleet depicted escorting Eva-02 in Episode 08 is essentially a form of fanservice for warship nerds - perhaps not as cheap as the usual examples, but nevertheless sailing close to the wind in its level of indulgence. I imagine Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi had plenty of fun drawing dozens of meticulously detailed American, Russian and Japanese warships or all those Su-33 fighers on the carrier deck! However, all the warship fanservice is integral to the plot of the episode itself and makes complete sense in context. I actually enjoy indulging in the plane/train/tank/firearms/warships sort of fanservice as long as it is a sensible part of the plot and does not draw attention to itself as something gratuitous or blatantly out-of-place. But for the usual sort of fanservice...I'm dead set against it.

This is an interesting perspective that I hadn't really considered. Like you said, I think it adds to the atmosphere and setting and thus serves a valuable purpose for the storytelling, so I have no qualms with it.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby BusterMachine4 » Sat Apr 24, 2021 7:37 pm

As many people probably know, I've recently been in a debate with some other forum members about whether Episode 10 is skippable. But I eventually conceded that the episode has a lot of worldbuilding and character moments, and the discussion ended up turning into a debate about whether the fanservice in the episode (or in the rest of the show) went too far. So I felt like the discussion would be best continued here.

The post that I responded to last:
View Original PostNuclear Lunchbox wrote:I'm not a fan of phrases such as "no real woman acts like this" and "too many anime play off the male gaze". I find it a sort of talk that pigeonholes women into clean, pure boxes where they would never dare say something raunchy, where any overt sexualization is taboo. (Also... women in Japan will absolutely randomly touch someone's breasts. Source: worked as an ALT in a rural prefecture for a year, heard a lot of great stories.) With all due respect, you've marked that you're a sixteen-year old boy. Women aren't monolithic, and behave in ways that it's entirely possible you haven't been exposed to yet.

My last post in the thread:
View Original PostBusterMachine4 wrote:But I disagree with your opinions about the sexual stuff. I’m not arguing that women are pure or it’s impossible for them to be sexual. I’m just repeating arguments from feminist literary critics, most of whom are women. They aren’t opposed to sexuality in fiction, they just want women to be treated realistically and without horny glasses on. Real women don’t have this weird breast fixation like they do in anime. Your friends in Japan might have said that the whole “groping as a bonding exercise” trope is true, but people say a lot of things, and I can’t find anything about it online.

And “male gaze” doesn’t just mean “women being portrayed sexually”: it only applies when the sexualization is disproportionally applied to women instead of men. And Eva is definitely an example of that: like I said, there are endless shots in Eva ogling the female characters’ boobs and butt, but no equivalent shots for any of the male characters. It assumes that the only people who would want to watch this show are straight men, and that’s exactly what the feminist critics are complaining about.

So, am I right? Am I wrong? I'd like to hear someone else's perspective on this, especially a woman's since the discussion involves feminist ideas.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby baldur » Sat Apr 24, 2021 8:08 pm

View Original PostBusterMachine4 wrote:As many people probably know, I've recently been in a debate with some other forum members about whether Episode 10 is skippable. But I eventually conceded that the episode has a lot of worldbuilding and character moments, and the discussion ended up turning into a debate about whether the fanservice in the episode (or in the rest of the show) went too far. So I felt like the discussion would be best continued here.

[...]

So, am I right? Am I wrong? I'd like to hear someone else's perspective on this, especially a woman's since the discussion involves feminist ideas.

Not a woman, but from taking a glance at the other thread, I'm pretty sure I agree with you. I've made my opinions on fanservice (especially of the objectifying/sexual kind) clear in this thread already so no need to retread old ground. That being said, I don't have that much of a problem with Episode 10 myself. But I concur with your thoughts on the male gaze and all that. I don't think it's puritanical to hold creators to the standard of "treat your characters like characters and not sex objects".

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby UrsusArctos » Sun Apr 25, 2021 12:49 am

It's been a while since I've seen Episode 10 and I need to get my thoughts in order about it, both fanservice and otherwise.

@baldur - I found ASoIaF a slog to go through, so perhaps I'm conflating elements of the TV series with the book. Perhaps I'm mistaken about the book series, but my points do hold for the TV series.

Come to think of it, the ancient, jokey and barely-used Geektionary has a useful entry here-
https://wiki.evageeks.org/Geektionary#F

View Original PostGeektionary entry wrote:Fan Service is when the production team of a series inserts material that does nothing to move the plot along but just exists to give the fans a thrill.

When they hear the term "fan service", most people tend to think of sex and nudity: a typical example of such ecchi fan service in NGE would include Misato leaning forward at the dinner table in Episode 02, giving Shinji, and the audience, a good look at her cleavage, and the subsequent shot of her backside in tight shorts. However, it is important to note that not all nudity is considered fan service. Rei's nudity in Episode 05 and Asuka's exposing her breasts to Kaji in Episode 22' give the audience important information about their characters, and should thus probably not be considered gratuitous. The term fan service is also used to describe various other things including gratuitous action and explosions. Misato's Alpine A310, references to old science fiction movies and even the cans of Yebichu beer classify as "fan service".


I think this ties in petty well with a number of points in the conversation so far.

baldur wrote: But I concur with your thoughts on the male gaze and all that. I don't think it's puritanical to hold creators to the standard of "treat your characters like characters and not sex objects".


My sentiments exactly.
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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Zusuchan » Sun Apr 25, 2021 5:52 am

UrsusArctos wrote:
Perhaps I'm mistaken about the book series, but my points do hold for the TV series.

For the TV show, they most certainly hold, but for ASOIAF, they don't. The books have none of the abundant gratuitous sex scenes and even though it features far worse instances of violence, they're all far better handled.
Example  SPOILER: Show
Ramsay's wife in the books-who isn't Sansa-is pretty much outright stated to be constantly sexually abused and raped, there are mentions of her screams being heard across Winterfell, there are hints she might have been forced to do something with Ramsay's dogs and on her wedding night, Ramsay had Theon perform cunnilingus on her. Despite the horrors being obviously worse, they were a lot better handled however. The cunnilingus was described with "Reek bent to his task" and the rest were only small statements and hints, without a hint of the TV series's handling of Sansa's rape, an event made more obviously for shock value.

The difference between GoT and ASOIAF is that while GRRM features fucked-up stuff, it never comes across as something shown for shock value or a pointless addition, but Benioff and Weiss enjoy pointless things that "add" to the show's mainstream appeal, even if it's in the form of insipid sex scenes.

Re: there not being a proper plan to end ASOIAF, that is true in a certain way, in the same way it's true that Anno had no proper plan to end NGE and most likely even NTE. Both Anno and GRRM come off as gardeners-artists who have the general plot outline and themes at hand from the beginning, but not really a concrete plan of how to go about actually telling the story. Like baldur, I also think that people overestimate the excessiveness of worldbuilding in the series. (Though there is a lot, but as an ASOIAF fan, I don't mind at all.)

And why do you think PMMM:Rebellion is an instance of fanservice? I'd argue it wasn't necessary per se, but I think it's awesome in its visual language, daringness and how it shows Homura's love for Madoka in a less positive light, IMO a cool counterpoint to her obsessiveness leading to a happy, if bittersweet for her personally, ending in the TV series. I also consider it a great representation of the dangers of obsession, repressed desires, fantasies and self-hate, and a great exploration of the way those things are related and their ultimately bad consequences.

I very much agree with the larger point made by you, though I'm not sure if popular works catering to fans is necessarily a new phenomenon-most likely it's really just become more easily apparent now, especially with the abundance of nostalgia bait in popular franchises. Non-sexual fanservice can be alright, of course-a lot depends on personal opinions and whether or not the fanservice intruded unfavorably on the work itself.

On sexual fanservice on the whole, I'd say I'm more against it than for it. I'm not overly bothered by it in Eva, because it actually manages to work as an important part of the work (yes, the horny vibes really are important). With NTE, I'd wait until Shin, but I wouldn't be surprised if sub-themes of sex(uality) were there somewhere as well and Ha is still IMO pretty conscious about it being more "generic" in almost all aspects than what you'd expect from Anno's Eva. Most of the times, I do agree sexual fanservice in general comes off pretty stupidly and acts as an irritation that adds little to nothing to the work in question.

BM4: I agree with what you said. If you want NL to contribute, maybe you should tell him about having moved the discussion here in the ep.7 thread? This is merely a question, mind you.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby BusterMachine4 » Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:33 am

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:BM4: I agree with what you said. If you want NL to contribute, maybe you should tell him about having moved the discussion here in the ep.7 thread? This is merely a question, mind you.

Well, I wasn’t specifically thinking of NL when I moved the discussion, but everyone agreeing with me is getting kind of boring, so it would be interesting to hear a dissenting opinion. I assumed that NL reads the entire forum, though, so it’s weird that he’s not responding.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby Zusuchan » Sun Apr 25, 2021 10:50 am

I don't know if NL does read the entire forum or not, which is partly why I suggested the idea. Well, if he'll reply, he'll reply, if not, then not.

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Re: Is no one bothered by the sexualization of the characters in EVA?

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Postby UrsusArctos » Sun Apr 25, 2021 6:25 pm

One of the things I realize I dislike about Episode 10 is that it has the feel of a far more generic super robot show but without coming off as self-aware of it - Asuka being a college student actually raised more questions than answers - while Evangelion 2.0 was far more self-aware and was quietly parodying itself.

That's an interesting point about the book's handling of these issue. However, I disagree about the comparison between both creators. Anno knew what point he wanted to make far better than George R. R. Martin ever did, and there were hints of EoE in Episode 25, such as Ritsuko lying dead and so on. Anno's difference is that he tends to work the best with time running out and his back against the wall, while Martin seems to be stretching things out indefinitely in the absence of a clear way of resolving a number of plot points/issues. I would say that Anno knows what the overall architecture of the series is meant to be like, even if he landed up changing several of those elements towards the end of the series and landed up showing instrumentality psychologically rather than physically.

I actually put up an Arqa blog post about Japanese narrative in NGE, in which I argue that the series actually has a clear structure to it down to being in "blocks" of four episodes each, and that the Angel battles actually have different thematic purposes depending on where they happen -
https://www.arqacrypha.net/post/japanes ... evangelion

Anno isn't so much a gardener and isn't an architect-type either, so the best analogy I have for him is an inter-war naval constructor. He's the sort of person who lays down the keel and hull members for a battlecruiser. Evangelion's analog here would be Ritsuko's namesake, the aircraft carrier Akagi, which began her existence as an Amagi-class battlecruiser. Since during construction Anno discovers that he needs an aircraft carrier, he rebuilds the ship laid on top of the original keel and structural elements and turns the battlecruiser into a carrier in a hurry. But the original carrier built has a weird structure with multiple decks for aircraft and for all its power needs to be rebuilt to a different standard, so then Anno has it rebuilt as a proper carrier, along the way making small but important additions and fixing little details that came out wrong the first time around.

The narrative discussion aside, Rebellion...well, I find the whole "Homura turns into the devil and steals Madoka's powers" idea completely out-of-left-field and serves to sully her previously established character. This is no longer a girl who fights on behalf of her friend, this is now an obsessive monster who turns into the devil out of left-field without a clear arc for her character turning that way. It's as badly done as Daenerys flipping her lid and burning down all of King's Landing . Never mind if it happens in Witch's labyrinth, the entire thing about the girls doing cute things together ( :urk: ), kyubey being turned into a mascot who goes "kyuu"( :yuck: ), the transformation sequences complete with dancing( :XP: ), the godawful cake song ( :vomit: ), all of which goes on for a full half hour or more before it is revealed what is wrong ( :vomit_duo: ) all pretty much are fanservice aimed at a very specific portion of the male audience. It's the kind of thing that I hope Anno never, ever stoops down to in his old age.
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