Fire Force & Fanservice

Alright, Hear Me Out

Lately the discussion on the fanservice in the continuing Summer 2019 series, Fire Force, has gotten a little out of hand. It seems that you are either in favor of these sexy interludes or strongly against them. While I hold my own thoughts on this myself, I would like to address each of the main points in this discussion and explain why I think this has gotten a bit crazy. If you take anything away from this it should be this:  You are allowed to voice your thoughts on a show, but don’t push some agenda on to other people, or speak to how something effects them. Get off your damned high horse.

So with that kind of edgy introduction, at least by my standards, out of the way, let’s start by addressing each point one at a time. I’ll certainly say things you won’t agree with, but I ask that you read through my entire writing here before jumping to the comments. Give what I have to say some thought too, I’m not trying to tell you that fanservice is good or bad, nor am I about to tell you how to feel about it; rather I want to address why this particular case has merit on both sides of the discussion.

The Situation Thus Far

Currently, at the time of writing, I am up to date with Fire Force, having freshly watched episode 19. This debate about fanservice began pretty early on with the introduction of Tamaki, an unfortunate girl who often falls victim to her self-described “lucky lecher lure”. In these moments, the impossible becomes reality and your typical ecchi scenes occur with the other cast members, typically male.

One side argues that this fanservice in particular is bad for the series, that it hurts the flow of the story, or the narrative in general. The other side of the line states that this kind of thing is common in both anime and manga, as they say, “if you can’t handle it, then don’t watch it”. Of course, this is a somewhat simplified view of the situation at hand for easy understanding, so be aware that there is some nuance and complexity that you may have experienced yourself beyond this. Now, to the core arguments.

Has Everybody Forgot About Blair in Soul Eater?

This is something I’ve seen brought up a lot of times when talking about the general inclusion of fanservice in Fire Force. In case you are unaware, the creator behind this series was also behind another well-liked anime and manga, Soul Eater. In Soul Eater, there is a character named Blair who’s only real purpose, at least in the anime, is to provide fanservice and get the plot started.

Image result for blair soul eater gif
Well, no that’s kind of exactly the issue here Blair… Also a note about how the Soul Eater stuff doesn’t feel overly intrusive, just didn’t have the mind to put that into the main body of the work.

While I don’t really personally care for how this is integrated, I have no problems saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it happening in the show itself. It’s a little weird since the rest of the anime doesn’t really have a lot of stuff like this, but it isn’t anything that really has upset a lot of people watching. Obviously, what’s going on here isn’t that big of an issue outside some fringe viewers.

The reason for this is pretty simple. The kind of fanservice here is pretty tame, relatively isolated, and feels natural in concerns to the character in question. All of these things are important to consider when talking about why this fanservice discussion about Fire Force is happening at all.

Now, a counter-point to this is that the anime cut out a lot of things, in turn toning it down, but as I haven’t experienced that manga, and the fact that this is a conversation about ANIME in particular, I can’t really comment on it. To the folks pointing to this as some magic defense for Fire Force, sorry, but it really doesn’t have any bearing here, which is why the next point is…

The Manga Has This/You’d Have Known if You Read the Manga/Creator’s Vision

Guess what folks? We are talking about the anime here, not the manga. Great, Fire Force has this fanservice in the manga? It’s a 1:1 adaptation? Ok, that’s good I suppose, but guess what? If I were to read the manga right now, I would bet my life that all the folks complaining about the fanservice would still do so here as well.

Going back to Soul Eater, even if that is filled with all the same kind of stuff, I didn’t read that. I’m largely an anime-only person, and I know I’m not alone. Coming from the anime I can grant my perspective, I was a little surprised by the sudden fanservice, and particular, the way it was integrated in Fire Force having seen Soul Eater. Kind of giving away my stance here, but I didn’t like it and felt a little tricked by the creator.

Image result for fire force fanservice character
Hey look! The same scene for my thumbnail is here as well.

Since I liked (most) of Soul Eater (ya’ll can’t lie, the ending was not great), I was expecting something similar with Fire Force. Now, I don’t think this anime is delivering nearly as well as it could be, but a big reason for this is because of the sudden fanservice that kind of jumps out of nowhere with little warning. If you aren’t ready for it, it’ll blindside you which prompts a more negative response in general.

Again, not trying to speak to how everybody feels, but I believe that this really is a key issue with Fire Force specifically. If you don’t think a show is going to have a lot of a certain element, and then it suddenly does, with no warning, that’s jarring no matter who you are or what the element is. This time, it just happens to be fanservice.

The natural response to this is that I should have just read the manga, obviously. Hate to burst your bubble here, but I didn’t want to read the manga, that’s why I’m watching the anime. I don’t really get why this is so hard to understand, but it seems like some blasphemous statement to make. Some folks would like to watch something instead of read it, or maybe they never heard of the manga (like in my case), so they scout the new hot anime out. I mean, come on folks, this is a dumb thing to get mad at people for.

What then to say about the creator’s vision for a series? Is it censorship to change the anime for the sake of adaption, to make it more palatable to the masses? I think most of you would agree that, yeah, this is something that should generally be avoided. Obviously I’m not advocating that the anime should have cut Tamaki out, and seeing how this is a pretty big part of her character, even remove this one aspect. However, I would have suggested changing how it is presented. This solution provides a happy middle ground.

Let’s look at a case where something like this actually occurred. Can you guess what recent anime I’m talking about? That’s right, Shield Hero. I hint at this in my review, but they actually toned Naofumi down for the anime, among other characters like the Queen. While some of the source material’s fans argued that these changes watered down the anime, most of them noted that had the series NOT done this, that the show would not have had as much wide-spread success.

Related imageThe reason for this is kind of obvious, I mean people already didn’t like Naofumi and some of the elements as is, now imagine if the anime had been turned up to eleven. Naofumi buys Raphtalia because he sees her as a proxy for Mein that he can control, the Queen pushing Naofumi to accept brutal torture of her family as penance, and other stuff like that. A lot of people wouldn’t have liked that, it’s just a little too edgy, even for a show like that. Even if I would have watched something like that, I know for a fact that many wouldn’t have.

Sometimes you need to sacrifice a bit of the “artistic vision” in a work to get it out to folks. In these cases, the artists themselves can be on board with these changes. I have no idea about Soul Eater, but this very well could have been the scenario. Regardless, this kind of thing does happen, and a show can be better for it.

Fanservice Doesn’t Impact the Narrative/Other Shows Have Fanservice

Going to be upfront here, I simply do not agree with this sentiment when it comes to Fire Force and I will explain why. The fanservice has, almost in every instance, unequivocally had a direct impact on the narrative. To say otherwise is to fundamentally, and dare I say, intentionally, miss the point as to why so many people are complaining about it in the first place.

Let me say this now, there is nothing wrong with ecchi shows, nothing wrong with having fanservice in a show, and certainly nothing wrong with enjoying it. Even in the case of Fire Force, if you like the Tamaki scenes, that’s fine! You go ahead and like them, don’t let me stop you. However, please take a moment to understand why people might not like them.

At the heart of the matter, the problem is in the execution, when and why these “fanservice” scenes occur. I want to be clear here, not all the fanservice in Fire Force is like this, but a lot of it is. I’m going to describe a recent scene:

Tamaki gets separated from the main group along with Iris, but a doppelganger of Tamaki has also joined them to add to the confusion. The trickster sounds like an old man and is pretty obvious to suss out, except Iris can’t figure it out somehow. Before anything even happened, I turned to my friend and said, “Iris will know who’s who thanks to the lucky lechre lure I bet.” and sure enough, that’s what happened.

And so, Tamaki trips to have her clothes fly magically from her body, one layer at a time, until she is standing completely naked in front of Iris. It’s ridiculous, and to that end, I can understand the intended comedy of the situation, but all I could do was sigh because the show has done this a lot. This is then followed up by ANOTHER scene just a few minutes later.

In said scene, Tamaki is being awesome and fighting a bad guy. Cool, I like that. Then the bad guy ends up accidentally grabbing her boob. He flings her off, only to get a good long glimpse at her butt. Then he is swiftly beaten to death in an act of comedy. All of this occurring in the span of about 3 minutes.

Look, it’s not like none of this isn’t funny or can’t work. However, it breaks the tone of the episode. We are going into this forbidden place and something tense has just occurred, we also had a comedic moment right before coming in, so another one isn’t needed. Now is the time to sell us on how dangerous this situation is, but ultimately, how the heroes will overcome it. This is an action show first with some mysteries to keep us watching, not an ecchi comedy.

This is why when Tamaki is trying to protect Iris from these dangers, eventually proclaiming how this will demonstrate her worth, it is kind of ruined by this barrage of fanservice. Three times, that’s how often we have a scene, that’s about 1 fanservice scene per minute, during what should be a big moment for Tamaki. A time for the audience to see just how badass she is, why we should cheer her on. Instead, I got another boob grab joke and to see her naked body some. Wow, cool I guess.

It just kills the mood. I want to say that this isn’t an exclusive problem with Tamaki’s characer. Fire Force in general, doesn’t know when to tell a joke. You can see this in the arc with Vulcan where Tamaki isn’t ever present, interrupting a tense moment of action with some dumb joke, that sometimes can even be pretty off-putting altogether.

However, Tamaki is at the heart of a lot of these “jokes” where her “fanservice” is what is supposed to make them funny. I’m sorry but it just isn’t funny when a child is about to be murdered and Shinra accidentally gropes Tamaki (for the umpteenth time) because he got punched into her. It just isn’t funny, it hurts the pacing, and it undercuts the narrative. It basically says, “Lol, there aren’t any stakes here, this is all just a big joke!” even when you can see that this obviously isn’t supposed to be the case.

Other shows can get away with this kind of humor and fanservice because they aren’t serious, or even when they are, they aren’t undercutting major moments. While this, again, isn’t always the case in Fire Force, it happens far too often. Nobody is really asking for fanservice to be abolished, or for Fire Force to not have it at all, this is what they are complaining about.

Related image
I really wanted to include a joke image with Nunnally’s line, “You were all I needed” but…

To put it another way, imagine a show like Code Geass. Just a random example. Now picture the ending of that anime, but instead Nunnally trips face-first into Lelouch’s dick. While it might get a laugh, it completely ruins anything that ending was going for, something a lot of folks find iconic. Instead, all you’ll remember is this dumb dick joke. That’s how Fire Force feels to me when it pulls this stuff. It’s akin to squandering a lot of potential, and in turn, is just disappointing… especially when it keeps happening.

If You Don’t Like it Drop it!

Guess what, yeah, I agree. For most people, that’s what they should do. There’s no reason to keep watching a show if you don’t like some big element of it. Why suffer like that? However, I can also see the case for why folks wouldn’t want to as well. The show has a great premise and the lucky lecher stuff doesn’t come into play right away, and even when it does, it isn’t obvious that this isn’t going to be some infrequent gag. Sure, it’s called the “Lucky Lecher Lure” but surely it won’t be all the time… right?

Additionally, you do have some folks like myself who are watching this for review purposes. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to mention this when I write about the show. Fire Force is impacted by the fanservice, whether you ultimately agree with me or not, and to not mention such a divisive part of the series would be an injustice to what a review is. I’m not going to just stop watching over something like this, it’ll take a lot more, but I can still be disappointed. Same may be true for normal viewers, and that’s fine too.

Finally, I don’t drop stuff anyway. I give every show I pick up the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this thing with Tamaki becomes the most amazing thing ever?!? I mean, I sincerely doubt it, but I’m willing to see what Fire Force ultimately does with all this. Plus I want to see the other stuff, the actual story, but things like this are getting in the way.

Image result for fire force thumbs up gif
We good?

That’s why when I see the discourse on this show and how everybody is just shouting about how each side is an idiot, I lose even more enthusiasm for the show. I can tell you that this behavior is keeping potential fans away from the show too. Regardless of where you stand, pushing your agenda onto others and telling them how wrong they are for having, *gasp*, opinions, is just idiotic. Try and listen to what folks have to say, understand their viewpoints a bit. Not saying you have to agree on any one point, but at the end of the day, we are all anime fans here, so let’s act like it for a change.


I hope I was able to shed some light on this topic, or at least add another perspective. Doubt you’ll all agree with all the specifics here, but that’s alright, I just ask you try and be opinion to what I had to say. If you want to support my work, you can do so via my donation buttons below or by leaving a like/comment. Thanks for reading, and (hopefully) I’ll see you back again for a normal review.

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21 thoughts on “Fire Force & Fanservice

  1. I really thought people have moved past this ‘issue’, which I always thought was a clear cut and dry thing. The Tamaki stuff didn’t work, and again represents the worst kind of Fanservice, where it actively detracts from the story.

    That’s it, that’s all that really needs to be said, but I’m shocked that people are trying to blow this up into the next big crusade. Eh…I just can’t care anymore. I said my own piece on it, and I never carried on with Fire Force (I just can’t bother with shonen anymore) but I do think there are some mountains out of molehills being made here.

    Honestly, it feels like people are using this as an excuse to just be bitter and mean to people they disagree with, and I’m sorry, Tamaki’s titties aren’t that important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. While I agree, generally, that a lot of the Tamaki stuff doesn’t work, I can still see why people like it.

      The whole point of the article here is that people on both sides need to stop yelling at each other and reach some understanding.

      Anyway, thanks again for stopping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Heaven knows fan service is not a problem for me. You could have the entire cast nude all the time for all I care.

    When the fan service is jarring it detracts from the plot. Or you could say that having a plot detracts from the fan service. That doesn’t make the anime evil, just that IMHO there has been a failure to integrate the elements into a consistent whole and it detracts from my enjoyment. There are shows filled with fan service where it simply fits.

    “Are You Lost?” and “High School DXD” both purportedly have plots, are fun to watch and yet are saturated with fan service. The fan service in the Monogatari franchise is both brilliant and crucial to understanding Araragi-kun and the ladies. I have no complaint about the fan service in “Devil Man Crybaby” and it is just shy of being hentai. So far I’ve seen 3 different characters in “MHA” who have to be nude to use their quirks. Even “Evangelion” has its share of fan service.

    Fan service that is integrated into the concept of the show works – but not fan service that is randomly tossed in and derailing what was a serious crescendo of action. That shows a lack of thought about how it will affect the flow of the show.

    Maybe there is a formula that says, “We need to simply shoe-horn x number of fan service moments to appeal to teenage boys.” rather than thinking about where they would dramatically fit in. Television is notorious for sticking in commercials at bizzare moments, why not fan service?

    Of course, it could be the actual intent was to reduce Tamaki to a running fan service joke (She can’t do anything straight!) and they intentionally stepped onto her dramatic moment. Or maybe they court the controversy. Those are a couple other possibilities to consider.

    But if someone likes the show, that’s their thing and more power to them. It good to find something you enjoy and there is no right or wrong in it, just a matter of opinion. “I like tomatoes.” and “I dislike tomatoes.” ought not to result in a brawl. Both are reasonable statements. “I like/dislike tomatoes and if you disagree then you are an idiot.” is not.

    I just take the tomatoes off my burger and hand them to my wife.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, and an anime has to stand alone. “You should have read the manga!” doesn’t work. The audience for any popular anime is mostly people who have not read the manga and never will. If I have to refer to the manga to clarify, I consider that a major fail. It leaves the vast majority of the audience out of the loop. It will hurt your viewership.

      If an anime inspires a number of people to read the manga, that’s icing on the cake. Very few are going to run out and buy the manga just to clear up their confusion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for writing this. Granted, I haven’t watched this anime, but I have heard about the whole fanservice aspect thrown around. Fanservice isn’t an automatic turn off for me, but it can be annoying when used too much or clashes with the story’s tone. Those situations certainly look questionable from what I see, but I’ve seen way worse examples. I did wonder about how I’ve expressed my opinions when it comes to mainstream movies. I do wonder if I can come off as some moral guardian or someone on a soapbox when I express why something is wrong in a movie or TV show. I do hope that I don’t come off as preachy or excessive like some people who railed against this issue in Fire Force.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem, thank YOU for reading it 🙂 I’m similarly minded for fanservice. Personally, I’m not a big fan of it, but it won’t stop me from enjoying a show. Sometimes, I even like the inclusion of it.

      When I read your stuff, you don’t come off as preachy or anything. Hope that can offer you some reassurance 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it’s one of those situations where a show just isn’t for everyone. However from an outsider perspective I think the fanservice is one of those things that works in the shows favor and I hope the own it. All I know about the show is that there’s firefighters, it’s action oriented, and there’s blatant fanservice.

    I think its a fair point to be critical or disgruntled about; yet it’s almost the same as saying a Tarantino film is gratuitous with its violence or a Chris Farley character is too low brow or fat shaming. It’s a fair point but there will always be a degree of this not being your story.

    I think this show is still establishing its identity and will grow a better fan appreciation when it gets seen by the right people who know what they’re in for overtime.

    However if the conversation is civil I think there’s so much fun in sharing artist visions and sentiments and thinking critical of what you and others value in media. I think in some fraction this write up does make a difference at least to people like me who don’t watch the recent stuff and instead just look for stories that seem interesting. Which a lot of that is based on the impression of the collective reputation a show has.

    Overall this was a good read, nice job as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d be inclined to agree that the fanservice could help this show, after all, firefighters are considered to be pretty dang sexy. It’s just this one character though and the moments are ill-timed.

      What I refer to as “turning people away”, is the discussion itself because a lot of he folks in the conversation are just shouting at people from either side of the fence. So yeah, if the discussion is civil, this could breed some interesting talks, but a lot of them just aren’t that right now.

      Anyway, I appreciate your kind words and for taking the time to give this a read. Thank you very much 🙂

      Like

      1. “Firefighters are considered to be pretty dang sexy” The calendars I buy tend to agree.

        Yeah the ill-timing seems to be the legitimate criticism people have. From the clip I saw its a problem with the authorial intent. What many are considering is tarnishing moments of high tension, I’m sure the writers would argue “we built that tension so we could undercut it with humor” balancing it on that jarring see-saw to get a reaction. It doesn’t seem mandated or forced as opposed to done with intent but that doesn’t make it any less irritating.

        I’m sure the discourse is just delightful, so many policing of opinions and superiority complexies going at it. I think they made a bold choice having a character that is going to be off putting to a lot of people but that’s the character they wanted and I applaud the gamble.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha XD

          Well, I certainly get what you are saying. I’d be fine with this obvious intent, except this sort of thing just doesn’t fit in Fire Force. The show does this a lot, and not just with Tamaki, but kind of at random. To me, it’s more of an issue of not understanding when the tension relief is needed. If I make any sense?

          Having an overtly sexual character would be fine, and this is indeed a bold choice. If the goal was just to spark some controversy, then they were successful. Like I said, there’s a happy middle ground that could be here, but it just isn’t quite coming together.

          Like

  5. Wow, I didn’t realize that it went that far with Tamaki. Yikes. I liked a lot of what Fire Force had to offer too, but I couldn’t get past her and her horrible scenes. I can appreciate you sticking with it and finding things to enjoy about it despite the small amount of suffering. A very nuanced post for sure here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Scott. Yeah, every once in awhile I almost feel excited about something in Fire Force but it just can’t help sabotaging itself in one way or another. It’s, well, disappointing.

      Haha, I don’t know if I’d call this post nuanced, but I appreciate the compliment all the same 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Blair did kind of come out of nowhere in Soul Eater and just kind of hung around. At least she wasn’t a main cast member and she rarely interfered with the main plot but was more the break in between events. I put Fire Force on hold awhile ago because Irina was reviewing it and I just hadn’t gotten into the characters but I’ve found the discussions and division around the anime quite interesting to follow. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that’s true, but at the same time it’s as you say, not the focus and kind of just there a little bit. I’m not super fresh on Soul Eater, but that’s also part of my point. I remember Blair existing, but she doesn’t really factor into my memories of the show. Tamaki certainly will.

      The discussion would be something I enjoyed a lot more, in regards to Fire Force, if there weren’t so many people arguing in bad faith or pushing their personal views onto others. Not expecting this article to really change that, but I felt like I needed to get something out there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The best thing about having a blog, sometimes you can just say what you feel needs to be said. It may not make a difference in the grand scheme of things but I sometimes feel like once I’ve written about something I can move on a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

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