Upon reading the title of this article, you may be thinking: "Duh, just to please viewers; it's what makes most business possible in the anime industry."
That's only true to some extent as some anime companies make shows for cheap with anime women and fan service being the only selling points while not sticking true to manga sources.
The actual sole purpose of fan service is to represent free speech in Japan to go against the shaming culture over sexual attractions as well as to create a connection to viewers through their emotions of shyness and fear towards the idea of love and expressing their love to others.
Not only that, but it allows creative freedom for authors and artists to express their own desires and stand for their human rights rather than to simply succumb to shaming themselves.
Now, in order to truly understand how fan service first appeared in anime, let's go back in time when pornographic art had a positive influence among people.
Before the 17th century, shunga, art depicting sexual acts between two couples, was very popular; often displaying unrealistic depictions of sex such as enlarged genitals. Many people at the time looked up to it for humor, instructions for sex, and religious totems.
It became illegal to some degree in the 17th century, although artists were still able to keep up with their works. It only became completely illegal when the U.S. forced Japan to open trade networks with them and the Japanese government wanted to appeal to their ideals of being "well mannered."
Eventually, the shaming culture became ingrained in the Japanese mindset and many started to look down upon erotic content. However, many still retained interests over them and were able to get their hands on it in the form of literature.
More freedom for eroticism was later permitted after World War II as people had nothing but their bodies and some of them wanted to take pride with what they had left by freely expressing themselves sexually.
Despite eroticism gaining more freedom, pornography for public consumption was out of the question as the government proclaimed it to be illegal unless it was censored; thus, the shaming culture remained.
Since the shaming culture was alive and well back then, a manga author and illustrator named Go Nagai sought to appeal to young readers with fan service for the first time in history. He wanted people to embrace their sexual desires; rather than view them as shameful.
In 1968, Nagai was an author for Shonen Jump and kept brainstorming over and over again on what his next series should be. He eventually came up with one titled Harenchi Gakuen (Shameless School) from joking with a fellow employee over their young days in school for peeking at girls.
The teachers and other adults in the manga are the representations of the shaming culture while the young boys are the heroes. There are times in the manga where the teachers would take the girls away from the boys, while the boys in turn had to go save them.
Not only that, but the use of fan service for the girls would mostly be considered tame by today's standards (but it did get elevated through each passing volume). At the same time, there are certain chapters that grant the girls to get even with the boys such as forcefully taking their pants off in a playful manner.
The teachers appear goofy along with wearing revealing clothing to display how, despite the shaming culture they represent, they are the embodiment of adults having their personal lives with erotic material far racier than what kids would have.
All of these features that Shameless School includes caused major controversy throughout the country. PTAs in schools sought to ban the manga as they deemed it "too erotic" for children.
According to an article in "Mainichi Daily News," Go Nagai argued with Playboy Weekly,
"I'd always known exactly when to draw the line and was well aware of the standards movies and stuff applied when it came to the under-18 audience.... I made it a point to never draw sex scenes, avoid pictures of the genitals, and make nudes cute rather than sexy." -Go Nagai, 2007
He received a great amount of support, especially from fans as they understood why he wrote and illustrated the manga as well as the fact that their parents read much more raunchier material than what was displayed in his works.
Nagai also argued in his own exhibition for his 50th anniversary as an author that it's natural for human beings to be drawn to what's sexually attractive and must not deny it.
"I thought that if I didn’t draw that, then I wouldn’t be representing humanity, I wouldn’t be representing society." -Go Nagai, 2019
Thanks to his support from fans, he was able to continue with many great works of eroticism such as Cutie Honey; which eventually received its own anime adaptation.
There were hardly any other anime that included fan service at the time such as Marvelous Melmo, which featured a little girl than can turn into a fully grown woman by consuming pills. Her clothes then become too small for her; exposing more of her skin and panties.
It wasn't until the 1980s when fan service became more common in anime; all thanks to Go Nagai being the first to break not only the book but TV code.
In today's world, fan service evolved into not only representing viewers' sexual desires but also their shyness and fear towards their love crushes.
In Japan, many people tend to keep to themselves in regards to respecting each other. However, a side factor to this is that many reserve to themselves than finding a romantic partner; being too shy and afraid.
Fan service featuring moments displaying the main characters being brought into embarrassing and "life-threatening" situations connects with viewers to show they aren't alone with their problems.
One great example is To Love Ru, as Rito Yuki, the main character, is put through many situations that include fan service that portray his emotions of fear and embarrassment. Whenever Rito tries to walk up to Haruna Sairenji to confess his love to her, he's always met with obstacles that prevent him from doing so.
This represents exactly how some have the urge to confess their love to someone they like; yet, are unable to do so. And Rito is the embodiment of those who fail to convey their feelings to their crush; acting as a metaphor for their state of mentality in those kinds of situations.
So please, everyone, I ask you all to think over what you have just read today and become open minded towards fan service.
Fanservice may not be everyone's cup of tea, but please keep in mind that the artists, illustrators, and authors have good intentions with bringing fan service to anime.
They only aim to express their creativity as well as critique the norms within Japan; nothing more.
The shaming culture is very problematic in Japan, and many people there don't wish to conform to it.
As for shy individuals, they need something to relate to in order to help them go on living in their day to day lives.
"Shunga: Erotic Art in the Tokugawa Era" Contains sexually explicit images
"The bizarre reason why genitals are pixelated in Japanese porn" Contains sexually explicit images
"The joy of art: why Japan embraced sex with a passion" Contains sexually explicit image