On Nisemonogatari 8 and FanservicePosted: March 4, 2012
Before I even start with real life quips, it should be mentioned that I’m not actually watching Nisemonogatari. The episode just caused such a huge explosion in the anisphere that it’s likely that pretty much everyone knows about it. The only bit I’ve actually seen of the show is the infamous scene itself on Youtube.
For those of you who follow me in Twitter (you lonely, lonely 20 or so of you), you know that I recently started marathoning House M.D. I’m enjoying it quite a bit, since it’s been a while since I last watched it. I stopped watching a bit into season three, and unfortunately it seems most people say the show declines starting with the fourth season, but I’m still enjoying it. The finale for season 2 is fantastic. If you’re someone who doesn’t watch TV much and hasn’t seen the show, I recommend buying/acquiring the first season and giving it a watch. Or you might be able to find some episodes on Hulu or some other site. But they’re probably from the more recent seasons, and like I said, people say it declines after the fourth season. I do recommend giving it a shot if you’re interested, though.
Anyways, as for the topic of this post? Well the title is pretty self-explanatory, but I can get into specifics.
As pretty much everyone knows at this point, the eighth episode of Nisemonogatari had a very… interesting scene. Opinion was pretty divided on it, with most people either really liking it, or really hating it; with a few exceptions, naturally. However, I still have no idea what to think of it. The scene has actually caused two of my beliefs to collide against each other. Getting a bit meta here, I’ve mentioned in previous editorials that people should prefer good directing/execution over something just being new, and that scene showed this perfectly. But on the other hand, pretty much the only thing I hate is hypocrisy, and I feel like it’s hypocritical to not only give Nisemonogatari a free pass, but also praise what was pretty much incestual softcore porn, yet shit on other shows with fanservice. And, forgive me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve read about the show, there has also been plenty of normal fanservice throughout the show.
I’ve had a few days to think things over, and I still can’t figure out my thoughts in regards to this conflict. So I figured I’d make use of one of the primary reasons for making this blog in the first place, and write down my thoughts so I can sort them all out. Hopefully I’ll have sorted out an opinion by the end, but right now I have absolutely no idea which side I’m leaning towards. So join me on this stroll to sort my thoughts out, as I ponder about that (in)famous scene, Nisemonogatari itself, and even a bit about fanservice.
So, what is fanservice? The name is pretty self-explanatory, it’s basically giving the fans what they want. Now, seeing as how otaku are mainly male and live alone, fanservice typically takes the form of women being scantily clad, or in baths, or in revealing positions. Maybe a “normal” viewer by our standards would roll their eyes at stuff like this, but considering nearly everyone in Japan that watches anime (that isn’t Naruto or One Piece) is an otaku, fanservice is normal. Perhaps it shows a lack of confidence in the show if they need to rely on catering to fans’ more primal desires, but if they’re giving what the majority of their viewers want, who can really blame them?
Now, that’s just the Japanese audience, which is not what I’m a part of. I’m part of the audience that considers fanservice to be shallow, boring, and most of all, unnecessary. Most of us aren’t as hung up on 2D women as otaku are, so fanservice just makes us roll our eyes.
For now, lets keep these different views in mind, we may need to come back to them later.
Moving onto Nisemonogatari itself, I’ve been confused as to why people who normally complain about fanservice have been willing to let the show slide. While I’ve heard the show has good directing and dialogue, I’ve also heard just how plagued the show has been with fanservice. Pretty much every episode I believe? And sometimes it would even take up nearly half the episode? I don’t get it at all. I mean, if people knocked off points for it doing it while they continued to watch it, I could understand that. Instead, it seems like people are just waving it off as if it’s not actually there, or they don’t care.
I feel like it’s kind of hypocritical to ignore something the show does that people would normally dislike a show for. It makes me think… hang on, where’s that picture that has been circling around that sums up my thoughts towards the show given the treatment it has been getting?
I’m not denying there are good parts to the show, but I just feel like Nisemonogatari is getting a lot of undeserved attention and loving.
May as well jump into the shark’s mouth at this point.
Now, while there were positive and negative reactions to the scene, for the point of the post, it makes sense to only focus on the positive reception. However, it needs to be acknowledged that there were multiple reasons for someone enjoying the scene, so it’d be best to take a quick look at each one.
1. The fanservice was desired.
Well, going back to the different audience views on fanservice, there are some non-Japanese viewers that like fanservice. Or I guess it’d be better to say, there are some people that wanted Karen fanservice in particular. Not much to say about this, if that’s what you wanted, then you’re a happy camper. I can’t really disagree with someone who got exactly what they were looking for.
2. It was funny.
I’m not quite as lenient with this one, because I’d argue that the point of the scene wasn’t to be funny. Sure, there were some amusing faces, but that was only really near the beginning. Especially if you consider the fact that he was going in for the grope at the end. Yeah… pretty sure the scene wasn’t meant just for laughs. However, I also don’t have much of a problem with people taking humor out of things. If anything, I’d just say that finding the scene funny should be more of “laughing at it” rather than “laughing with it”.
3. The directing was good.
And now here’s the primary argument that most people have. It’s also the one I have. Yeah, I’m not denying at all that it was fantastic directing, my problem lies in whether the good directing makes up for what it was.
So I suppose that’s what it all comes down to: does good directing excuse the fact that you’re watching incestual softcore porn?
I’ve had time to think about it, and I’ve decided that it doesn’t. While a great director or pretty much anyone with talent should be praised, there’s almost nothing more disappointing than misplaced talent. And from someone that isn’t actually watching the show, the vibes I get from reading about it from people who are is that it’s exactly that: misplaced talent. And that’s disregarding the fact that, as mentioned earlier, this audience should be shunning fanservice. The type of wrapping paper doesn’t change the gift that’s inside.
There’s a little test of mine I like to call “The Double-Take Test”. Basically, the more you have to look back over your shoulder to make sure nobody can see what you’re watching, the more likely you are to either drop the show, or consider it a guilty pleasure. And I’m pretty sure that scene gives you a straight five minutes or so of looking around to make sure.
Shinbo is a great director, I’m not denying that, but I just don’t understand why this show gets such special treatment where other shows would be dropped like a rock, or people would be embarrassed to talk about watching it. Seeing as I’m no psychologist, I’m hoping someone will stop by and give me the answer to this, because it seriously is bugging me.
So, before ending this, I guess I should go back to my original conflict that lead to this post. Is it okay for people to like the scene due to good directing and execution, or should it be shunned because it’s incestual softcore porn? And yeah, I think I have my answer. It’s both.
This isn’t a conflict because the good directing should be praised, but since it’s… well, you know… it should be seen as a guilty pleasure. I’m not out for blood; I don’t necessarily want people to drop the show, but the faults shouldn’t be as ignored as they have been. Just stop giving it so much leeway. Didn’t the last episode of Bakemonogatari have girls running around with bandages censoring their privates? How the hell was that explained by fans?
P.S. Also, something that has been bugging me even more than the conflict that inspired this post: why the hell do the sisters have egg(s) in their hair? Seriously, it has been tormenting me ever since I noticed it. Is there even a reason at all?