You’ve heard of fanservice, right? You know, the term to describe an ecchi scene in a non-ecchi anime. But that is not its only definition. Fanservice is also used as a way to surprise fans and give them something they’ve always wanted. Such as the cast of Boku no Hero Academia in classic ballroom attire. Or maybe a crossover chapter between the characters of One Piece and Dragonball Z. Even the end cards of an anime episode where you have a famous mangaka draw the characters from that series in his/her style count as fanservice.
Manservice comes from the term fanservice, however they don’t exactly mean the same thing. As we’ve said, fanservice does not always mean ecchi scenes. On the other hand, manservice only means sexual situations. This time involving men and boys only. Manservice wasn’t really used quite often until recently. And even though there are more manservice-filled anime today, there still isn’t a genre dedicated to sexualizing the male body. But before we talk about how manservice is today, let’s go back to the 2000s, and uncover the origins of manservice.
A reverse harem is a genre about a female being surrounded by multiple male pursuers. Even today, this genre still isn’t very popular. However, it shows that there are female anime fans who are looking for some sort sexy man candy. Before, the only genres geared towards female otaku were romance and yaoi. Unfortunately, neither of these genres contained manservice.
A reverse harem would be the closest a female otaku could get to seeing multiple guys take their shirts off. Classic reverse harems such as Fruits Basket and Ouran High School Host Club, would have a few scenes that were more on the sexy side. Episodes involving hot springs, pools, and the beach were all a girl could get for some gorgeous topless action. Remember, this was the 2000s, so the art style was less detailed than it is today. So even if you were lucky enough to see a reverse harem beach episode, the boys’ abs wouldn’t be drawn in, and they all had thin arms. But, of course, the pecs would be drawn, so that was good enough manservice for the time being.
Don’t forget, manservice is a term to describe sexual situations involving men. However, if you’ve ever watched a yaoi anime, you’ll notice that’s all the genre is; sexy situations involving men. (More specifically, gay men.) But just like with the ecchi genre, that does not count as manservice, for you are going into the series expecting a plethora of those scenes to occur. It only counts as manservice if it happens in a non-yaoi/shounen ai genre. Plus, not all female otaku are fujoshi, so how else were they supposed to get their manservice? In 2008 and in 2009, two anime series came out that had a ton of yaoi vibes, and fangirls of either side couldn’t contain themselves.
Hetalia Axis Powers
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: Jan 2009 to Mar 2010
Italy is a country that sucks at fighting, and is obsessed with pasta and women. Germany is a stone-cold country and has a hard time making friends. Japan is a quiet and emotionless country who would rather pet cats all day. Combine each country’s stereotypes with handsome men, and you have the Hetalia version of World War II.
Hetalia Axis Powers Trailer
Hetalia and Black Butler are absolute staples in the female otaku fanbase. These were two anime that had good looking men, who would also get into a few sticky situations with one another. But because these were not yaoi anime, we only got a tease as to what could be. This ended up spiraling into a Hetalia shipping war, and a “Is this legal?” Black Butler argument. But that’s a discussion for another day. Hetalia took the extra step to dedicate episodes to the beautiful men cosplaying as a sexy nurse, or a playboy bunny. In the end, both the fujoshi and average female otaku were pleased.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 2008 to Mar 2009
How far will you go to get your revenge? Ciel Phantomhive, witnessed the fall of the Phantomhive Manor, and the death of his parents. Only 13 years old, Ciel decided to take over the business and make a contract with a demon. If the demon fulfills Ciel’s request to complete his revenge, the demon will eat Ciel’s soul.
Black Butler Trailer
Sports anime has been around for a very long time, with classics such as Slam Dunk and Prince of Tennis. Nine times out of ten, the sports anime was shounen. Now, yes, Black Butler is also a shounen; however, there is not a trace of a typical shounen troupe. Sports on the other hand, whether in anime or TV, are always geared towards guys. So why is it that otaku girls are suddenly getting into the genre? In 2012, an anime called Kuroko no Basket aired that not only captivated the shounen fanboys, but the ladies as well.
Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2012 to Sept 2012
The Generation of Miracles were superstars in middle school. Each member had their own unique talent for playing basketball, and together, they never lost. When high school came around, the team split up and went to different schools. Kuroko, one of the secret members of the Generation of Miracles, runs into Kagami while signing up for Seirin High School’s basketball team. Kuroko notices that Kagami’s skills are on par with the Generation of Miracles. The two pair up to become the best team in Japan.
Kuroko no Basket Trailer
Kuroko no Basket is as shounen as it gets. You have male high school protagonists wanting to be the best, rivalries, and over the top battles - I’m sorry, “matches”- that take place over the course of four to eight episodes. It’s not nicknamed “The Dragon Ball Z of Sports Anime” for nothing. But once a fangirl got a peek at the beautiful young men, she could not resist. Because this is 2012, the animation was in higher quality, and in HD. The art style of anime became more detailed, drawing out every bit of the human anatomy. So unlike the manservice in Ouran, the muscles shined...literally.
Or course when playing a sport, the boys would sweat buckets. Instead of it looking like a sloppy mess, all the men glistened. Seeing the sweat droplets slowly make their way down each character’s biceps made just about every fangirl's ovaries explode. Kuroko no Basket opened a whole new world to the female otaku. Even though the ladies still don’t have an official male counterpart to the ecchi genre, sports anime is close enough. Now, if a woman wants to see some tight male booty, she can go watch Yuri on Ice or Ace of Diamond. For a little less clothing, Free and Dive is the way to go. And if she wants a combo of manservice and yaoi vibes, than Haikyuu, Kuroko no Basket, and Yowamushi Pedal cannot be beat.
Manservice in Other Genres
We’ve talked about how manservice took over the sports genre, but what about others? As stated previously, you can find fanservice in every single genre. Like in a mecha anime, you’ll have a female pilot who has to bend down doggystyle in order to pilot the mech. Does the same happen in other genres for manservice? In a way, yes, but nowhere near to the extent of fanservice. In fact, we’re pretty sure the following example was unintentional manservice by the original creator. But it’s a mistake we’re happy to accept.
Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 2015 to Sept 2015
Totsuki Academy is an esteemed culinary arts school with a low graduation rate of less than 10%. When Soma’s family diner shuts down, his father enrolls him into said academy. What faces Soma is a school filled with snobby rich kids trying to tear him down. What Soma lacks in social rank, he makes up for with his orgasmic food.
Food Wars Trailer
Isshiki is a recurring character in Food Wars. Although one of the top 10 students in Totsuki, Isshiki is a funny and lovable guy who has no shame. For some strange reason, Isshiki is often seen roaming around with nothing but an apron. And whenever he appears on screen, we see a close up shot of Isshiki’s bare butt, sparkling abs, and then his face. A bonus is that Isshiki likes to shake it.
We decided to talk about this particular manservice scene rather the more famous half-naked man in anime, Grey Fullbuster from Fairy Tail, because Food Wars is a full blown ecchi series. Yes, you heard us correctly. Female otaku can get their manservice fix by watching an ecchi anime. Now, obviously, this is a rare case, but if we can get manservice in an ecchi anime, then we must be getting closer to a manservice genre.
Now that you know all there is to manservice, what are your thoughts on it? Are you looking forward to a future where men and women can both enjoy their smutty genres? Or perhaps you’re fine with the way things are. Either way, please tell us. Till next time!