Friday, October 05, 2007

:anime: When Big Busts Go Bust:: Fanservice Gone Bad (and Good) -[Part3/3]-

Having characters with big breasts or a story with fanservice content may often be indicative of a bad show, but there are a number of works that have gone against this trend. These two are part of the exception.

::Divergence Eve::

One look at the character designs [NOTE: Not quite work-safe (NQWS)] or any of the promotional material [NQWS, both links] for Divergence Eve and one would naturally suspect it to be another run-of-the-mill big-breasted fanservice show, much in the vein of Eiken. It was a thought that both repelled detractors of that sort and attracted those who were. However, the show itself is devoid of much of that content outside of its "playful" ending sequence and very few instances of nudity (none of it outlandish), panty shots, jiggling (well, more than a "very few"...) and torn clothes, among others. Neither the artwork or the fanservice present distract focus from the story: a solid, serious, sometimes surprisingly dark sci-fi tale of a group of young female trainees at an elite space outpost being attacked by a mysterious alien life form. Being more story-centric than "body-" allowed for a more engrossing tale while leaving those bits in. The female characters, while given greatly-exaggerated chest proportions and very similar forms, fare better than those with similar figures in other shows (in other words, nothing in Ikki Tousen's league) and have designs that are rather "just there" more than being the focal point, which is critical in more straitlaced situations in terms of believablity. They may still prove to be a distraction or a negative to the viewer, but it is a relative far cry from what the other two featured shows offered.


Based on a franchise in which one of the main drawls has been the skimpy and revealing form of its main character, Witchblade, given the anime treatment, is a prospect that would instantly conjure images of crazed action involving women running around in barely-there outfits and flaunting everything every couple of seconds--true to the lingering anime stereotype.

And in a sense, that actually does happen.

Costumes donned by much of the female combatants can leave little to the imagination, so small that animators GONZO had to produce verisons of some, including the main character's, that had the more open portions of the body colored over [NQWS], giving them a "fuller" look. Other than the scantly styles and a few cleavage-revealing regular ware, Witchblade is virtually non-existant of nudity of any kind. The designs have a variety seldom seen in fanservice-containing shows and have a more natural, realistically-proportioned form to them (e.g. not every girl has the same skinny body and the same over-sized chest). Even most of the transformation designs, as revealing as they are, oddly look conservative enough to not show too much. Perhaps this may have something to do with the skin color changes that occur and the overall design of the outfits, where usually the middle portion is, or some part of it, and the rest is covered up or "overshadowed" by their other aspects. An exception to this is the main character, whose skin tone remains relatively the same and has one of the more revealing costumes in the show. She in some ways epitomizes one of the reoccuring stereotypes in fanservice-y anime, but in others completely sidesteps it. She has very large breasts and a number of references are made to them, but they do not become the central focus; she is a bit klutzy and not terribly bright, yet she's not portrayed as a complete idiot and is believable in handling the care of child or being on her own; additionally, in spite of her appearance, she isn't used as a perpetual fanservice magnet like many leads of her ilk. Sexuality being a theme in the franchise, its presense in this iteration can definently be seen, though it does not reach an insulting level nor is it overbearing (unless the outfits and a select few moments don't fancy you).

The true heart of Witchblade, and by far the most compelling part of it, is the relationship between the main chararcter and her young daughter. The woman, an amnesic following the events of a powerful earthquake years before, who finds herself with a child, whom child welfare wants to take away from her. In order to protect and provide for her, she uses her recently-discovered Witchblade powers for a weapons contractor willing to aid her. The well told, well-developed story showed that you can have a good plot and fanservice, so long as the former gains the lionshare of the attention, and the dynamic between both characters is more pleasing than the skimpiest of outfits on display in the show.

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