Fan Service in Swimming Anime

In this anime ad, the usual idea of “fan (read: straight male fan) service” is subverted: instead of partially clothed women, we have nearly naked men swimming and having a good time. Though it is definitely interesting to see men being presented in such a sexual manner, it’s also interesting to see what kinds of bodies are considered to be sexy. Though the characters are supposed to be swimmers, they seem a bit too muscular which feeds into society’s unreasonable expectations for beauty. Bordo writes that “the well muscled body has become a cultural icon…muscles express sexuality, but controlled managed sexuality that is not about to erupt into embarrassing, unwanted display.” This is no exception. Probably most interesting about this ad is the feedback it has received. Rather than being upset about the hypersexualization of these characters, many male anime viewers were upset that a show like this could even exist since they felt like there was nothing there that “appealed to them” which speaks to a larger societal issue.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight. Berkeley: University of CA Press, 1993.

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One thought on “Fan Service in Swimming Anime

  1. Artemis

    The boys (or young men I suppose I should say, since they’re all at least in high school) in Free! are definitely more heavily muscled than would be usual for swimmers. As a competitive swimmer myself, I found most of the characters to look more like body builders than anything else. Despite this though, I think the character designs were quite refreshing. Bishounen are normally depicted as being extremely slender and willowy, so it was interesting to see something of a change.

    Reply

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