Show and Tell: The Use of Fan Service in Nisemonogatari

Episode 8 of Nisemonogatari was certainly interesting enough, and, believe me, I enjoyed it. However, due to the comparatively tame nature of previous episodes, I began contemplating the reasoning behind why fan service was included at certain times and omitted at others. Sure, this series has probably crossed the line a few too many times, but not every time. In fact, with hindsight, isn’t even more remarkable that we didn’t get to see Karen and Koyomi kiss at the end of episode 5, only to be told about it later. The scene would have only really needed to last for 5-10 seconds, so any excuse stating that other things were more important are moot. Thus, it would follow that there is a reason why the scenes that have been shown in the anime were selected, which then suggests that much of Nisemonogatari isn’t just about youthful exhibitionism, as many have suggested, but that the scenes in which it is present, it has a purpose.

As the toothbrush scene is likely the most fresh in people’s minds, let’s use that as an example. Did we need 15 minutes devoted to a relatively simple scene if it was just about people pleasing? Want and appreciate, yes. But was it necessary? No. The same sort of gratification on all parties involved could have been delivered in half the time. The scene’s real purpose was to serve as an appropriate introduction for Tsukihi. First, it is probable that part of this scene is to set up whatever Tsukihi’s problem in life is. More to the point, this scene had to be extended as long as it was for it to be believable. Would we believe Karen and Koyomi were as afraid as they were by Tsukihi if it didn’t look like they were doing something worthy of her wrath. For them to look like they were doing something wrong, the scene had to be sufficiently long, so that it didn’t seem like it was something that needed to be checked off a list.

But how does this compare to the missing kiss scene in episode 5. Simply put; that scene was not a lead up to anything, and showing the kiss would have served no purpose as there was no direct linkage to the next scene. All Koyomi had to do in the next episode was to simply state that he had partially absorbed some of the poison in Karen’s system. This statement by Koyomi represented the skipping of an action. This is in contrast to the toothbrush scene, which actually built of an idea and thought (the fear of Tsukihi) by showing us, rather than telling us.

Though the show hasn’t been totally without flaw in this regard, it does show that there has been some thought behind the editing of the story so that it can fit in its episode allotment (or even originally, the novel), and that the show isn’t just about having as much fan service as possible, even if it seems that way.

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2 thoughts on “Show and Tell: The Use of Fan Service in Nisemonogatari

  1. Hm, what do you make of the fact that the kiss was omitted in the original novel as well? One chapter ended with Koyomi telling Karen that he’d kiss her, and the next chapter started with Karen furious that Koyomi took her first kiss. Perhaps your analysis of the fanservice applies beyond just the anime and all the way back to the source material? Though, one thing of note is that, starting from Koyomi’s suggestion of the contest, the toothbrush scene took up less than 8% of the page count of the Tsukihi Phoenix novel.

    • 8 percent would seem about right I suppose. One thing I think people are overlooking in this series, and may have forgotten since Bakemonogatari aired is that most of this series is just people talking. As much as I love the banter between the characters, without there being any sort of perversion or fan service, we’re really just watching a Japanese version of the Gilmore Girls.

      As for the scene also missing in the novel, I think its the same basic idea, or in reality the source of the idea. Plus, the lead up to the kiss, and the writing of the lead up to the kiss, would likely be far more interesting and easier to write, respectively. Not to mention, people can’t hurt quick witted insults at each other while kissing.

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