Ecchi in Anime

Ecchi in Anime

Introduction

While browsing questions on Quora as I tend to do to come up with new topics to write on, I found one asking what people thought about the use of ecchi in anime as long as it isn’t the entirety of the story and doesn’t take over the story.

Before I get into this question, however, I should explain what “ecchi” is to those who may not be aware. Ecchi is essentially soft-core pornography used as “fan service.” This is not the same as “hentai” which is simply anime pornography.

Ecchi could be anything from nude characters (excluding anything that would officially make it 18+) to suggestive situations or phrases. However, the key thing to think about is typically entertainment value.

By this, I mean that if there’s a sex scene in an anime that’s taken seriously and is actually meant to show some sort of development of the characters involved (and isn’t 18+) then that’s not ecchi, that’s just storytelling through mature content.

An example of that would be any of the sex scenes involving Misato (I think there are two) from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Those aren’t there for fan service, but rather to tell something to the viewer about her character in a mature way.

So back to the original question, what do [I] think of ecchi in anime as long as it isn’t the entirety of the story and doesn’t take it over? Well that’s the wrong question to be asking in the first place because it’s already assuming ecchi has no real place in anime.

Instead, we’ll be looking at the question, “how does ecchi fit into and affect the narrative of an anime?” To do this, I’ll be breaking my answer up into two main sections: when ecchi works, and when it doesn’t.

When Does Ecchi Work?

There are two main ways in which ecchi works effectively in anime, as a comedic device and as a storytelling device. These two ways of effectively using ecchi are not mutually exclusive.

For Comedic Purposes

Although some people may try to disagree with this statement, Monster Musume is an example of ecchi used for comedic purposes (as depicted in the gif below). However, there are a lot of other anime which do this too, but are less explicitly ecchi.

Some other examples of anime which do this are Eromanga Sensei, KonoSuba, Is This A Zombie?, No Game No Life, My Mental Choices Are Completely Interfering With My School Romantic Comedy, Saekano, and Trinity Seven. Each of these does this with varying amounts of success.

While in an anime like Monster Musume it may be easy to forget that the ecchi is being used for comedy due to the ecchi being the main draw of the show, it does in fact belong to this category. A better example, however, is Is This A Zombie? which adds ecchi to an already outrageous cast of characters and situations.

When ecchi is used in this way, it doesn’t detract from the story being told, and can even improve it by lightening the mood. Due to this, the use of ecchi for comedic purposes is one of the most numerous and successful ways to use it.

Miia from the anime series Monster Musume
Miia (Monster Musume)

As a Storytelling Device

The other effective use for ecchi is as a storytelling device, although this can go hand in hand with it being used comically. Unlike the previous section, here I’m only going to use one example: the Monogatari series.

While this series does, in fact, use ecchi as a source of comedy at times, it also uses it as a way to express concepts and thoughts. While the infamous toothbrush scene (partially depicted below) doesn’t really add much to the plot, it, and other scenes like it, can tell us a lot about the characters involved.

One thing to keep in mind about this series is that most of it is seen from the perspective of the protagonist, an 18-year-old male. This influences how we see things.

If we’re supposed to see the world as Koyomi sees it, then it makes sense for ecchi scenes to be in the series because we’re seeing the world through the eyes of an 18-year-old who is known to be interested in things such as adult magazines.

There are two arcs which don’t follow Koyomi, Nekomonogari White and Hanamonogatari which follow Hanekawa and Kanbaru respectively. In these arcs there is less ecchi involved because we’re no longer seeing things through the eyes of Koyomi.

While less ecchi makes sense when following Hanekawa’s story, it doesn’t exactly match up with how we know Kanbaru acts when Koyomi is involved. Because of this, we can infer that the way Koyomi sees her isn’t how she always acts, thus adding another dimension to her character.

It’s in ways like this that ecchi, or the lack of ecchi, can be used to tell a story or tell the viewers something about a character or characters.

Koyomi and Karen Araragi from the Monogatari series anime (Nisemonogatari)
Koyomi and Karen Araragi (Nisemonogatari)

When Doesn’t Ecchi Work?

It wouldn’t be fair of me to write about ecchi in anime and only talk about examples of it working. There’s one major reason why ecchi can fail in an anime and that’s if it doesn’t add anything to the series and so is completely out of place.

My example of an anime which failed to use ecchi effectively is Koihime Musou (a scene of which is pictured below for reference). This anime took what could have been a decent historical fantasy story and turned it into a yuri, ecchi, historical fantasy story, and spoiler: it’s not good.

I honestly couldn’t tell you what the scene depicted in the gif below has anything to do with the overall story of the series, but it happened anyway. It’s mindless uses of ecchi like this which are really what give the genre a bad name (and Monster Musume even though it uses ecchi as intended)

Ganryou from the anime Koihime Musou
Ganryou (Koihime Musou)

To further illustrate this point that throwing random ecchi scenes into an anime that has no need for them, let’s use some examples of great anime which don’t include any ecchi at all. Madoka Magica and Violet Evergarden are my other favorite series besides the Monogatari series.

Madoka Magica is a magical girl anime in which ecchi doesn’t, and shouldn’t play a part. You may think that the magical girl genre is a weird place for ecchi to be present anyway, but it’s been done fairly effectively before such as in Prisma Illya.

The story of Madoka Magica is a dark one with a lot of heavy subject matter such as depression and death. If there was any ecchi in this series whatsoever, it wouldn’t have the same tone and effectiveness.

My other example, Violet Evergarden, is a drama about a girl who lost both her arms in the Great War and is now trying to learn how to live a normal life. This anime is aiming to make you cry every episode, so any ecchi would clearly ruin the mood of the series.

Remember, ecchi is used to lighten the tone of a series, and this isn’t what Madoka Magica or Violet Evergarden want.

Conclusion

So, does ecchi have a place in anime? Clearly it does or we wouldn’t be seeing it at all. However, there’s a time and a place for ecchi if it’s to be used effectively, using it without reason will simply detract from the rest of the series.

I also feel the need to mention ecchi as a way to sell merchandise. Fan service, by definition, is material added into a story with the express purpose of making the audience like something. This is then used to sell merchandise.

While ecchi isn’t the only form of fan service, it’s generally what people mean when they talk about fan service in anime. To use an example from something I reviewed recently, why do you think Schwi from No Game No Life: Zero is wearing an animal hoodie? It’s to make her cute and therefore marketable.

I’m even an example of this marketing tactic in effect because I own figures of Kyouko Sakura, Megumin, and Aqua. I probably wouldn’t have been compelled to buy these figures if the characters weren’t given appealing traits or characteristics.

So what are your thoughts on ecchi in anime?

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2 Replies to “Ecchi in Anime”

  1. i have a brand new harem anime or manga concept featuring a normal 36 year old man named Joshua Davidson he gets hired to be a teacher at a magical school located in a different dimension called Elysium the school is named paradise academy which is located in the city of Novartis. this magical school is a all girls boarding school.

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