(Warning: the following piece contains suggestive content and imagery. Reader discretion is strongly advised.)

Butts and breasts.

It’s no secret that anime has a really weird relationship with fan-service. Dating back as far as its origins, the medium has thrived on its abundance of fan-service heavy shows, even dedicating a term, sābisu katto (or "service cut"), to it. Fan-service has cropped up in genres like Boys Love, aka the genre most-frequently considered homoerotic, and Harem, but nowhere is this more apparent than the frequent shows about teenaged girls that pretend to have a overarching story as an excuse to show off T&A to horny men. Simply put: sex sells. Doubly so if you’re risky enough to include it, yet clever enough to work around the censors.

Which leads to my most-recent fascination, so to speak, with this oddity:

Um… (Courtesy of Reanimarse web.)
To be clear, I have nothing against fan-service as a concept. I believe the human body is sacred and beautiful, and pretending that people aren’t aroused by it is absurd. Fan-service can also be used in a fun and thought-provoking way when done correctly, especially if it’s attempting to comment on something about society. (If you want an example of that done well, look no further than the Studio BONES adaptation of Ouran High School Host Club.) However, a lot of the time the fan-service serves no real purpose other than bolster the male libido and paint women as pleasure objects for men, and the exceptions are so rare that Infinite Rainy Day has dedicated an entire series to sniffing them out via “Smut That Doesn’t Suck”.

Keijo!!!!!!!! looks to be, from the trailer, a show about teenaged girls competing in a game where they try knocking one-another off of a ring using their butts. It’s basically water polo-meets-sumo wrestling if the wrestlers were skinny, female and perverted. The premise doesn’t sound too bad on paper, it’s actually pretty creative when you stop and think about it, but the execution is a little bit troublesome. Why? Because so much attention is focused on the characters' rears and breasts that you’re left wondering if the show was only made with those aspects in mind; after all, why make soft-core porn if you’re better off with actual porn?

That was my initial reaction when seeing the trailer, I won’t lie. But then I watched it again, and something interesting stood out in my mind. It’s something you tend not to notice the first time around, for obvious reasons, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. It’s especially worth mentioning because of how rare it is in fan-service shows of this calibre, making it stand out even more: the characters’ breasts are realistically-proportioned. No jiggle physics, no “how does that work?” questioning with their sizes, none of that. Simply put, Keijo!!!!!!!! is actually somewhat sincere about its fan-service.

I recognize that that’s not a high bar, but it’s worth noting considering how many fan-service shows over-exaggerate their characters’ breasts for the sake of arousal. Far too often, a fan-service show tends to focus way too heavily on the same old nonsense: big, flabby breasts that jiggle-jiggle-jiggle. Big, flabby breasts that jiggle-jiggle-jiggle. Big, flabby breasts that jiggle-jiggle-jiggle. Oh, and big, flabby breasts that jiggle-jiggle-jiggle. The constant reuse of that same trope has become so obnoxious that I often joke how hard it is to differentiate between that and real pornography, especially with the Pavlovian response both receive from horny men.

So when fan-service doesn’t employ that tired trope? Well, that’s when my curiosity takes over and I become interested. Not “interested” in the “I legitimately care about what’s going on” kind of way, no. That’d require serious effort in the storytelling and character writing departments. Rather, I become interested in a more “let’s see what this does differently” kind of way, as the exaggeration is so normalized that anything grounded immediately ends up the exception. And Keijo!!!!!!!!, for all its purported shallowness, is grounded enough with its breast physics to be an exception.

This begs two questions: one, why does Keijo!!!!!!!! care to get its breast physics correct, yet not enough to get its storytelling together? It’d seem like not giving a damn about one would imply not giving a damn about the other, especially with a premise as ludicrous as butt polo. But, for whatever reason, someone in higher-ups that was responsible for this show’s production clearly cared, hence we got a fan-service series that had realistically-proportioned body parts. Or maybe the Manga was like that as well, I don’t claim to be an expert on anime.

And two, assuming someone cared about the characters’ bodies being realistic, why does the show reek of the gross kind of fan-service? Judging from the trailer, there’s plenty of emphasis on cleverly-censored nudity, copping feels and smacking underwear-wearing rears. This doesn’t cover the obvious butt-bashing in the tournaments either. I don’t see any focus on subversion of fan-service, all I see is plain old fan-service. And that disappoints me.

That said, does it really matter long-run? Probably not. Aside from being realistically-proportioned, I doubt the characters were written as anything other than masturbation fodder for horny nerds living in their mother’s basements. I can’t blame the staff either, as-like I said-sex sells. There’s a market for cheesecake shows of this calibre, and if it makes money…

Still, I wish there was a version of this kind of fan-service on-par with Ouran High School Host Club or Free! Iwatobi Swim Club intellectually, but I guess that I can’t have my cake and eat it too…


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