I have an ambivalent relationship with fan service. I’ve come to expect a certain amount of it in anime, but fan service never makes an anime better. It is often used, however, as a crutch to keep viewers (mostly male I assume) interested when the story and characters are not going to be able to do it on their own. In other words, fan service is often used to distract the viewer from flaws. Saekano and Testament of Sister New Devil (whoever translated that name should be fired) already make me suspicious of their quality by playing up the fan service so heavily in the first episode.
What separated the two was the quality of the fan service. I’m not talking about the actual assets on display, although I did find Testament’s animation to be a little wonky. I am talking about the set up and execution of their pandering. Testament just kind of flung it at you. Guy busts in on the girl in the bathroom, who for some reason just stands there, and the new step sister decides to go full cowgirl to wake her brother up without bothering to fasten her shorts. The wake up scene in particular was hard to watch. Saekano on the other hand, went for the classic (or tired) hot springs set up. Opening with the female characters in a hot spring discussing whether fan service ruined an anime wasn’t as clever as the writers probably thought it was, but it did get a chuckle out of me. It showed the kind of self awareness that can make people tolerate such an in your face display. The result was completely different. While I found Testament’s first episode to be grating, Saekano’s episode zero didn’t bother me. I can handle a hot springs episode, provided this is not a weekly occurence.
I am familiar with the source material and I know that next week, Testament is going to drive away a lot of people with it’s lack of subtlety. If things are handled the way they were in the first episode, it’s going to be very hard to watch. After that episode, things should settle down as we get to the real story. I’m giving Testament until the end of episode 3 to improve. I’m going to hope that Saekano has gotten the stuff that will make me embarrassed to watch the show on my bus ride to work out of it’s system for now. The fully clothed parts of the zero episode have piqued my interest, and a show that starts off making fun of itself gets a bonus point or two. I will be sticking with the show for now.