The Colors of Modern Fanservice

As part of the ritual of watching new shows at the start of a season, I decided to check out the show Kampfer. Immediately upon watching it, I got this strong feeling that I knew exactly the kind of show it was going to be (and I was right). Sure, the character designs are what you expect out of this sort of otaku-targeting fanservice show, but it was something much more fundamental than that. Then it hit me: It was the color scheme.

Lots of anime throughout the years have had bright or cheerful color schemes, but there’s something very distinct about the kinds of shows that are made in order to get otaku in a tizzy. When it comes to art, color and color theory were never my strong suit, so I cannot speak with any real authority or learned foundation, but there is a certain optimistic quality to the colors used in Kampfer and shows like Kampfer. Even if terrible things happen to the characters, it comes across as a fantasy that wants the viewer to become engrossed in, but at the same time makes it easy to remove oneself from that fantasy if one desires to do so.

kkitousen is affected by this to a lesser extent, due to the fact that it uses colors with greater saturation and contrast, but it still shares a similar fondness for bright colors combined in specific ways. These shows appear to be aiming for an ideal, trying to tap into a core color scheme that is attractive to otaku on some deeper level.

The reason, I suspect, is that they are getting very close to the colors commonly used in erotic PC games.

Here we have Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien aka Rumbling Hearts. The soft gradients seen here which are common to erogames are also pretty much impossible for any anime to achieve on a consistent basis. It looks as if the staff working on these “erogame color” shows try to achieve the same effect by choosing bright colors with a little less contrast than normal.

I also suspect that this color scheme also exudes a very negative connotation among people who dislike these sorts of shows inherently. It’s probably something which jumps out at them subconsciously and tells them that they may be in for a rough ride should they continue to watch.

Color is such a huge topic that obviously I can’t cover it all in one post. For that reason don’t be surprised if I return to the topic again at some point in the future.


7 thoughts on “The Colors of Modern Fanservice

  1. Once again, you’ve pointed out something brilliant just as I was starting to notice it as well – yeah, fanservice shows tend to feature really outlandish colors that really are a bit of a turnoff even to be because of their connotations. I’d go so far as to say the biggest detriment to Kampfer for me was it’s colors.


  2. Bright colors in fanservice shows always struck me as more attention-grabbing and holding–loud, bright colors are more noticeable than muted tones, and are often used in children’s series.

    Even if you look at, say, Shuffle vs. ef, Shuffle uses much more vibrant colors, whereas ef went for a more muted palette. This makes me wonder if the degree of “seriousness” of a series couldn’t be roughly determined from the color palette.


  3. Fantastic! Yes! Absolutely right.

    Also note the use of a watercolor-style palette for more serious and/or romantic shows like Aoi Hana, Taisho Yakyuu Musume, and Kino’s Journey.


  4. Pingback: Kampfer 02 | hontou ni

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