Porn? Hentai? Borderline hentai? Ecchi? Fanservice? Fashionable? Artistic? It’s your call but is there really any hidden meaning/motive behind anime characters appear in nude other than just mere nudity? Anime is artwork, and just like other artwork that features nudity, some people tend to give nudity in anime an artistic perspective for the sole purpose of rationalizing the usage of nudity there. Yes, I’m talking about nudity in anime here.
First, I’d like to say any attempt to give ‘acceptable’ meanings to nudity in artwork/anime would appear like an excuse to me. The refusal to see nudity in anime as mere nudity is no different from the refusal to see it as art. At any rate it feels more like speculating the intention behind the production of such artwork/anime. Or maybe I could say those excuses are used to deceive people into believing them as being valid reasons so that nudity is acceptable as long as it is ‘pure’ art and not porn.
Well the so-called “artistic perspective” could be right and could be wrong too but the problem with that is it is a perspective from a fellow viewer rather than what the anime maker might have thought. We could tell whatever we want to please our self yet we could never be too sure what those anime makers have in their mind. That said I’d rather not analyzing it based on what I wanted it to be (or what I wished it was).
Considering that anime is a show, entertainment, we are already given everything that is there. Doing anything else would spoil the entertainment value we received. Well, there’s nothing wrong in doing analysis if that could add entertainment value to one self but it could also end up being over-analyzed. This is not about ignoring, this is about whether our own analysis is in line of what the anime makers have in mind or we’re just doing it because we know the makers are not doing what we wanted thus we chose to please our self with our own given meaning.
The other problem is why does doing such analysis matter? Doing such analysis is no different than giving speculation over what we saw. For me I’ve got more things to do or enjoy than doing this kind of thing because I see most anime today is more about entertainment and less intellectual than what we had over a decade ago. Maybe some anime like Mawaru Penguindrum is an exception but I’d do analysis again once anime became intellectual again.
I don’t see any point in giving my own (alternative) meaning to nudity in anime because it does not do any good to me in terms of intellectual or entertainment. I’d just accept it as it is and not trying to rephrase or redefine or adding my own ingredients on it. What matters is I enjoy what I see, not the analysis I made up myself for it. I don’t see myself as special audience who needs special self-explanation for hidden values or something like that or rather I don’t get a special feeling for that kind of urge (the urge to make such analysis).
If there are hidden things they’re hidden for a reason. I could dig it out if I wanted but the anime maker’s real intention is for those things to be hidden. I don’t think they’d give a damn whether the audience could find it or not, though it could be a selling point too because if there are hidden values (or if we think there are hidden values) that means there are always things to be curious about.
Speaking of being ‘special’ I must say a nudity is a nudity and a fanservice is a fanservice. No matter how you try to relate them to ‘artistic’ or ‘fashionable’ they’d always remain the same. It could be avoidable if people wanted to but there are times people want to include them in deliberately with seemingly valid reasons. Fine. However I’m not buying it entirely because if how people perceive nudity is an individual matter then why is there a separation for porn and artistic/fashionable nudity? As if it’s wrong if there are people who chose to perceive porn/hentai as art. For me, as an artist my understanding is that not to over-analyze what I see.
I’m not sure if any of you out there see me as an artist or not but I do make nude “artworks” a lot. However I never posted them to deviantart despite DA allows nudity to a certain extent as long as it is ‘artistic’. I could have posted them to pixiv too as pixiv does allow any level of nudity (even porn/hentai) but since I don’t see my nude “artworks” as ‘art’ then I refuse to. BTW pixiv is an “art” website so in that sense it does see hentai/porn as ‘art’ too.
Also I’m not sure if there are anime makers who doesn’t care about how are their products are going to entertain the audience. However when it comes to hidden meanings it is less straight forward. Like I said earlier, the hidden meanings is more like they are there because we want to believe they are there. Surely the anime makers wouldn’t mind about that because it’s the selling point too but if it was produced with “let’s make the audience think that we have legitimate reasons to use nudity here” in their mind then it would contradict the nature of open interpretation. In the end it’s up to anybody but for me I’d choose not to speculate anything.
Open interpretation is supposed to be ‘open’ instead of being set by the producer. In any case, to see the nudity here as a mere nudity is also a kind of open interpretation too. That makes a refusal to see the nudity as mere nudity as no different from refusal to see it as having valid reasons. At this point what matters to me (or maybe the anime makers too) is the audience enjoy what they see. Anything else that comes after that is irrelevant/unnecessary except for those who couldn’t accept of the show as it is and decided to make personal analysis so that they could enjoy something that they made up themselves. In a sense it’s like making a continuation/alt-universe doujin for existing artwork.
For me the true ‘nude artwork’ is not about featuring nudity in the artwork but it is about not hiding your intentions behind it. I may be lacking the certification and formal education for being a self-taught artist (that is, if you decide to see me as one). However art is something you could never measure with those things for it is subjective and abstract. That said although artwork is open for infinite interpretation, I am an artist who is very straight forward with my intentions in creating artworks. That’s why I’d be happier if the audience have the same thought as mine upon seeing my artworks because I don’t hide anything there. I don’t deliberately put something to hide in my artworks. In fact I’d feel better if people don’t think too differently from what I think about my own works. If you ask me why I “did not hide anything” in my artworks I’d say it’s because doing so is similar to censorship. I hate censorship and I hate doing anything that I think is similar to that. Call me simple-minded or whatever you want but as long as I enjoy what I do/see and it does not do any harm to me then anything else is unnecessary.