I thought I knew what I was getting into when I saw the cover art for Free!, given that it features an assortment of scantily clad young men standing very close to one another, abs on display like muffins in a bakery. I soon discovered that was only the start of the fanservice, as I found myself on a wild emotional ride that convinced me that when it comes to creating fanservice for girls, it’s not simply a matter of reversing panty flashes into brief glimpses of, well, briefs. Watching Free! with my husband, sister, and niece showed me that this show’s effort to appeal to the ladies led to an audience performance far deeper than the shallow side of the swimming pool.
I first ran into Cross Ange when my husband tried to hide that he was watching it. Knowing I’m a feminist, he assumed I would be scandalized by the cheapness and frequency of the show’s fanservice. He wasn’t exactly wrong. The fanservice in Cross Ange begins before the opening credits on the first episode, and doesn’t stop until the main character spends most of the final episode completely nude. In between, she fights dragons on a giant robot. What’s not to love?