I know what you’re thinking. “But how could sex be any more prominent in anime?! There are ecchi shows being released every season, and sexual fan service/tension has been a staple of even the most innocent anime out there! Why would you want to add more?!” I can see why one might assume this based on the title of this post alone. Though, perhaps, one should take it in a more literal sense.
There should be more sex in anime; the actual act of two (or more, why not?) characters performing sexual intercourse. It will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever happen, but I think a more liberal mindset on the topic could benefit the medium (along with others stringent about it) in a multitude of ways, whether carnal or artistic.
While my pessimistic attitude towards its representation in anime may lead one to believe that sex has never been a proponent in anime ever, there are a few anime that I’ve seen that use it outside of audience stimulation and just for the sake of it. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is basically the antithesis to the anime medium’s straightforward conservatism regarding the topic, and therefore doesn’t entirely count to what I’m trying to argue. And, of course, ecchi-harem shows and the like are simply used for audience stimulation. I’m referring to anime who use sex as a means of improving the product, or giving an added boost of “realism” (relative term) to the characters or the narrative focus.
White Album 2, Tsurezure Children, and Speed Grapher are all examples of anime
off the top of my head that encourage the use of sex as a means of something more than erotic stimulation. Before digging into them, I’ll give an obligatory spoiler warning to those who haven’t seen them and would like to go in blind—more specifically to White Album 2 and Speed Grapher.
White Album 2 is a pretty good anime. I’ll throw that out there first thing; go check it out. It’s also notable for the opening scene of its last episode, which “shows” (relative term) sexual intercourse between two of its three main characters. The tension up to this point is caused by the male lead forming a romantic relationship with one of the two female leads, while secretly harboring a more stable connection with the one he isn’t sharing that commitment with. The sex involved is a testament to how strongly he (and she, additionally for him) feels for her, and a betrayal of his morals when concerning his relationship with the other woman. During the scene, his cell phone goes off, signaling a call from said current girlfriend. He waves it off.
Its execution is also commendable, as a sole violin (or whatever woodwind instrument) plays a somber tune whilst the activity is ongoing. It portrays the act as bittersweet, as the two who truly feel most loved within each other’s arms are perfectly aware that the decision will destroy their bond with the other female lead, with whom they share a deep friendship and band with. It stirs an emotional despair within the audience for the emotions these characters cannot control (because they’re hormonal teenagers, and it’s justified) while also painting a picture of how committed they are to showing it. Sex in and of itself is a lot more damning than a kiss, a hug, or sweet words, with its use here becoming the ultimate point of no return that ends the carefree relationship these three at one point lived within. Muah!
The use of sex in Speed Grapher is a little less romantically charged (and effective, though that’s likely attributed to the quality of the series). The male lead has a stalker in the form of a female police officer who’s known for violent altercations. Somewhere around the mid-point of the series, she kidnaps him and rapes him while he’s unconscious in an attempt to receive some direct affection from him, affection he is never willing to give. This (hopefully) isn’t a case of sex for the use getting the viewer aroused, but a more psychological reasoning for the strange and obscene mannerisms of an uncanny character. For as bland as Speed Grapher is altogether, sex made a particularly memorable scene stand out from the rest.
Likely the most straightforward example is the use of (almost) sex in Tsurezure Children, where a specific couple becomes tempted into doing so for the sake of proving to one another that they’re mature enough (and close enough) to handle it. Such is the industry (and within the context of the scene), the moment is constantly interrupted by the mother of one of the kids, primarily for the sake of humor. Sex can also be used for a plethora of comedic situations (not including the “Are they having sex in there?! I’m gonna barge into a room where they’re doing something that’s not sex!”), as well as show the realism present in teenagers around the world. Teenagers like sex. Too many male protagonists scoff at sex as though it’s a poisonous substance, which is why male leads such as ones from High School DxD are so refreshing. It makes a more relatable and more realistic representation of the target demographic to have characters think of sex within a romantic or sexually-tensile situation—male or female.
Though simply stating that sex should be more prevalent is a danger of letting a slippery slope evolve into a wave of sexual acts being shown for the sake of showing sexual acts. It’s hard to find an adequate balance of what is and what isn’t too much of a particular “trend” or activity present that could improve the quality of entertainment, and it also depends on the preferences of the creators themselves, as well as who they’re directing their art to. Would a series such as Kimi ni Todoke be better if the main couple-to-be were to have sex in the end? Is a manga like Domestic na Kanojo better for having two strangers have sex in the very first chapter, only to have their relationship build from there? The use of sex and how prevalent it is in comparison to the atmosphere or feel of a subject could be ripe for criticism, regardless of whether or not the industry it aligns with is so devoid of it. I suppose the sole argument I’m trying to make it that sex should appear when sex can be naturally assumed, instead of prolonging the inevitable by having the characters act like cowards or outside of their respective personalities. Could I see Taiga and Ryuuji from Toradora! having sex in the end? Absolutely. Could I see Takeo and Yamato from Ore Monogatari!! having sex in the end? Probably not.
You may now retract the fingered shield from your eyes and calm your blushing cheeks, for my article is nearly at an end. Sex is an activity that should not be manipulated for profit or hidden out of fear of unruly behavior—hell, with Japan’s supposed population decline, I’d think they’d want to make sex more prominent in daily life. As a fool with a romanticist’s heart, sex is a beautiful catalyst for showcasing the ultimate bond between two people. Of course, it could also just be a timekiller, a deranged message for help, or the key to unleashing evil upon the tangible world. Whatever sex is used for, I only wish the artistically-minded creators behind the medium I’m so fond of could incorporate it more to help build upon the potential impact that their series could exhibit.