You know you need to knock it off when the male fans get sick of it. Especially the really laid back male fans. But, alas, Japan is still riding on the fanservice boat as if it’s an ocean liner when really it’s more like a cheap inflatable raft bought at Walmart on clearance.
For those VERY new to anime (I mean, like, you were just born into the fandom this afternoon or something), fanservice refers to an unnecessary focus on female or male (usually female) romantic and/or sexual situations/shots given to catch or hold the attention of the fanbase. A great example is the infamous walking-in-on-love-interest-while-they-are-in-the-shower scene. You get partial nudity and romantic tension all in one. Convenient, but extremely cliche. Or you could just go for the throat and just add in extensive shots of the female lead’s large chest.
Back in the day, this kind of thing would be thrown in irregularly, almost as a “thank you for watching” to fans. Fans wanted to see so and so fall for that one guy, so a cute (although often unnecessary) event will occur near the end that caters to this want. It was an actual “service” to fans.
Today, it’s not a service to fans. It’s just gratuitous. The average show these days contains consistent fanservice, often from episode one. It is not asked for because there are not yet fans to desire it. It is assumed by the production team that it is wanted. Of course, shows based on manga can use the fanbase of that media form to lead their decisions, but when it comes right down to it there will be a hot springs/beach episodes. Regardless of if it was in the original manga or not. And you can count on the camera lingering on a few choice shots more frequently than any sane manga artist would dare attempt least they be branded a complete perv for life. In fact, fanservice is so common now that even hot blooded male fans are sick of it, many crying out for the “good ol’ days” when shows had more story and less panty shots. And you can imagine how it tends to alienate many a female fan (I admit to running to shoujo shows on occasion just so I don’t have boob shots staring at me every other scene).
As a new season of streaming shows gets ready to kick into gear, one can only hope we get a few shows with more brain and less… well, sex appeal (which is actually ends up being repelling, ironically). But considering that most media has pretty much embraced the saying “sex sells,” expect to have to continue eyeball rolling as a daily routine. At least until real art and storytelling come back into fashion.