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Otakupocalypse
December 13, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Localfilter: Today in Tokyo, legislation passed that will further restrict manga and animation "glorifying or exaggerating illegal sexual acts." Ten of the biggest comics companies are protesting the Tokyo International Anime Fair, sponsored by the city, responding that a focus on their mode of expression is unfair. Blogger Dan Kanemitsu reports.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur (53 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't know much about this. There's no child porn involved, is there?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:07 AM on December 13, 2010


What's legal age for a tentacle monster?
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:11 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Must be older than time itself.
posted by ardgedee at 10:12 AM on December 13, 2010 [15 favorites]


Ditto about being in the dark on this. What sexual acts are illegal in Japan?
posted by schmod at 10:12 AM on December 13, 2010


Don't know much about this. There's no child porn involved, is there?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:07 PM on December 13


In manga? No, not at all...
posted by Pastabagel at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ironmouth: by definition, it would be virtual child porn. And given that often the females portrayed in these things are very young, you'd be hard-pressed to say "no, it's not virtual child porn".
According to my daughter, who is a big manga fan, yaoi manga is very popular among young women for whatever reason. So I wonder if yaoi == illegal sexual act?
But it won't stop the Big 10 publishers, nor will it stop artists producing sexual-themed manga (such as Sexy Loosers).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:14 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ditto about being in the dark on this. What sexual acts are illegal in Japan?

I'm gonna guess rape is involved...and there are certainly anime that glorify that, sometimes with or without tentacles.
posted by inturnaround at 10:15 AM on December 13, 2010


Ditto about being in the dark on this. What sexual acts are illegal in Japan?

Showing third base, apparently.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Won't someone PLEASE think of the children of the giant tentacle monsters??!
posted by Dmenet at 10:28 AM on December 13, 2010


Yeah, I'm hard pressed to even guess where tentacle porn lies on the legal/illegal spectrum. Anybody? Don't make me use an AskMe on this.
posted by atchafalaya at 10:35 AM on December 13, 2010


I assume, after just checking some sources, that this would be things like incest, rape, prostitution (only includes actual coital sex, not other acts), participation of individuals under 13 (national age of consent) or below prefectural age of consent (can be set as high as 18) in any way. There are no sodomy laws in Japan, nor have there been since 1880.
posted by strixus at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I wonder if yaoi == illegal sexual act?

Yaoi just means gay male relationships. But there are popular subgenres involving young boys with older men. Similarly for yuri and lesbian relationships.

There are also lots of depictions of other kinds of rape in various works, sometimes not in a condemnatory manner.

(And then I remember about Luke and Laura and want to puke again.)
posted by kmz at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2010


It's not "legislation", it's a municipal ordinance championed by Tokyo governor Shintaro Isehara, a rightist (as opposed to right-wing) social conservative who is no stranger to controversy, and who also has been quite effective at implementing questionable or unpopular policies, such as banning diesel exhausts in much of Tokyo, a move that has had repercussions on the entire national trucking industry.

Anyway, I have no idea what sexual acts are outlawed in Japan, although in this case the law seems to be aimed at depictions of underage sex, or child pornography. As a general rule, any actual depiction of sex cannot be shown, and, until about 10 years ago, even pubic hair, so most videos, cartoons, and comics have the actual sex act blurred out.

Thanks to the rise of indie porn producers with little or no accountability to censors, there is a lot of porn content out there that is, from the perspective of a rightist social conservative, pushing the envelope, and there's been an effort in recent years in Tokyo to clamp down on porn.

Isehara is clearly out of touch, but for the time being he's still firmly in control.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 AM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


And no, yaoi does NOT equal illegal sexual acts. Far from. As I stated before, there are NO laws in Japan that criminalize homosexual acts, and in fact, even homosexual prostitution is not illegal under national laws, as those only deal with coital sex (instead it is dealt with under "near sex act" laws, which are prefecture based, not national, and those can only be used in cases of solicitation for pay).
posted by strixus at 10:39 AM on December 13, 2010


Isehara is clearly out of touch, but for the time being he's still firmly in control.

Great first line for some slash fiction.
posted by ODiV at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


by definition, it would be virtual child porn. And given that often the females portrayed in these things are very young, you'd be hard-pressed to say "no, it's not virtual child porn".

"Virtual child porn" doesn't really parse next to, say, "virtual murder" (or any other given violent, definitely-not-okay crime)...something most top-selling games, movies, series, manga, etc. have as a primary selling point without the same moral outrage. It sounds like arguments that amount to "don't depict illegal things" are being brought to bear in creative mediums that have never been held to that stipulation*.

It's very easy to say, for instance, that such-and-such character from a given storyline is XX years old, and therefore any erotic depiction/sexual act with that character would be "virtual child porn." But given that the character is fabricated, and the age is fabricated, and the appearance of that character is fabricated by the creator, and any/all actions occurring to that character are fabricated as well, how is "virtual child porn" even parsable? There's no real there there. The only defining feature of child porn is underage people in erotic/sexual situations/behavior.

*Of course the real reasoning gets closer to "I find ___ deplorable and without merit; therefore I will make it illegal; but rather than reconcile this with the scope of the larger picture, I will use a tangential (but concrete) negative aspect of said expression to validate this action."
posted by Phyltre at 10:44 AM on December 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


A Supreme Court in Australia found a few years ago that possession of Simpsons porn was legally equivalent to possession of actual photographic child pornography.

The lawyer should have noted that Maggie is known to have been alive since 1987, and is therefore a consenting adult.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:48 AM on December 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Solution! As the tentacles are raping the manga child, the child needs to be thinking something like "great, during the thousand years I've been alive, this has happened like ten thousand times - damn this curse."

EVERYONE IS HAPPY!

Especially the tentacle monster.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:17 AM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wait, so you can depict illegal sex acts, but just not "Glorify or exaggerate" them?

There was a case a couple years ago about a guy who got arrested for importing some kind of perverted Anime to the US.
posted by delmoi at 12:11 PM on December 13, 2010


I'm hard pressed to even guess where tentacle porn lies on the legal/illegal spectrum. Anybody?

The story* I heard was that the genesis of the whole thing was a law that restricted the depictions of penetration by... people... and someone figured out that penetration by... other things... would be kind of a loophole.

Don't make me use an AskMe on this.

You're welcome!

*For all I know this could be urban legend - I didn't do any follow-up research.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was really reluctant to come into this thread, but am glad to see there's been some thoughtful discussion on this.

Phyltre addressed most of my feelings on this pretty succinctly. Do I think loli manga, or drawn depictions of violence, rape, and sexual violence are deplorable? Absolutely. It's sickens me greatly. That's why I don't buy it. What would sicken me even more, though, are lawmakers given the power to outlaw it. If guys like Isehara cared as much about Japan's serious human trafficking problem as much as he purports to care about what happens to illustrated, fictional characters, maybe they'd be able to make some real headway in addressing the problems being blamed on these genres of manga and anime. But that would be hard work, right? Far easier to drum up a self-righteous scare campaign that does nothing to help anybody, and sets a very bad precedent for freedom of expression.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


[a few LOLASIANS comments removed - make an effort, folks?]
posted by jessamyn at 12:41 PM on December 13, 2010


Phyltre: But given that the character is fabricated, and the age is fabricated, and the appearance of that character is fabricated by the creator, and any/all actions occurring to that character are fabricated as well, how is "virtual child porn" even parsable? There's no real there there

As far as I remember, Tiny Tove was an adult when she was working in the porn industry, but her work was published as "underage", and the work was summarily banned. It wasn't that is was real, but it gave the impression. Yes, not animation, but still fake.
The inverse, of course, is Traci Lords, who lied about her age and did several movies, where were then later banned.

And Marisa pretty much sums up what the real problem is; it's all mis-directed moral outrage.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2010


kmz: I know what it means; my point being that what does Japan consider "illegal sexual acts", since there are a few places here in the states that outlaw sodomy. Since all I know about Japan sex practices is that you can by used panties in a vending machine, I didn't know what is "illegal" by their standards.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:46 PM on December 13, 2010


delmoi: it was in Edmonton, Canada, five years ago, importing loli porn anime. Lots of similar "is it real" stuff being tossed around then, too.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:49 PM on December 13, 2010


Far easier to drum up a self-righteous scare campaign that does nothing to help anybody,

What's bad about self-righteous scare campaigns? It works well for climate change and smoking bans.

and sets a very bad precedent for freedom of expression

What freedom of expression? The freedom to express the tentacle rape of a little girl? Why should that be protected?
posted by eeeeeez at 1:02 PM on December 13, 2010


This is actually a giant victory for those of us concerned about the morally dubious imagery that increasingly pollutes our shitting dick nipple porn.
posted by dgaicun at 1:11 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


As the tentacles are raping the manga child, the child needs to be thinking something like "great, during the thousand years I've been alive, this has happened like ten thousand times - damn this curse."

What a horrible night to have a curse.
posted by Copronymus at 1:16 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


eeeeeez: "What's bad about self-righteous scare campaigns? It works well for climate change and smoking bans.

As I said, the things manga and anime are being erroneously blamed for could be better dealt with by addressing, for example, the human trafficking problem directly.

eeeeeez: "What freedom of expression? The freedom to express the tentacle rape of a little girl? Why should that be protected"

Seriously, you guys need to get some better material than "hurrr tentacle rape". People were making that joke since Ghost In the Shell.

Art for art's sake, whether you find it repugnant or not, should be protected, that's why. That goes for books, movies and music, just as much as it goes for manga and anime.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:31 PM on December 13, 2010


What freedom of expression? The freedom to express the tentacle rape of a little girl? Why should that be protected?

You're immediately going to the extreme without looking at the whole range of potential precedent that's being established. Incest and even incest with a child is referenced in Paradise Lost, or in Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen, or in Oedipus the King, or in To Kill A Mockingbird, or in Gone with the Wind, or in Godfather, or in oh I'm tired of copying from Wikipedia. Many of those are indisputably works of culture that use the situation as a dramatic device within critically acclaimed works, and could feasibly come under scrutiny because of this despite the way in which they treat the material and the way the material is presented. Not everything that falls under the description of this bill is awful deplorable rape anime.

And you know, murder's pretty illegal too. Maybe we should stop glorifying that as well. Hold on, let me list all the books and movies where that's done...
posted by stelas at 1:38 PM on December 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


As I said, the things manga and anime are being erroneously blamed for could be better dealt with by addressing, for example, the human trafficking problem directly.

This is true for many things. And generally, the underlying problems are being addressed, but still we have useless awareness campaigns, too. Can't we have both?

Art for art's sake, whether you find it repugnant or not, should be protected, that's why. That goes for books, movies and music, just as much as it goes for manga and anime.

Why? Why do tentacle rape cartoons require protection?
posted by eeeeeez at 2:33 PM on December 13, 2010


Incest and even incest with a child is referenced in Paradise Lost, or in Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen, or in Oedipus the King, or in To Kill A Mockingbird, or in Gone with the Wind, or in Godfather, or in oh I'm tired of copying from Wikipedia.

So there is a distinction between these distinguished works of art and rape anime. Is this really a surprise?
posted by eeeeeez at 2:36 PM on December 13, 2010


Why? Why do tentacle rape cartoons require protection?

Why does Guernica require protection? It depicts a terrible tragedy and is a depiction of the slaughter of thousands of innocents. Ban that filth from our art galleries immediately, closely followed by all those statues and paintings with genitals out in the open.

So there is a distinction between these distinguished works of art and rape anime.

My point: in the wording of this law, there isn't.
posted by stelas at 2:38 PM on December 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


My point: in the wording of this law, there isn't.

So these works of art are now illegal? Is there any indication that the government is seeking to censure or ban those works? Do you think a private person could have these works censured or banned by appealing to this legislation in a court of law?
posted by eeeeeez at 2:46 PM on December 13, 2010


As a Tokyo resident, I'll try to summarize the situation without injecting my own opinion into this.

First of all, the governor of Tokyo is named Shintarō Ishihara, not Isehara. And second, although Ishihara (nominally a member of the LDP, a center-right party) may have been the one to push this ordinance through the prefectural assembly, the DPJ (a center-left party), which holds the most seats in the assembly, are expected to join with the LDP and Komeitō to pass the ordinance. However, due to the continued resistance from publishers, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, etc., they are going to pass this with an additional resolution attached -- but it will still pass.

The problem with the ordinance is that it is vague and many parties concerned are worried that it will infringe upon free speech. Manga or anime that contain "unduly gratuitous or exaggerated" ("不当に賛美・誇張") depictions of illegal acts, sexual and otherwise, cannot be sold to minors under 18. What exactly is considered "unduly gratuitous or exaggerated" or "illegal" is unclear -- authors are concerned that the line between reality and fiction will be blurred.

Publishers and authors are angry mainly because Ishihara and the Tokyo prefectural assembly are pushing this ordinance through without any real consultation or discussion. Three major PTA groups in Tokyo support the ordinance.
posted by armage at 2:48 PM on December 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


Do you think a private person could have these works censured or banned by appealing to this legislation in a court of law?

Yes, or at least the point is that they could certainly try, and could now point to this law specifically as a means to back up their argument. I admit that, as with most laws, the real proof of the pudding is when a ruling is passed on a specific case and thus sets legal precedent; but this is the first step towards that.

(Actually, in this case it's 'heavily regulated' rather than 'censured or banned', which is why I highly doubt any 'apocalypse' will happen. But then, I remember reading To Kill A Mockingbird when I was 16, as part of my English reading curriculum. Last I checked I was not a mental wreck or exploited youth because of it.)
posted by stelas at 3:24 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why? Why do tentacle rape cartoons require protection?

I guess the question is why do you think they don't? They are art and creative expression, even if you don't agree with the content. No one is hurt by the making of tentacle rape cartoons, and no one has to see them if they don't want to.

Plus, there are plenty of nice, productive, law-abiding people who find exploring these morally dark areas in anime/mange form to be interesting and, yes, titillating.

So again I ask: why should they be exempt from the protection offered to most thematically troubling works of art?
posted by jess at 4:50 PM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


To answer the question about legality/illegality when it comes to sex in Japan: It's different here. Very, very little is illegal. Paying, as mentioned, for coital sex is illegal. Paying for anything up to, but not including coital sex is pretty much legal. There are no sex acts (that I'm aware of) that are completely illegal. The age of consent is evidently 13 (and dear lord, I feel skeevy for just having googled that. I'm sure I'll be on a watch list momentarily), but in recent years, there has been an attempted crackdown on underage prostitution, making it double secret extra illegal to pay a minor for a sex act of any kind.

As I mentioned, it's very, very different here. There is little of the 'sex is bad' theme running through Japanese society, yet in some ways, it's very, very moralistic. For example, blurring of genitalia (though objects that look suspiciously like genitalia are A-Ok), or the fact that the Pill is still heavily stigmatised (the general belief is that only prostitutes use it). The crackdown on underage prostitution came about largely because of the rise of enjo kosai (literally, compensated dating), where high school age girls were essentially hooking for brand name goods.

Where it gets even more fucked is that while it is illegal to make or sell child pornography here, it is currently not illegal to possses it, which makes Japan one of the world's top consumers of it (there has been increasing international pressure to change it, but for some reason, not much response). Instead of, say, cracking down on the 'real' stuff, they seem to be going after manga and anime. This, of course, in the country where in almost any book store, you can pick up coffee table style books of 11 or 12 year old models in swimsuits and skimpy clothing.

There are a lot of great things about Japan. This ain't one of them.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:33 PM on December 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


So again I ask: why should they be exempt from the protection offered to most thematically troubling works of art?

What purpose does the protection serve? Does art further this purpose? Does rape anime?
posted by eeeeeez at 9:21 PM on December 13, 2010


What purpose does any art, disturbing or otherwise, serve? It does not seem to me that a distinction can be made without invoking a very dangerous slippery slope. Why is "The Dream Of The Fishermans Wife" fine art but "La Blue Girl" a danger to society?
posted by strixus at 11:41 PM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, definitely have to say that the default setting for the creative arts should be freedom rather than restriction, for reasons that this site has quite thoughtfully gone over many, many times.

On a side note, I'm not one to shriek about "otaku persecution" or whatever, but it is a shame that pre-conceived notions about anime and manga seem to crop up with impunity in discussions like these. Simply put: they're mediums; not genres, and the spectrum of genres that these mediums cover is as rich and varied as you'll find in cinema, television, literature or music.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:08 AM on December 14, 2010


On a side note, I'm not one to shriek about "otaku persecution" or whatever, but

There's been an upswing in cries of 'JAPAAAAAAAAAN' throughout anime/manga and gaming sites recently, and not just forums - journalists both pro and amateur will regularly take opportunities to sideswipe the whole medium. (Kotaku is particularly schizophrenic about this right now, lambasting JRPGs whenever it can while posting edgey shots of figurines.) I don't know what to make of the world when sites like Sankaku Complex could be called 'relatively sympathetic'. Oy.

It doesn't help that the average quality of a season really feels like it's dropped. This season's far, far better than average, but does get balanced out a bit by a couple really dodgy shows. Next season just looks terrible so far.
posted by stelas at 5:44 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is a harsh freedom indeed that refuses a distinction between art and tentacle rape.
posted by eeeeeez at 5:45 AM on December 14, 2010


eeeeeez: "It is a harsh freedom indeed that refuses a distinction between art and tentacle rape"

Oh, you. I could just pinch your chubby widdle cheeks.

stelas: "It doesn't help that the average quality of a season really feels like it's dropped. This season's far, far better than average, but does get balanced out a bit by a couple really dodgy shows. Next season just looks terrible so far."

Heh. I can scarcely take part in the current discussions about this season because none of the five shows I'm following this season are that popular, with the exception of Arakawa (and why I'm still following that, I have no idea. Holding out hope that it miraculously measures up to its first season, maybe).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:13 AM on December 14, 2010


Also, Sankaku Complex: News With OUTRAGE And Boobs.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:15 AM on December 14, 2010


What freedom of expression? The freedom to express the tentacle rape of a little girl? Why should that be protected?

You do not understand what freedom of expression means. We're kind of like manatees; either we can play with all of the balls, or none of them. That's how it works.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:19 AM on December 14, 2010


It is a harsh freedom indeed that refuses a distinction between art and tentacle rape.

Please give us a guideline as to what is 'art' and what is 'filth', which is clear and concise enough for a legal definition and which will work in 100% of cases without the potential for subjugation of legitimate art, or explain with reasoning why the wording of this bill is clear and concise enough to work in 100% of cases without the potential for subjugation of legitimate art. If you say 'because it is' I will link you to Wikipedia again and ask why you believe Gone With The Wind is tentacle rape, since you seem to think that's the only thing this bill covers.

Also, state clearly that you've never watched a film or read a book where someone gets murdered with heavy description or a close-up shot and swelling music, because otherwise you're obviously a dirty murderer who gets off on it regardless of how seriously it is handled or the underlying messages and themes that might underpin the act. Murder is murder is murder, after all, even if it's fictional.

and why I'm still following that, I have no idea.

Because it's great. JOB DONE.
posted by stelas at 6:25 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suspect eeeeeez is hung up on the whole tentacle rape thing for comedic purposes. Call it a hunch.

stelas: "Because it's great. JOB DONE"

It's no Sore Machi, but yes, it is quite good.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:31 AM on December 14, 2010


The Rapeman.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 7:20 AM on December 14, 2010


The Cherry-Picker.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:21 AM on December 14, 2010


Like the Comics Code, this bill would effectively hamper any usage of moral ambiguity in under-18 titles. So much for works like Death Note, or Great Teacher Onizuka.
posted by PsychoKick at 10:04 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Rapeman.

I always had my suspicions about Jimmy Wales...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:43 PM on December 14, 2010


It is a harsh freedom indeed that refuses a distinction between art and tentacle rape.

Well, it is complex.
posted by at by at 5:55 PM on December 14, 2010


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