Change is afoot: Tokyo Govt. Approves New Restrictions to Manga and Anime for Children’s Sake, Part 2

Magazines like Morning and Playboy could be purchased by 16 year old kids like me. Now they can only buy Playboy Magazine. What a shame.

Magazines like Morning and Playboy could be purchased by 16 year old kids like me. Now they can only buy Playboy Magazine. What a shame.

So in my previous post, I talked about what kind of law was put into place by Tokyo’s metropolitan government. The effects of the law, while not quite as draconian as what sensationalism has dreamed up, do pose a major obstacle to what constitutes today’s anime and manga industry.

My specialty lies in manga, but the biggest effect this law can potentially affect is anime.

The law stipulates that anime, manga, and drawn pictures (that lack artistic merit) must not glorify illegal sexual acts. If they do, the material becomes adult-only material. Following that argument, any underage character depicted in anime with even the slightest hint at eroticism could be ruled as adult material, and thus barred from television channels.

Sure we don’t expect to see incest, lolicon, and rape as a driving force in every anime we see on TV, but the overwhelming number of underage characters in anime leads to many damnable situations.

Ken Akamatsu’s Negima!, the coming of age story of a 10-year-old genius-wizard, and his class of rambunctious middle-school girls he must lead as their homeroom teacher, is a prime example.

Standard to Akamatsu, Negima! is rife with fan-service. Girls are constantly undressed by sheer magical power or are placed into situations reminiscent of some terrible tentacle hentai. Their alluring bodies, we sometimes forget, are that of young virginal teenagers. If there ever was a series that would suffer the brunt of the bill, it would be this show.

However, in all its irony, while anime and manga versions of Negima! will be brought under scrutiny of the law, the live action drama will be free of any sanction as real actor as being undressed and sexualized.

These double standards are what really prove to be a problem for me. Should all sexual depictions of minors be heavily restricted, I would argue based on freedom of expression, but that is not the case here.

The law not only leaves the subjective judgment of what insinuates an “unjustifiably glorified or exaggerated manner” in the hand of Japan’s oh-so-trustable politicians, but does so with a particular bias against the massive manga and anime industry in Japan.

Tokyo’s antagonistic position in the name of social mores goes against Japan’s own investment in soft-power through manga and anime. I’m not saying the interest of manga and anime industry supporters are the main constituents, but that the new law is only representative of an opinion that is a minority.

The law is mostly backed by Gov. Ishihara and the rightwing forces.  The most vocal members debating this new law are the Japanese publishing industry and the PTA groups that stand opposite of them. The general populace of Tokyo could care less, mostly because the law targets only a niche culture. However, it’s important to fight against the law, especially because it concerns censorship. “Divide and conquer” is a typical strategy in chipping away at freedom of speech. And while Gov. Ishihara may have succeeded in parading his morals on the manga industry, this does not guarantee he is finished.

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