While Japan has for a long time allowed and seemingly supported the consumption of sexually explicit or even just suggestive material, yesterday The New York Times reported that a newly revised ordinance by Tokyo’s metropolitan government, will restrict the sale of material including provocative depictions of underage girls, claiming that continuing to allow the prevalence of such media will only allow the furthered exploitation and fetishization of children and perhaps even encourage pedophilia.

 As purported by The New York Times, Tokyo’s governor Shintaro Ishihara has dramatically denounced such material, calling it fodder for “abnormal people, for perverts.” Meanwhile, others fear that the spearheading of this ordinance will only be detrimental to the creativity that the manga artform has long thrived upon.

 In protest of the ordinance, ten of Japan’s biggest publishing companies are calling for a boycott of the Tokyo International Anime Fair next month, one of the biggest events for $5.5 billion dollar manga and anime industry.

 Japan still stands opposed to the United States and the majority of European countries, in that it does not ban the sale of child pornography – in fact, “lolicon,” as the fetish for depictions of young girls in comics is called, is a lucrative part of the manga industry, even as some specialists agree that banning or restricting such material may have a hand in preventing clinical pedophilia, a psychiatric disorder characterized by a sexual obsession with young children.

 If we begin to censor this, some wonder, how long will it be until all creative freedom is prohibited?

As a fan of comics and cartoons, with titles from Japanese anime and manga among my favorites, I have noticed a certain tendency towards hyper sexualizing or even just flat out objectifying very young girls.

When I started working at BUST a month ago, a friend recommended that I tackle what she referred to as, “the most horrifying, misogynistic piece of anime trash that [she had] ever seen” for a review.

The anime was called Rizelmine, and yes, I did find it sexist, but also flagrantly inappropriate; the storyline involves an adorable twelve-year-old girl being married off to a jerkward of a fifteen-year-old in some kind of government experiment – she needs his love to help her “grow.”

The first several episodes of the anime are devoted to him flinging her around, calling her rude names, insulting her for her young appearance, and all kinds of mistreatment, all while she smiles, squeals elatedly, and fawns over him, calling him “darling.” All of these scenes are interspersed with copious images of her panties – she is even shown nude several times. While the overall “tone” is supposed to be lighthearted and “cute,” there is a heavy amount of innuendo, double entendre, and fan service that just made me feel bothered.

By the time I finished Rizelmine, I didn’t even want to write about it any more. I just wanted it to go away so I didn’t have to think about it anymore. 

But now I definitely have cause to think about it. 

It even makes me wonder. While Rizelmine, which is admittedly definitely on the lighter scale of the spectrum, disturbed me, I love anime and manga. Like all forms of comic and cartoon art, it allows anything you can imagine to become possible and realized on a page – all you need is ink and pencil. It really would be a shame for that to change, for this to begin a rapid movement towards more and more censorship;  “There are no victims in manga — we should be free to write what we want,” says Yasumasa Shimizu, vice president at Japan’s largest publishing company, Kodansha.

Image from: http://www.animeex.org/ Rizelmine episode three. 

Tagged in: Porn, manga, Japan, anime   

The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.




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