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Tokyo Anime & Manga Ban Passes


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Tokyo Anime & Manga Ban Passes

Tokyo’s ban on anime, manga and games featuring “virtual crimes” or which are “likely to interfere with the healthy development of youth” has passed after the DPJ agreed to support it.


The DPJ’s only addition to the critical portion of the law was a short rider which requests “prudent application of the law in light of any artistic, social, scientific or satirical merits the work might express” – it does not however add any legal obligation to consider these, or establish any clear or indepdently enforced criteria for judging whether a work can be declared “harmful” or not.


Even more bizarrely, the final draft actually removed a passage that imposed “a duty not to possess [photographic] child pornography” on Tokyo residents, whilst leaving the section banning erotic manga and anime (and explicitly excluding photographic materials) all but unchanged – that the bill is intended exclusively as an “anti-otaku” law seems to be beyond doubt.


It is very difficult to objectively assess the scope of the law – along with vague and subjective terms like “interfere with the healthy development of youth,” the law also includes “etc.” on the end of most of its examples, leaving it quite unclear, for example, whether the “improper glorification of illegal sexual activity, etc.” applies to only virtual sex crimes, or all crimes in general – presumably the interpretation adopted will be whichever is convenient to censors.


Similarly, the ban’s mention of “rape and other sexual acts which violate societal norms” seems inevitably to point to a ban on depictions of homosexuality, considering who was behind the law.


The generally expected form the law will take is that of a “amakudari” (a pervasive system of sinecures for retired bureaucrats) body which will inspect all anime, manga and games, with only those titles receiving approval as “healthy” able to be sold regularly in Tokyo shops – the rest will be relegated to the “adult corner.”


The most immediate and direct effect of the law will almost certainly be to see ecchi manga such as To Love-Ru, bishoujo titles such as Champion Red and most BL manga, as well as any seinen manga with especially mature themes, banned from general sales – presumably most will then be cancelled due to a lack of suitable magazine or tankobon distribution channels, with a few perhaps being resurrected as 18+ ero-manga.


As has already been seen, publishers will also likely be purging future anime, manga and games of any content liable to fall foul of the law, and removing older titles from distribution.


The law probably also spells the end of most late night anime in Tokyo (and by extension, everywhere else), which it would appear to ban under its distribution clause; given the vague wording of the current season alone it seems Ore no Imouto, Panty & Stocking, Yosuga, Sora no Otoshimono, Milky Holmes and others would all fall foul of its various stipulations.


There is also some doubt as to whether Comiket will be able to be held under the new regulations – if not, its cancellation or removal to another prefecture seems likely, although a lack of sufficiently large spaces may severely complicate this.


The law is expected to be signed into law on the 15th after an additional vote and then come into effect in July of 2011, so with magazine, tankobon, anime and game release schedules being what they are, it seems likely its effects will be felt much sooner; in a genuinely democratic state there might be scope to overturn it before then, but from what has been seen so far it seems unlikely publishers have the guts or savvy to do anything about it.

A warning: the following link has ads that may not be safe for work. Sorry about that.



Crazy. Also, at Kotaku:

Legislation was voted on today in Tokyo that some contend not only robs creators of their freedom of speech, but is unfair.


Earlier this year, legislation to control the depiction of "virtual youth" was shot down. Famed manga artists vocally protested the bill, drawing attention to its vague definition of "virtual youth" and causing it to die on the vine.


But today in Tokyo, the second version of the bill went up for a vote and passed by the assembly with a final vote on Wednesday. As blogger Dan Kanemitsu points out, the ordinance is not national legislation, and is not a ban per se, but penalizes companies that produce material that is harmful to those under 18 years-old. Unlike in the U.S., companies that produce the material — and not retailers — come under fire.


The bill also does not target material that is 18-years-old and up as that material is already inaccessible to minors.


What's also worth nothing is that the Tokyo government already has the power to dictate what, as Kanemitsu writes, is "too sexually stimulating for minors OR too sadistic for minors OR too likely to cause criminal acts among minors OR cause suicide among minors as 'harmful material', and force such material to be treated as adult only material."


Regarding the new bill, the Tokyo government explains (via The Mainichi Daily News), "only manga and animation that glorifies or exaggerates illegal sexual acts will be subject to the regulations, and freedom of expression will not be violated." This new bill attempts to define what is obscene — vaguely. Kanemitsu believes this is one way Tokyo is attempting to control what people read and view.


More importantly, the bill is directed at video games, anime and manga, but does not encompass novels, films, TV and photographs. Mediums that use real-life images are exempt.


That's exactly why the manga, anime and game industry are up in arms. They claim that the new bill is unclear and, thus, will actually increase the government's control and regulations, since the "virtual youth" wording is not in the new bill. What's more, under the current penal code, it's possible to prohibit obscene materials, leading some to worry that this is a power grab by the Tokyo government and Governor Shintaro Ishihara.


Large manga publishers and anime companies are already boycotting the Tokyo Anime Fair, because Ishihara is a chairperson for the event. But now that the bill has passed, many in Japan are wondering how this will impact events like Comiket and how the bill's vague language will be interpreted legally.


If there is going to be truly free speech, one must take the good with the bad, the savory with the not so savory. And any legislation that is directed at video games, manga or anime, should likewise be aimed at novels, TV, film and photography. That would make sense. This, however, does not.


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I was more referring to the general state of anime, but hey, looks like I did a public service.




Seriously though, I watched ten episodes of Toaru Majutsu no Index II because I'd fallen behind on it, and the majority of the time the main character's bumping into naked women who have their vital bits covered and he's bitching about how he's so unfortunate to run into these naked women all the damn time. It takes away from the core of the show, namely the war between science and magic and its ramifications.


On the same note, this goes to my complaint about the anime adaptation of Highschool of the Dead, with its fridge-nuking scene where Saeko's boobs dodge a flying bullet. Granted, HotD would probably be exempt from this due to its 18+ standing, but I'm saying that sex is being used as filler to the detriment of storytelling time and time again.


Now, I don't want to squash people's rights to free expression in the slightest, but it seems that a lot of modern anime is meant to excite sexually in addition to whatever else it's set out to do. I expect this'll be challenged and defeated someday, but we may find a few months where what's being created isn't falling back on tits and underwear to sell.

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i mean, i said it in the loli thread over in culture: the small, weird crowd being pandered to doesn't look healthy, but im never for a state deciding what's ok and what's not when no real harm's being done.

this could put a lotta artists/such outta work.

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i mean, i said it in the loli thread over in culture: the small, weird crowd being pandered to doesn't look healthy, but im never for a state deciding what's ok and what's not when no real harm's being done.

this could put a lotta artists/such outta work.

Yeah, and with the way Japan's economy is right now, not a good idea.

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