seleção 1 won, there will be no king of eden

It’s not the time to panic. There will be plenty of time for that later.

I’m eating a bagel this morning and enjoying how everyone is blowing up with respect to Tokyo’s Youth Ordinance Bill. It regulates anime, manga, and video games such that “sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior” cannot be sold to people under the age of 18. Everyone is overreacting. Do you live in Europe? Do you live in North America? You already can’t do that in those places. Tokyo is just regressing to the mean.

Sure, let’s say I want to open an adult video store in San Jose. I can, but I can’t let high school kids loiter all day in there. But let’s say I want to tap the high school market and open a doujinshi shop instead thereby circumventing the adult rule since it’s just cartoon depiction of sexual acts… I still can’t! I’d get shut down immediately. The only difference now is that while everyone else in the world, it’s the retailers that get criminalized for such behavior, it’s the content creators who get penalized in Tokyo. By making the content creators liable, yeah, it is censorship. It’s basically telling them, “Don’t make this crap anymore.”

A big part of the problem is lack of self-awareness of the industry itself. As both the American movie and comic industries learned, it is much, much better to censor yourself (hence the Comic Book Code, interesting history if you haven’t read it) than to let the government step in. I’ve been cracking jokes for a long time now about the same subject, “Hey, no one feels it is odd that these high schoolers are hanging out at a doujinshi and eroge shop in Akihabara?” And for two shows this season! Both TWGOK and My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute feature scenes like this. The industry even knows! But instead of doing something themselves, because, after all, they are too unself-aware to realize that the public might be against them, just chose to play the sympathetic victim (which buys them Twitter brownie points, which can be redeemed for… nada) instead of saying, “Hey, we realize there’s an issue, we’ll take care of it ourselves.”

(Whomever is advising the industry is doing a worse job than the NBA player’s union. They claim that the industry is making record profits… and the Hornets just got sold back to the NBA. Oh, cities likes Charlotte, Detroit, and Miami (!!!) are struggling with ticket sales too. A lot of games have less than 10,000 tickets sold this season, yet, the NBA player’s union says, “Hey, record profits!!!”)

The real issue is never about the content itself. After all, if the US government was really against kiddie pr0n, why let TSA agents fondle little kids? No, it’s about control and scapegoating. They’ll win the public over because the economy and job prospects are just so terrible, and people need an outlet to blame. The politicians will play that card so they can keep their jobs, even though their handling of the economic (real) issues are just as bad as Greg Oden and Brett Favre handling racy sexts. Still, there has to be some self-awareness by the content creators, and they had much better cards to play than the sympathy card.

I think the big change is that more and more creators will turn to the next. It’s happening already but just accelerate the pace. Furthermore, the law will be abused. Come on, with something that broadly-worded… no way it won’t be abused. It’s like giving politicians free cash– err– pork projects– they won’t be able to keep their hands off it the same way TSA can’t keep their hands off little kids.

(And, really, we should be more outraged at the US than at Tokyo. I waive at least four fundamental constitutional rights now when I get on an airplane. The major point of “terrorism” is the “terror” and we’re plenty “terrified” right now. Terrorists 1, US 0. So, sorry, Tokyo, as much as I enjoy Kirino’s antics, I have more basic rights to worry about.)

17 Responses to “seleção 1 won, there will be no king of eden”

  1. I’m not one of the people who are spreading the doom and gloom, and am just watching from the sidelines and waiting for the dust to settle, but there’s no question that some sort of change will come from this. Whether it’s just an exodus from the Tokyo metro area to places like Osaka or Kyoto (or in the Kanagawa region at least), or just producers not airing stuff like the most recent Yosuga no Sora episode (which is like 70% incest sex) anymore.

  2. On principle I hate censorship. Oh well out lawing something has never ever prevented it from happening. I’d be interested to see if there’s a nerd voting backlash in response to bills like this.

  3. They are just scapegoating. I wonder what would the fangirls, fangirl over with no yaoi. Tch.

  4. I didn’t even heard about that law until a few hours, Haven’t been lurking a lot these days. Anyway thanks for talking about it and making things clear.

  5. Needless to say that there’s no way that censorship can work on the internet. The WWW is a vast place and there’s always room for more content. The internet should be a free place for everyone regardless of their purposes. Yes, we have to ban what has to be banned but we can’t turn down what we don’t like just because we don’t like it.
    However, the government doesn’t work that simply… It’s all about control; control over everything.

  6. I was halfway rooting for the loli ban a while back. Not specifically for banning lolis, but to force the freaking anime and manga producers out of their rut. The absurd amount of content centered around, and based upon middle school and high school really puts a cramp on telling a good story. Classrooms are nice and all, but geeze, put some effort and creativity back in your works.
    I’ll hold onto that solitary hope while everyone one else panics.

  7. I’m actually wondering how this will effect the doujinshi conventions. Will it all go to online sells? Will they draw 12 year olds in middle school, but claim they’re 18 and in college like they do in the states? (Not a fan of the loli, so anything that make them draw more older characters is fine in my book.)

  8. That’s because we’ve never had any “rights” in the first place. Can you really call something a “right” when it can be taken away on whim by overreacting retards and the politicians that pander to them? Personally, I don’t think the bill will pass. Not for moral reasons but for economic reasons because after all it’s said and done, it’s about the money.

  9. Good point Jason on giving up constitutional rights when trying to fly. We spend so much money on this “security theater” in preventing the previous attack that do so little in the grand scheme, all so politicians can look tough on terrorism when they don’t even realize that they are making things worse. We kill more Americans while driving than the terrorists do plotting what to do at an airport. When will Americans actually learn risk analysis vs. sensationalism.

    But anyways, the Japanese anime industy is feeling alot like the US video game industry. All anime has boiled down to giant robots and harems in a school environment. Video games have boiled down to FPSes (blame COD?) and gory action shooters. The VGA awards pretty much had only these kind of games. For a game to succeed, make hundred of millions of dollars, it must have guns or gore. I keep reading in a lot American gaming blogs that the Japanese video game industry is dying and needs to replicate the US, but does that only mean making a COD or Gears/God of War? I really enjoyed SMG2 for it’s super refined straight-up platforming. And I don’t see many American companies doing a brain-hurting puzzler like Professor Layton (Scribblenauts was good). I truly believe that this dumbing down of tastes driving the American gaming palette will ultimately hurt the industry, but there is little that can be done when companies have to chase the money.

    In the end the anime industry is also only chasing the money. Look at KyoAni–they did the very excellent last two FMPs but are now only doing moeblob stuff because that is where the money is. Will they have the creativity to change course to do something different that will abide by the new law? Some series I think of fondly are Crest/Banner of the Stars (how many series have such great dialogue between characters), Ghost in the Shell (great vision of the near future) and Gurren Lagaan (totally original story). What I see now is a ton of fanservice-harem-with-loser-male shows (FPSes in game parlance). Another striking similarity is how the two industries are dealing with their criticisms and anti-industry laws. The US gaming industry also reacted to the California no-selling-gory-games-to-minor law by crying out censorship. They have a self-rating system as their defense, will the anime industry follow?

    And if the anime industry does implode can it be revitalized like what Nintendo did back in the eighties for the gaming industry? What company can be the Nintendo for the anime industry?

  10. I had to read this post several times to make sure it says what it says. As far as I’m concerned, it IS time to panic. When I come home tired and pissed from work, this issue is a poke in the eye I don’t need. People take their entertainment seriously because they’re stressed in other aspects of their lives- it’s not that we’re fixated on the trivial, we’re just in poor position to fight back on the big things, and we’re being pressured on both simultaneously. (FYI, I need to travel a thousand miles in crappy weather- options other than flying are bad for me)

    As you correctly pointed out, this is about control and scapegoating. But you’ve got one thing backwards- it’s not the anime/manga industry’s fault that they’re being targeted; they’re a target because they’re weaker than other media industries, and if it wasn’t anime and manga, it would be something else. Voluntary codes and ratings certainly don’t prevent legal attacks- see comics, music, videogames (re: the California case which you’re well aware of), etc.

    Whether or not this particular bill succeeds, there will be another bill and another target, and another, and another. That’s how asshole legislators justify their pay. They can’t and won’t tackle the serious stuff, so instead they go after weaker prey. It’s not like politicians have a monopoly on this behavior- every organization has people who make it their business to meddle in other people’s business, because they don’t do anything well and they need to justify their pay.

    And that’s why I often come home pissed- it boggles me that people can be paid professionals at screwing up other people’s work. The people who wrote this bill are another reminder of that.

  11. @Myssa Rei: Simply moving out of Tokyo won’t work if (1) the main portion of your audience lives in Tokyo and (2) other cities begin adopting similar laws. What the law deals with is production (in the commercial sense) and distribution. That’s it. For now.

    @kaze: Rather than simply outlawing something, it’s more effective to put an end to it by making it uncool, shameful, or otherwise delegitimizing it. Preventing distribution by large, famous companies would be a good first step. Also, Japanese voter turnout sucks, just like in the United States.

    @Kyokai: I suppose they could pull an Ohno and become interested in bald, muscular middle-aged men.

    @Rockmanshii: Probably because they didn’t bother introducing the language of the bill until the last possible moment. Hard to be raise a protest when you don’t know what the legislation concerns (though I suppose that wouldn’t stop some folks).

    @Eri: Saying that censorship isn’t a problem because we can use the internet to get around it would be like early 20th century Americans saying Prohibition ( isn’t a problem because we have speakeasies to get around it. Yes, technically the materials would still be available, but that doesn’t get around the problem that something has been banned/limited in the first place.

    @coyote: That is by no means a unique train of thought. However, there’s a few problems with this. First off, if you’re talking about moe fatigue, well, there’s absolutely nothing in here that would kill moe. Take K-On for example. If you apply a +5 Vorpal Blade of Wider Legal Interpretation to the bill and run K-ON through the filter – removing panty joke and bikini scenes, lengthening the skirt on the maid uniform and the like – what do you end up with? Something fairly close to the original show. I’d be afraid that the result would be moe shows that were [i]even blander[/i] than they already are.

    @Onion: Some would say that Comiket has nothing to worry about, since this legislation supposedly targets large companies, taking aim at production (in the commercial and not content sense) and distribution. The logic then goes that circles selling their own work haven’t much to fear, and certainly ones selling non-ero (It’s true! They do exist!) works wouldn’t. Also, most groups selling works that would fall into the zone covered by this legislation already mark their wares R-18/18+. If you view the bill strictly standalone, then I suppose, yes, the doujin community hasn’t much to fear. However, if you treat this as possibly the first step in a greater plan… well, if you’ve always wanted to sell something at Comiket, I’d get cracking.

    @Beowulf Lee: Strictly speaking, your rights cannot be simply taken away, or kidnapped, or burgled. You are thinking of privileges. Rights are innate. They are as loyal to you as a faithful golden retriever (or perhaps I should say Hachiko). They are yours as long as you want them. They’ll never give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and… err, sorry, where was I? Oh, yes. Rights are by their very nature. Rights can’t be taken away… but they can be given up. For more on this subject, on which I am entirely ill-equipped to discuss, see Hegel.

    @Jounin: While I certainly agree with the gist of your statement, I think it’s unfair to limit it strictly to Americans. July 7th, after all, was only 5 months ago. Nor do I intend to suggest you limit it to Anglos. Humans in general are not good at risk analysis; evolution in the form of an external pressure hasn’t really selected for it. As for your complaints concerning the state of anime or the video game industry, one could easily write a dissertation on the matter. “How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, [and they may or may not] be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into the [collective mirror of the audience].” I mean, come on, look at Jaons’s list, taken from his tweets: “#oreimo, #twgok, #amagami, #katanagatari”. It’s what sells. The Spike VGA awards are pretty much a popularity contest, so who would you expect to win? However, I would urge you to look again at the VGA GOTY. Yes, Red Dead Redemption has shooting, and it is a mainstream title, but it’s hardly the gory gunfest with which you would indict the industry. I’d also suggest that you take a closer look at the “Under $10” category on Steam, and if you have an Xbox to revisit the XBLA/XLIG. That is, after all, where you’ll find games such as Limbo, Braid, and the World of Goo. And what about Minecraft, which has only just broken into beta a few days ago? Indie developers will survive… if the the public pays attention. Everyone blames the companies for rehashing the same old tripe, but that’s because what sells DVDs, Blu-Rays, tankoubons, character goods, figures, etc. Yes, every so often there are breakout shows like Ghost in the Shell (heavily influenced by cyberpunk) and Gurren Lagann (I would not say entirely original, seeing how much of it was an homage to and send-up of old super robot shows), but honestly, how many of these can you make before they become… unoriginal?

    @Jason: The problem with Bill 156 – well, no, my problems with Bill 156 are with how vague it is, with its promotion of some kind of “fictional standard child”-type ideal that can harm and be harmed, and how it doesn’t do shit for protecting real children. As a point of fact, the part of the law that restricts “sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior” is already on the books. Bill 156 is an expansion on these laws, and the thing about laws is that once laws and bureaucracy start to expand, it’s not very easy to stop them. What’s next, restricting shoujo/shounen-ai manga? I bet that Bill 156 supporter Tokyo Governor Ishihara would love to tack that one on, since he’s stated on a number of occasions that homosexuality is an abnormality and homosexuals are genetically defective. The Big Ten aren’t playing the sympathy card. They’re playing the “What the fuck is this?” card. I do think it’s funny that you should mention the CCA and MPAA ratings, considering their irrelevancy these days.

  12. I swear officer, I had no idea that drawing was underage!

  13. All right, next time I spew text on a page, I’ll figure out how to to format it better.

  14. One of the first things I thought about when I heard this legislation was being worked on was “Wow, where was this when Anime was breaking out into the rest of the world market?”

    It’s hard as hell to market most of these new IP to the masses. Sure there is a core market that will eat up the new shows and movies but what about pushing content to people who don’t describe themselves as “otaku?”

    I’m not saying this is why the law is a good idea because any benefit has long since passed. But if the industry would have self regulated earlier it may have helped itself in more ways then just getting the government off it’s ass.

  15. @ bluemonq: I played RDR. I hate bears, cougars, Mexicans, and government agents. It was essentially GTA with horses. I probably should have expanded the categories more to FPSes, action shooters, gory hackers, and GTA (was trying to keep my comment as short as possible). It’s not so much the number but the rush to chase success that is killing the industry. GTA3 made many millions and many clones quickly followed, taking development time away from more original works. Another aspect is the amount of money a certain game/category sucks out of the market (MW2/BO). I love Muramasa for the Wii but it didn’t make enough to warrant a sequel at all if not anytime soon. Publishers have to make money (and more than they made the quarter before) and are taking fewer and fewer risks with new IPs or ones that are not in hot genres. Maybe there is no such thing as original work, but proper spacing can make them feel fresh and new.

    I look at the anime lineup every season and see the same fanservice harem anime as the one before. A GiTS every so often would be great to add a little variety. And while GL borrows from places, it didn’t borrow from the harem genre and its execution of its story and world was excellent. There is just no more creativity in the industry, barring the wacky Gainex series every so often. Right now all we can hope for from animation houses is decent execution of their fanservice. What will happen when that gets taken away from them?

  16. @Jounin If that’s the case then I would reiterate my statement about indie gaming. There are plenty of XBLA and Steam titles that would merit your attention if you haven’t already delved into them. As for animation, well, I will be more explicit this time: if you (plural) continue to buy box sets, drama CDs, figures, mugs with the faces of Generic Harem Anime 57384, etc and not the DVDs for the innovative titles, what do you think is going to happen? Do you really think a studio – especially in this economic climate – is going to say, “Gee, the artistic ecology seems to be stagnating; let’s go for something original even though we’re not going to make nearly as much money as we would by pushing out the same old tripe”?

  17. @bluemonq Indie games like CAPITALISM HO! right? XD

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