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Brain Diving - Youth Brigade: Clearing up the Tokyo Youth Ordinance Bill


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ABCBTom



Joined: 10 Sep 2009
Posts: 183
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:19 am Reply with quote
Great summary of the issue and of what's at stake.

Surely, no one could have expected that one of Japan's most famous homophobes and misogynists would put forth a law to hurt women, girls and yaoi while leaving the hentai industry largely intact.

Hourou Musukou is going to get in right before the law would take effect, but I'd be curious to see Ishihara's reaction to it, seeing as it deals with "unnatural" positive depictions of transgender issues.
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Past



Joined: 14 Feb 2006
Posts: 3240
Location: China (Searching for Jusenkyo)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:08 am Reply with quote
Thanks for doing a great social justice with your column this week, Brian.

Hourou Musuko is a rather serious drama. It wont have any ecchi or fanservice and just may put enough realism on the types of things transmen and women face that it flies under the radar. However as with the perception of many (mainly homophobic types), children are incapable of deciding such sexual concerns so early on.

I'm expecting with the creator being held in such high regard by manga and literature critics alike, that it will be spared. Since re-issuings of it may need to extend beyond the July "going live" date in order for it to achieve success.

Hopefully Hourou Musuko will have the "Wuthering Heights" effect, where any socially disruptive or offensive content (to the very prudish) will be overlooked due to artistic and cultural value. I've been so looking forward to this show and it would be such a shame for a bigoted governor to ruin it for all the fans of shows like this, and right when it's needed most. Hopefully whoever licenses it for N.A. release will not be influenced in any way by the bill.

Brian Ruh said the bill does not apply to film and television. But it still does apply to anime DVD/BDs correct? How about anime broadcasts on television? I'm under the impression that if it's anime and derived from a manga, the bill applies (directly or indirectly).
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Ojamajo LimePie



Joined: 09 Nov 2007
Posts: 707
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:52 am Reply with quote
If Kaze to Ki no Uta, one of the founding works of the BL genre, isn't spared for cultural and artistic reasons, I sincerely doubt Hourou Musuko will be.
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neocloud9



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:54 am Reply with quote
Seeing that Kaze to Ki no Uta will be lumped into the same category as a bunch of salacious pornography...kills me a little inside. Sad
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clipeuh



Joined: 05 Nov 2010
Posts: 117
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:56 am Reply with quote
ABCBTom wrote:
Surely, no one could have expected that one of Japan's most famous homophobes and misogynists would put forth a law to hurt women, girls and yaoi while leaving the hentai industry largely intact.


It also hurts men, y'know. Rolling Eyes

It's going to restrict mainstream yaoi just as much as mainstream fan-service. It's not a misogynistic law, just a dumb one.
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Jarm



Joined: 04 Dec 2007
Posts: 87
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:58 am Reply with quote
Ishihara and co. seem to be plainly anti-otaku and think that if they can decide what can be published, they can prevent youth from developing into such and such. The DPJ on the other hand didn't say much about their stance despite supporting and voting for it. But being the more progressive party they are, they likely supported it in order garner applause from the international community, given how the international media began portraying Japan as a land of smut since Rapelay. So I don't see it as a liberal or conservative issue, it's the issue of the government trying to mold creative media into what they see fit.

Thus is it safe to conclude pro-government propaganda in children's manga will always get a pass?
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GWOtaku



Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 655
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:08 am Reply with quote
This is a well done piece that does not exaggerate either side of the issue. I have worries about the consequences of Bill 156. Having said that, this paragraph sums up what gives me pause about it at all:

Quote:

Even if we give the government the benefit of the doubt (which can be dangerous, even at the best of times) and assume that the law is going to go after the worst offenders when it comes to sex in manga and anime, it's unclear how many titles that aren't currently adult would fall under this new law. I could certainly see examples like Yosuga no Sora and Kissxsis falling into this category, but since there just aren't that many of these kinds of anime and manga, it makes me wonder if the government in Tokyo has its sights set on more sweeping regulations in the near future. At the very least, for the time being there is going to be a chilling effect on anime and manga creators. They will constantly have to stop and assess their works against the law, or what the lawyers in the company interpret the law to be. Publishers will be forced to become more conservative with their stories, potentially sidestepping any criticism or commentary on major social issues.


The more (and the better) I see this explained the more the uncertainty of the matter becomes apparent, and so the more skeptical I become about the idea that we're in for so-called "lobotomized entertainment" that's only for the tikes. How do we know, really? Well, we don't, which is where the word "may" and talk of potential consequences comes in I suppose. As noted, even Ishihara is reduced to practically using a straw man as an example for what Youth Ordinance could address. Child rape? Utena territory that just isn't (edit note: unless strongly implying it turns out to be taboo, as Ojamajo LimePie astutely pointed out).

It seems palpable to me that the greatest threat here is publishers growing timid in reaction to the ordinance as opposed to it reaching incredibly far and stretching the meaning of the word "excessive" to the breaking point. Which may indeed be the intent given that aforementioned expectation of self-regulation.

So I'd like to play devil's advocate and raise some things that have been on my mind. If publishers "will constantly have to stop and assess their works against the law", why would this be a dramatic change from the time of the original law that Bill 156 amended? Here are the details via Kanemitsu's blog (emphasis mine):

Quote:
2) Tokyo’s definition of how it deems publicly available material as harmful to minors will be changed.

- Previously, “Any material that may be detrimental toward the healthy development of youth because of their capacity to be sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior.” was the criteria.

- Now the criteria will be expanded to include: “Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal*, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity.”

- Any material that is excessively breaches this standard can be deemed to be “harmful material” by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government unilaterally and thereby restrict their circulation from all minors (0-17 of age).


Note the language used in both versions. Is the oft-targeted phrase "...unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate..." so much more vague than "...material that may be detrimental to the healthy development of youth..."? In short, was not the language of the old law just as ripe for misuse despite the narrower criteria? After all, "sexually stimulating" material technically qualified, with only rational but subjective judgment acting as a guide. If the potential for misuse wasn't there, why not? If the potential was there, why was the industry undeterred and not assessing its works against the law at the time? Now today, yes, there is Ishihara and his infamous rhetoric arousing criticism and concern. Yet I ask myself if that is enough and I continue to wonder how much practical power he has to crack down on the industry himself; he's been Governor since 1999.

So far, of course, manga publishers have been obstinate, as well they should be; it'd be a sorry sight for a major company in the industry to actually act ashamed about what it does. At the same time, to me that's tough to square against the worry that we could have an era of toothless creativity.

Finally, on the subject of "daring" works. I've got to be honest, I look at the wording: "Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal*, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity.” And I have to ask myself whether I really think that the better anime of the past ten years would really fit into this. And frankly......my answering yes would be lying.

Having said that, I do have concerns about yaoi and yuri or perhaps even lighter shonen-ai and shoujo-ai coming under scrutiny more than anything else. I have no interest in this material, but I don't want to see them treated unfairly. Ishihara would clearly treat them that way if he could. Based on the buzz I've seen for it so far, I also really wonder whether Tezuka's Ayako could be made today if the law were strictly enforced. That should be of much greater concern to all, I think, than whether the next Qwaser of Stigmata gets to be published in a shonen magazine.


Last edited by GWOtaku on Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:53 am; edited 2 times in total
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teh*darkness



Joined: 16 Feb 2007
Posts: 901
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:17 am Reply with quote
Great write-up, Brian.

My only question about this is for the one comment I've seen in almost all other posts about this bill, which you didn't touch on.
"The government can also directly regulate these images if the depicted acts are also "considered to be excessively disrupting of social order" such as rape."
When it says regulate, does it just mean that the government can label something as "restricted" content even if the publisher didn't? Or does this mean they can "regulate" its retail availability, i.e. ban it from being sold?
Other than that, thanks for really laying out exactly what this bill does. I feel a bit better now that I know, but the situation doesn't really look any better with that knowledge at hand.
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Ojamajo LimePie



Joined: 09 Nov 2007
Posts: 707
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:17 am Reply with quote
GWOtaku wrote:
Child rape? Utena territory that just isn't.


A young (10-ish) Touga was raped by his step-father in the movie. It was only short flashback, and it cut away before the act, but you still saw a child held down by a man and have his clothes torn open.

Then there's Akio's seduction of Utena in the TV series. The games he plays with her mind leaves me feeling that their relationship is less than fully consensual. Not to mention the whole adult/child and faculty/student power dynamics.

I haven't even started to touch on the series' use of incest, homosexuality, and nontraditional gender roles. And I'm not going to, because that would take me all night. The gist of what I'm saying is,

This is Utena territory.
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configspace



Joined: 16 Aug 2008
Posts: 3710
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:47 am Reply with quote
Great write up, but I have to say that I disagree with the assessment of what genres might be more affected, It isn't just josei, shoujo, BL. Of course, the specific incest provision makes such titles automatically come under scrutiny. However, the bill specifically mentions not just sexual relationships, which Dan Kanemitsu had clarified to mean actual intercourse, but "pseudo-sexual acts" which means all other forms of sexual contact. I would think much of the more raunchy fanfare seen in non-adult series targeted toward males would be just as affected (although raunchy "pseudo-sexual" acts in non-adult BL can be as well)

Even more problematic could be illustrations (e.g. art books), that are physically sold, where there is less context for the OYAPS committee to judge whether they think it is "glorified or exaggerated" as stated in the bill -- which I take to mean that they will only grant exceptions to scrutinized depictions if artists incorporate a moral message that they agree with i.e. "see this? this is bad for you kids". Of course, I don't think such a judgment should be made in the first place, but that's just one of the logical problems.

There are a couple other things to keep in mind though:
- it starts July 2011

- Ishihara's term ends April 2011, though I don't think this will actually make a difference unless opponents can put out information countering all of the misinformation that has been spread by advocates so far and raising awareness of why it's bad. So far all the industry people and a great many fans have sent in letters, emails, formal official protests, contacted assembly members directly but to no avail.

- they are calling for self-enforcement. They don't look at every thing sold. But they regularly get a fairly large sample of stuff every year. It's very possible for some things to "slip under the cracks"

- as mentioned, it ironically does not cover live action (which does not bear the same restrictions) nor written materials, but more significantly it does not cover materials distributed online. It could be that they are aiming to also restrict online content but haven't been able to work out the logistics.

- only applies to Tokyo. It would be an odd situation to have the same title forced to being sold as adults-only (none of which are deserving of that restriction) in Tokyo and sold as unrestricted in a neighboring prefectures/metropolitan areas
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GWOtaku



Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 655
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:44 am Reply with quote
Ojamajo LimePie wrote:


A young (10-ish) Touga was raped by his step-father in the movie. It was only short flashback, and it cut away before the act, but you still saw a child held down by a man and have his clothes torn open.

Then there's Akio's seduction of Utena in the TV series. The games he plays with her mind leaves me feeling that their relationship is less than fully consensual. Not to mention the whole adult/child and faculty/student power dynamics.

I haven't even started to touch on the series' use of incest, homosexuality, and nontraditional gender roles. And I'm not going to, because that would take me all night. The gist of what I'm saying is,

This is Utena territory.


Well, at the time I had a considerably less discreet handling of the subject in mind...but with everything you're pointing out I'll concede that it's at least not impossible.
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marcos torres toledo



Joined: 01 Sep 2009
Posts: 269
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:11 pm Reply with quote
This would affect tv shows like Shin Shin were you have scenes of a naked 5or6 year boy in a anime manga comedy and would affect ideas as well which I think is the real target of bill 156 this seems to be a world trend to control the minds of not only children but older youths and adults as well like what happan in the USA with comic books,books, movies,radio and television there is dipiction of naked childern in books like Jungle Books. Water Babies.Litte Boy Lost,Walkabout and others I know of the books I mention but are illistrated with pictures both full page and small pictures interspace with text and have nothing to do with sex but when transfared to other media are sanitized and the nudity removed. I hoped this bill isrepelled as soon as possible. Mad
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phantomangel



Joined: 27 Mar 2009
Posts: 2
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:23 pm Reply with quote
It is true that this bill could possibly hurt the anime and manga industry, but there is always ways to get around such laws like these. What is stopping an industry from simply putting an 18+ sticker on a product and continue to market the product?

Also what question that is on my mind is the most is does 1 scene in an anime/manga cause the whole serie to be subjected to this bill? IE the scene from cowboy bebop where faye walks into the shower where the transgender guy was, or even with Bokura ga ita, which had a compelling story, had a single scene where the main character was in a sexual situation?

Nevertheless if this bill restricts authors to think creatively always worrying about the content and having to cover/check themselves on whether the bill will affect them, it will undoubtedly cripple the potential creativity of creating an animie that surpasses all other to something as government/(child) friendly as pokemon
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notrogersmith



Joined: 06 Jun 2010
Posts: 181
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:37 pm Reply with quote
Ojamajo LimePie wrote:

A young (10-ish) Touga was raped by his step-father in the movie. It was only short flashback, and it cut away before the act, but you still saw a child held down by a man and have his clothes torn open.

Then there's Akio's seduction of Utena in the TV series. The games he plays with her mind leaves me feeling that their relationship is less than fully consensual. Not to mention the whole adult/child and faculty/student power dynamics.


One could argue, though, that the material in Utena, though, is not even remotely presented in an "unjustifiably glorified or exaggerated manner." On the other hand, the problem is not just whether particular material is actually covered by the law, but rather whether publishers will choose to avoid certain material in order to avoid even having to deal with the "unjustifiably glorified or exaggerated manner" standard. Sad
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acoleth



Joined: 03 Apr 2010
Posts: 11
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:32 pm Reply with quote
wait...so essentially just means that minors will have to ask their parents to purchase some of their manga for them? oh the horror.
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