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INTEREST: Tadashi Sudo: Does Japanese Animation Suffer From the Galápagos Syndrome?


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Ryujin99



Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Posts: 108
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 8:52 pm Reply with quote
El Hermano wrote:
Ryujin99 wrote:
snip to keep things tidy


That sounds like a slippery slope waiting to happen. If you avoid religion in works, then it's no doubt going to lead to people asking for the medium to avoiding other things like sex, violence, or anything that could be remotely objectionable. Besides, self regulating and censoring isn't a guantee you'll attract new people to your stuff, but it will absolutely alienate your existing fanbase. American comic books have already tried doing all this, and Viz alone still sold more books than Marvel and DC combined did last year. This would be a huge mistake. Thankfully. this all just seems to be the hypothetical musing of a journalist and not an actual edict.


Note that I didn't say that religion should be avoided, the examples I mention either implicitly or explicitly paint entire religious groups with the bad guy brush. This type of broad strokes generalization will tend to offend some people and thus make it unpalatable to some market segments. Sometimes this type of potential controversy can actually work to the advantage of a production, but it's still a risk that may be worth considering depending on what your market goals are.

To quote part of the article:
Quote:
Sudo argued that what needs to change about Japanese animation is not the visual style. Nor does the content need to change specifically to appeal to a global audience. The biggest thing that needs to change is that Japan itself needs more diversity, and it needs to become more exposed to foreign cultures. As an example of a situation where there was a lack of knowledge regarding foreign perspectives, Sudo brought up a controversy around the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure OAV in 2008 where Shueisha apologized for a scene in which the villain Dio is shown reading the Qu'ran.


To summarize the Jojo OAV controversy from the linked article... Dio was meant to be reading an unspecified book from the Middle East. In the manga, the text is unintelligible scribbles. In the OAV, the animators grabbed some Arabic text without knowing what it said or where it came from; it just so happened to be pages from the Quran. This wasn't an issue of artistic integrity or censorship, it was a matter of the animators not knowing what they were doing and doing it poorly as a result.

So the Jojo OAV controversy was a matter of the production committee lacking the knowledge and/or resources to do reasonable quality control checks on the product they were selling. If they had someone who could actually read Arabic give it a once over, the issue likely would have been completely avoided. Of course, within Japan itself, it was largely a non-issue, as the overwhelming majority neither adhere to Islam nor speak Arabic. It only became an issue once they started marketing it elsewhere. IF the use of the Quran in that scene was intentional, I think that's perfectly fine, but the producers only stand to benefit from being aware of what they're actually producing.

And this comes to the point of my original post. In that post, I presume the goal of expanding the Japanese anime industry beyond its current size to help maintain a leading position in the global market. This is what I think Mr. Sudo was talking about in the interview. As things stand, the market is more saturated and generally more competitive than it was 10 years ago. It stands to reason, from a business perspective, that the rise of anime-style productions outside of Japan will eventually start chip away at its market share.

So comes the question: if you can't grow by just continuing to do well, then how can you keep growing? One common solution is to find and exploit untapped market segments. But in order to enter such markets, you need to have something you can actually sell to them. It seems to me that Mr. Sudo's main argument is that the Japanese industry lacks the necessary diversity of ideas and opinions to consistently produce works that can be marketed to as-yet untapped market segments. This lack will hamstring efforts to expand the industry into such markets.

If Japan wants to maintain a leading role in the anime-style industry, then it needs to maintain its market dominance by continuing to expand. In order to do that, they need to be able to produce shows they can market to new market segments. This doesn't mean that they should abandon their market strongholds. But it might help to make sure they don't have any more bungles like that scene from a Jojo OAV. And maybe, if they're successful enough, they could try something completely new.

Edit: I'm trying to approach the topic from a largely analytic/business perspective, rather than expressing a personal opinion one way or another about the ideas I've discussed.
Edit2: fixing out of place line break.


Last edited by Ryujin99 on Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:02 pm Reply with quote
Ryujin99 wrote:

If Japan wants to maintain a leading role in the anime-style industry, then it needs to maintain its market dominance by continuing to expand

You make some good points, if that is what the Japanese anime industry wants to do as a whole.

But as to the quoted remarks above, Japan is not in competition with anyone. At least not for the near future. Also, I don't think the Japanese anime industry thinks in terms of overseas market dominance.
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meiam



Joined: 23 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:57 pm Reply with quote
Ryujin99 wrote:
snip

The Jojo example is a pretty poor one, or rather just show how unworkable the idea is. Should studio have someone on paycheck for every language? That obviously doesn't work. Ultimately very few people even saw the slid with the text and even fewer bother to read it. Even if the industry was extremely diverse, odds are very good that nobody would have caught the problem anyway. Honestly the message it sens wasn't "we need more diversity" it was "men foreigner are fussy over the most ridiculous thing".

If the idea is to use diversity to push for more creativity then that's a extremely bad one. The creativity problem doesn't stem from the industry being creatively bankrupt, it stems from executive and production company being risk averse and sticking to well trodden formula. The only way for story outside anime comfort zone to exist is if they're pushed by people who have made a name for themselves and have enough push with the higher up/name selling power to be able to justify taking a risk. Foreign newby who have very little sway with the publisher and no name recognition are not going to be able to get anyone to sign off on a risky project just because they think it would do well with their culture.
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Ojamajo LimePie



Joined: 09 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:27 pm Reply with quote
What can the anime industry do to compete? It can pay workers better, invest in training schools and apprenticeships, concentrate on quality over quantity. Above all, the current production committee system needs to go.
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TheAnimeRevolutionizer



Joined: 03 Nov 2017
Posts: 310
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:16 pm Reply with quote
Top Gun wrote:
People seem to get weirdly defensive whenever this topic arises. I don't think the article is implying that anime needs to embrace western sensibilities and tropes at the expense of everything else. But it's absolutely right that there's a dearth of perspectives and voices represented in the people who actually create anime. It's no secret that Japan is a very homogeneous society, and the resulting insularity of viewpoints doesn't make for an environment that promotes creative diversity. Even putting broader cultural issues aside, there's absolutely a lack of different perspectives on the creative side of things as well. Old-guard types like Anno and Oshii have noted that a lot of newer directors seem to only take cues from anime itself, without expanding out to the broader language of cinema. There are precious few directors out there who take that more "filmic" approach: Kon was absolutely one, and Watanabe is as well. Instead you have a lot of people raised on otaku-targeted anime making otaku-targeted anime, and where does that allow you room to grow as a medium and find more universal audiences? The answer is that it really doesn't. I want the anime industry to grow and thrive, and given Japan's population outlook, that's simply not going to happen if it stays focused only on domestic sales.


Fans get defensive about this topic because they know what kind of damage censorship can do to a creative industry, let alone a creative community. That's how anime was able to take over like the kudzu out down south.

If there is anything I'd agree with, it's that a lot of creators in Japan does have to go outside of its safe zones. However, it goes beyond this. The economy is in a rut and will be in the foreseeable future. Outside of Japan where anime has reached, there's little to any vision, let alone dedication to actually wanting to strive beyond being "anime influenced." If you want self contained safe zones, I think every country right now has them. Japan just happened to be the place where they showed they could go outside of them. They just happen to have other factors gnawing at them right now. Other places in the world should take the feelings of endorphins and wonder from their brain from seeing anime and stick it into their heart if they want to do something about Galapagos Syndrome.

I'm long lived to witness and see that there are much bigger problems than just "Japan getting decadent". For every rise, there is eventually a fall. For every zenith, there is eventually a nadir. That's just the way the cycle, and in this case, cycle of things goes. For all of the talk about how anime "sadfully is going into otaku bait", too bad, they can afford to. When is anyone out here going to?
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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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Location: Virginia, United States
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:10 am Reply with quote
Skerlly Fc wrote:
The anime fandom needs to realise that some people can be put off

This actually made me chuckle. I believe all anime fans on ANN already understand that many people can be put off by anime. It’s a universal truth.
Skerlly Fc wrote:
The anime fandom has a big problem that makes them becoming their own worst enemy, when they do stuff that doesn´t help foster genuine, friendly discussions that can allow people to form their own opinions and share them without negative reactions.

Disagreement with what is being said, is not a negative reaction, nor does it inhibit friendly discussion or prevent people from forming their own opinions.
Skerlly Fc wrote:
most anime fans seem to be trapped on their big fandom bubble to the point that they don´t want to discover what good things other media has to offer in comparison to anime, thinking anime is the only good media in the world, while everything else is trash with no uniqueness, which is why you have some opinions like people in this thread, which say that anime has to be Japanese yes or yes to be good.

I like French graphic novels and German fantasy novels (wish more of them were translated to the same degree as Japanese manga). I read and collect Marvel comics, and read a lot of American indie comics. Anime and manga are not better than the cartoons and comics, they are just different. Some may say what you believe, but I think most of us don’t. The appeal for many of us is the uniqueness of Japanese anime, which we feel would be diluted if most anime started being made to strictly to appeal to a global audience. That is not to say we don’t want anime with a global feel sometimes, just that we don’t want Japanese anime to lose that uniqueness in a rush for global pandering.
Skerlly Fc wrote:
I read online opinions about how the best anime series are still trashy isekai and soulless shonen action anime adaptations like Bofuri, Otome Villainess and the like.

Many, including me, would disagree with you on your examples there. But that is alright. We don’t have to like everything out there, and everyone has different tastes and all that. That is what is great about anime today, there is plenty out there, and there usually is something for everyone.
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Ryujin99



Joined: 21 Jul 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:23 am Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
Ryujin99 wrote:
snip

The Jojo example is a pretty poor one, or rather just show how unworkable the idea is. Should studio have someone on paycheck for every language? That obviously doesn't work. Ultimately very few people even saw the slid with the text and even fewer bother to read it. Even if the industry was extremely diverse, odds are very good that nobody would have caught the problem anyway. Honestly the message it sens wasn't "we need more diversity" it was "men foreigner are fussy over the most ridiculous thing".

If the idea is to use diversity to push for more creativity then that's a extremely bad one. The creativity problem doesn't stem from the industry being creatively bankrupt, it stems from executive and production company being risk averse and sticking to well trodden formula. The only way for story outside anime comfort zone to exist is if they're pushed by people who have made a name for themselves and have enough push with the higher up/name selling power to be able to justify taking a risk. Foreign newby who have very little sway with the publisher and no name recognition are not going to be able to get anyone to sign off on a risky project just because they think it would do well with their culture.


I think the Jojo case is a perfect example of the types of issues I'm actually talking about. To focus only on the language aspect is to miss the forest for the trees. Ultimately, a case like this is a matter of quality control. If all you need is some foreign-looking scribbles for a <1 second clip, then make some random scribbles that you think look kind of foreign and call it a day; no one would care. If you want/need to use actual words from a foreign language in a professional production, then yes it is perfectly reasonable to expect someone involved in the production process to know what those foreign words mean and, if relevant, where they came from. Copying random text off the internet for use in a professional product without any oversight is a good way to end up with unexpected plagiarism or copyright lawsuits. Quality control can and should prevent bungles like this.

Also, I'm not sure where you got the idea that I said diversity would fix issues with creativity. Neither of my previous posts really comment on that matter, so please don't put words into my mouth.
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Skyletv



Joined: 11 Dec 2017
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 12:38 am Reply with quote
But that's what's so amazing about anime, it's its own thing.
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taster of pork



Joined: 11 Nov 2008
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Location: Oregon
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:49 am Reply with quote
I'm in the same Boat that Anime will loose its uniqueness if it tries to appeal to a global audience. Part of what got me into Anime was how different it was compared to anything I'd seen at the time. Specifically the dark and violent material.
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capt_bunny



Joined: 31 May 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:01 am Reply with quote
Oh boy.... This makes me heavily disagree yet disagree at the same time. *Cracks knuckles.* Sorry to the mods if this becomes long as the others.

Quote:
The biggest thing that needs to change is that Japan itself needs more diversity, and it needs to become more exposed to foreign cultures.


First off, no disrespect but this is ironic this when people have complained for YEARS to this day that not even Hollywood is diverse. Barely knowing about other cultures too. Yes, the USA is a melting pot but many people I talk to care much about expanding to knowing about different cultures.

Quote:
He then clarified that this is a separate matter from "political correctness."

Second, I truly hate being THAT guy..... There is no other way to say its separate when everything is politics. Every culture has different views and politics.


To the disagreeing part.... People go on and on about how anime is 10000% different like nothing else before when its based off of Disney cartoons. Animation has been a wide and culture thing. You can find a lot of things in anime that are still heavily based from movie classics. TRIGGER animation studio has said they based their animation off of old American cartoons. You can tell by the fluid animation. Before trying to change the cliches or anything that so anime-like should be the last thing to do when they need to work on their budget.

I love animation. It doesn't matter where its from. I'll watch it. However, the thing about Japanese animation is not only the storytelling but I've seen from the personality of characters. The sex/gender along with the heavy issues is true. However, the rest has people interested in that. People like the vast characters personalities.

The part I agree is about how Japan does need to grow. Japan has grown on the outside with their technology and things around but living in the past in their society. Recently many were saying how Japan needs to talk and take mental illness more seriously like America (Not that America has done a great job.... We are getting there....). I've seen many Japanese say they wish they had more female doctors like in France due to the Tokyo Medical University scandal.

No one should be stopped in learning about different cultures. Yeah, totally hire and accept talent from overseas. No one should stop that. There are many things that need to changed like this person said

Skerlly Fc wrote:

2-Big Mouth might be Adult American Pie with its crude, low-brow and juvenile sexual humor, but it mixes that with coming-of-age concerns about sexuality that happens to teens and at some points it becomes relatable, while we had to wait until last year to finally see a series like that in O Maidens, or this year´s Interspecies Reviewers. Most stuff in anime utilizes sex just for titilation and shock value, just as badly as the US, yet anime fans vocalize how this is a thing exclusive to the US.
3-It´s true that anime movies have some cool slice-of-life movies, or movies that mix that with cultural worldbuilding and mysticism like Your Name of Koe No Katachi, but in the last decade Disney have made their own relatable stories with Inside Out or Coco. And there are more slice-of-life series in the US than before, when they didn´t have many because that wasn´t appealing to american audiences, but I remember some series from other markets, like Canada´s Braceface, a series that could tell stories relatable to young girls about dealing with body growth, love relationships and all that, and I haven´t yet seen a Japanese equivalent to that.


Not going to say anything about big mouth with how its hypocritical the fanbase was on those subjects. But it is true about coming-of-age and talks of sexuality which was barely this year. Braceface too. There's a lot more of animations besides Brace face that do talk about the body changing, peer pressure, and a lot more. Which anime does have it but its mainly one of those topics/subjects in each different anime rather than it be all together.


This article is the same as many other talks about different cultures needing to change. Not just anime. 2020 is telling the world this. Japan should accept some western views up to a certain point such as how I believe westerners should be doing the same. I guess the term for it is balance instead of just picking oneside. Like I would love to see more talks about mental health but, at the same time, even the west is obsessed with yanderes which does glorify violence and mental instability.

tl;dr: I think anime + Japan should pick on certain things that will help their society and able to reach overseas without having to try so hard to appease. Every country has their flaws. The difference its more leaning to it being harmful or not to their people.
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Nagsura



Joined: 28 Aug 2016
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 4:12 am Reply with quote
TarsTarkas wrote:
You make some good points, if that is what the Japanese anime industry wants to do as a whole.

But as to the quoted remarks above, Japan is not in competition with anyone. At least not for the near future. Also, I don't think the Japanese anime industry thinks in terms of overseas market dominance.


Except they are already competing, as any other media is. There's an increasing oversaturation of entertainment media and people have to choose on how to spend their time and what to consume - whether it is a new cartoon, movie, book or something else. That means all of them have to compete with each other to get people's attention and thus continue to make a buck. Just keeping the same audience isn't enough, for it means stagnation and less revenue which is what ultimately dictates whether things get made or not.

Also, believe it or not, they do care about overseas market dominance, that's the whole reason CrunchyRoll has been able to grow as much as it has. Production commitees saw a potential market opportunity and seized it, to the point that they actively look for global streaming platforms for their productions. As more and more Korean and Chinese animation gets made, they'll value those parternships more and more for they'll let them keep a foothold in a growing animation industry.
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BadNewsBlues



Joined: 21 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:15 am Reply with quote
Unknownuser589 wrote:
The day I've been dreading the most. Diversity in anime. It has never improved anything in media in the west


Black Panther and Captain Marvel’s billion dollar box office says otherwise. Simply making a work more palatable or engaging by say having a female or POC director/writer or having a POC or female lead etc doesn't ruin a work.

Also if you want anything to blame on Netflix’s Death Note adaptation being meh that was the writing (and likely from the years of development hell it was in) not because it was “diversified”.

meiam wrote:


If the idea is to use diversity to push for more creativity then that's a extremely bad one. The creativity problem doesn't stem from the industry being creatively bankrupt,


Wasn't there a doujin contest or something that ANN reported on a few years ago where the response from the judges or whoever was looking over the entries had a sense of disappointment cause most of the entered works were Isekai?

And then you look at most of the current anime makeup and almost every anime is an adaptation of a isekai work?

That sounds like being creatively bankrupt to me.

Kougeru wrote:


Every time I see an anime that obviously tries to cater to western audiences, I end up hating it. It always ends up feeling more like something that would land on Western TV like Adult Swim/Cartoon Network. That's not what made me fall in love with anime. Anime got popular globally because it was unique. Trying to appeal to global audiences goes against that.


Would that include stuff like Cowboy Bebop, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ghost In The Shell, & JoJo?


Last edited by BadNewsBlues on Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:56 am; edited 2 times in total
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K-Lye



Joined: 06 Aug 2020
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:29 am Reply with quote
Top Gun wrote:
People seem to get weirdly defensive whenever this topic arises. I don't think the article is implying that anime needs to embrace western sensibilities and tropes at the expense of everything else. But it's absolutely right that there's a dearth of perspectives and voices represented in the people who actually create anime. It's no secret that Japan is a very homogeneous society, and the resulting insularity of viewpoints doesn't make for an environment that promotes creative diversity. Even putting broader cultural issues aside, there's absolutely a lack of different perspectives on the creative side of things as well. Old-guard types like Anno and Oshii have noted that a lot of newer directors seem to only take cues from anime itself, without expanding out to the broader language of cinema. There are precious few directors out there who take that more "filmic" approach: Kon was absolutely one, and Watanabe is as well. Instead you have a lot of people raised on otaku-targeted anime making otaku-targeted anime, and where does that allow you room to grow as a medium and find more universal audiences? The answer is that it really doesn't. I want the anime industry to grow and thrive, and given Japan's population outlook, that's simply not going to happen if it stays focused only on domestic sales.

I'm really quite surprised the article and general commentary don't recognise this as the biggest factor. Whilst the other concerns such as creative diversity are indeed substantial issues, the prevailing "elitist" mentality that Japan has is by far it's biggest hurdle. I don't think it's exaggerating much to say it goes well beyond producing exclusively for domestic markets to a general contempt for international consumers. This is manifest in so many areas including where existing titles are clearly in demand there's a palpable reluctance to export or license (unless being pushed by the big digital streamers). You can just as easily look to social media and get an immediate sense for the derision for international appetite even as far up to original authors who aren't shy about making the distinction either. This perspective really needs to be tamed down and a proactive engagement developed with the international consumer before Japan can really move the needle on this.
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Jonny Mendes



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:01 am Reply with quote
More diverse? Yes, there are many isekai nowadays, but still in 100 anime a season you can find almost every genre, from children anime, magical girls, battle shonen, sports, toys, BL,and so on.

What this journalist is looking for, will only be achieved if anime studios have money and are willing to risk invest in anime that don't really have much success so far in a very difficult economic environment. And most studios are only hanging on to avoid closer.

The manga and novels publishers, that are the majority of people investing in anime don't really have much interest in anime foreign markets where most of their manga and LN don't really have that big of a presence so far (manga and LN markets are growing but still is a fraction of their sales). So they look for the domestic market when they decide to make a anime of their proprieties. Their clients are mostly Japanese so from there will not come much money for different anime from what they use to do.

The only chance of anime like what Tadashi-san are hoping for is foreign companies like Netflix invest in it.


But, if you look at it from a consumer point of view, doesn't make much sense.
Anime became popular because is different from western animation and because is so Japanese. Changing it you make it more "global" or "diverse", will only make it drown in a sea of "global" or "diverse" animation.

If you want a product to stand out, you have to offer something that no one else have.
There are markets coping anime "style" but the products they offer are not near what Japanese can offer. Very few are successful.
And if is necessary to stand out even more, Make anime even more different from what others are offering, make it even more Japanese.
The way for success is leading and not coping what others are offering.
If anime is successful because in uniquely Japanese, why making it different,
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:33 am Reply with quote
First of all, I don't really see a threat to anime just yet. It is waaaaay more popular' that it's ever been in my lifetime. If anything, it's overwhelming. I don't think the author is specifically talking about a market so much as talking about identity, though there is some overlap.

As for censorship, I'm highly against censorship in general, but when talking about a sensitive topic, it really depends on how it's approached. Kabukicho Sherlock was a very entertaining show, but its portrayal of LGBTQ+ people over and over was not... good, to say the least. They were used solely as villains or as comedy relief. The jokes or twists always boiled down to "This character is gay/trans/a drag queen and that's funny/creepy." If someone finds that funny or creepy, they probably don't have a very positive view of us, let alone any insight on how to make an LGBTQ+ character a realistic villain or genuinely funny. (ie. A Christian making self-depreciating jokes about Christians resonates with everyone because the jokes are grounded in reality, not just some base stereotype that only anti-Christian people believe) While I don't support "censorship" of shows like Kabukicho Sherlock, I do support the creation of shows that intentionally diversify by improving their portrayal of certain groups. Japanese anime sometimes tries to tackle topics that Japanese anime/media creators rarely understand through an inside perspective (eg. racism, foreigners, sexuality, religion, terrorism, etc.). It might benefit them to look for help or insight, either by hiring more diverse writers and staff, or by reading/watching other kinds of media made by people with this insight.

And that last suggestion is important. It allows us to solve the issue of lack of diversity or resonance with global audiences without necessarily making the general pool of Japanese works less "Japanese-like". Because they're still tackling issues or representing groups that all humans are either experiencing right now/are' or that they can experience in the future/can be. Japan may not be great at LGBTQ+ portrayal in general, but it still has an LGBTQ+ community, some of whom have proven more than capable of that proper representation.
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