Psychiatrist Suggests Link Between Sexual Offenses and Moe Characters
posted on by Eric Stimson
Could constant exposure to moe character designs encourage sexual assault? That's the suggestion made by clinical psychologist and psychiatrist Rika Kayama in her Tokyo Shimbun column, Fuwatto Life ("Fluffy Life"), on September 22.
Entitled "Are Girl Characters Blameless?," Kayama's article claims that moe characters are now commonplace in Japan; she sees them on her lecture tours as towns and regions promote themselves through cartoon mascots. She acknowledges that most people will simply see them as "cute," but they are often portrayed with a degree of sensuality or sexiness. "They won't attract attention if they're not a little sexy," municipal officials tell her, but she wonders if the eye-catching sensuality has a psychological effect, both on the young girls who grow up with them as models and on older men.
Kayama admits that a majority realizes that the characters are fictional, "but quite a few will think it's fine to look at little girls and think they're sexy. Girls will accept me with a smile no matter how I look at them" is the reaction she expects to so many flirtatious girl characters. She surmises that the deluge of moe characters will make some people think of girls as sexual objects, leading to sexual assault. "You might laugh and say, 'There aren't people like that. Moe characters are totally different from crime,' but I get uneasy whenever I see the moe characters overflowing in each region," Kayama writes.
The column has elicited a mostly negative reaction online. Netizens have criticized the article for not being very persuasive and for mostly reflecting Kayama's personal views. (The article provides no hard evidence linking anime or manga fandom with sexual assault.) Some have speculated that it implicitly refers to the controversy over Megu Aoshima, the new mascot of Shima, Mie Prefecture, who is meant to represent the area's time-honored pearl diving tradition but who is instead attracting a campaign to dethrone her for over-sexualizing the mostly elderly divers.
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