The sexualization of young characters is common in Japanese porn. Michiko Nagaoka, director of the anti-lolicon organization Juvenile Guide, reports that around half of the pornographic animated works produced in Japan feature schoolgirls; (1) many also involve relationships between an adult and a minor. Most of these works are available for viewing online, though come into ‘possession’ of them in some countries and you’ll be breaking the law. The ease with which this material is accessed, and the relentlessness of some parties’ attempts to get it criminalized worldwide, has led to a great divide in the English-speaking sphere of online anime fans.
For some people, this media is at the very least ‘gross’ and unacceptable; many believe it’s a factor in the normalization of pedophilia and a primary cause of child sexual assault, and that the defence of it under the umbrella of ‘free speech’ is a red flag that someone is a pedophile. For others, including most of the media’s academic researchers, no causal link between it and CSA can be established; many see lolicons as a separate group from pedophiles with distinct goals and interests, much like those who engage in paraphilic infantism (age play). The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has fought against the criminalization of those who possess lolicon manga, and popular figures such as Neil Gaiman have spoken up about the necessity of accepting this ‘unacceptable’ media when it comes to the laws we make.
The United Nations sits on the former side of this divide. They’re adamant, with bountiful evidence to the contrary, that pressuring governments to criminalize lines on paper will help protect the children of tomorrow. The new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child seeks to pressure governments worldwide into punishing ‘virtual child pornography’, where no real or identifiable minor is harmed, as though it were actual child pornography. The UN published a draft of these guidelines earlier this year, devised by ‘persons of high moral character’, and despite comments from Japan, the US and Austria, and organizations such as the CBLDF and the Prostasia foundation, their final draft still has them set on seeing no difference between fictional ageless lolis and real, vulnerable children. Continue reading Japan vs The UN: The Fight For Artistic Freedom
“In many ways, it was both a tragic and a preachy story, but I wanted ‘Metamorphosis’ to be about seeing the charm of a girl who is going through genuine misfortune” – ShindoL, ‘Afterword’ to Metamorphosis
People like to uphold a firm line between ‘art’ and ‘porn’; there is a difference, they will say, between ‘erotica’ and mere pornography. The former is sexually explicit in a way that conveys some kind of recognizable artistic merit; the latter has no such merit to speak of. But in the maelstrom of stories and drawings and bits of film that seem to serve little other purpose than titillation, like needles in haystacks, we often come across works marked ‘porn’ that strike us as something else by the end.
Pornography occupies a space in media that rebels against the idea that a story needs narrative themes and fleshed-out characters. In traditional narratives, every element combines to serve the audience’s immersion into what will happen next, and the possible greater meanings of what’s happening now. In porn, we know what will happen next – characters will fuck, or be fucked, to engage in some other activity to stimulate the voyeur and make them satisfied with their fantasy. Everything is supposed to serve this end – any narrative matter is just foreplay, or something to encourage the viewer to seek out this kind of fictional fulfillment again. These are the rules, the patterns we trust when we come to enjoy some ‘me time’ with this material.
ShindoL’s Metamorphosis doesn’t play by the rules. Continue reading ‘Metamorphosis’ and the Meaning of Hentai
Amidst memes of the FBI raiding your house for watching a cartoon, there’s a general anxiety about the place of lolicon media in the West. In some states of America, being in possession of ‘obscene’ doujnishi can land you with a prison sentence, as Iowa resident Christopher Handley discovered after he was put on trial for ordering ‘drawings of children being sexually abused’. Neil Gaiman spoke out against Handley’s imprisonment in his onine journal:
You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you’re going to have to stand up for stuff you don’t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don’t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person’s obscenity is another person’s art.
Because if you don’t stand up for the stuff you don’t like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you’ve already lost.
Continue reading Is Your Anime Illegal? The Trouble With the Miller Test
“An educative series for children over 18 years old, Super Fuck Friends explores sexuality without taboos and in all its forms, including dicks and nipples. A positive sexuality, that is unrestrained and totally ignores prejudices… culminating into one single message: tolerance.” – Bobbypills
There was a time when suggesting Boku no Pico to someone looking for anime recommendations was considered comedy. Nowadays it’s hard to make anyone on the internet surprised by the depths of depravity that media can go to. The idea that Japan produces, shall we say, ‘questionable’ content is more or less common knowledge: streaming services like Crunchyroll have helped this further by listing popular (mostly-)safe-for-work anime alongside bizarre farces like Eromanga-sensei. But as much as the average person knows more about the existence of taboo pornography, when it comes to talking openly about it there’s been a lot less progress.
Some shows have tried to tackle the silence around sexual taboos: Shimoneta’s liberal stance on pornography, and its criticisms of what censorship can do to the knowledge of sex, made its comedy strong. But when people see the perversions of otaku – particularly those who choose to devote their lives to virtual characters, because they’ve lost hope in reality – there are far more judgements flung around than attempts to understand matters from the perspective of the ‘pervert’. That’s why the sixth episode of Peepoodo & the Super Fuck Friends, a French parody cartoon directed by comics artist and animator Yves ‘Balak’ Bigerel, is a breath of fresh air. Continue reading Peepoodo & The Super Fuck Friends: How To Talk About Perverts
Life is much easier for artists who don’t even think of venturing into obscenity. As popular as pornography is to the masses, so too is the public sentiment of moral outrage. Opinion columns, comment threads and social media echo chambers will never cease to be free of reams of outbursts against the latest film that went too far, or how a certain video game has sexual content that isn’t completely consensual between the characters. What is permissible in fantasy seems too often down to what people will be willing to shout about, rather than the taboos in question being examined with care.
The forces of censorship acting on different forms of media – books, film, television, anime, video games, online spaces – are not disparate: they are connected by common threads of government pressure and moral panic expressed by the public. Those who choose to perform thorough research on the value of prohibiting the sale of ‘obscene’ films, images and video games are more often deemed suspect rather than significant. But while lines of acceptance can be easy to draw for one’s self, drawing them for a community requires an appreciation of everything that’s at stake. Continue reading Censorship: Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Pixels?