The Social Blindness of Anime Fandom

Anime fans around the world hold more power than they might imagine.  They are spending big money and Japan is raking in.  As potential movers and shakers in the world of popular culture, what then should these fans do with their strong influence?  Ask for more and better quality anime?

It seems so. Recently I attempted to reach out to a pioneer in critical anime reviews “naturalfemale” who runs the Twitter page “anifem” to see if she was open to looking at child sexual abuse themes in anime and received an “Awe…I’m so sorry, but I can’t help you…” type of response. To her credit, Ms. Fem expressed that she was inundated with fan mail and couldn’t keep up. It seems my email about how Japan’s normalization of children as sex objects had impacted our family was just one of hundreds she received everyday and a bit TMI heavy.  After all, when you are busy watching and reviewing cool anime who cares about reality?

As the parent of a child who was molested by a Japanese fan of lolita anime, a lolikon in the original sense who liked kawaii (cute) young girls, I am constantly seeking support to fight child idolization and its negative effects, but no one in the anime fan world seems to really care. While many admit some themes or scenes are inappropriate and cause them to pause or change channels, few are openly critical or extrapolate what they are seeing might just be in some form occurring right under our noses…in the “so-called” real world.  It’s like I’m fighting some sort of social mind warp.

Here’s the deal.  Almost everyone agrees that child porn is bad and pedophiles are creeps, but when it comes to watching virtual children being inappropriately touched or raped, it seems that fans are too afraid to say much of anything. Maybe it’s censorship that they fear…some kind of wicked ban that would ruin their visual experience, but what I’m actually talking about is good old fashioned capitalist control over what is produced via loud and clear like/dislike messaging to the creators and producers that “outs” their trash for what it is.  The Japanese won’t do this on their own…they won’t.  It will take a great deal of global shaming to get them to budge. Shoot it took Japan until 2014 to ban the sale and procession of child porn and it was only under a great deal of international pressure that they finally caved.

I’m not sure what’s up, but if this shit (sorry for the vulgarity but I think this is the appropriate term) was being manufactured in the US I’m reasonably sure there would be an anti sex trafficking-like coalition crying foul.  Are the Japanese just that good at fooling us into thinking that they’d never act on their fantasies?  I’m here to tell you they will and  do.  It is just that the culture doesn’t support victims coming forward and statistics are lagging.  Families keep it on the down low…I know.

While I recognize the progress “anifem” is making when it comes to raising awareness about female stereotypes in anime (I was thrilled when I found her blog and Twitter posts), there are real children out there being victimized by the normalization of child idolization that is present in anime/manga and the commodification of schoolgirls in general. For the love Japan, can anime fans and critics alike step up and acknowledge that what they are seeing is not part of some innocent cultural difference, but an honest to God crisis? 

We are coming close to the Tokyo Olympics and the time is ripe. There are just three years left to hit Japan hard on its archaic, third-world attitudes towards school girls.  Even if you don’t know anything about this subject there are a few basic facts that should  cause you to pause.  As you read these, remember that Japan is a first world country…a place that supplies all of us with wonderful products that we use everyday.

  • child porn was legal to produce in Japan until 2011
  • child porn was legal to possess in Japan until 2014
  • the age of consent in Japan is 13– the lowest of industrialized nations
  • school girls are openly for sale in Japan with maid cafes (and the like) existing as fronts for trafficking
  • virtual child porn is legal in Japan (as it is in the US by the way…)

Don’t fool yourself into thinking innappropriate touching or rape of a virtual child is victimless.  Life imitates art no?  Educate yourself, keep your eyes open and spend your money wisely.  Be openly critical of “bad art” when it compromises the safety of children.  What is normalized in fantasy becomes reality.  Trust me I know.

#blindanimefans  #childidolizationisporn

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27 thoughts on “The Social Blindness of Anime Fandom

  1. As a responsible adult and anime fan, I often find the sexualization of young children disturbing. I tend to shy away from fan-service heavy shows for that very reason and when it’s really young kids it is just creepy as hell.
    Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well unless you’re in the industry there isn’t a ton that you can do (that I can see). As a fan, you can write posts like these to get people to think about this issue more which I think is great. As a fan, one also votes with their dollar and supports things that aren’t over-sexualizing young kids.
        The problem remains that the market in Japan is being greedy, in that they know they can make money by exploiting that type of thing. I don’t agree with it, but that is what they are doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree. I have a few leads and connections in Japan, academia, the UN and such… I just can’t quite decide how to play this. I’ll figure it out eventually though. I will.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As a fan of anime, I want to do whatever I can to end exploitation.

    It’s just, beyond not watching anime that comes as exploitative, and watching what I spend my money on, I don’t know what I can do.

    On my blog, I sometimes write about the problem of fanservice and what to do about it, and the mindset that brought fanservice into existence. But I feel that that’s all I currently have the power to do.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome.

        I’ll keep on doing what I can.

        On a related note:

        Speaking as a man: I feel like Japan’s emphasis on female cuteness is an attempt to appeal to a man’s two biggest drives at the same time: The drive to protect, and the drive to procreate.

        On the one hand: Anime women, with their big eyes and soft voices, come across as the kind of person a man instinctively wants to protect. For an example of this: Look at Yui from the anime “Sword Art Online.”

        On the other hand: Anime women, with their big breasts and perfectly-shaped butts, come across as the kind of person a man would want to have sex with.

        Like

  3. I knew that anime was hyper-sexualized but I didn’t realize that it blatantly endorses rape and child porn! My God! Well thank you for sharing and opening my eyes. This is truly dreadful and I’m proud of you for doing your part in trying to end this rape culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. On Facebook today there was an ad for a game. It showed an animal little girl (she looked 4 or 5) her back to me, bending over and showed her underwear and her smiling face turned around to me. The game was called, “Spank the_____.” I wish I could remember the rest of it. I was so horrified I blocked it. I wanted to report it, but it wouldn’t let me. Facebook didn’t used to have sexual ads, but they do now. If you can show that game is on facebook and send the info to some big newspapers, it might help. I thought of you after I had blocked the ad. Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are many of us who talk about how wrong kiddie porn is, whether animated or not, just as many of us talk about how wrong racism is – whether animated or not. Unfortunately, the desire for entertainment seems to override people’s common sense and consciousness. They don’t want to think about the negative, real-life effects of pornography, racism, and other harmful things that they choose to ignore when consuming said entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent points. I think with racism though, there is a bit more talk among younger generations…a genuine intolerance of it especially when it comes to entertainment and public forums. And we understand to a degree the real affects on people. With real, live children adults have to be diligent and speak on their behalf due to the fact that victim reporting levels are low and the connection between virtual acts and real child victims is not understood due to a lack in data. I do see a reluctance on the part of anime insiders to really come out strongly. I love the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “I think with racism though, there is a bit more talk among younger generations…a genuine intolerance of it especially when it comes to entertainment and public forums. And we understand to a degree the real affects on people.”

        I disagree, as there is plenty of racism still prevalent online and IRL. Child pornography, at least in the States, is “underground” and not as prevalent as it is in other countries, where it is celebrated, as you point out.

        Racism, sexism, pornography, abuse, and other societal ills are most noticeable to those of us who have to live with and deal with their effects. So I disagree with your assessment that younger generations are doing anything about racism in particular. If anything, they contribute to it as much as, if not more so, than their parents or grandparents do. That’s been my experience.

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      • Totally makes sense. I agree with the celebrated (I say normalized) vs. underground. The penalties and stigma are stiff thankfully. At least in the US it is clearly called out for what it is and consumers for what they are.

        My position is more about pressuring Japan as a first world open consumer market. As for racism, I am no expert and should stay clear. I only know about places I’ve lived and that issue is very broad and complex. Sexism is another one that seems similar to racism in the US– similar in term of how it can vary from place to place, age group to age group in terms of education and tolerance etc. Child porn and pedophilia (and child abuse in general) require extra measures on the part of society to curb due to the age of the victims and the mind control involved in manipulating them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed. I contend that child porn and pedophilia should certainly be called out, as well as child abuse. For example, I’ve long been against those horrible “kiddie pageants” that sexualize children, but the parents who willingly enter their daughters (and sons) in them claim that it’s all “harmless fun.”

        Also, those who use television and computers as baby-sitters, instead of being actively involved in the social lives of their kids, are very much culpable in ignoring online predators – they practically invite same into their homes without realizing it, or even caring about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There may be a tendency to think Japan has a good handle on the situation as an advanced nation but the data is sadly lacking and prosecution rare. This is part of the blindness of which I speak. We have to imagine but may not want to believe or think badly of such a cool and beautiful place.

        Like

  6. The trouble runs deeper than simply this – there’s a strong streak in Western anime communities towards “de-stigmatizing” lolicon. I think the trouble with asking the West to step up is that we’re actually divided on the topic. Say anything negative about lolicons on say reddit.com/r/anime and you’re guaranteed to be swamped in down-votes and insistence that you don’t “understand.”

    There are likely many more Western than Japanese anime consumers who are opposed to loli sexualization, but there are plenty who have taken it up as a sort of banner. And it’s intimidating to speak out against such a passionately self-justified group; it’s scary how well the seeming lack of other proponents for your opinion breeds self doubt.

    One final, perhaps unrelated, point: you mentioned that such gross sexualization of underage ficitonal characters would be (justly) silenced in, say, the U.S. Living in Japan, you might not be familiar with this, but it’s not uncommon to hear complaints about skimpily dressed unambiguously young characters (sexualized loli, I suppose) being halted at U.S. Import Customs. It’s even outlined as a common concern in 4chan’s (admittedly otherwise excellent, if crude and informal, guide to anime imports) under the “United States” section. buyfag.moe/full_guide if you’d care to give it a read, some nsfw content.

    I’m not trying to make much of a cohesive point with all my typing here, I figured I could add some of my own insight and perspective as an anime fan living in America and regularly contributing to popular online forums here.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for adding these thoughts. Everything you wrote I know to be true and have in some ways experienced. I’d like to focus on this point in particular:

      “There are likely many more Western than Japanese anime consumers who are opposed to loli sexualization, but there are plenty who have taken it up as a sort of banner. And it’s intimidating to speak out against such a passionately self-justified group; it’s scary how well the seeming lack of other proponents for your opinion breeds self doubt.”

      I think you are right…that there are more opposed. And I’ve certainly read the banners– many posted on their legal defense site. Many months ago when I began to blog about these topics, I was naive and got slammed by a few, mostly on Twitter actually, where folks tend to hide behind short (and sometimes nasty) snippets. Approaching some seemingly aware, thoughtful bloggers (like the one I mentioned) I thought I might get some support, but that has not been the case. To me being a feminist anime blogger meant you might also consider protecting young girls (and boys) to be of importance. But there is some sort of strange wall or warp going on.

      In the past, actually years ago, I was in tough with experts in academia about all of this. I’ll write about that in a subsequent post perhaps, but let’s just say they too were rather blind. I’ve also been in contact with the UN envoy on exploitation.

      I don’t have doubt and never will about this matter. My initial contact with this was well before most fans were born. I know. Thank you for your words.

      Like

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