Posts Tagged ‘censorship’
I was never particularly worried about this bill going anywhere in Tokyo but it’s nice to finally be able to report this. The controversial Non-Existent Child bill in Tokyo has been defeated by the general affairs committee in a vote held earlier today. It’s expected that later in the week, the bill will also be defeated by the full assembly. ANN reported a few days ago that there were not going to be enough votes in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly for the Liberal Democratic Party to pass the bill but there are already plans to submit a revised version later this year.
So good riddance to this crap bill. I can only hope that this is the last that we’re going to hear of this for awhile.
Updated: You know, this was such a short post that I don’t think I’m giving this moment the attention it deserves. So, to remedy that I reccomend we celebrate this moment with a loli dance of joy
In Japan there is a particularly sneaky business model which has taken hold in the last few years. Well, I say sneaky but it’s not like studios and distributors over there aren’t openly displaying their plan for everyone to see. It’s a really simple idea; make an anime that is filled with so much fan service and nudity that there is no possible way for it to air on television without being heavily edited. Because a little bit of extra steam here, a ‘cleverly’ placed branch there and things are entirely brand new. Just ask fans when they got some amazing looks at various walls while watching Seikon no Qwaser. The second part to this plan takes place afterwards when distributors sell the unedited series on DVD, forcing fans to pay for their fan service. In my head I’ve recently begun referring to it as ‘fees for fan service’ though I’m sure I could be a bit more creative.
I’m not really bashing any of the companies for the practice; it sells product and (for the moment) is keeping things alive. It’s not going to work forever but it at least puts a figurative bandage over the gaping flesh wound currently killing the industry. The one thing that I’ve always been grateful for is that the US industries have never had to resort to this tactic. Since most anime series don’t have to worry about ever being shown on American TV, fans have always been able to go straight to the uncensored DVDs. But this week, Funimation changed that with their streaming premiere of The Sacred Blacksmith.
In a way I kind of see streaming premieres as the region 1 equivalent to TV broadcasts. Most sites that stream the series are supported in part by commercials and I’m watching it on a monitor. Add a couch, a codependent ball of fluff that my housemates call a cat, snacks that will eventually kill me and a sense of self loathing that only reality TV or Fox could generate and I’d be there completely.
Back to my point, shortly after making its streaming premiere Nebs Blog pointed out that the series was being shown in its safe for TV censored format. Soon afterwards, ANN posted a follow up where Funimation confirmed that the DVDs released this fall would be in their uncensored format.
Congratulations fans, we’re now more like Japanese otaku than we’ve ever been in our lives. Just like our brethren across the Pacific, we are now also going to be paying specifically to see the fan service that we can’t see in the ‘free broadcast’. It was obviously bound to happen eventually but how does it feel everyone? There’s still one silver lining at least, we’ve yet to see any messages from Funimation reminding us that we can see Cecily, Lisa and Aria ‘completely uncut on DVD!’ yet…
A few weeks ago, I briefly mentioned a story coming out of Tokyo regarding a new bill being discussed. At the time, most media outlets were reporting the story as Tokyo discussing a blanket ban on fictional characters who appeared to be/sounded like they were under 18 being depicted in sexual situations within anime and manga. I also went on the record as saying that there was no reason for anyone to panic, the bill was never going to pass. It’s now been reported by ANN that due to party members being unable to agree on language, any debate on the bill will be delayed until September when the regular assembly session begins. Hey, the Japanese government can’t get anything done either! Maybe our two countries aren’t so different after all. So, yeah… that’s pretty much done with but we’re not actually at the interesting part yet.
A translator living in Japan named Dan Kanemitsu has posted an interesting translated FAQ regarding the bill (last updated March 31st) and what it actually entails as opposed to what many might have actually thought. Reading the FAQ (and let me note that this is the only real English source of information I have), the spirit of the bill actually wasn’t such a bad idea. The basic idea is that the Japanese government want to tighten the regulation of what can be sold to minors and what should be deemed adult only. Not such a bad thing… but then the methods are discussed and it all goes awry.
In essence, what this bill would do is give power to the government to make some fairly big censorship decisions with only vaguely worded phrases as their guidelines. If this bill were to pass, the government would be given the power to decide what is and isn’t ‘wholesome for youth’, effectively deciding who the audience for any given visual fiction is. By being given the power to make this decision, the government would be able to deem any work of fiction that contains a character who looks or sounds like they are under 18 (because it’s so easy to tell those things when reading manga/watching anime) as for adults only. BL and Yaoi materials were being targeted specifically. In fact, here is the guideline from the bill as translated by Kanemitsu:
any visual or audio representation of an individual that can be identified as being under 18 due to their age, dress, school grade, background, and/or any other element that can be determined as an indicator of their age
So if a government worker wanted to be a real ass for whatever reason; they could pick any single element of a character put into a sexual situation, say that it made them think they were under 18 and get it filtered or pick a title and decide that any material within it was too stimulating for minors in Japan and get it filtered based entirely on that entities vague definition of what is or isn’t stimulating for minors. Those are very simplified versions of just one of many problems contained within this bill but still, let’s hope that this one stays buried and forgotten long past September.
Last week, Tokyo proposed a law which would have very broadly made putting fictional loli characters into any sort of vaguely titillating situation illegal. Within a week, mangaka from all genres were loudly decrying the proposal as a major infringement on their rights as artists and individuals. We’ll never know exactly how much influence these protests actually had but within a week the proposal was put on the back burner until at least June.
Osaka is now getting into the act via a statement by the Governor to the press. As quoted by Asahi, Governor Touru Hashimoto said
We have to be prudent with regards to freedom of speech. What’s important is to establish the reality of the situation. If it does more harm than good, freedom of speech is not an absolute.
It’s important to note that an actual proposal has not yet actually surfaced within the Osaka government and that Hashimoto has only said that they “will consider” on if the ban is appropriate to institute.
Once again, I’m not getting upset about this because it’s not like anything has happened. Governor Hashimoto is free to consider whatever his heart desires and if he wants to consider freedom of expression as something that can be bent or made to fit a certain mold, he can amuse himself with that fantasy all he wants. I am concerned however. Because what if? What if Osaka passed a ban such as what Tokyo was considering?
Obviously mangaka and publishers couldn’t just stop selling in Osaka. I have no idea what kind of sales dollars come out of Osaka but I’m guessing it’s in the ‘large crap load’ category. Publishers could try printing two different versions but even when the economy wasn’t crap I imagine that it would be a financial nightmare to produce two versions of every manga title that had to be changed to meet whatever the new ‘Osaka Standard’ is. In effect, a ban in Osaka would be just an dangerous as it would in Tokyo… or in one of the many other major cities within Japan.
I get that the whole point of this is to protect the real children but the law itself is a terrible waste of time. As has been noted, a broad ban on anything is moronic and ultimately if no one actually knows what does and doesn’t cross the line, it’s silly and unenforceable. That isn’t stopping others from continuing their crusade however. Japanese media personality Mona Yamamoto was recently quoted as saying…
Many manga authors have come out to appeal about this freedom of expression but isn’t the expression of freedom for manga with violation of children problematic?
Which is a good point. But then again she also said…
Even with mobile phones, why there is such overt reading of ero-books, Japan is really a strange country huh. Basically Japanese people are perverted, extremely perverted. Really nothing but perverted, all I think is why.
Ahem. Are you sure you want to keep criticizing others and throwing that word around Ms. Yamamoto?
I said earlier that this isn’t a subject that’s going to go away this year and I still think we’re only getting warmed up. If this is a subject that you follow in the news, the next nine months (and likely much longer afterwards) are going to be very interesting.
“Loli Bill” Status Now Set to Back Burner: So last week when I said that I didn’t think anyone had anything to worry about, this is kind of what I was assuming would happen. ANN reported today that the controversial bill which would have banned all erotic visual depictions of characters that looked or sounded like they were under 18 years old. Japan is a conservative country but this was just not going to pass and I don’t see it passing in the near future.
What does concern me however is just how OFTEN these arguments are coming up lately. It’s only March and loli characters have been the center of some media storm or another more than a couple of times already. My otaku sense (which is sort of like a spidey sense but less likely to get me sued) tells me that this isn’t going to be the last time this topic breaks into the news cycle this season.
Sora no Otoshimono Gets Second Season: A new wraparound manga jacket has revealed that the fan service friendly harem series will get a second season. I know that I’ve been harsh with this series in the past (because it’s… you know, terrible) but I’m glad that fans of this series are getting a second season. It could have been worse, it’s not like Akikan is getting a sequel… oh, right.
Last Durarara DVD to Include Unaired Episode: Revealed late last night, Durarara will be getting a special unaired episode on DVD. With so many presentation angles from Baccano being used already, it sounds like this will be an episode which will be used in a similar way to tie up loose story ends. After reading the news, I popped an email over to Crunchyroll to see if there were any initial plans in place to stream it upon its release but haven’t heard back yet. If I hear anything regarding that, I’ll be sure to share the news as soon as I can!
GOSICK Gets Anime Adaptation: Closing things out this time is just a quickie announcement; the light novel GOSICK will be getting an anime. The mystery series takes place in a European city where two kids solve mysteries involving local urban legends. Sounds interesting I guess. No word on when it’s out/who’s putting it together but I’ll keep you posted as always.
I knew that this Monday was trying to lull me into a false sense of security. Things were quiet this morning… a little too quiet for a Monday in the middle of March. *cue eerie music* But real life was waiting and so I left and have returned to find a whole mess of very cool press releases in my inbox! So, starting in the order that they appear:
Right Stuf/Nozomi Entertainment Start New Countdown: Oh Right Stuf, how you do love your little countdown clock! A new timer has been started by Right Stuf over at their usual Coming Soon address but this time there’s a twist. From now until Wednesday, clues will be dropped for fans to try and win prizes. The clues will point fans towards a combination that they must figure out and the name of the series that they’ve licensed. Guess them both right and win a prize. I’ve been thinking about this for a little while now and I don’t have any initial guesses on what it might be. (Full press release below the cut)
Sentai Announces Dubs for FIVE Series: The loyal have fought hard and bought the sets that had no dub track and finally, they have been rewarded. The second press release to hit my inbox today came from Sentai Filmworks announcing that the following series will be re-released with brand new dub tracks: Clannad, Blue Drop, Ghost Hound, Legends of the Dark King ~ A Fist of the North Star Story and Tears to Tiara. Few details were made available right away but the release did say that they are working on an upgrade program for those fans who already purchased the sub only versions.
I would love to sit here and share my thoughts on this but I’m limited on space. So to sum it up: Clannad and Tears to Tiara: yay, Blue Drop and Legends of the Dark King: seriously? and if you’ve even once said ‘I won’t buy this series because it doesn’t have a dub track,’ I suggest you snatch these up. (Full press release below cut)
Viz Media Opens VizAnime.com: Viz Media has never been completely silent in the streaming market. While they aren’t busting out brand new series each and every week like Funimation and Crunchyroll, they have been holding their own with weekly Naruto and InuYasha streaming simulcasts. Today Viz took one step forward in the streaming world by opening VizAnime.com which, right now at least, hosts all of the streams that they currently have on Hulu on one site (they even use pretty much the same site navigation system).
The site also attempts to inject some functionality and social networking to your anime viewing by allowing comments and letting registered users keep track of which episode they left off on last. (Full press release below the cut)
Mangaka Strike Back for the Loli: Do you remember last week when I mentioned the proposal being discussed in Tokyo? In a nutshell they want to ban any image depicting a loli character in a way that could cause someone, somewhere to somehow become aroused (I may be paraphrasing that a bit). Well, luckily for fans there are still some good, honest, hard working folk who just aren’t going to listen to that kind of nonsense: mangaka!
Keep fighting that good fight you brave men and women!
Caitlin Glass Saves the World: Wrapping things up on a bit of an optimistic note, English voice actress/ADR Director Caitlin Glass (Winry in Fullmetal Alchemist, Haruhi and ADR Director in Ouran High School Host Club) has decided to take a break from voice acting to teach English across the sea with her husband. I had the chance to interview Caitlin once and had a great time doing so. I wish her the best of luck in her travels and hopes that someday she’ll return to lend her voice to another Funimation dub! Good luck Caitlin!
And how is everyone’s Thursday night going? It’s been a fairly decent week for me with lots of things getting done including a new DVD review which should be up in a couple of days. But here are all the things that were happening while I was distracted….
Anime Adaptation Announced for Wandering Son: From the creator of Aoi Hana, Takako Shimura, comes this school drama-romance about a feminine boy in the 5th grade and his classmate, a girl who wishes she was a boy. No details on when it’ll be released or who is producing the animation.
Eh… I really didn’t care for Aoi Hana so I’ll let all of you be excited on my behalf.
14th Episode of Sora no Otoshimono Removed From Final Disc: A notice on the official website has alerted fans to a change to the last DVD volume being released on June 25th. Originally the disc was set to contain the uncensored version of episode 13 and a special 14th episode which was ‘too hot for television’. For some unknown reason though, the unaired episode has been postponed and will be replaced with the TV version of episode 13 and footage of a live event… and all for the exact same price.
Best part about it though? The notice also says that the release format for the 14th episode will be announced later meaning that they plan on getting fans to buy yet another overpriced DVD to see it and that’s not being kind of prick-ish at all.
If you planning on buying the Japanese DVDs and are now bummed by this news, cheer yourself up with this footage from a live Sora no Otoshimono event held recently
Tokyo Debating Complete Ban on Loli Materials: It’s been a very dark time for a certain population of the anime community. After a now very well known sentence was rendered, then there was Funimation and the whole Bund issue and now it’s been learned that even our own holy land is turning against us!
A legislative amendment has been submitted to amend current child welfare laws to include language banning sexually provocative ‘visual depictions’ of any character who looks or sounds like she’s under 18 (regardless on if the character actually is or not). The proposal goes to deliberation on March 18th and should it make it out of committee, will be put to a vote on March 30th.
I’m going on record and saying I don’t think anyone has anything to worry about. I just don’t see this one passing but then again, what do I know about Japanese law and government?
Dragon Ball Z Kai Gets NickToons Premiere: Speaking of kids (eh… sort of), the revamped version of DBZ will premiere in March on Nickelodeon and expose a brand new generation of suburban kids to Goku and how to say ‘It’s over 9000!’ until everyone around them wants to tape their mouths shut. Honestly, my reaction to this upon reading the headline this morning was ‘Oh, Funimation is going to make some money off that,’ but even I can admit that this is great news for those of us who would like to see new fans join the community.
Toshihiro Kawamoto Announced for Anime Expo: Finally, Anime Expo sent out a press release tonight announcing Toshihiro Kawamono as their latest special guest. Best known as a co-founder of Studio Bones and the character designer for Cowboy Bebop and Wolf Rain’s; his latest project has him teaming up with Stan Lee for this spring’s Heroman. (Full press release below the cut)
So, what did everyone think of spending the last few days talking about Funimation editing Dance in the Vampire Bund and absolutely nothing else? I can imagine it was less fun for some of us than for others which brings us to the latest update from Funimation.
In a statement given to ANN, Funimation Rep Jackie Smith stated that after reviewing the material again, Funimation has decided to put the series on a probation of sorts. Essentially the statement (pasted in full below) says that Funimation has decided to at least explore the possibility of releasing the series unedited on DVD and Blu ray. However, since only half the series has aired so far they will reserve final judgment until it has completed. The internet streams will continue to have minor edits but they do say that “We will be careful to keep such edits to a minimum.”
“In the days since we announced the acquisition of the anime “Dance in the Vampire Bund,” we have been following the varied responses from within the anime community to our decision to edit specific scenes from its streaming and later home entertainment release.
First, out of concern for our distribution partners and advertisers, we will continue to make minor edits to the episodes which are available via free streaming and television broadcast due to the readily accessible nature of these platforms. We will be careful to keep such edits to a minimum.
However, FUNimation is – as always – committed to bringing the best anime content to the United States in its unedited form on home video. Therefore, we are evaluating the release of the series in unedited and uncensored form for home video. Since only 7 episodes have broadcast in Japan, final determination must be reserved until all episodes can be reviewed to ensure compliance with current U.S. law.
We would like to thank everyone in the anime community for the feedback provided to us on this matter–your opinions count.”
So there you go everyone, you spoke up and got the company to compromise with fans. Now remember this if Funimation sees the rest of the series and decides to edit the release anyway.
<Image via Pixiv>
Ah Funimation, you couldn’t have let us enjoy this just a little bit longer?
FUNimation Entertainment is known for releasing the titles we license in their original, uncut form, as their creators intended. However, after viewing the unedited as well as the Japanese broadcast edit of the series “Dance in the Vampire Bund,” we have determined the series contains controversial elements which, when taken out of context, could be objectionable to some audiences.
With this in mind and with approval of the licensor, we will edit select scenes from the series in streaming and *home entertainment release*. These are scenes which are inappropriate for U.S. viewing and are not essential to the storyline.
“Dance in the Vampire Bund” is a complex and dark drama cited by press and fans as one of the best anime series out of Japan this season. Its strong story is what brought the series to our attention and why we are bringing it to the U.S.”
So yes, Funimation will be releasing Dance in the Vampire Bund in a censored version. There is no word on what in particular will be censored but I’d say there’s a fair chance that we won’t be seeing the nude loli heroine scene from early on. I’ve said this before but I’ll state it again for the record, I do not like censorship. I believe US fans should be allowed to purchase the same materials that appear on the DVDs in Japan. However, I’m also not going to pitch a huge fit about this.
Dance in the Vampire Bund is NOT entirely tame when it comes to nudity and the romantic relationship that develops between Mina and the lead male character. With recent court cases, it’s understandable that Funimation is going to take the safe route for once. This isn’t something that I expect from them regularly and it’s frustrating that they are doing it now but in the end, it’s not worth throwing a pitchfork party over.
There are a couple of things in the press release that just bother me though…
“However, after viewing the unedited as well as the Japanese broadcast edit of the series “Dance in the Vampire Bund,” we have determined the series contains controversial elements which, when taken out of context, could be objectionable to some audiences.”
Time out! After viewing the unedited and edited versions they decided there were controversial elements? They make this sound like they bought the series and then discovered that *gasp* this chick looks really freakin young! What was that viewing like? I realize I’m not an expert on the business but something tells me that Funimation knew about the questionable content quite awhile ago.
The decision was announced the day after the license announcement came out, it was going to be censored from the beginning. We get it, but you could haven’t just said so?
By now, most of you have heard about the case of Christopher Handley. Arrested in 2006, he was eventually charged with possessing manga that was deemed obscene and against societal norms. After the CBLDF got involved and a couple of charges were dropped, it looked like Handley might have been able to fight the charges but instead he pled guilty to the charges in May 2009 and began waiting for his sentencing hearing. Finally after months of waiting, the sentence has been passed down: six months in prison, three years of supervised release, five years probation (which will be served concurrently) and a $200 fine (which by the way, really? You don’t think fining him $200 on top his prison time was just being mean?). The supervised release will include psychological testing, a polygraph test and treatment which the prosecutor believes will help to identify just what kind of sexual deviant Handley actually is and what kinds of mental health issues he may have. On the plus side, he will not have to register as a sexual offender.
Since this story first broke many months ago, I’ve tried to follow the information as closely as possible. When the sentence was passed down late last week, I wanted to write an update but could never find the time to properly devote to the story. I know that I’m just a tiny blog in the cosmos of the internet but still, this is not a subject I could just write a short summary about and move on. Finally I was recently able to sit down and read the court documents relating to the case. While I couldn’t find the statement from the defense, I have read the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation cover to cover and now I’m completely removing my unbiased quasi journalist hat here. This is me ranting and taking a side.
From the very beginning, there has always been an annoying fog of obscurity around this case. With these documents finally being released to the public, a few things have finally become abundantly obvious. While it was nice to see that there was no interest in prosecuting moe (If a drawing did not clearly depict a minor, and could arguably be of a person 18 or older, the government gave the defendant the benefit of any doubt…a multitude of images in Mr. Handley’s collection that depicted the sexual abuse of quasi-human minors, with characteristics and features of real and mythological beings.); it’s easy to see why Handley might not have wanted to take this case to a full jury trial and why no one else may ever either: even if someone managed to walk out of a courtroom with a winning verdict, the cost of that victory could be high.
Reading the sentencing recommendation written by US Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt, it is clear that Handley was being painted as a sick, sexual deviant who just needed a time, place and opportunity to be transformed into a child predator. To go to trial and face a jury of peers, Handley would have sat there and watched his character and name drug through the dirt. No matter what kind of witness line up or defense the CBLDF brought up, Handley would have to watch his personal life completely pulled apart.
Still, the sentence has passed and a precedent is now in place. When discussing this subject with others, a comment argument that I heard was that the case was largely someone being punished for reading a comic book. Quoting Klinefeldt once again…
“Some may argue that the crime at issue is not serious because no real children were involved. Such a viewpoint is short-sighted because it gives little weight to the nature of obscenity crimes, in general, and to the specific images involved in this case. A picture, proverbially, paints a thousand words, and there is no doubt that comic books, graphic novels, and works of manga and anime have a powerful ability to communicate through their use of dramatic imagery. Since the 1960s, the genre of comic books has been transformed from a target market of younger customers to a broad, word-wide market aimed at older, more mature consumers. The ground-breaking graphic novel, “Watchmen,” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons was even named by Time magazine of one of its top 100 novels of the 20th century. The power of the illustrated story should not be short-changed.”
This was the first point made by the defense that had me bothered. For years, fans have wanted comics, manga, graphic novels, anime, etc to be given attention and respect as art. Well there we have it… only instead we’re getting lolicon manga compared to Watchmen. Fans can’t have it both ways but I have to ask, can you truly argue that Mikansei Seifuku Shōjo (Unfinished School Girl) and Watchmen can be compared in any fashion? Are the areas between critically praised works and the erotic material imported by Handley that much of a grey area that they can even be compared?
There are many things that are obscene about this case; in the eyes of some it starts with the evidence and ends with the defendant. In my eyes, the obscenity of this case and sentence extend much further than that. When I thought that the case was merely over owning manga that local officials had deemed ‘obscene’ I was angry. A man was being forced to answer for and defend his choice of entertainment; in this case it happened to be dirty manga with explicit themes. No person in this country should have to defend his choice of fictional material to others. No matter the idea or theme, you cannot pick and choose what you want others to be able to see in the privacy of their own homes.
This week, author Neil Gaiman shared his thoughts on the case and why Handley and his collection deserved to be defended, “If you accept — and I do — that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don’t say or like or want said. The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don’t. This is how the Law is made.”
The real obscenity is what you find when you go one step further however. While Handley was charged and tried for what he owned: he’s being punished for what he thought. Handley purchased these items and admitted that he enjoyed them for their sexual themes. Because he owned explicit materials and had thoughts relating to the themes within, he is being punished with prison time and psychological evaluation. Have we as a society, really grown so protective of ourselves that we going to punish another individual because we didn’t like the thoughts that went through his head?
It’s ridiculous to think that from here on out anyone who imports particularly explicit manga will be hunted and tried in public as deviant heathens. It is not ridiculous however to think that sometime down the road, this case will be referenced. Someone in this country is going to import something that someone else has found to be against what they decide is a ‘societal norm’, a DA with a chip on his shoulder and an election to win will make the case and a victory for the side of common sense will be that much harder to obtain.
There are too many times in life when the few start to speak over the many. In this case, well meaning but wrong individuals have decided for themselves that anyone who owns explicit art that someone else doesn’t like can be accused of being deviant and a danger to society. And that’s not where I want to live.