Bill 156: Chemo Curing the Anime Industry, or Oppressive Japanese Businessmen Being….well, Oppressive?

As many of you may or may not be aware, an ordinance was passed at some point yesterday or today (or Wednesday in Japan) that bans any anime, manga, and video games that have “virtual crime” or things “likely to interfere with the development of youth”.  This bill does not apply to TV dramas or novels, and seems to be aimed almost exlusively at Japan’s large “otaku” subculture.

The ordinance is set to take place in July, and will consist of a committee of people who make a decision – presumably by consuming the entire work, on whether the anime, manga, or game is appropriate enough for children.  If the committee feels that it falls under the categories banned in the ordinance (there are many instances of etc. used within this ordinance, which means that anything seen as harmful to children in any way that the committee can think of can be deemed as inappropriate for children) then the work in question will be branded with an 18+ label.

However, Japan isn’t quite like America, and is (well, from what I can tell, it’s not like I’ve ever been there) more stringent upon their laws regarding 18+ material.  That is, unlike certain american bookstores, a sixteen-year-old will probably not be able to purchase something that has an 18+ rating in the first place, as I’ve seen happen all too often among the yaoi fandom.

Even on the event that there is 18+ manga and people do ID (which is rare, from experience) fangirls will just tear off the shrinkwrap and read it in the aisle anyways. (I'm not sure if the girl in the picture's reading yaoi or not, but it illustrates my point) Not that that isn't annoying, but...

Now, some of you are probably sitting and scratching your head, thinking “Well, what does this mean?”  Others of you are probably posting on a certain unmentionable anonymous picture image board that anime and manga are doomed, and that the only things left will be the (absolutely terrible) new season of Pokemon, Hidamari Sketch, and K-ON.  And that all other sorts of work, regardless of genre, will inevitably be deemed as ‘inappropriate’.

Dawn is still okay for TV. However, my love of her probably isn't...

I feel, honestly, like there are going to be so many loopholes in this law that it will have little negative effect other than the fact that a very small portion of manga may be inevitably cancelled.  However, my concern lies in the fact that an ordinance like this has to exist – while there have been laws in America that have made the sexual depiction of underage animated/drawn characters dubious, there are certainly no laws that make the depiction of violence and such illegal.  It worries me in the first place that there has to be a public ‘approval’ of these sorts of things.  While I certainly wouldn’t show a lot of my more normal friends KissXSis or Kodomo no Jikan, those are exactly the sort of things that would end up banned in Tokyo by this law.

Illegal Relationships? Check. High levels of fanservice intended to arouse? Check. I'll admit I actually like KissXsis, but I also think I might have to say bye-bye to it. =(

While I honestly feel that, under pressure from this law, a lot of developers of anime/manga/games may end up moving to Kyoto or somewhere similar, I hope I’m wrong.  I hope that this ends up being yet another relatively harmless law.  And I do have a little bit of hope.  Just a few weeks ago in Japan, a committee was held about Ore no Imouto.  This committee was held because Kirino, the main character in the show, was an underaged character who had managed to get a hold of lots of ero games aimed strictly at adults 18 years and older.  Someone evidently thought that was socially unacceptable, and the complaint was made.  However, the committee agreed unanimously that there was no threat to the children from Ore no Imouto, despite the fact that a complaint had been filed, and nothing changed.  So as long as you don’t have inanely high amounts of fanservice (like Ladies vs Butlers, Kanokon, To Love-Ru, and other sorts of near-ero manga that may as well be ero-manga) the manga you like will (hopefully) live on past the restrictions.  This is only my conjecture though.

This image is just from Google, so the quality sucks, but here's a picture of the ever-offensive pile of eroge that Kirino has accumulated.

There is another, more unfortunate part of fandom who I honestly feel will be more affected by this, due in part to Governor Ishihara’s homophobia – fujoshi and the BL fandom.  While I’m not too huge on BL (I don’t dislike it, it’s just I think a lot of it ranges from mediocre to bad, just like a lot of the shoujo manga that ends up in Hana to Yume and other ilk) I don’t think that it deserves to be placed in the 18+ corner with titles such as Comic LO or anything like that.  But what other outcome is there?  While a few might get by, most BL manga that I’ve read that hasn’t had outright porn in it has had lots of sex scenes that can be misconstrued as porn, almost to the point of manga such as Aki-Sora (which, believe it or not, is seinen and heavy ecchi, despite obvious depiction of sex scenes) and these manga will likely, unfortunately, end up in the 18+ sections of bookstores, which means that a certain portion of these manga may end up being cancelled.  Already, there are some BL mangakas who have been asked to change things that would seem relatively meaningless to most in their stories – such as men wearing school outfits.

Some people see this as a positive thing-cleaning out the ‘moeshit’ that has been ‘clogging’ the industry.  However, this law also can be imposed upon seinen series that contain law-breaking of any sort, and can therefore be applied to almost any anime or manga.  At its worst, Bill 158 may indeed do what some people on an anonymous image board are dreading – make every manga into a work no more harmful than Pokemon.  Not even Pokemon Special.  However, it’s unlikely, in my opinion, that anything will come from this.

This seems just like the kind of law that will have little effect, perhaps changing the distribution of anime and manga to be more internet-based (which is not necessarily a bad thing, though I don’t like Crunchyroll as a distributor because of its dubious means of generating startup funds) until two years in the future when this bill is repealed because of reduced revenue produced from the seinen manga that businessmen like to read on the train on their way to work.

See? look at that guy, reading manga and not being afraid of anything. I bet that manga would get banned.

Therefore, while I feel that this bill is something to keep in mind, I don’t think that it’s anything to panic about, because its effects will probably not be kept in place for very long anyways.  If it gets to be too oppressive, then I can only see protests rising as a result, and not just from the relatively underground ‘otaku’ subculture either – this law affects anyone who reads any sort of manga at all.

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Random Ramblings – #2 – Mafuyu is mai waifu, do not steal!

Some of you may have heard of the (not-so-recent) phenomenon regarding something called ‘waifus’. In fact, if you haven’t, I’m relatively surprised you made it here, especially considering that half of the search terms here are just people looking for doujins. Unfortunately, for those of you with your head eagerly in the air and your (possibly figurative) penis eagerly pressing against your pants, there are none of those here.

Now, what I’m going to say is extremely subjective, and thus everyone will quite possibly think I’m terribly wrong and an idiot, but I’d just like to put down my two cents since I never really have anything else to blog about, given that I think that other people are perfectly capable of episode-by-episode anime summaries and their thoughts on it and that they can do it much faster than me. Nor do I really think that many people actually care about what my thoughts were on Kanamemo or Serial Experiments Lain. So, therefore, for my first post in months, I’m going to talk about something that most of you probably won’t find interesting: the waifu phenomenon.

Now, for those two of you who may potentially read this who don’t have any idea what a waifu is, here’s a brief rundown. You’re aware, of course, of people who think of celebrities as their husbands? They have pictures of them all over their walls and own every movie by them? This is much the same phenomenon, except instead of celebrities, the characters here consist of mostly female (though certain male characters can certainly qualify as well) characters from anime, manga, video games, light novels, and ero-games (or non-porn visual novels because umineko fans will instantly jump on me for saying such otherwise).

There are several ways in which people with waifus will express their adoration. You know that one person in lecture you see with Nadeko as their background? Probably not, but you get the point – often, when one obtains a new waifu, it becomes their goal to plaster the user screens of technological items such as computers and cellphones with pictures of them.

Then, there is the next step – buying posters. If the character in question is from a relatively mainstream, slightly-old anime, such as Kagami from Lucky Star or Yuki from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, then you can probably find a metric ton of wallscrolls at whatever anime convention you live within 200 miles of. However, if your character of adoration is from a more recent, slightly more obscure anime (though the term of obscure is relatively hard to define in terms of certain fandoms, I don’t consider Saki or Kodomo no Jikan obscure, but I’m sure that a lot of people do) then your next step will be to find posters from Nyantype or Megami Magazine. If you are not familiar with either of these magazines, they contain several relatively small posters depicting female (with the recent exceptions of Mariya and Hideyoshi, and perhaps others that I don’t know about) characters from anime that were airing in Japan at the time of publication.

Hideyoshi, even according to Megami and Nyantype, is a gender classification of his own self-while biologically male.

Keep in mind, these steps are not in order, don’t necessarily need to happen at all, and aren’t really indicative of anything. It’s just typical behavior that I’ve generally noticed. That being said, the next ‘stage’ that I’ve noticed is purchasing of figures. They’re generally quite expensive, and this is a stage that few people except for anime fans understand. Often, when people see my figures, they ask “aren’t those toys for kids?” even though Stringed owns like a million more figures than I do. Most of mine are actually just small trading figures, because I generally lack the funding for figures, though I have managed to amass like three of them myself. While I’d like to own many more, particularly that Koromo figure that I posted earlier on in this and a figure of Sanya from Strike Witches that I do believe is made by Kotobukiya, they’re just…very expensive. Often a sign of someone who is devoted to their waifu is someone who has several figures of them, just because of the financial cost associated with these figures. Though I’d honestly buy a lot of Alter figures, as well as Nendoroids, generally because those are my favorites.

Even so, figures generally have a vast price range. While for most people this ranges from too expensive to far too expensive, it is not always as horrible as it looks. Sites such as Hobby Search and Toys Logic generally have sales as well, though there often are not great figures there, and it is often possible to find figures at conventions relatively cheap, and they can be even cheaper on Sundays if they feel they can sell them. Figures that are to-scale generally cost from $60-100 a pop with shipping, whereas some non-scale figures tend to be a bit cheaper, in the $35-60 range. Nendoroids are generally about $35 each, and trading figures, which are generally smaller, can cost as little as $5-10, though they generally tend to be around $10-15 when searching for a particular one.

However, for many people, that isn’t quite enough. Some people want to spend time with their waifu in a closer way than figures and pictures on their walls and PCs can allow. Therefore, where is the best place to place a picture of them, because they sadly cannot materialize in the real world? The answer to that is simple – a pillow case. These pillowcases with female anime characters on them, often with one ‘clean’ side and one ‘scandalous’ side, are generally referred to as dakimakura. This is one of the things about anime fandom that many people consider weird; however, I honestly think that dakimakura should be kept relatively private. Therefore, if you go around with your dakimakura in public, such as the one infamous man who traversed around Japan with his pillow depicting Nemu from Da Capo, you should expect some strange looks from many people.

I don’t really think dakimakura are weird myself, however. I’d honestly buy one of Yuno from Hidamari Sketch, the official one is just adorable. And the Sanya one because Sanya is sexy and awesome. (Terrible confession here: I have not made the time to watch season two of Strike Witches, nor Season Two of K-ON!!, someone please scream in my face to make me watch both of them) I just think it’s one of those things you should keep private, because of the sexual connotations of white stains being all over them within several hours. Even if you don’t want to defile your dakimakura with your sexual organs, there are some people who do, and there is a high enough number that it’s the equivalent of going around with a large, colorful vibrating dildo and showing it to everyone.

Now, what implications do all of these things have? I honestly don’t think anything of it. It’s just a fantasy, and so long as it doesn’t get in the way of your everyday life, I see it as no big deal if you have no waifus and find the practice weird and disturbing and for virgin nerds who have no life or various other negative things people could say. While it’s true that a lot of people with dakimakura haven’t done the deed, it’s not even always the case, especially if you go to certain websites on the internet. There are many people who are even both in relationships in their real life and still have a place in this subculture, though they don’t often speak up about it. (For example, myself. I’m in a relationship and I have several waifus. It’s not really weird unless the other person in the relationship is uncomfortable about it).

Really, the only thing that prevents me from having ten dakimakura and a million figures is a general lack of funds. And that doesn’t stop anything else. So, uh…yeah, that’s pretty much my two cents. Feel free to comment, rage that I’m in a relationship and that I therefore have no right to be saying anything about waifus, that I’m a female and also have no right to say anything about this or any other such comments you might have.

And for those of you who are now curious, here are some links! I wouldn’t be surprised if Stringed has already mentioned these sites, but you can never be tantalized by things you want to buy enough.

http://www.auctiva.com/stores/viewstore2.aspx?id=874911&page=home – Dakimakura. Most of them are probably counterfeit, but whatever.

http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/ – mostly sells figures. However, you can get -official- dakimakura here as well if you click the “Anime Toy” button! These are pretty expensive though, and unless you really want to support companies or can’t find it anywhere else there generally isn’t a huge quality difference, from what i’ve noticed.

http://toylet.net/index.html – Has a lot of stuff, surprisingly. It’s all pretty expensive, but it’s nice for a look. It’s also very, very nice if you’re a fan of Touhou Project.

You can also find a lot of figures at conventions! I’ve actually gotten almost all of mine from conventions, because I just hate paying for things online and don’t trust figures getting shipped back to my dorm anyways. As for dakimakura, I’d feel a little odd buying one at a convention, but they generally only have a few anyways, and honestly I think all of the designs on them kinda suck. And…there you go. My random rambling is officially finished.

At least, for now.

Anti-Scanlation Coalition vs. Common Sense?

I’m still working my way through Le Chevalier D’Eon. Hopefully I’ll have that review done before next Christmas. I’m so sorry to everyone that I keep letting down in regards to that. That said, this post is about the recent news.

Once again I am late to the party. I’m sure by now all the cool blogs have posted their thoughts and opinions on this current news, and I doubt my opinion is much different, but hey, I have a blog and I have opinions, so I may as well use this blog to express those opinions, right?

Alright, so according to Anime News Network, several Japanese and American manga companies have formed a coalition designed to combat manga scanlations. Naturally, this has the anime fan community in an uproar. Scanlations and fansubs are always a controversial issue, since some people deplore their very existence, others refuse to consume anime or manga any other way, and still others are in the middle and use them here and there, but still obtain some of their series of choice by legal means as well.

As you might guess, I’m in that middle ground. I buy a lot of manga, but I also read a fair amount of scans. I mostly read scans for unlicensed stuff, but I’ll also do it for long running shonen or stuff where something about the licensed translation or editing/censoring bugged me. In that last case, I still buy the licensed version for the sake of supporting the title. I’ll buy a volume here and there for my favorite chapters when it comes to long running shonen, too. Overall I’m very supportive of the industry and I want it to succeed.

However, this anti-scanlation coalition has to be one of the worst ideas I’ve heard of in a while. Fundamentally it’s a good thing. Going after illegal copies of their licensed material is something that should be done. That said, the way this is being handled sounds like it will ultimately create more harm than good. How?

-No alternatives provided. Even if you knock out all of the scanlation hosts, if you don’t provide legal alternatives, more will pop up in the old ones’ places. This will turn into fighting a Hydra if the coalition doesn’t figure that out fast. People go to sites like OneManga instead of buying their manga at a bookstore for a reason. If there isn’t something similar but legal in the place of these sites, then the audience for said sites won’t be served and new ones will step in to serve that audience.

-As a direct result of not providing alternatives, this feels somewhat like an attempt to stifle the fans. It’s silly, since this is copyrighted material that they’re trying to keep from spreading illegally, which is perfectly fair. The problem is that, whenever a company doesn’t listen to the fans of its product, that looks bad. Obviously manga fans want more convenient (and less expensive) ways to access manga, or else sites like this wouldn’t exist. Of course some of the people that use them really are leeches that would never buy a single volume of manga, but that isn’t the only issue here. If it was, it would be a waste of time to shut down these sites anyway because the userbases would just stop reading manga. By not giving fans more methods to get manga legally, this anti-scanlation coalition will be seen by some as a move against the fans, not a move against piracy.

-Some manga ends up censored and/or given a subpar translation. This sort of thing really just has to be done away with before doing away with scanlations will ever be a good idea. No one wants to read a manga with a bad translation or unnecessary censorship. Some people will cry “bad translation!” just as an excuse to not pay, but there really are cases of bad translations out there.

The one good thing about this news is that it sounds like they’ll more be going after scanlation aggregator sites like OneManga and MangaFox rather than scanlators themselves. That said, manga companies really need to step up their game and fast if this is going to cause any good. Viz’s Sig IKKI site is a prime example of what we need more of. Assuming it works out, OpenManga is another good thing. These really need to keep on coming, though, or else the Hydra that is scanlations and scanlation aggregators will just grow three more new heads for each one the anti-scanlation coalition cuts off.

Playing Catch-up – 12 Moments of Anime #8 + #7 Moonlight Sonata

I hate ketchup. And catch-up is pretty hard, too. Anyway, time for some more of those 12 moments in anime!

12. K-ON and general moe

11. PVC figures

10. Doujinshi

9. Fate/Stay Night

8. Touhou violin

I love the violin. This is no secret. I mean, why do you think I chose the handle “stringedsonata”? Also Touhou is a new thing for me, but I’m slowly getting into it, and I love the music. So when I learned of the existence of TAMUSIC and their Touhou violin CDs, you can bet I instantly thought “that is a really good idea!”, followed by “where can I get these?!”. I proceeded to download all 9 of them and listen to them like crazy.

I still listen to them quite often, though the tracks from Perfect Cherry Blossom get played more than the others because I’ve actually played Perfect Cherry Blossom, which is not something I can say for any other Touhou game. I’ll play them all eventually, though!

12. K-ON and general moe

11. PVC figures

10. Doujinshi

9. Fate/Stay Night

8. Touhou violin

7. Vocaloid

Previously, I never really cared much about Vocaloid. I saw it explode in popularity, but I didn’t quite get it. Then a friend of mine had me download a song for her. The song was “From Y to Y” by Hatsune Miku. I fell in love with it. From there I researched Vocaloid music, and came to fall for Megurine Luka. Both her design and her voice became my favorite pretty damn fast.I’m not as crazy about Vocaloid as some people are, but I certainly do like it.

Yes, I do have the nendoroid Luka on preorder.

That’s all this catch-up round. I’ll have more again ASAP. And my Le Chevalier D’Eon review. Though I need to actually finish Le Chevalier D’Eon first.

12 Days of Christmas: 12 Moments of Anime 2009 #9 – Night of Fate

I may have skipped a day, I don’t know. If I have to I’ll do another double update on Christmas.

12. K-ON and general moe

11. PVC figures

10. Doujinshi

9. Fate/Stay Night

I wish I could be gar for Lancer

I’ve been curious about Fate/Stay Night for a few years now, since I saw the anime a while back and mostly liked what I saw. It wasn’t until this summer that I actually started playing the game, though. As you may guess from my previous review of the Fate route, I like Fate/Stay Night quite a bit.

I love how the game tackles such issues as immortality and whether it would truly be so wonderful, and whether wishes can just be granted by a magical vessel without any work toward the goal from the person making the wish. Fate/Stay Night explores quite a few deep themes like that, and I find it fascinating.

Of course there is also the cute girl aspect, and I do love me some Rider and Caster. And Saber. And Rin.

Also Lancer is just so cool. Why is everyone GAR for Archer? They should be GAR for Lancer for goodness sake! Also why is there no scale figure for Lancer? Or Taiga. Or Caster? Or…damn it I love Saber, but there needs to be more scale figures of pretty much any F/SN character that isn’t Saber.

Over the course of the year I’ve gotten mildly addicted to Fate/Stay Night. From quoting things like “People die if they are killed” to friends for no apparent reason to even going so far as to look at mythology books on Cú Chulainn in Borders because Lancer is just that awesome, Fate/Stay Night is definitely something that’s present in my mind a lot.

12 Days of Christmas: 12 Moments of Anime #11 and #10 – On Why I am Broke (Double Entry)

Wow, I’m actually following through with this. Go me? These two are a related topic, so I’m just posting them together in one post.

12. K-ON and general moe

11. PVC figures

So, as should be pretty clear from the Eri Sawachika and Yuki Nagato figure entries, I have a figure collecting problem. Just how bad am I?

do I fail yet?

Does that speak for itself? If not, how about the fact that I have a Saber Lily waiting wrapped up under the Christmas tree and about 10 more other figures as either standing preorders or hidden Christmas presents? I love these things.

I got started with figures officially in May 2007 when I purchased Yamato’s 1/8 Seras Victoria alternate color version at Anime Central, but things didn’t start spiraling out of control like this (aka ordering figures online) until early 2009. I blame the Hetalia One Coin trading figures and Alter’s rerelease of their maid Saber for this nonsense.

My favorite company is a tough question to answer, but I might say Good Smile Company, even over Alter, based on the quality I’ve seen with my personal collection. I do adore Alter, though, and they are a close second.

I have a lot of beauties on their way in 2010, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. It ranges from big deal limited figures like Alter’s dark maid Saber and Clayz’ Tony Taka original character catgirl maids, to Kotobukiya’s interpretation of Osaka from Azumanga Daioh in a swimsuit and the nendoroid o f the Vocaloid Megurine Luka. And of course, the figure everyone has an order in for, Black Rock Shooter. Argh I am so annoyed with GSC for delaying her FOUR TIMES. She’d better be GORGEOUS when she does arrive.

12. K-ON and general moe

11. PVC figures

10. Doujinshi

Doujinshi, aka the other reason why I am broke, is something I’ve collected for a while. My getting into D. Gray-man and Axis Powers Hetalia have boosted my collection.

my most recent additions to my doujinshi collection

I mostly have yaoi doujinshi in my collection, but Hetalia has introduced het and het H doujin into my collection now as well.

While the majority of my collection is Hetalia, I do have other series in there, and I love all of my collection. A real gem in there is my lone Gankutsuou doujinshi. Note to self; obtain more Gankutsuou doujin.

I mostly buy from Mandarake (http://www.mandarake.co.jp/) or use different smaller and more personal middleman services like Mitarashi Dango (http://wareta.net/akatsuki/mitadango/) to obtain my doujinshi. I hope to have someone on LJ that’s running a Comiket pickup service get something for me at Comiket 77 at the end of the month. Fingers crossed!

12 Days of Christmas: 12 Moments of Anime 2009 #12 – Moe Moe Kyun~ K-ON and the moe bug

I too am jumping on the 12 Moments of Anime bandwagon (http://m3.dasaku.net/the-twelve-moments-in-anime-project-2009/1367/) I’m a day late due to ignorance of the subject, but  I’ll do a double whammy for one of the days and get caught up that way.

12. K-ON and general moe

So once upon a time, I was a girl that loved super serious anime. Fanservice was a witch’s brand, and moe was the sign of the devil. In 2009, my feelings on the matter began to gradually shift. I believe this started when I decided I’d give in and give The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya a chance. I liked TMoHS, which came as a surprise to me. The premise had sounded like trash for years! But I found myself loving it. Thus, when K-ON came around in spring 2009, I was willing to give it a chance.  End Game wanted me to try it, and I thought it sounded potentially interesting because I am a music lover. While my music geek side was sorely disappointed with how little of the series actually had anything to do with music, my fledgling moe fan side fell head over heels in love.

One thing that always put me at edge about moe was how cookie cutter the characters seemed to be. You’d have your tsundere, your yandere, and your total moe blob, all beings without a real personality. So when I watched K-ON, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the girls all had actual characterization beyond “she’s the tsundere, she’s the deredere, she’s the whatever else you call these moe characters”, and they all had development. Even Azusa, who wasn’t present for a good half of the already short series, developed and grew. K-ON and Haruhi both taught me that moe isn’t just about girls who can’t tie their shoes by themselves, and there really is something in it for people like me.

Throughout the year, moe has grown on me in various ways, thanks to K-ON especially. Rock on, K-ON, you have opened my eyes.