Taking a look at the flipside: Why Japan is screwing itself (Part 1 of 2 on censorship)
Before we begin I’d like to take care of a few administrative details.
First up, about the use of ichc lolcats, well, it seems some people are not too happy about it. I shall remove all lolcat pics but seriously, for a 4chan meme turned global phenomenon, you’d think they’d be a bit lenient about it, but then again I’m an idiot.
Secondly, the Orange Box has taken up a fair bit of my time (Yes I did buy the Orange Box, can it, the Orange Box is awesome.) and may still eat up a fair amount of my time. That and work. We will return to your scheduled random flaming retardedness after at least Portal is beaten into the ground.
With the niggly details out of the way, let’s talk seriousness.
I’m sure everyone knows how Japan is supposedly on a witchunt for porn artists and events, screwing with otaku left and right. I’m also quite sure everyone knows about the murders and the subsequent NICE BOAT and HiguKai being pulled off the air for a bit.
But does anyone know why and how did the cycle of events unfolded as it did? Heck, I don’t know if I got it right or not but here’s my personal rough timeline of events:
- post WW2-early 1960s: Japan, devastated by the war, jumps into overdrive to revitalize its economy, with help from the Allies.
- 1960s-1970s: Rapid modernization occurs. Education system shifts into rote. First signs of student burnout and instability. Osamu Tezuka popularized manga and animation in Japan. Gundam and giant robot animé air. First otaku ‘born’. First Comiket held.
- 1970s-2000: Education burnout continues. People (those who cannot adapt to the rigid education system) become despondent and retreat into an animated world of robots and such. Animé popularized in Japan. Manga undergoes it’s first golden era. We can safely assume that the same people also drew porn. Westerners stumble onto the subculture. Limited contact happens. Dragonball Z and some of the earlier series gets shown in America. Birth of fansubbing. Eroge is proven to be a new market. A convicted killer is found to have liked cute little 2D girls. Sarin gas attacks happen. Japan realizes the otaku are bad news.
- 2000 – 2005: Increased contact between Japanese animé companies and world. Otaku make headline news as Densha Otoko saves a woman from molest. Maid cafés open up shop. Otaku are tolerated, but rather grudgingly.
Japan begins urban redevelopment of Akihabara.
- 2006: Urban redevelopment of Akihabara has slowly, but surely, pushed out a fair amount of otaku by closing down otaku hangouts.
- Jan-March 2007: Nothing newsworthy.
- April 2007: Gainax screws up Gurren Lagann, accidently reveals their thoughts on otaku, other companies follow suit.
- May 2007: 2ch is revealed to be more influential than even the Emperor and Prime Minister of Japan combined, some young punk kills his mother and confesses on 2ch, The Japanese Supreme Court tries to declare Comiket and other related events illegal, Gazo BBS channel admins arrested over uncensored pics, other imageboard admins get arrsted.
- June 2007: Japanese Supreme Court rules some eromanga illegal because of inadequate censoring, Akiba Liberation Front formed.
- July 2007: Akiba Tours formed, Eromanga to have explicit markings
- August 2007: C72 is targeted by the Akiba Liberation Front, another doujin author gets arrested over nudie pics,
- September 2007: NICE BOAT
- October 2007: A bunch of doujin events (mostly the porn ones) get iced or put in storage, a poll in Japan states that an overwhelming majority oppose loli porn (Note: Polls and such cannot be taken as fact in Japan due to cultural issues), WanFesu 08 has a giant warning about porn and such.
The timeline here shows three things: one, the otaku are representative of the human cost Japan suffered in order to put itself back up on the global market, and two, the problem lies with Japanese society, and three, what happens when you can’t hammer the nail down.
You see, Japan, for all of it’s wonder, is actually pretty messed up internally. Due to the culture of groupthink and lack of emphasis on individual rights, people rarely, if at all, speak their minds, preferring to grin and bear it. There is a good reason why Japanese people love to hit the bars after work… … … Being unable to speak their minds, and living in a situation that is slowly going to the dogs, they are forced to resort to getting wasted to forget their troubles, or in the otaku’s case, to retreat into a fantasy world. Be it alcohol or 2D girls, the motive is the same: To forget about their troubles, even if it is temporary.
The groupthink culture also presents another problem: if you stand up for something or something similar, it can be taken that you want to stand out, and that is an unforgivable crime in Japan. If you stand out, Japanese society will make sure that you will not stand out for long.
Now then, what happens if you encounter the nail that refuses to be hammered down, no matter what? You remove the nail. This I feel, is what is happening to the otaku in Japan today. The otaku have stood out a lot more than the rest of Japanese society, for all sorts of reasons, more wrong than right I’m afraid. And they refuse to be hammered down, no matter what. If the Akiba Liberation Front can be taken as an example of how hard it is to show them their position in Japanese society, then it is pretty simple to anyone with all the information handy to see what is going to happen.
And if the recent extra legislation and events are an indicator, chances are the Japanese authorities are taking action to remove what they deem to be a stain on the country’s honor. The otaku are loathed in Japan, believe it or not. No one likes them. They are people who have failed in life, in the eyes of Japanese society, the visual representation of the human cost Japan paid in order to be a global economic superpower. They could not cope with the education system, and lost all sense of purpose. Despondent, they turn to their fantasy worlds, and immerse themselves in it, never to leave. They are the lowest of the low in Japanese society (the bunrakumin are even lower, but that’s another story), people who cannot accept reality, etc.
It is not a matter of freedom of speech, it is a matter of culture. And the truth. If there’s one thing I know, the truth hurts. But truth is truth, and eventually we all have to accept the truth. It is my wish that Japan realizes the real truth about otaku.
Then Work our way to the Japan FAQ
Shingo has kept a fairly good coverage of the events as it happens
BACK FROM THE FUUUUUUUUUUTUUUUUUUUUUUREEEE: Okay, so Japan is slowly warming up to animator rights, the LDP has been booted out of office, and things seem to be quiet. FOR NOW.
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