Some Common Western Misconceptions

When answering inquires from the overseas press regarding artistic freedom in manga and anime, I try to add the following note. I am tired of being type cast as the tone-deaf guy that wants to protect anime and manga at the expense of everything else. I’m not sure if it helps, but I try all the same…

I would like to note that I am an advocate for free speech and freedom for both men and women to expressive themselves freely in every medium as long as they do not directly inhibit other’s human rights.

There has been strong interest in how Japan permits fictional sexually explicit anime and manga (animation and comic books) featuring minors in sexual situations aimed at male audiences. While the public and members of the media are quite aware of this, academics and specialists also note that the Western world tends not notice that nearly half of all animation and comic books in Japan are aimed at female audiences, a huge market for sexually explicit material for female audiences exists there, and that manga authorship in Japan is roughly gender equal (there are as many female author/artists as well as male author/artists.)

Solely focusing on the male audience and their market in Japan tends to reinforce the following Western assumptions:
1) Only men are interested in sexually explicit material.
2) Women are not interested in creatively pursuing sexually explicit material.
3) Ignore the fact that there is a market for both genders (and all common sexual orientations,) with a considerable amount of cross-over between these markets.
4) Preference for certain types of fictional sexually explicit material equates to holding such inclinations in real life as well.

There is a huge market for homoerotic material authored and consumed by Japanese women featuring male on male relationships. Few women who enjoy this material aspire to change their biological gender to pursue homosexual relationships.

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表現の暴政

日本のコンテンツに限った話ではありませんが、「許容」と「圧迫」の話を少々。日本のアニメ・マンガが現時点で世界で羨望の対象になっている最大の理由は「自由」「豊富」「多様」だからです。だれでも感情移入できる対象物が沢山揃っており、特定の作風を強要せず、複数の市場が共存している。

「圧迫」というのはその表現自体が法的に規制されている、一転集中傾向の市場が異なる方向性の表現を許容していない、特定の商品を選ぶと異なる選択肢が活用できないなどの場合は発生しやすいでしょう。

しかしに日本のマンガ・アニメ・ゲームコンテンツで言えば法的規制は諸外国に比べてかなり自由度が高く、複数の読者層(老若男女)を対象とした複数の市場が共存共栄しており、なによりも複数の作品を自由気ままに購入できるくらい選択肢が多く、まさしくより取り見取りのできるすごい場所です。

女性も男性も高齢者も未成年も何も憚ることなく多種多様な表現を満喫できる日本の作品群が「圧迫」「差別的」「非許容」だというのならばそれはアニメ・マンガ・ゲームの問題ではなくて社会全体がそのような傾向があることを示していると思います。

そしてそのような主流派に対してアンチテーゼや反論をもっとも展開しやすいのが日本のアニメ・マンガ・ゲームです。原爆問題、同性愛、部落差別などについて日本のマンガは率先して取り組むことが出来ました。

社会問題に日本のマンガは60~70年代頃から取り組み始めました。アメリカのコミックでも黒人問題や民族問題について問題定義する作品がありましたが、ジャンルの傾向がヒーロー物が集中し、基本的に男の子向けの色合いが非常に強い非寛容で圧迫的なメディアでした。

アングラやミニコミで独自の表現を模索することがあっても、日本のように商業出版において多種多様な読者を相手に様々な社会的な問題をなぜアメリカのコミックは追求できなかったのでしょうか?映画や音楽ではあれだけ活発だったにも関わらず。

それはアメリカでは「マンガ害悪論」「マンガは児童向け」「表現の自由は当てはまらない」「相応しい価値観しか提示すべきではない」に基づく統治・管理・自主規制の時代が続いていたからです。

日本で「マンガ・アニメ・ゲームは文学や絵画よりも危険」「不謹慎な表現は規制されるべき」という論理で進行すればたちまち多様性も魅力も減退するでしょう。となれば日本のマンガ・アニメ・ゲームの更なる進化・発展は海外頼みになるかもしれません。

もう既に日本のアニメ・マンガ・ゲームの文化は海外で広く浸透し、新しいクリエーターの表現手段となっています。日本のクリエーターが海外のクリエーターと競作、コラボ、刺激し合う時代が終焉しないことを心から祈っています。

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第8装甲連隊C90夏コミ新刊:『トブルクの魔女設定資料集』発行と委託情報

陸戦ウィッチを愛でる同人サークル「第8装甲連隊」よりコミックマーケット三日目、ヨ-17aにて『トブルクの魔女設定資料集』を会場限定のフルカラーのオマケ小冊子付きで一部1000円で頒布させて頂きました。

現在とらのあな様から委託販売されておりますので、もしご興味ありましたら何卒宜しくお願い致します。

WoTPDC(C90)0104-cover(semiflat) cropsample
表紙は水無月十三さんです!

現在鋭意製作中のトブルクの魔女に合せて制作された設定画像を沢山詰め込みました!

中身は兼光の設定資料画像が主体ですがゲストも盛り沢山。サンクマ、みこやん、トキ兄、長谷川竹光、久彦、もず、蒔野靖弘、碧宇、迂闊十臓、逢摩文七朗、高永浩平、VT、TYPE.90、Junkpuyo、神宮小川(順不同・敬称略


沢山のゲストを交えてトブルクの魔女に登場するキャラクターを紹介します。ご期待ください!

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How to express yourself and survive

I just returned back from a trip to Toronto to attend Anime North. Takeshi Nogami and I were invited as guests and between the two of us we did a number of panels where the subject of self-expression came up. Having returned, I thought I might want to write something short based on the wonderful feedback that we got there.

Generally speaking two motivations stand out regarding self-expression. There is the satisfaction you win from seeing others enjoy your work. There is also desire to express what is inside all of us. These two elements of self-expression are similar but there is a big difference. There are cases where the two contradict each other, but you can learn to make the two coincide. Once you can learn to appreciate both aspects of self-expression and better understand what you want to do, then I am certain the creative process will become even more enjoyable.

Nearly everyone likes it when you see a smile appear on a person’s face when you mention something to them. Facilitating a person’s entertainment is a core desire on the part of most people who likes to express themselves to others. There is no better way to enhance a child’s creativity then show enthusiasm for the creation and encourage the child to do more.

But sometimes what people want is not what you want to create or express. This is natural, of course, since everyone is different. There are some universal themes that are appreciated by many, but even in taking up subjects that many find interesting, the direction and nuances involved will draw some closer while repelling others away.

And finally, there are personal emotions and aspirations that dominate our hearts and fester in our minds. Some of them might not be so pleasant, but that is perfectly fine. We all get angry, sad, and envious over the course of time. We need to vent it, but we also need the discretion to express these urges in forms that are constructive. If you carelessly express yourself and cause discomfort or resentment on the part of others, two of one things will happen. You will become afraid to express yourself, or you will start to interact with fewer and fewer number of people.

Emotions and opinions are what makes us human. Everybody has them. You need to find a realm that is safe to express them. You should not expect everyone to appreciate them all the time, anywhere you are. The last thing you need at the end of a long work day is having someone make fun of your face while waiting to check-out at the local supermarket.

The ability to channel our feelings and thoughts makes us feel more liberated and uninhibited. When you can direct them into forms that entertain others, it will give you a sense of fulfillment that is very difficult to match by anything else.

Just as some respects social institutions inhibit us more than free us, adhering to popular themes and genres can be restricting to a person’s creativity and originality. However, as you become more and more skillful in creating, then you will realize that there are many facets of being a creative person. Even in the most mundane and ubiquitous subject, there are ways to incorporate your unique creativity.

When you are starting out, do not get overly concerned about not being creative. Just like with dancing and cooking, you will become better through practice. If you are mindful, that you can learn from each time you complete a drawing or complete a project and present it to others. Over the course of time, the tools available to compose material will become more and more sophisticated and better polished. You will never be satisfied with what you can do, but you will amaze yourself with what you have accomplished when you compare it with what you were doing in the beginning.

Never mix up what you want to express with what people want. These are two separate things that you need to mediate and negotiate. Your desire to express yourself compels you to supply material to others, but if you strive to win larger audiences, then you must learn to channel your creativity in ways that go beyond just fulfilling your needs. Sometimes your tastes and the audience’s tastes match, and that is wonderful when it does. But in many instances, that may not always be the case.

Never lose focus on what you want to do, even if you need to do something else. There are many audiences out there, and for some projects it might be better to focus on satisfying a smaller audience than a larger one. There are strengths and weakness to both approaches, but if you do not remain conscious of the audience that you are speaking to, then you will easily get disillusioned.

And lastly, never get discouraged from trying again. There will be days when it seems like the end of the world. Don’t worry, it can always be worse! But most importantly, better things will never come by unless you try again.

Many people talk about talent, and to be frank, artistic talent is over-rated. The motivation and discipline that comes from a diligent and driven person will achieve growth and refinement that will far excel beyond an artistically talented person that only works casually.

A willingness to be diligent and the spirit of playfulness that comes along with being comfortable with the creative process will take you places you never expected. Most importantly, these attributes can be developed by nearly everyone.

It’s a wild ride, and everyone is welcome join in.

Posted in creative process | 2 Comments

鎖国という市場構築

『中国、3月10日より外国企業のゲームやアニメ配信を禁止に。合弁会社も不可』
http://www.gamecast-blog.com/archives/65854634.html
「中国の情報統制が、アプリに影響を及ぼしそうだ。
New York TimesForbesが伝えるところによると、2016年3月10日より中国で新しい規定が施行され、中国国外の企業は、中国でオンラインコンテンツを配信できなくなるとのこと。
このオンラインコンテンツには、文章、地図、ゲーム、アニメや音楽やビデオが含まれる」

情報統制という括りで紹介されているこの記事ですが、ちょっと違う側面から考え必要があると思います。

現在、ニュース・娯楽・情報の多くは世界中で共有されています。英語圏で作成された娯楽やニュースが世界を駆け巡る速度が非常に高いのはそれだけ英語を活用するひとが世界に多いことを裏付けています。

しかしマンガやアニメとなると日本語のままでも影響力が国内だけに留まらず、海外でもかなりの波及力を保持しています。

それは海外で日本語ができるひとが多いからではなく、「マンガ・アニメでは日本が総本山」という刷り込みが強く、人口一人あたりの市場規模が世界最大だからです。

以下、2014年のデータです:

国 : 人口 / コミック出版市場規模 / アニメ市場規模
日本 : 約1.2億人 / 約3569億円 / 約1兆4913億円
米国+カナダ : 約3.5億人 / 約1020億円 / 不明
中国 : 約13億人 / 不明 / 約1.7兆円
抜粋元はそれぞれの数字からリンクを貼りました。

単純比較するのは危険だと思いますが、北米の人口が日本の3倍なのにコミック市場は日本の1/3、中国の人口は日本の10倍なのにアニメ市場が日本とほぼ同じであることがわかります。かなり都合の良い数字を並べているのは存じておりますが、ここで申し上げたいのは日本の人口と制作者人口の数を考えると日本の市場は凄まじく、多種多様な作品が膨大に生み出されているという私なりの印象です。

さて、今回の中国の政策ですが、世界から様々な作品が中国に流入しているのに歯止めを掛け、統治力強化も大きな動機だと思います。しかしながら中国指導部にとってもう一つ大きな懸案事項があると前々から聞き及んでいます。

中国の経済発展の度合いの凄まじさに比べると文化的発信力がかなり弱いということです。

中国の市場はかなり大きいのですが、映画ではハリウッド、マンガ・アニメでは日本の作品からの影響がかなり強いことは色々な記事でより取りざたされています。中国指導部としては国内でコンテンツ作りを促進して世界規模での文化的存在感を高めたいという願望が強く、これに準じて色々な規制と援助金を交付しているとよく話題に登ります。

しかし思ったほど成果を出していないのかもしれません。中国の市場を満足させるために中国資本を取り込んだ映画作りはハリウッドでは珍しくありませんが、これも結局は米国文化作品です。中国共産党執行部としてはより大胆な政策を打ち出したのかもしれません。

冒頭で紹介した記事に書かれているように、中国で人気あるアプリや作品に対して直接干渉出来るのであれば、統治力強化の観点から非常に魅力的です。

しかし海外から絶え間なく流入する輸入品を徹底的に制限することで「輸入代替で保護して発展を促す」という側面もあると思います。

輸入代替政策はあまり珍しくありません。経済発展学ではより取り沙汰されます。

しかし輸入代替経済発展政策において民間の国内競争と法統治の透明性、そして創意工夫を促す報酬体系(会社経営者だけではなくて制作者自体が開発作品で利潤を得ること)がとても大事なので、これらの点では中国の歪な市場は是正されないと思います。

今後中国のクリエーターにとってどのような世界が待っているのか、そして世界はそれに対してどのように対応するのか、注視し続けたいと思います。

Posted in bureaucracy, censorship, harmful material, Japanese, news, public morality and media | Leave a comment

Misguided Priorities and Self-Contradictions in the United Nations

Update: The UN Committee on the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has released their final report regarding women’s rights. Go here to see what they had to say about Japanese anime and manga.

国連女子差別撤廃委員会の対日審査最終見解でマンガやアニメについて言及した部分(英語)を掲載しました。件の部分は下線されています。

The United Nations’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) provides an important role in protecting human rights around the world. They not only address violations of human rights where people’s lives are threatened by violence, but they also attempt to reveal systemic abuses and discriminatory practices that thwart people from realizing their full potential.

Unfortunately, sometimes in their zeal to address social ills, the OHCHR not only seems to exhibit misguided priorities and over-simplified issues revolving around artistic expression and singled out Japanese anime and video games, but self-contradicted one of the core tenants of enshrined in the United Nations.

Under the heading of “Japan’s record on women’s rights to face review by UN Committee”, the UN Committee on the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) will examine Japan’s records on women’s rights. It states that: “Among the possible issues for discussion between CEDAW and a delegation from the Japanese Government are: Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women; employment equality, illegal dismissal of women due to pregnancy and childbirth; sexual harassment in the workplace; reintegration into school textbooks of issue of “comfort women”; compensation for women with disabilities sterilised against their will; effect on women, particularly pregnant women, of health programmes introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster; difference in pension benefits for men and women, poverty among older women.” [Italicization by myself.]

Let’s review that list once more.

The have listed “Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women” at the very top.

I hate to sound presumptuous, but aren’t the rights of real women far more important than the rights of women in fiction?

If they wish to address how social attitudes against women are forged in Japan, would it not be important to address the totality of media messaging that is infused with movies, magazines, TV, and more?

And why are they jumping to conclusions by assuming that a ban is necessary? And why is it necessary only in the case of video games and cartoons? If a ban is necessary, does it not makes sense to prioritize how real women are depicted in adult films? Few people would mistake manga characters as being real.

Or is the CEDAW of the belief that manga, anime, and video games are more influential than movies, television, and photographs, just as in the case of the revision to the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths? (See Anime and Manga More Harmful Than TV and Films According to Tokyo).

As I have stated many times before in this blog and else where, it is my belief that regulating fiction to address real social ills is both misguided and counterproductive. Thought policing has never worked in course of human history. It simply diverts resources that would be better utilized elsewhere and helps construct Orwellian regulatory authorities where the public is constantly left guessing as to the extent to which their free speech may be prosecuted at the whim of the censors. Dangerous thoughts and their expressions will always find ways to surface. It is far better to educate and allow people to openly debate controversial and unpopular subjects, instead of pretending that censoring culture will some how make the public more civil.

Morality and civility must be learned. Sheltering people from “dangerous thoughts” is no guarantee they would be nicer people. If anything, an artistic culture laden with taboos and required to adhere to laws of the real world is repressive and not conducive to creativity.

A culture grows richer by addition, not by subtraction.

And further more, the United Nations themselves have stated:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (quoted from UNESCO’s website.)

While some examples may be unpopular, any form of fictional manga is a mere expression of a person’s thoughts, not an incitement to action nor declaration of fact.

The logic of regulating fiction and ideas because they might provoke some towards in reality is a dangerous threshold to cross. It is akin to absolving a sexual perpetrator of their personal responsibility for the act they have conducted for it places blame on their environment, and not the individual.

We need to address real crimes and real social issues by confronting them in the real world, not the fictional world.

Update: Below is the answer provided by the Japanese government regarding the questions laid down by the CEDAW:

Question 7 Please indicate the measures taken to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against girls and women and to raise awareness among the producers of such materials, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation No. 19 on violence against women. Please also indicate the measures taken to address the mass production, distribution and use of pornographic videos in which women are targets of sexual violence, as well as the portrayal of sexualized commercial images of women.

(Answer)
35. Concerning video games and films, self-imposed regulation by the industry and its independent rating organizations have been carried out through ratings and reviews of such media containing sexually explicit and violent scenes or scenes including anti-social behavior, to ensure that ethically inappropriate games and films are not distributed.
36. In 46 prefectures, ordinances have been enacted, and a list of books designated as detrimental has been created to regulate the reading/browsing of such material by youths and the sale of such material to youths.
37. The Government of Japan (GOJ) clarifies the requirements for exemption from liability for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) through the Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders and the Act on the Prevention of Revenge Pornography. A list of the Internet addresses of websites that contain child pornography has been provided to ISPs and other relevant companies, and support is provided for voluntary measures to prevent the distribution of such material.
38. The police strengthened investigations on crimes by groups of child pornography consumer and crimes carried out with file-sharing software. In 2014, the police cleared 1,828 cases of child pornography (746 children were victimized). These numbers represent a record high.
39. In 2014, 850 arrests for obscenity offences committed using computer networks, and 185 arrests for crimes related to the sale of obscene DVDs, were made. Press releases regarding those arrests have been held accordingly.
40. Distribution, public display of, and possession for distribution purposes of obscene drawings are punishable under Article 175 of the Penal Code. The possession, production, provision, and public display of child pornography is also punishable under the Act on Regulation and Punishment of Acts Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and the Protection of Children (Paragraph 189 of the Reports). Such crimes are dealt with by administering strict and appropriate dispositions and sentences. This Act was revised in June 2014 to criminalize acts of producing child pornography through secret filming, as well as acts of possession and storage of child pornography for the purpose of satisfying sexual curiosity.
41. To reduce browsing by youths of harmful information on the Internet including pornography, the GOJ implements measures to improve youths’ Internet literacy by providing information, raising awareness, and promoting the use of filtering services.

All of the above was retrieved from here.

March 7th, 2016 Update:

The UN Committee on the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women has released their final report regarding women’s rights and they have returned to the subject of anime and manga.

Stereotypes and harmful practices

20. The Committee remains concerned at the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society. The Committee is particularly concerned that:
(a) The persistence of these stereotypes continues to be reflected in the media and educational textbooks and has an impact on educational choices and the sharing of family and domestic responsibilities between women and men;
(b) The media often depicts women and girls in a stereotyped manner including as sex-objects;
(c) Stereotypes continue to be the root causes of sexual violence against women and that pornography, video games and animation such as manga promote sexual violence against women and girls; and
(d) Sexist speech continues to be directed against women, ethnic and other minority women such as the Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women and migrant women.

21. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/6, para. 30) and urges the State party to:
(a) Intensify its efforts to change social norms that reinforce traditional roles of women and men and to promote positive cultural traditions that promote the human rights of women and girls;
(b) Effectively implement existing legal measures and monitoring programmes in order to regulate the production and distribution of pornographic material, video games and animation that exacerbate discriminatory gender stereotypes and reinforce sexual violence against women and girls;
(c) Review educational textbooks and materials to eliminate discriminatory gender stereotypes;
(d) Adopt legislation to prohibit and sanction sexist speech and propaganda advocating racial superiority or hatred, including attacks on ethnic and other minority women such as the Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women as well as migrant women; and
(e) Regularly monitor and assess the impact, through an independent expert body, of measures taken to eliminate discriminatory gender stereotypes and prejudices against Ainu, Buraku, Zainichi Korean women and migrant women.

Underlines by myself.
All of the above was retrieved from here.

抜粋元はこちらです。

 

Posted in censorship, harmful material, public morality and media | 3 Comments

2016 rolls around

Well we are already 6 weeks into 2016.

2015 was a pretty rocky year for me so I am hoping 2016 will not be as bad. I do apologize for lack of updates in English, but life was been rather brutal.

I already have so ideas for some subjects I would like to discuss in the coming months, so please drop by from time to time.

Also, you may have noticed that I have been visiting more conventions overseas.

In 2015, I attended Anime Expo (USA), Otakon (USA), Anime Weekend Atlanta  (USA), and Fancy Frontier (Taiwan). I’ve already been in Anime Los Angeles just last month.

I’ll try my best to note upcoming engagements on this blog.

I’ll see you around!

-Dan

Posted in events, everyday life | Leave a comment