Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Guns drawn

An attendee of the Tokyo Anime Fair walks past a manga display at the Fair

The gloves are coming off. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara supports his city-wide bill which aims to restrict certain, broadly categorised, "sexual" imagery in manga and anime which is accessible by minors. He presumably also supports (as he's executive committee chairman) the annual Tokyo International Anime Fair, a huge celebration and marketing of what anime has to offer, attended by fans, and both Japanese and foreign companies. Manga and anime are BIG business for Japan.

But reports – here in Variety – say that the Tokyo Anime Fair now faces an uncertain future as 10 major comics publishers have announced their withdrawal from the next Fair in protest at Tokyo's proposed bill. On the face of it, it all makes sense, but could it be that by taking too-broad an aim to hit at specific imagery has ended up with Tokyo shooting itself in the foot? Well, whether he's on the right foot or wrong-footed, we'll possibly know after tomorrow when the bill might well be passed.

See a previous post here. And some of the governor's responses, including on homosexuality, are mentioned here. Possibly targetting homosexuality, by the way, is not only of interest to gays, or, in terms of manga, not perhaps not even primarily of interest to gays – there is a big market in young male love stories written and read by young female audiences.

(Update 15 Dec: it was passed. 16 Dec: The Telegraph's foreign correspondent in Japan, Julian Ryall, reports. The issue does split opinions: In related comments I've seen Jake Adelstein, for example, seeing a positive attempt to limit child abuse, while manga translator Dan Kanemitsu tries to curtail some myths of Japanese manga, images of children and the bill he opposes here.)

(Update, 6 Feb 2011: Has a Seibu Deaprtment store exhibition become a victim of worry over the bill being enforced. It seems so, after it voluntary closes a show mid-run. Report by Catherine Makino here.)

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