Why is anime over sexualized

Manga: Lolita in chrysanthemum land

They're dirty, mean, mean. Mangas are devoured in unbelievable quantities in Japan and cater to almost any preference - in addition to romance, horror, science fiction, action or history, there is also sex and violence. To European viewers, these sometimes excessive depictions of chastisement, cruelty and the children and girls sometimes appear strange. A fierce debate has broken out in Japan as to whether such pornographic pamphlets should be banned. The stumbling block: After years of international pressure - Japan, along with the USA and Russia, is one of the largest markets for sexual representations of children - the Japanese lower and upper houses approved a law in June that bans child pornography. Japan had already banned the production and distribution of child pornographic material in 1999, but the new law now also makes possession a criminal offense.

The fascination of the Lolita complex

The country of chrysanthemums is the last of the 34 OECD member countries to ratify such a ban. Accordingly, people who own porn videos and photos of children to "satisfy their sexual needs" are fined up to one year in prison or up to one million yen (around 7200 euros). A transition period has also been set - anyone who owns child porn now has one year to get rid of it - and one exception: pornographic depictions of children in manga and anime are still allowed.

Knowledge: Manga and Anime

The term "Manga" appeared for the first time in 1814 in the image lexicon of the woodcut artist Kathshika Hokusai (best known for "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"): The word consists of the two characters "man" (quick, funny, distorted) and "ga " (painted picture). Mangas are thus distorted images that, like comics, rely on the stylistic device of exaggeration. They are read back to front and right to left and can be as thick as phone books. The figures are easy to recognize stylistically: They usually have small noses, long legs and oversized heads and eyes. The latter have a purely pragmatic reason: They can be used to better represent emotions. And a closer look reveals that bad characters in the manga often have smaller eyes than the good ones.

But the hair color also reveals a lot about the character of the characters: black hair often stands for seriousness and tradition, blonde for innocence, blue often for aloofness or red for temperament. Animations, i.e. animations or cartoons, are often based on manga stories and show their typical stylistic devices.

The fascination with sexualized portrayals of girls has a name in Japan: lolicon, short for Lolita complex. The foundation stone for the popularity of these lolicon mangas goes back more than 100 years: Section 175 of the Japanese Penal Code (originally from 1907) states, among other things, that bodies that are shown in public must be shown in such a way that no pubic hair is shown you can see. As a result, the actresses in the sex manga became younger and more childish so that (hairless) genitals could be shown. The lolicons became popular in the 1970s through Wada Shinji's "Alice in Wonderland" -inspired picture series "Stumbling Upon a Cabbage Field", published in 1974, or Azuma Hideos, also known as the father of the lolicon mangas, with "Cybele" in 1975.

While in the course of the debates on child pornography everyone agrees that children's rights must be protected, the waves are still going bad when it comes to the new law: some do not go far enough, others see it as a harbinger of censorship and restrictions on the freedom of Art.

Arbitrariness against works of art?

The Japan Magazine Publishers Association, which represents more than 90 publishing houses, fears arbitrariness against works of art and artists. In addition, the law was preceded by a draft that had also provided for a ban on child pornography manga and anime - the result was a storm of indignation, especially on the part of the manga publishers and authors. The defused version was finally adopted, on the grounds that the images in the porn mangas were imaginary and not directed against real children and the freedom of art would be restricted as a result.

Shinichiro Inoue, president of the large manga publishing house Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co, said in an interview in the Japanese daily "Asahi Shimbun" (link see box on the right) that comics with sexual images are only a marginal subculture anyway Just follow paving the way for more draconian regulations that could also affect newspapers, books and magazines. On top of that, the design would have led to lolicon drawings being equated with actual abuse. Publishers and artists argue that a ban on disreputable manga and anime does not guarantee the law's goal of protecting children. Because the pornographic animations and mangas would not exploit "real" children, rather the lolicons are drawings, art beings that show no sexual violence against real children.

Reality and fantasy united

Despite the pornographic images and content, these fantasy characters shouldn't be equated with real children, they say. Indeed: Many Manga girls have, for example, cat ears and tails or tufts of fur on their hands and feet - Mangas have always been a mixture of reality and fantasy.

Ken Akamatsu of the Japan Cartoonist Association therefore believes that this is why no children are harmed in anime and manga. It is important to pursue actual child abuse. There is also no scientific evidence that this pornographic media is responsible for the increase in crime. The fact is: the Japanese police uncovered 1,596 cases of child pornography two years ago, in 2013 there were already 1,644 cases - a ten-fold increase since records began in 2000. The widespread use of smartphones is responsible for the increase, say the police . Opponents of the prohibition, on the other hand, emphasize that the increase in registered cases can be explained by increased sensitivity and not by consumption.