FFFUUU--: Tokyo's anti-loli bill passes in commitee


It's over. Manga, anime and games in Japan as they're known today might well be over, as the infamous "Bill 156", formerly incarnated as an anti-loli bill, then mutated into an anti-everything bill, has successfully passed through the vote by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's General Affairs Committee, and will enter law should it pass through the final, Full Assembly vote about about a day from now.

I'm not kidding when I say that the industry as you and I know it today may be dramatically affected by the bill's passage. Put plain, it expands the TMG's ability to deem, in any manga, anime or game (live-action film, novels and works using real-life photos are exempt), any instance of a so-called "virtual sex crime" as "harmful", should a unilaterally-appointed regulating body decide that said depiction is "unjustifiably glorified and exaggerated".

Read on for a few more details on how this debacle is expected to play out if it passes tomorrow's Full Assembly Vote.

Under the new law, material deemed "harmful" would be forced into an adults-only section of stores that sell it, as well as practically banned from sale via internet-based channels, including the likes of Amazon Japan (since said channels already have in-house rules against selling harmful material). It would be a commercial "kiss of death" similar to the way AO-rated videogames are treated by retailers in the United States.

Keep in mind, the TMG already has the power to regulate material in this way. The bill instead gratuitously expands its scope and coverage. Think of it as going from "too" to "any and all" with regard to sexual acts, , so long as the acts would be illegal in real life and "unjustifiably glorified and exaggerated". It's isnt an outright ban, but its practical effects would amount to same: any retailer in its right mind would refuse to sell material that risks being caught under that incredibly vague umbrella of language, and most publishers would avoid green-lighting such material for fear of being publicly humiliated by the TMG.

To cite some examples, manga, anime, or game adaptations of The Tale of Genji, Oedipus Rex, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, and American Beauty could potentially be affected, as well as currently running anime like OreImo, Yosuga no Sora, MM!, and Panty and Stocking, so long as sexual relations depicted within are perceived as "unjustifiably glorified and exaggerated".

Essentially, a significant portion of the manga/anime/videogame industry's creative freedoms would be held hostage to the tastes and potential prudishness of a small group of unilaterally-appointed individuals. And influencing those appointments would be Tokyo's governor, who has openly admitted to having a negative attitude towards the fact that homosexual persons are allowed to appear in the mass media. One wonders at the effect his standards might have on the popular "Boy's Love" subgenre, which deals with homosexual relationships. Would he feel that BL manga "unjustifiably glorify and exaggerate" the public profile of people he feels are "deficient somehow"?

About the only saving grace to this fiasco would be that the bill is technically restricted to Tokyo only. Studios and publishers in other prefectures would ostensibly be unaffected. Multiple major publishers have in fact, pulled out of the upcoming Tokyo International Anime Fair in protest. Then again,  the lion's share of the anime and manga industry is still located in Tokyo, so this light of hope remains decidedly faint.

At this point I'm beyond words. I encourage you to read a short (but comprehensive) history of the bill and its stipulations, courtesy of Dan Kanemitsu, here

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures



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