Anime Decade: From Japan Cool to Cooling Off

Posted by MattAlt 
Most of the people I know who take photos of cosplayers are cosplayers themselves. I know an awful lot of women cosplayers in their mid twenties who like to cosplay sexy outfits. I understand that what you guys and the PA guys are complaining about exists, but to describe it as the actual identity of cosplay fandom is a hopelessly external view, one which belies an unfamiliarity with the actual cosplay fan community.

And seriously, given that Gabe's and Tycho's career and public identity are built on passionate interest in something extremely nerdy, I'd think they'd know by now how shitty it is to invalidate the passionate interests of another group of nerds, and tell them what they love is wrong and bad, that it's not a worthy object of adoration like video games.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
A guy I work with is big into Capricon (annual Chicago Anime and fantasy convention which has been around since at least the 80's). He's part of a large group of cosplayers that compete as a team in their pirate garb. They get a block of hotel rooms, then eat, drink, and be merry.

I have no issue with the world of cosplay in the general sense, it's brilliant escapism which requires not only the nerve to put yourself out there in costume, but to surround yourself with like minded folks who embrace and encourage each other in this context.

The BAD part of this universe is the exploitative nature of the sensualized women's costumes. I'm not a believer that women who go out scantily dressed into such public congregations are channeling empowerment (lest you be a very convincing Linda Carter-esque WW...ONLY exception!), but instead eschew it.

If my adult girlfriend dresses in a Troi costume from Star Trek, and is sexy wearing it, that's different than lounging around in public wearing a bikiniesque Lum outfit. Bring the issue of the under 18 crowd dressing this way into the mix, and I get the same discomfort level as I do sitting next to a parent at a high school football game who is paying a bit too much attention to the cheerleaders.

Back to the anime question, here's the true test. Try putting on your favorite show when a crowd of your non-nerd friends are over after hitting the bars, and see how that flies. I used to throw Gatchaman and Giant Robo on for background filler with a crowd of non-anime fans semi-regularly after some long nights out, and never heard a complaint. If I went to my closet and pulled out super-milky-ninja-lingerie-school-girl-robot-frilly-apron-fight-school, would my friends start to worry about me? If you think so, without trying to impose too much of my value system on you (much), then start getting worried.
Sanjeev (Admin)
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> And seriously, given that Gabe's and Tycho's
> career and public identity are built on passionate
> interest in something extremely nerdy, I'd think
> they'd know by now how shitty it is to invalidate
> the passionate interests of another group of
> nerds, and tell them what they love is wrong and
> bad, that it's not a worthy object of adoration
> like video games.


Uh...I think we're skipping a few steps here. I don't think anyone's condemning ALL cosplay (seeing as how it's been around for DECADES...long before the rise of pedo-cartoons).

I read that PA strip and all it seems to be saying to me is that it's stupid how a lot of hardcore anime fans just automatically assume other nerds obliquely into anime or other related media love Yummy-chan from Gumball Princess Wizard School as much as they do.

I like scifi. That includes animated scifi like Gundam, Macross, Dougram, and the like. But I can't tell you how often I've had *adult men* approach me at shows and look upon me with some combination of confusion and disgust because I don't watch Gumball Princess Wizard School.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/19/2012 02:36PM by Sanjeev.
Supersentai Wrote:
>
> If my adult girlfriend dresses in a Troi costume
> from Star Trek, and is sexy wearing it, that's
> different than lounging around in public wearing a
> bikiniesque Lum outfit. Bring the issue of the
> under 18 crowd dressing this way into the mix, and
> I get the same discomfort level as I do sitting
> next to a parent at a high school football game
> who is paying a bit too much attention to the
> cheerleaders.

Okay, it's your right to be uncomfortable, but I don't think your discomfort should have any bearing on how people dress in a venue that is designed for them to enjoy this hobby. Theoretically, people who want to cosplay in sexy outfits should be able to do so at cosplay-centric events without anyone behaving badly towards them. If that is not possible, it is the fault of the people behaving badly, not the fault of the cosplayers.

> Back to the anime question, here's the true test.
> Try putting on your favorite show when a crowd of
> your non-nerd friends are over after hitting the
> bars, and see how that flies.

Not sure that's a great test for any kind of nerd entertainment. I mean, if you're willing to only allowing yourself to like nerd entertainment that non-nerds can immediately understand, then that's fine for you, but that's not great as a general rule. Think about applying the same rule to music. Would I play Einsturzende Neuebaten or Autechre while drinking with friends? Hell no. Does that mean there's something wrong with how my brain processes music? Nope.

> If I went to my closet and pulled out
> super-milky-ninja-lingerie-school-girl-robot-frill
> y-apron-fight-school, would my friends start to
> worry about me?

As a hypothetical example, this is not very useful. Like the made-up anime in the PA strip, you're stereotyping girlie anime in a specific way which reinforces your point that it's distasteful.

> without trying to impose too much of my value
> system on you (much)

Yeah, that would be a good thing to not do.



Sanjeev Wrote:
>
> I read that PA strip and all it seems to be saying
> to me is that it's stupid how a lot of hardcore
> anime fans just automatically assume other nerds
> obliquely into anime or other related media love
> Yummy-chan from Gumball Princess Wizard School as
> much as they do.

Except the part at the end where he says that people who like that stuff are pedophiles?

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
The "litmus test" of putting anime on in the background when friends are over wasn't so much pointing to non-nerds liking it, or really acknowledging it for that matter, but moreso that I wouldn't be EMBARRASSED to have it on at all (okay, maybe a bit), or have people end up being embarrassed FOR ME (at least not TOO embarrassed for moi).

This is a topic that comes up here and there on this site, and I always wince when it gets to this point, but IF YOU WATCH CARTOONS FILLED PRIMARILY WITH PRE-PUBESCENT GIRLS WHO ARE PORTRAYED IN SEXY OUTFITS IN ROMANTIC SITUATIONS YOU ARE NOW ENTERING PEDOPHILE COUNTRY...get off at the nearest exit and turn around QUICK! This is not a value system call, it's a pretty clear societal definition.
I don't think most of the anime that people accuse of being crypto-pedophilia actually mostly involve pre-pubescent girls. It's honestly difficult for me to think of a creepily sexualized moe anime that stars preadolescents (at least one that isn't explicitly lolicon, which is really its own category).

A big part of the issue is that anime like Lucky Star have teenage girls who look like children to the eyes of many anime fans - but in turn, most female anime characters look neotenous to the eyes of a nonfan. It requires a familiarity with the visual language of anime to even make the distinction that one anime character looks like an adult while another seems like lolicon-bait.

I think it's important to judge these things as what they are - I don't think the creators of Penny Arcade would distinguish between whatever anime cosplay inspired that post and something like Mai-Hime or Madoka, but there are plenty of anime which are genuinely about a sophisticated story which nonetheless - because of marketing, because of the taste of the visual artists working on it, or just because of laziness - still play into the same cute-sexy aesthetic of the crypto-pedophilic anime. When these aesthetics are so prevalent across the medium, I don't think it's productive to dismiss anything with cute girls in short skirts as lolicon material.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't think most of the anime that people accuse
> of being crypto-pedophilia actually mostly involve
> pre-pubescent girls. It's honestly difficult for
> me to think of a creepily sexualized moe anime
> that stars preadolescents (at least one that isn't
> explicitly lolicon, which is really its own
> category).

"Kodomo No Jikan" was what I came up with, but that's explicitly lolicon (and unreadable).

I've seen some people mention Naru Taru, which has a preadolescent protagonist going through puberty rather painfully, has graphic teenage sex (however generally portrayed in a very cold non-sensual way) and explicit homosexual rape on a young boy. I'm not sure if I'd categorize it as "moe", as although it starts cute, with cute monsters and cute children, it gets rather bloody and messy very quickly and portrays the world as a horrible place full of creeps and assholes. The sex scene that seems to derange most people is one involving incest between a 12-ish year old girl and her brother, but it's done fairly tastefully with minimal nudity, and strangely the same people never complain about it ending with the brother getting his head brutally crushed and the girl being graphically torn apart through fingering-rape by one of the by that time not-so-cute monsters. If you winced while reading that, it's probably the worst scene of the whole manga, followed by the gory aftermath of the aforementioned homosexual rape and the shocking (non-sexual) cliffhanger involving the protagonist (which is a major spoiler so I won't mention what it is). That manga mostly made me wonder whether the author was going through a severe phase of depression while he wrote it - it reads like a drawn version of manic depression, each good period followed by a worse downfall. A bit Neon Evangelion or Tomino-ish. Including the kill-em-all ending.

There are people out there who think certain parts of the Berserk manga are pedophilic, because it treats about the premature crush of a young girl on Guts. Despite being mostly romantic, fairly realistic, and played as a joke at times.

Alien Nine features very moe young girls hunting alien invaders and getting slimily eaten/spewed/exploded upon at times. There's a certain specific review of the series that complained that the manga was really about pedophilic sexual abuse of the main protagonist, with the author of the review drawing a comparison with her own abuse as a child. Now vore I can see, in a very cutesy way that doesn't involve nudity or actual sex, but pedophilia?!?

> A big part of the issue is that anime like Lucky
> Star have teenage girls who look like children to
> the eyes of many anime fans - but in turn, most
> female anime characters look neotenous to the eyes
> of a nonfan.

Thanks Paul. Since neoteny in my thoughts is mostly associated with amphibians you just gave me the visual of a cute moe-ish salamander in a pink dress.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
Alien Nine is absolutely about adults' emotional abuse of and exploitation of children. But I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it an allegory for sexual abuse. I don't think the characters are visually sexualized in it either. At least, I never felt when reading it or watching the anime adaptation that I was supposed to look at them sexually.


Haha, well, a lot of study of human behavior has taken into account neoteny as a significant element in how humans react to things.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
I think a little of the danger here is the dance between "children" and "teens". Unless you're talking EIGHT-teen, you're still in pedophile territory, at least in the US.

I understand that this is animated material, and am not accusing if of being "actual" child pornography, but when you take a step back and have to wonder if you are getting turned on by twelve, fourteen or sixteen year old girls, you are still in trouble. (Unless you are a twelve, fourtee, or sixteen year old boy that is).
A secondary question, though - which varies by series - is whether the anime is meant purely to titillate, or whether it's meant to reflect to some extent the reality of teenage behavior. Teenagers dress in a way meant to attract attention; teenagers have sex. These are not impermissible subjects for fiction.

But on that note, a huge flaw of much anime, particularly the "moe" genre, is that it is visually sexualized but asexual in point of fact. Female characters dress provocatively but seem to be unaware of it, or act as if they are disinclined to seek sexual attention. Honestly, this fetishistic unrealism - the way the creators construct female characters who are blithely unaware of their self-objectification - is far more unsettling to me than the fact that the characters may be high school aged.

I recently noted, while discussing unrealistic anime relationships with Veef, that one of the most believable teenage relationships I can think of in recent anime was the Kira/Flay/Sai triangle in the first half of Gundam Seed. These characters are not particularly well conceived on some levels, but their behavior is full of the pettiness and inability to consider others' emotions that so often characterize teenagers. I don't think the sexualization of teenagers in anime is INHERENTLY problematic, if the characters act the way real teens do when sex interferes with common sense.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
i think the real problem is

nerds lost their faith in a better tomorrow through pop culture





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2012 04:11PM by VF5SS.
Attachments:
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Supersentai Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think a little of the danger here is the dance
> between "children" and "teens". Unless you're
> talking EIGHT-teen, you're still in pedophile
> territory, at least in the US.

On the other hand, other countries have different ages of consent:

[en.wikipedia.org]

Japan is 13, and looking at that map I'm surprised to see Spain also is, and several other European countries are only 14 - there might be a rule at play there that although it's strictly allowed you'll still be charged with pedophilia if you happen to publish pictures of yourself with your underage girlfriend...

> I understand that this is animated material, and
> am not accusing if of being "actual" child
> pornography, but when you take a step back and
> have to wonder if you are getting turned on by
> twelve, fourteen or sixteen year old girls, you
> are still in trouble. (Unless you are a twelve,
> fourtee, or sixteen year old boy that is).

While I can understand for 12 or 14 (in most cases), 16 is pushing it since it's around the age where puberty really hits teenagers and a lot of 16 year olds look much more physically mature than they might be mentally, especially in our Western societies with good health care and food. On the other hand, I've met some women that looked like jailbait at 24-25.
Now if you happen to be attracted to a 24 yo woman who physically looks like a 15 yo, does that make you a pedophile? Obviously you are attracted to juvenile features! It really is a very slippery slope.

Of course, suggesting only age and the associated "average" (theoretical) physical features are important to determine whether someone is a pedophile is too much of a simplification.

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
MSW
thomas Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Japan is 13


As I understand it that is the national law, but Prefecture law supersedes national law on this issue. So, throughout of Tokyo the age of consent is, I believe, 17.
I think the operative words here are "slippery slope", which is a concept this entire topic is rife with.

I had a friend from high school who I recently found out is currently incarcerated for a year after being found to be in possession of child pornograpy. Never saw that coming.

Does anime have to deal exclusively with male protagonists galavanting around in robots and spaceships? Of course not. However, to be relevant to the core of this site, pretty much the entire Chogokin farm is rooted in this staple.

I likely can't castigate folks who just watch animated shows that feature a teenage female cast, as I used to watch BH90210 and Buffy, which also focused on "teen girls" (most of which were actually in their 20's in reality).

I guess it comes down to the WHY you are watching it. If it's good story and well produced, there you go. If it's for something else, be careful...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/21/2012 10:09PM by Supersentai.


this nefarious person wants us all to go to jail for watching the cartoon she directs
Supersentai Wrote:
>
> I guess it comes down to the WHY you are watching
> it. If it's good story and well produced, there
> you go. If it's for something else, be careful...

Right. But the way the anime industry is, as detailed in the series of screencaps on the previous page, you've got people behind the scenes frustrated that they can't sell the stories they really want to create, and the younger creatives who just want to make something cute and fun and stupid. So to be a fan of anime in general right now, one has to recognize that a lot of shows will have a disconnect between a story driven by writerly concerns, and a cast of characters and visual design dictated by the marketability of cute girls. So the fan is faced with a choice: between accepting that something which looks like Madoka can still have a sophisticated story, or just withdrawing further from the medium and consigning to oblivion anything which uses cute girls to pander to fanboys.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Madoka writer Gen Urobuchi praises American otaku culture as characterized by love, brotherhood, good manners and protection of the otaku community:
[kiramekirari.tumblr.com]

I think he really needs to check out some of our web forums before deciding that ameri-otaku aren't just another bunch of self-hating, infighting nerdlingers.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
I hope I got the right thread for this:

[www.theregister.co.uk]

--
SilhouetteFormula.Net
but what can a bunch of gaijin on this small forum do????
This is the same thing that happens to almost any urban district that gets TOO popular. The big-time, big money developments move in. The question is, if all those "independently owned hole-in-the-wall shops" could've stayed in business if not for the new development, then where did they go? Are they clustering in one of Tokyo's other wards, or scattered throughout the suburbs now?

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
MattAlt (Admin)
Seriously old news.

Akiba has been in decline as an otaku destination ever since 2008. That is the year when the police began cracking down on out-of-control otaku and live music performances. The locals had been calling for a crackdown because of otaku behavior: loud performances, fading porn stars staging impromptu stripteases, and huge groups of cosplayers blocking store entrances and carrying weapon-like props that made a lot of people nervous. (Even a few cases of idiots shooting airsoft guns in the street.) Then came the infamous stabbing incident, after which the cops shut down the Sunday "pedestrian heaven" (in which the main street was closed to car traffic) that had given the area a sort of otaku Ginza feel and attracted so many visitors.

For a while there it was an actual, honest-to-god subcultural destination but it hasn't been that way for a going on four years. It's pretty much just a shopping destination now (which, ironically, is exactly what it was in the first place.)

Some pieces I wrote around that time:

[altjapan.typepad.com]
[altjapan.typepad.com]

As to where they went, the short answer is nowhere, but rather than a specific area in the city they tend to gather during events like Comiket, WonderFest, etc. Nakano still has that down-home old-school otaku funk (in more ways than one) but it skews older. Ikebukuro is another center but it doesn't have anywhere near the cachet that Akiba once did. With the internet I don't think younger fans really need a single place to be able to find each other anymore.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2012 04:05AM by MattAlt.
MattAlt Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With the internet I
> don't think younger fans really need a single
> place to be able to find each other anymore.


you dont say
MattAlt Wrote:
>
> The locals had been calling for a crackdown because
> of otaku behavior: loud performances, fading porn
> stars staging impromptu stripteases, and huge groups
> of cosplayers blocking store entrances and carrying
> weapon-like props that made a lot of people
> nervous. (Even a few cases of idiots shooting
> airsoft guns in the street.)

I love that this is all just considered typical otaku behavior.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
MattAlt (Admin)
"you don't say"

I do say

Oh snap

What happened to my period key
MattAlt (Admin)
"typical otaku behavior"

Was an awesomely wretched hive of scum and villainy for a couple years there. Personally I think the locals really screwed up by cracking down on street performances that pulled more potential customers into the area, but that's another story.
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