animation, Anime, anime harvest, axe, Blogs for Brownback, comiket, controversy, dubbing, elfen lied, fansubbing, Higurashi, japan, Japanese animation, Lieberman, localization, manga, media pokemon, murder, novels, Psycheout, sound, subbing, violence, visual, when they cry
Why must you ruin my day? Here I was, searching for Higurashi hentai, and you had to pop up and remind me that the world is full of idiots. I’m referring to a WordPress page called Blogs 4 Brownbacks, and a post written by user Psycheout. The post, titled Anime Encourages Murder; Updates: More Murders, is a string of ignorance and misinformation about Japanese animation. It’s all sorta in the title.
Link to the article: https://blogs4brownback.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/anime-encourages-murder/
Before getting into the body of this post, let’s learn a bit about Psycheout and their blog, shall we? After a brief review of roughly one-hundred, it appear Psycheout enjoys Fox News, thinks Barack Obama is a Kenyan Muslim with a cocaine problem, believes natural disasters occur because gays, and is deeply concerned about the moral fiber of society because people are enjoying sex. Why the hell am I doing this? Though we do have some shared ground; it seems we both dislike Joe Lieberman. Though while I dislike Lieberman for his baseless scapegoating of videogames in response to violence and tragedy, and promoting censorship while ignoring evidence and studies; Psycheout seems to find the guy too liberal. Seriously, if I have any true friends out there, stop me now. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna respond to this post. I’m really going to do it.
“Many of you are probably aware of Japanese anime (Japanese animation or Japanimation) because of popular kids shows like Pokemon, Speed Racer or Star Blazers. Prior to release in the west, these shows have been cleaned up from their original violent and sexually explicit hentai (perverted) form which most Japanese cartoons seem to take.”
Goddammit, why am I doing this T.T
Okay let’s just get it over with. I don’t know about Speed Racer or Star Blazers, but the Pokémon anime at least has indeed been occasionally altered between its original Japanese and English publications. As is common with children’s anime the opening sequence is altered significantly, and the “Who’s that Pokémon?” eye-catch is chanced from a blue background to a red one and made to look more exciting (dogasu.bulbagarden.net).
Though these are minor things; the big differences are several episode that were banned on the United States, heavily edited, or never even translated. This isn’t uncommon in localization, as the process isn’t so simple as translating and re-dubbing; in fact, localization often occurs without re-dubbing in the form of sub only releases. Localization is the task of taking something created by and generally for one culture, and appropriating it for another culture. This is most obvious when what are called riceballs (onigiri) in the Japanese script, are called donuts in the English version. When done right, localization should convey a piece of media to the audience better than if it were just translated word-for-word.
Localization is also done to remove what could be interpreted as offensive content, or clearly harmful content. In Pokémon this has happened a few times; episode 18 (19 in the Japanese) “Tentacool & Tentacruel” ceased airing in America after the 2001 9/11 attacks because it involved scenes of towers being violently demolished in an attack. This episode continued to air in Japan, because the 2001 attacks had little relevance to Japanese culture. What is and isn’t appropriate or offensive is culturally relative.
As far as I know, the only instances of the English dub of Pokémon removing content due to violence are episode 18 (which still aired for a few years anyway) and episode 35 (in the Japanese version; there was never an English version for this one) “The Legend of Miniryuu (Dratini)” (dogasu).
What’s far more well know, and what I expect Psycheout is referencing, is the removal of sexual content in episode 18 (Japanese numbering; again, no official episode number for an English version, though a heavily edited English dub version is available) “Holiday at Aopulco” (“Beauty and the Beach”), the episode what James get the giant tits. And this is where I have to get critical of Psycheout’s description of localization.
As quoted above, Psycheout says these English versions “[…] have been cleaned up from their original violent and sexually explicit hentai (perverted) form which most Japanese cartoons seem to take.”
Hentai is a noun, not an adjective, and translates to “pervert” not “perverted”. The term has been appropriated by an English audience to refer to pornographic animated or drawn content, but noting officially produced by Pokémon or other kids’ anime comes close to that meaning. Ecchi, which refers to more mild sexually arousing content, may be more accurate, but I expect the best word to describe of James’ tits is comedy. As I’ve said, whether or not certain depictions in media are appropriate or not is culturally relative. In mainstream Japanese culture, sexuality and breasts on not as taboo as in western mainstream culture; breasts are often the theme of jokes and gag-gifts. Describing localized versions of media as having been “cleaned up”, implies that the original material was dirty, and in this instance that the source culture, Japanese culture, is dirty. There’s nothing dirty about perceiving things differently. Taboos are purely arbitrary social constructs.
“Make no mistake about it though: unlike in America, in Japan cartoons aren’t just for children.”
Actually, more accurately you should say “just like in America, in Japan cartoons aren’t just for children.” Seriously, Family Guy, South Park, American Dad, Who Framed Roger Rabbit; these are all American cartoons, but they’re not meant for kids (though, because of thinking like your -that all American cartoons are for kids- a lot of kids got away with seeing Roger Rabbit back in the day). Just because these shows may not be to your tastes, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. This shows Psycheout isn’t only ignorant about other culture, but is ignorant of his/her own culture.
“Probably due to the high cost of big budget live-action productions, a number of programs are produced for Japanese adults in the animation format.”
The cost per episode of producing an anime ranges from 100,000 to 300,000 USD (12,000,000-36,000,000 yen) (www.quora.com). I had trouble finding statistics on the cost of producing Japanese live-action TV shows, and the comparison to American TV isn’t entirely accurate. Major American TV shows often have budgets per episode about ten times those of anime. However, must of this budget is spent on dominated actors. Actors are a domestic product, and their salaries will very with a domestic economy. They will accept less money if there is no better option. Also, the cost of actors depends significantly on a cultures view of celebrities; in the west, people generally like their celebrities, particularly TV and Hollywood actors, whereas in Japan celebrity culture is different. I’m not nearly versed enough to make any definitive statement here, but I expect neither is Psycheout. The difference is I will recognize this, refrain for claiming to know things I don’t, and ask those reading if they might know a bit and be willing to share it with me; while Psycheout just assumes anime are cheaper than live-action.
The is another explanation for why Japan has more animated shows target at an older audience, rather than live-action. It’s a different form of media, adept at telling different types of stories. You wouldn’t judge a TV show by its font size, or a book by its special affects. Anime, like all other media forms, anime has its own tropes, symbols, strengths and weaknesses. Saying that it’s only used because it’s cheaper implies that it’s inferior to live-action, which is about as true as saying live-action is inferior to animation. But would The Lion King or The Simpsons work as well as they do if they were live action? No. In fact, western animation like The Simpsons often jokes about this when it parodies itself in live-action. Live-action films based on animated or videogame media often look terrible. It’s different mediums, suited for different stories.
“Often these are shown late at night to keep them away from children, but even the cartoons shown to children are violent, sexual in nature and make numerous references to magic and demons with no mention of G-d or Jesus. That’s because most Asians do not believe in G-d, but rather in primitive religions such as Buddhism or Shintoism (paganism).”
Oh my god, where do I even begin. As explained, the nature of objectionable content is culturally relative. And as far as I’ve found in many years of watching and researching anime, children’s anime in Japan is not especially sexual or violent, even by western standards. Though I’m curious what Psycheout thinks are “children’s anime”; is he/she the one saying whether or not something is a kids’ show? If so, including shows with objectionable content and then saying that kids’ shows have objectionable content is self-fulfilling. What is the standard Psycheout is using here?
Yes, a lot of anime has magic. You know what other kids’ show has magic? The Magic School Bus.
And just as you say, not much Jesus, at least not in the kid stuff (once you get to Evangelion though…). And like you said, this is partly because Christianity is the minority in Japan with only 2% of the population being Christian. However this is also due to the fact that religion doesn’t and shouldn’t get shoehorned into EVERYTHING. I don’t know why you mention this though, unless you mean to imply that it’s a flaw of anime. But then would you agree that it’s also a flaw of The Magic School Bus, Frozen, closet doors, the United States Constitution, and the moon? None of those things have Jesus in them.
And now, the big one. While it is true that Christianity is not the dominant region of Asia as a whole, why talk about Asians in general? The topic is Japanese animation; this vaguely equations Japanese and Asian, which is blatantly racist. In fact, several Asia counties are actually majority Christian, with East Timor at 98%, Philippines at 85.5%, Lebanon 41% and Russia at 46%-77% (Wikipedia). See what happens when you overgeneralize extremely large groups of people? You misrepresent them.
But how you offend Christians is far less disturbing then how you offend non-Christians, calling other religions “primitive”. Again, this is blatant bigotry. I don’t want to go too far into this, this kind of stuff isn’t what I intended to make this article about, but it’s hard to ignore.
You can’t make the excuse that “Primitive” just means old. Shintoism and Buddhism are both only about 600 years older than Christianity, and considering that Christianity is 2000 years old, that’s not a big difference. Especially since Christianity has its roots in Judaism, which is about 1000 years older than Buddhism and Shintoism.
Also, don’t equate Shintoism and Paganism. While there are similarities between the two, they are not the same.
Finally, we’re getting into the body of this article, which opens up with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, or When They Cry, Why is it suddenly talking about Higurashi when the concern until now have been children’s anime? I don’t know. Higurashi is not a children’s show. I’ve consulted my own box on this one, and found some images of Japanese releases online. I think it’s pretty clear, this isn’t for kiddies (just as the Furude shrine Saiguden isn’t for kitties. Sorry, but I had to make that reference ^.^).
“a Kyoto Prefectural Police officer was murdered in an ax attack by his 16-year-old daughter. The anime [Higurashi] contains a scene in which a girl is pictured swinging an ax, and after Tokai TV received information about the anime from viewers, it decided to cancel the program.
“I had read elsewhere that the girl was an aspiring mangaka (manga, Japanese comic book, artist). So it is pretty simple to conclude that she was heavily into anime and manga.”
And now I’m thinking of Joe Lieberman again. I hate thinking of Joe Lieberman. Though I don’t want to misrepresent Psycheout here; as far as I know, he/she is not called for the censorship of anything, merely criticizing it. As a critic, I find this distinction important.
Psycheout also included an image from the Higurashi manga as a demonstration of the violence it depicts. The image is a fair depiction of the manga (though violent scenes are actually few and far between in the series -at least for what I’ve seen being a fan of both the anime and the manga, and rather fond of Higurashi Daybreak– they are indeed very intense) so I think it’s only fair of me to include it here; I’m not going to lie about what Higurashi is in order to defend it.
Also, Psycheout claims this image is similar to the actual murder, however since no sources are provided (there is a link to MSN’s homepage but not to the actual article; that’s terrible citation) I cannot say how similar it is.
Lastly, the girl, being 16, was not a child. So all that stuff from earlier about children appears to be moot.
With all that out of the way, we have the question; did anime cause this crime? Of course not. I’m not of the opinion that the media we consume has zero affect on the way we think and act. It may influence our subconscious subtly. But convincing someone to commit murder isn’t subtle, and if media actually had that power, behavioral studies would probably pick up on it pretty quickly. So let’s look at the research, shall we?
Two studies by James B. Weaver III and Dolf Zillmann found that exposure to violent media does increase people’s hostility, when they are provoked. The studies were not necessarily concerned with violent behavior, according to Weaver, they were focused on hostility and acceptance of violence in the broader population.
This suggests violent media effects behavior to some degree, but not enough to explain a murder. Especially an unprompted murder, as I found out upon further research. The case in question involved the 16-year-old committing the act while the victim was asleep.
An article by Brad Bushman say it very well; “Violent behavior is very complex and is caused by many factors, usually acting together.” The media we consume does influence us, as does they way we’re raised, how we are treated by others, our innate brain chemistry, etc. How much certain things affect us, how susceptible we are, varies from person to person.
But an otherwise normal, well rounded person is not going to suddenly become a killer because of a movie, or anime, or videogame. And that someone violent enjoys violent media gives you no basis to claim that they were fine before consuming the media, or that the media drove them to violence.
And if you’ll let me indulge in a little anecdote, I love Higurashi, and Elfen Lied, and every violent anime you can think of. But I hate violence. I don’t even enjoy violent live-action films or videogames, not if they look realistic. And, unlike Psycheout, I’m apposed to war and torture.
“This troubling incident took place last week. It’s still newsworthy however, since it’s not an isolated case. Although another similar incident has occurred since then, it seems the series (24 30-minute episodes) is continuing anyway.”
Okay, now we have a problem. Now you are suggesting censorship, which is fitting for such a freedom-loving right-winger. Freedom of expression isn’t free, I guess. But Japan is a nation of over 126 million people. That 2 of them were violent and liked a violent anime is not any kind of scientific evidence, especially considering that those already predisposed to violence will tend to enjoy violent media.
Also, there’s something in the article Psycheout cites that he/she forgot to mention, “No direct link has been announced between either case and any anime series […]” (www.animenewsnetwork.com). In fact, outside of what Psycheout asserts, I can’t find any actual evidence that either perpetrator even watched Higurashi or any other particular anime. As far as I can tell, the only thing linking these cases to Higurashi is the weapon, an axe, which, in a country with strict gun laws, isn’t particularly unusual.
“It seems the anime is based on a Japanese-only murder simulation computer game written by doujin (amateurs) group 07th Expansion and sold to ravenous otakus (obsessed anime geeks and loners) at Comiket (Comic Market, an unauthorized annual gathering of otaku, obsessed anime fans, and amateur artists in Tokyo, Japan).”
Psycheout is partly right. The Higurashi anime is an adaption of a visual/sound novel. However it is not Japanese only; the series was released in English by MangaGamer in 2009 and 2010, and the same group has gotten the game through Steam’s Greenlight system and are preparing it for an English release there (I’m so excited XD).
It is not in anyway a murder simulation, it’s a murder mystery. The majority of the arcs do not involve the player (by which I mean the main character; the “player” of a visual novel has very little agency and is mostly just watching a story unfold) killing anyone. In the instances where the main character does kill, the player is only an observer.
In videogames, a simulator is a game that attempts to recreate a detailed realistic experience. They are generally relaxing, as they purposely don’t present over-the-top action. They generally have a mundane, real-life theme, such as driving a delivery truck properly, or managing a city budget. They allow escapism without absurdism. There are “simulators” which go against this (such as Surgeon Simulator) but they do so for the sake of ironic humor, as they simulate things very poorly and awkwardly.
Higurashi presents murder in an unrealistic, cartoon-y way, nothing like a simulator. It’s a murder mystery novel with visuals and sound, and some choose-your-own-adventure aspects.
Other than that, what Psycheout says ins’t exactly factually wrong, but misleading and grossly worded. “ravenous otakus”; really? Well, it’s actually “otaku”, the plural is the same as the singular, so that shows you how much research Psycheout did.
As for the definition given, “otaku” is used to refer to anime fans here in the west, but in Japan it refers to anyone of any hobby that keeps them for normal social interaction (or, “loners” I guess). You can’t just give two definitions of a word from two different languages and treat them as compound. Otaku does’t mean “loner” in the west, and it doesn’t mean “anime fan” in Japan.
Since we’re talking about people who go to Comiket (a Japanese market), we’ll assume the Japanese meaning of Otaku. So, the loners all get together for a big social gathering… see what happens what you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about?
The definition of Comiket is also bullocks. What do you mean by “unauthorized”? It is an organized event that is privately operated. The operators get the permits and authorization for its annual event. Calling it “unauthorized” contrary to the truth, and potentially defamatory. (www.comiket.com)
“Here’s a brief description of the game:
‘The game is about a series of mysterious deaths in a mountain village. A young girl protagonist is suffering trauma from the divorce of her parents. She uses a hatchet to kill her enemies.’
That’s a great message to send, isn’t it?”
What message? That’s a plot summery. Can you not tell the difference? You know, the message of The Tortoise and the Hare isn’t “One day, a tortoise and a hare had a race”. The message of Cinderella isn’t, “Cinderella had a sad life, but then she went to the ball and met a prince”, it’s “Marry rich!”
“And its fans cite Higurashi (‘When They Cry’) as a kewl show about ‘killer lolis.’ Loli refers to lolita, meaning a very young and sexually active girl, inspired by the perverse and notorious novel Lolita written in 1955 by Vladimir Nabakov.”
Yeah, I’m sure some fans refer to it as that causally. Others refer to it as gripping psychological horror that makes you think, and feel existentially unsettled in a way that expresses the very purpose of art (okay, maybe just I call it that when I’m feeling particularly pretentious), and others call it “meh. Cheap animation; 6/10.”
As for the lolita aspect. Yes and no. The term does indeed come from Vladimir Nabakov’s book, Lolita (a very interesting book, btw; check it out). However, “only that which has no history is definable” (Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Essay II section 13, trans. Walter Kaufmann) (this is a tragically unappreciated quote). The primary issue here is that people are stupid. Also, they can’t read minds, and entropy. Words get distorted over time, and people misuse them to the point that an incorrect/new definition becomes accept. In modern culture, the best example of this is probably the word “feminism”, as there is more dispute about the meaning of the term than there is about actual feminist ideas. Language really sucks. On a side note, I recommend watching the first episode of Kino’s Journey, it deals with this in an interning and thought provoking way.
Anyway, “killer lolis” in this context is mildly distorted from its original meaning. In otaku culture, the term “loli” is generally derivative of “Lolita complex” which is an attraction to young looking girls, not necessarily young girls. It is typically used relative to an individual’s perception, rather than the actually sexuality of the characters in question.
The main cast of Higurashi consist of one male teenager, two female teenagers, and two younger girls. When people talk about “lolis” in the show, they are referring to the younger girls. However, these girls are never sexualized or presented in a sexual manner. Those who call them lolis are projecting their own attractions onto them, or simply misusing the word significantly.
“In fact, English speaking fans from all over the world were collectively crying about not being able to get their violence fix when a recent episode didn’t air”
I clicked that link, read the posts on the thread. Didn’t look like much crying to me. It looked more like mild, down to earth disappointment, and maybe a little frustration. Hell, if this incident is why Higurashi Kai still hasn’t been dubbed, I’m kinda ticked about that too. As explained above, this controversy is ridiculous, and I think it’s stupid that uninformed and opportunistic people are using it to halt production. You seem like a fiscal conservative, Psycheout, why are you killing jobs? translators, directors, voice-actors.
In all seriousness, of course these murders were tragedies, but you can’t just blame the first thing you see. The connection to the show is weak at best, and the shows influence on people is just as flimsy.
“How can this be? Hardly anyone outside of Japan has any reason to learn Japanese.”
What? “What” on two counts here. What does learning Japanese have to do with anything, and what do you mean hardly anyone outside of Japan has any reason to learn it?
Watching anime has nothing to do with learning Japanese. Though who watch the Japanese dub and don’t actually know Japanese aren’t trying to learn the language, they’re reading the subtitles. And if they are trying to learn the language, they’re doing it wrong.
Given that cultural, geographic and national boundaries are increasing blurring in the globalized world, pretty much anyone can benefit from learning new languages.
“It turns out that there are a group of criminals, known euphemistically as ‘fansubbers’ who routinely pirate hentai (perverted) and ecchi (adult) anime when it airs in Japan.”
It’s not just hentai and ecchi, fansubbers work with all kinds of shows. As for the legal and ethical concerns, I’m actually with ya on this one. I don’t know a ton about fansubbing groups -I don’t watch fan subs because I do find it unethical-, I don’t know if they’re doing it for profit or just out of love for the material. I like to assume the latter, but it’s probably some mix of both and varies from group to group. But either way I can’t really defend the practice. It’s just, well… Fuck Crunchyroll! There, I said it!
I do kinda get it, when a show’s been out for years and no one is showing any interest in licensing, or when it’s been out for decades and now one’s actually profiting from it anyway. but it does hurt the industry, and far too rampant.
“They then release this dangerous material, without permission, to the world on numerous clandestine websites which hungry anime fans (including lots of impressionable children) enthusiastically download and watch secretively.”
It’s not dangerous material, we’ve been over this. However a lot of it is unsuitable for children, as is about 98% of the internet. We’re not taking down 98% of the internet. This stuff is the parents’ responsibility. I have a sister, and she’s too young for a lot of stuff; hell, last week my dad was chastised for renting Snow White and the Huntsman for her. She’s too young to watch Higurashi or browse the internet unsupervised. So you know how that’s handled? She’s not allowed to watch Higurashi or browse the internet unsupervised. She needs parental assistance and monitoring when using the computer. And also just last week, I was reading some of the Higurashi manga, and whenever she came over to me, I’d put it away. This isn’t complicated. This is one of the easiest aspects of raise a kid as far as I can tell.
” Using ‘file sharing’ (piracy) […]”
File sharing ≠ piracy. Again, this is generalization. Businesses, and organizations use internal file sharing constantly, and niche subcultures which socialize via online forms use it to share their own material with one another willingly.
“It can take months for a legitimate American company to clean up and redub offensive raw anime into a form more suitable for western audiences.’
Why legitimate “American” company? Why not Canadian? Why not English? I’ve got some official licensed and translated Pokémon manga that was localized and printed for an English audience in Singapore. Fucking Americans, thinking they’re the only country that matters. And yes, I know most English dubbing is done in the United States, but do you think Psycheout knows that, or even thought about other counties?
Again, using the words “clean up”. It’s ignorant. And, for the most part, anime made for an older audience isn’t changed significantly in the localization process. Some English script writers, like Steven Foster, try to make something different from the Japanese version, but even then the violence and sexual content is rarely changed. People working with this content know that the audience isn’t a bunch of children, they’re adults. And often even culturally specific things aren’t changed, because most of us who watch anime try to inform ourselves about where it comes from; we get rid of our ignorance.
“But anime fans want ‘pure’ and uncut material that would otherwise never be allowed to be viewed outside of the perverted otaku subculture in Japan.”
Not all anime fans are purists. I’m not. I generally even prefer dubs over subs. Those who are purists are typically more fanatic and supportive of the industry than most, and won’t use pirating. Instead they buy Region 2 DVD/Blu-ray players and import their anime from Japan.
Actually, the content in the “pure” Japanese versions is almost always the same as the content in the localized versions. As said before, anime aimed at an older audience doesn’t go through much change in localization. In fact, Western prints can be even more sexually explicit than Japanese one. Under Japanese obscenity laws, all porn in the county must be censored. But in the versions released outside Japan, these censors can be removed.
Oh, and not all anime is porn. Hentai is very small gene, and hentai series are rarely included in any type of anime list because they are produced and distributed differently than anime. It’s only technically a subgenre, as otaku culture and hentai are fairly distinct. I feel ridiculous just having to explain that.
“The reason this is important is that children have access to this material and may be collecting it and watching it without their parents’ knowledge. And for good reason. Anime often contains graphic sex, intense violence and rampant perversion involving young pre-teen girls. These cartoons are not suitable for children.”
Again, parental responsibility.
Anime does not often contain graphic sex, hentai does. Anime ≠ hentai. Anime does not often contain intense violence, some anime contains intense violence. Higurashi is one of only a handful of significantly violent anime, and apart from Elfen Lied and possibly Rin, I’m pretty sure it’s the limit on violence in mainstream anime.
As for the sexualizing of teen and pre-teen girls, it’s not rampant, but I won’t pretend it’s not there. The age of consent in Japan is hard to pin down. The Japanese Penal Code sets it at 13, but every prefecture has its own laws which set it out 18. However, the prefectures’ laws are flexible and allow exceptions for sincere relationships (en.wikipedia.org).
That gives some context to it, but doesn’t justify it. For the most part, I do find this unsettling as well, but the content rarely goes so far as to be disturbing. Frankly, Japanese game shows do more to sexualize young women in fucked up ways. American TV, too.
Heh… heh heh heh. Heh heh heh Ha! Ha! Ha! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!
It’s times like this I wish I used a video format, because you should have seen my reaction this this. Ahh… priceless.
The rest of the article is more of the same shit, but I do want to leave you with one part. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
“Anime also appears to encourage gang activity. The image to the right was sent in by a reader. Notice how the young lady is flashing gang signs? Apparently she is a huge anime and “say-you” fan. Those signs are similar to the ones you’d find in the hood.”Don’t Lose Your Way