Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past couple of days, you would have gotten wind of the news that the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has approved an amendment on the Youth Development Ordinance that will regulate “manga, anime, and other images” that “unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate” sexual or pseudo sexual acts.
What does this all mean to you and me, as overseas consumers of Japanese soft culture? A whole lot I’m afraid. A vast majority of animation, manga, toy, and gaming companies are based in the teeming megalopolis, and with the new law in effect they will all be forced to severely self-censor their products — eliminating the very reason their customers purchase them in the first place.
Tokyo is also one of the country’s largest exporting hubs, and as such all imports — including adult manga, anime, and games (assuming that they can still be made) will have to pass through the city’s air and sea ports and their respective port inspectors. Under the new law, the government will have the power to stop the sale of these “restricted” imports, much to the dismay of overseas consumers.
Last and most importantly, the new law will stunt the city’s and even the country’s highly-developed creative industries — one of the few remaining export markets that has resisted the Japanese economic slump, therefore hampering the country’s efforts to claw its way out of a decade-long recession. It’s almost like killing the goose laying the golden eggs.
Major Japanese publishers and animation houses are already pulling out of the upcoming Tokyo International Animation Fair in protest to the new ordinance; if a significant enough number of exhibitors and sponsors jump ship, the event could be canceled outright.
There is also talk that the twice-yearly Comiket events could move to a different location — to a locale more sympathetic to their target market, since a large portion of Comiket merchandise will be covered by the restrictions (Osaka is likewise a no-go, having announced that they were restricting the sale of BL material earlier this year).
In the meantime, fans of manga and animation the world over are bracing for the impact of this new ordinance — stockpiling anime DVDs, game carts and installers, and tankoubon, in an effort to preserve at least some of the material before they were censored by the Tokyo Metropolitan government, and hope that new material will not be treated as harshly as implied by the current situation.
Time to hide your kids, hide your wives, and hide your husbands, cause — well, you know…