Japanese Manga censors have always collided with the public perception of artistic expression.
The issue usually concerns “Loli Manga,” the adorable childlike characters that are depicted in potentially erotic situations.
That’s one thing, perhaps, but it’s quite another to claim that sexually aggressive women turn children who read about them into homosexuals and lesbians.
Part of the problem with the censorship law that went into effect in 2010 is the fact that it is very vaguely worded. It permits censorship of any media that “promotes illegal or immoral sexual activity.”
Censors can interpret those parameters any way they see fit, imposing their own standards onto a medium considered by many to be art.
Of course, the definition of “art” is subject to interpretation as well, and not every Japanese parent may consider beautiful gay boys engaging in erotic situations suitable reading material for their children.
For years, Japanese censors have tolerated manga comic books and animated movies.
Japanese comics are read by adults as well as children and have seeped into pop culture. Fetishes, violent sex, incest and so-called Lolita-porn, or erotic drawings of female childlike characters are common themes, but these comics are also more sophisticated than others of their ilk.
They often explore complex subjects, including business, war and politics. A manga version of Marx’s Das Kapital recently made it into print, joining Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Manga has never been accepted by the conservative element in Japanese society as it is considered “unwholesome.” A genre called boys’ love aimed at younger women depicts idealized, homo-erotic relationships between young men.
The impact of such material on children has been a controversial sore spot for years, much like the American debate concerning violence on television and its ramifications on young minds.
Violent manga and anime have been cited in the trials of several notorious Japanese serial killers, but the truth is that sexual and violent crimes are comparatively rare in Japan.
The latest complaint about manga pushes the envelope into the realm of the weird and totally ridiculous. It concerns those manga scenes depicting women as sexual aggressors.
The logic behind this complaint defies reason as it suggests that women who take the lead in sexual matters are making children understand that this means they will develop sexually as homosexuals.
In consequence, conservative politicians may well cripple one of Japan’s few growth industries with their absurd censorship laws.
Fear of homosexuality cannot be legislated or un-legislated, for it comes from a cosmos of ignorance and prejudice from where, without an honest appraisal of one’s own fears, there can never be an escape.