The Daily Almanac: Protecting the Virtual Children!

Man, the loli wars just keep on coming. Maybe I need to rename this column “Today in Lolicon” from now on. That’s pretty much all the news that’s worth talking about this week.

Today’s big news is over a proposed bill in Tokyo to ban “virtual” child pornography. The new law would ban the sexual or sexually provocative drawings of children who appear to be under the age of 18 regardless of actual age described in the story. The bill will be voted in committee on the 19th, then it would move up to assembly on the 30th. If it passes assembly, the law will go into effect this October.

This would normally be the point in the post when I would joke about “saving the virtual children” and maybe even providing a quote from a fictional loli girl in order to mock the ridiculousness of this law, but GodLen has already done that. So I’ll just take this one seriously this time.

Now, let me remind you, Japan already has some pretty whacked decency laws in place. For example, you are not allowed to sell anything in the country that shows male or female genitals. That kinda sounds reasonable expect for the fact that it also includes legitimate adult pornography.

That’s right, you can’t show naughty bits in Japanese pornography, it’s illegal. Considering how perverted we often perceive the Japanese to be, it’s remarkable to think that they have stricter porno laws over there than they do in America.

And yet even with that ridiculous law in place, they still sell pornography, fully censored and all. So if this new law passes, it won’t be that unusual to have such a restriction in place. Manga artists will somehow find a way around it.

So is it possible that this bill will pass in Japan?  Well, that’s a little difficult for me to predict. We already have a similar version of this law in America that – while purposely vague and open-ended – has resulted in jail time for both men brought to court for it.

But Japan, in general, has a far different view on child abuse than we do in America. Sex crime is not nearly as frequent over there as it is over here, but their ideal age for considering girls sexual appropriate skews far lower into the teens than that “18 and over” limit we’ve established in the US. So I think that raising that age of appropriateness is going to be a much harder obstacle for the law to overcome in Japan. That’s a significant cultural change.

But another thing we have to remember is the reason WHY such a ridiculous law exists in America in the first place. As much as manga fans understand the need for such material and can easily tell the difference between fantasy and reality, we make up such a small minority. The general public will easily support a ban on fake child porn because they see no need for it, so we’re all fighting a losing battle here.

Is the general Japanese public just as disgusted over lolicon as we are over here? Well, we’ll find out when it goes to vote on the 19th.

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Next in loli-news, after days of remaining silent on the issue, FUNi released an official statement to ANN today regarding the whole mess around the edits to Dance in the Vampire Bund. They said that as for now, they might be able to release the series uncut on DVD, but since the show hasn’t finished airing yet, they can’t be too sure. If the series does end up containing material that could get them in trouble legally, then yeah, they will have to censor it.

Now, I wrote my take of the situation last Monday, so I’m not going to repeat myself here. But now my question is how well did FUNi handle this situation?

FUNi has been dead silent on the issue since Friday, and that was pretty unusual. I guess that their plan was to remain low and let the controversy blow over all by itself. But the fans proved to be resilient and refused to back down, and with the company making a public appearance at MegaCon this weekend, it was obvious that they would have to settle this situation sooner than later.

So they issued this official statement today and it seemed to satisfy a lot of the fan rage, but really, what did this statement say? It was just as filled with PR fluff as their last official statement, just more vague and non-committal. They MIGHT not have to censor the DVD release? Yeah, sure, they might. They might have to do a lot of things for that DVD release, it’s going to take at least a year for them to release it.

The anime DVD market has been changing so rapidly these days that one year from now is going to be completely unpredictable. There’s no telling what the law will be at that point, or if the market will be stable enough to even allow this series to be released on DVD. After all, FUNi licensed My Bride is a Mermaid over a year ago, and there is still no sign of a release date anywhere in the near future.

So quit getting your panties in so much of a bunch, peeps, because this one’s gonna take a while. Let’s cross these bridges when the time calls for it.

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And finally, I just want to close out today’s edition of “Today in Lolicon” by saying that I have really been getting into Dance in the Vampire Bund lately. I’m still on the fence about the anime adaptation after watching the first four episodes, but I picked up the first volume of the manga last weekend and I am hooked! I just ordered more volumes of the manga today.

The weird thing is that I’m not even a big fan of horror or monster shows, but Vampire Bund is not that type of series at all. It’s more about power and government than hacking and slashing, and it really only uses the supernatural elements of vampires and werewolves to establish a class system and unrest within a large society. It’s a political drama wrapped in a gothic-lolita package.

Though I can’t help but to form a connection with Vampire Bund to Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase. They both feature childish female vampires with teenage male partners. They both take the ideas of “vampires” into a genre that is not necessarily horror. And finally, they were both adapted in anime series by Studio Shaft and director Akiyuki Shinbo.

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