The "Tokyo Youth Ordinance Bill"
(B 156) has already passed committee.
(B 156) has already passed committee.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter Akiba.
The short and long of this thing is that it's meant to make works that encourage harmful activities among minors in the form of anime and manga - not live action films or books, strictly otaku bait - illegal without stricter regulations, the details of which have not yet been made public. The Democratic Party of Japan has announced that they're going to fully back Tokyo's new law, and at least one publisher of adult content (yaoi, specifically) has already said that they're instructing artists to not submit material that involves school uniforms, and that they won't be reprinting any such material that already exists.
What's especially shocking is that this law was passed despite an earlier version of it - one that was even less restrictive and more vaguely worded - was voted down several months back. The general jist of it is that works that encourage or glamorize illegal activity involving minors will be considered obscene material, which by default means that virtually all lolicon and shotacon works - wither they're directly pornographic or not - are going to come under scrutiny. If I remember correctly Tokyo Governor Shintarou Ishihara - the main proponent behind this madness - has even used non-adult satire manga with "blanked out" portions to support his case, knowing full well that there was no sex or frontal nudity under them. He's also a noted homophobe and has told otaku to get real girlfriends, and creepily enough, that holds some relevance to this very law.
Japan has had a long history of allowing artists unbridled freedom of speech, and manga authors ranging from contemporary favorites like Tite Kubo to cult classics like Gou Nagai have publicly spoken out against it. In retaliation, virtually the entire anime industry as it exists today has pulled out of the annual Tokyo International Anime Fair, effectively having given all of Tokyo a giant extended middle finger by separating its' relevancy to the industry itself. Whilst the ordinance technically only extends to Tokyo, we have to remember that most manga and anime publishers are based in Tokyo, as is the entire otaku subculture in the fanboy shops of Akihabara and the annual Comiket doujinshi marketplace. With these laws strictly targeting 2D hand-crafted artwork, not photographic works of pornography, it's a challenge to the entire industry... and this time, it's for reals.
Will all of this really make a real difference? It's hard to say. Theoretically pornographic works are already restricted to adults anyway, so the only "harmful" material left are unregulated works that feature graphic sexuality, most notably works for women (yaoi, especially) which aren't usually labeled as pornographic, and independent works (doujinshi) which aren't regulated heavily to start with. Of course, the vague wording - something like "material which is contradictory to social norms" - could include anything from rape to homosexuality to jerking off in a public restroom. There are stipulations that the work may be released if it has satirical or artistic merits, but that means it's basically in the same trench of "it's up to the judge" as standard Obscenity laws are in the United States.
Laws were passed preventing rape games, but the industry marched along more or less unchanged, merely changing the euphemisms for "slavery" and "violation" to slightly less scary-sounding words, but went on leaving the content more or less unchanged. Japan's entire defense against "obscenity" is also pixelating genitals, but with little actual recourse to the content therein - you can eat shit and fuck dogs and choke a bitch 'till she's blue in the face, so long as the pubes are always fudged out. So much as this law has some very real and unpleasant connotations relating directly back to Orwell, the industry will just have to find new and exciting loopholes to continue doing what it does best; producing increasingly offensive work for the demanding anime and manga connoisseur.
It's the not-quite-pornographic works that are probably going to be hit the hardest.... Berserk and Kodomo no Jikan, oddly enough, both spring to mind as titles which might be either slapped with an 18+ restriction or severely castrated.
The ordinance doesn't begin until July of next year - pending the final vote on Monday, of course - and all current works are apparently exempt. Thank fuck for that, I guess. Still, exactly how the anime and manga industry is going to strike back at this ridiculous law targeting images such as this, which have so far been proven to harm ABSOLUTELY NO-ONE:
...we'll just have to wait and see.