For a while now, people have been turning to manga (Japanese comics) as an alternative to American comics, for a variety of reasons. It’s gotten to the point that a manga series has single-handedly outsold the entirety of the American comic book industry.
Among the reasons that people have been turning to manga is that the Japanese are less political in their entertainment, and therefore, anime and manga are yet to be poisoned by intersectional politics, or have their entertainment value ruined by reason of its wussy sensibilities.
For the most part, the Japanese have balked at the idea of their own media being influenced by western or international sensibilities. In that sense, they’ve done well in staying true to their own national identity, and as a result, their entertainment has remained entertaining.
You probably saw the title of this post, and wonder what I mean by “the great mistake”. This is what it would be called when a Japanese media company decides to compromise with the likes of intersectionality or western politics, and in so doing, alienate their audience and consequently learn the hard way why it’s such a bad idea to self-censor and lose customers as a result.
People tend to learn better when they have examples of failure, as such would provide material evidence that a certain decision is a bad idea to those for whom it is not already abundantly evident.
Takashi Natsuno, the president of Japanese manga publisher Kadokawa, has stated that manga is rarely reviewed by the likes of Apple or Google by reason of content which he considers more extreme than that of Japanese swimsuit models.
I’m going to be direct here: I’m not concerned about what Apple or Google thinks when it comes to anime or manga. I get my manga through websites like BookWalker. While BookWalker is available as an app, anything purchased through BookWalker can be read through a browser on a tablet. No need to go through an American storefront.
Something like two hours passed since writing that last paragraph. I went to BookWalker, and got distracted rereading much of Made in Abyss.
Here is what the president of Kadokawa said in a June 22nd video interview, with translation from Nicchiban:
“The fact is that there are people who have miraculously beautiful figures, and there are people who think there is value in that, and there is money to be made. I don’t think it’s fair to say that this is unfair, and I don’t think the argument about whether gravure is good or bad is valid. On the other hand, Japan is full of manga that are more extreme than swimsuit gravure. The publishing industry that I’m in is full of ‘liberal’ people, but I feel that we need to recreate standards that are appropriate for this Internet age, including such things.”
“Japan is full of manga that are more extreme than Gravure. This and other factors prevent Japanese manga from being reviewed by Google and Apple. So, I feel that we need to redefine the standards of the Internet age and determine what is acceptable for the public and what is not. The publishing industry I’m in is full of libertarians, but I really feel like we need to rethink things.”
As the article points out, it’s possible that he’s being misinterpreted, and is pointing out that the more extreme manga is difficult to host on Apple and Google. I doubt it, but if his intention was to call for self-censorship in manga, I’m not actually worried about it, for a few reasons.
For one thing, the idea of self-censorship to appeal to western audiences is tremendously unpopular among mangaka. I know that mangaka can speak for themselves in this regard, but it’s easy to see why they’d feel this way. Artists don’t like arbitrary restrictions placed on their forms of expression, which is something that western artists should be able to relate to. What’s more, if someone in an entirely different culture doesn’t like what the Japanese produce, they don’t have to read what the Japanese produce.
What’s more, Kadokawa’s position is so grossly unpopular that even if he used his sway in the company to encourage mangaka to self-censor, the more popular mangaka may use their own sway to seek out a different publisher. Though, in many cases, it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes, content creators are bound by contract. Such “golden handcuffs” are something to watch out for in the event that you want to make a deal with a company to promote your big idea, as is the forfeiture of creative control of your IP, so they’d get to decide what to do with the characters you created. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Then, on top of that, self-censorship would hurt the manga publisher’s bottom line, as readers would quickly feel alienated, and turn to another manga.
But another big point is that Takashi Natsuno is only a temporary president. He was only hired on for a couple months, and isn’t likely to remain much longer. If he’s going to fire his mouth off with such unpopular opinions, he’s not helping his career in the creative industry.
Speaking of firing his mouth off, Natsuno had this to say about the Olympics’ opening ceremony:
“Compared to the Olympics, such shitty piano recitals don’t matter.”
Whether you agree with him on the creative direction of the manga industry, he’s certainly capable of throwing out one-liners that bring down the house.
What makes censoring manga so stupid is that characters in manga are just drawings. They are just lines printed on paper (or shown on display screens, as the case may be). People shouldn’t get so hung up over depictions of violence against people who aren’t even real, or the objectification of characters who, by definition, are merely objects to begin with. They are fictional depictions, and escapist fantasies presented to people for their enjoyment. If you don’t like what’s depicted, you don’t have to consume it.
The idea that art must be a sincere expression of one’s intrinsic values or a vehicle to further a progressive message is a product of a society that has gone awry, and lost sight of the fact that art can simply be creative, without need for justification.
What’s more, people shouldn’t be stuck on the idea that something has to be accessible through the likes of Google or Apple or Facebook, or some content aggregator. If something is anywhere on the net, it’s accessible. If a person thinks that the internet is just one search engine or social media site, they’re stupid. And stupid people shouldn’t decide what everyone else on the internet sees, reads, or shares.
But they’re sure trying.
As for “the great mistake”, while it would have every chance of backfiring in a huge way, the failure it would result in would be clear, plain, and indisputable, showing what would happen when you attempt to replace the audience you already have with a hypothetical audience which hasn’t expressed much interest. If Natsuno were to go forward with “the great mistake”, he’d be a dubious kind of volunteer to make a point that few others in his industry would dare to.
Probably because they’ve been watching from afar what’s already been happening with Marvel and DC. But if a manga publisher makes the mistake, and the damage were to be localized to just one publisher, then it can be said that the SJWs tried on every platform that was available to them, wasn’t able to succeed on any of them, while keeping the damage to a minimum. While it would be better if no publishing company has to be lost, sometimes, some people insist on proving a point, even if it means someone takes the fall. In war, not every soldier gets to return home.
“No one is immune to failure. All have tasted the bitterness of defeat and disappointment. A warrior must not dwell on that failure. But must learn from it and continue on.”Grand Admiral Thrawn
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