Online retailer Amazon has previously gone after anime figures that they deemed objectionable, even though a basic observation shows that there wasn’t anything objectionable about them. It seems this trend is continuing, as they’re halting sales of the light novel series, No Game No Life.
If you’re wondering what a “light novel” is, it’s related to Japanese comic books called “manga”, except they’re mainly text with intermittent illustrations.
I’m not familiar with the series No Game No Life, but from what I’ve seen in passive browsing, it’s far from the most offensive series out there. I suspect that the bannings are being carried out by a member of Amazon staff who isn’t strongly familiar with anime.
I’m not a huge anime nerd, but I’ve watched quite a bit. From what I’ve seen, the thing that makes anime appealing is the same thing that some people find concerning about it: some anime can have surprisingly mature themes. The fact is, anime isn’t a single genre, it’s an animation style used mainly in Japan. The anime style and its many variants can be used in Japanese shows that appeal to many different audiences, with some made for children, some made for teens, and some anime is made for mature audiences.
The fact that anime can touch on mature themes or have cultural references specific to the Japanese can result in anime being viewed with suspicion by certain western viewers who are more familiar with the idea of cartoons being primarily geared towards children.
An interesting point that’s related to this is that the Japanese aren’t obsessed with the idea that entertainment media can be used to inform a person’s worldview, or that cartoon characters be used to teach the values that parents should be teaching. The Japanese are morally unaffected by entertainment media because they can understand the difference between fantasy and reality, and are strongly well-behaved as people. The Japanese can consume mature entertainment without adverse effect because they are mature people. They don’t relegate child-rearing to the television set.
Because anime can have mature themes and even be adult-centric, it has plenty of potential to be viewed as weird. What’s more, while many western cartoons have simple plotlines that conclude in 20 minutes, anime can tell long stories that can take many episodes to reach a conclusion. Because of this, those accustomed to western cartoons can find anime very challenging. Considering this, anime is often unfairly criticized, and so are the people who consume it, in spite of the fact that anime fans tend to keep it sensible.
Though Amazon has blocked sales of No Game No Life, Amazon hasn’t given a reason for doing so. But I’m hearing that Amazon has also blocked sale of anime-related items that depicted characters bathing and characters in bed with only bedding. There seems to be a theme of vilification over depictions of nudity, as though there were anything intrinsically wrong with that. Nudity isn’t wrong, it’s a state of the human body (the most natural state). However, depictions of the sort are a typical target for busybodies out to score moral-superiority points.
The stated goal is usually “to fight objectification”, as though a fictional character’s plight were equivalent to that of a real human being. A fictional character can’t be further objectified because fictional characters are already objects. In any case, the busybodies don’t seem aware of the irony that they’re creating in speaking out against the objectification of fictional women, when their cause would victimize real women. The fact is, the Japanese entertainment industry employs and is cultivated by women. If the Japanese entertainment industry were to cave in to the demands of non-Japanese busybodies, many women that the industry employs might find themselves without income, and the busybodies’ endeavor against fictional women would have victimized real women.
When it comes to entertainment media, the best course of action is to allow mature, responsible people to make choices for themselves. If something doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities, you can make your choices based on that. What makes the busybodies problematic is that they’re not content with making their own choices for themselves, they want to make everyone else’s choices for them based on their own personal hang-ups. They don’t trust other people to behave maturely. While they pretend to be about liberation when they stand up for fictional people, they aren’t about liberty for real people.
When it comes to consuming mature media in a responsible manner, anime fans do surprisingly well. It’s too bad that there are people out there that don’t understand that.