UK Anime Distributor Manga Entertainment Discussion Thread

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Smeelia

Thousand Master
I tend towards having a "live and let live" kind of attitude. I'm not really convinced that any particular material can be inherently harmful and I tend to think that some degree of age restriction is plenty (though some effort to make sure people know what to expect when buying your product doesn't hurt too).

I think my biggest issue with these kind of debates is that the people against a particular kind of material tend to proceed on the basis that what they assume to be the motivation behind consuming this material must be the only possible motivation those consuming it could have. Trying to actually consider any alternative or accept the possibility of some complexity seems to be seen as too much effort for far too many people.

In the case of fanservice with young characters, there's often an assumption that consumers of that kind of material must have a desire for similar acts to those portrayed to be carried out with real children. That's a pretty massive assumption without any reliable grounds that I've ever seen. There's also that big difference between thinking about a thing and doing a thing to take into account.

I suppose the other problem is that people will often have some "feeling" that there's something wrong about it but won't quite be able to explain why or truly justify their reasons for thinking that the material should not be allowed to exist. It's kind of frustrating, if there is a genuine issue created by a certain kind of material then I think it'd be worth finding out about but most people seem to be happy enough to simply demonise something based on subjective tastes rather than any real facts. Sadly, that is also often the case for law makers or others with a position to place restrictions on materials (though, in fairness these people often rely on popular support to maintain their positions or simply have no real limit to prevent them from using their personal preference as a basis for judgement).

I think Rui makes some good points about the more practical reasons for fan service shows to perform poorly. I'd also agree that, while censorship and such can be an issue for some it's probably not that big a factor for most (at least, assuming they get far enough to be released here in the first place).
 

ilmaestro

State Alchemist
Buzz201 said:
ilmaestro said:
Buzz201 said:
I'm partial to oblivious misunderstandings.

I guess you quoted me before my edit - what is your opinion on the way Ohoho is presented?
I've forgotten who she is, but if it's general she's over 18 and consenting I can deal with it.
I meant in HO. Ohoho is an even younger Elite than Milinda - she doesn't look any older than her age, but she uses a fake image of a much... older... lady as her public persona.
 

Joshawott

Monsieur Monster
AUKN Staff
At least now when people say "All anime is tentacle porn", we can say "No it isn't and even when it is, it doesn't sell!"?

To elaborate on my previous comments regarding marketing, given that the vast majority of Manga UK's Top 10 titles are from franchises targeted towards an adolescent audience, I think a potential issue could be that distributors might be doing the equivalent of trying to advertise softcore pornography to the Ben-10 crowd; although it would be great if we could see some purchaser demographics as I wouldn't be surprised if people in their late-teens or early-twenties are buying a number of them due to being on TV in their younger years, such as Yu-Gi-Oh!. So perhaps it might be worth exploring other potential avenues to advertise mature titles to a more appreciative audience?

I think another potential issue could be that a number of these shows are simply marketed too ambiguously; leaving people unfamiliar with the franchise unaware of what the product actually entails. As an example, I'll go back to the previously mentioned Samurai Girls:
Amazon Synopsis said:
Things seemed to be going so well for Muneakira Yagyu. On top of dealing with Jubei, the immortal samurai warrior who fell out of the sky and into his arms and lips, he used his ability to awaken the latent power of a female samurai with a kiss to successfully juggle a handful of very powerful, very female master samurai, AND led them all to victory against the minion of a great evil. So was it too much to ask for a little break in the routine of saving Japan? Apparently it was, as another great evil has appeared in the land, this one even stronger than the last. However, that's the least of Muneakira's problems, because with all the women he's kissed in order to awaken their latent samurai powers, the inevitable has finally happened. Someone's taking the long walk down the aisle with a samurai girl! It's going to be a really old fashioned wedding and any resistance by the groom will be totally feudal!
At first glance the cover art doesn't really strike me as the series being "that" kind of show and the official blurb doesn't really help either. I mean, aside from the single phrase "Juggle a handful of very powerful, very female master samurai" it could actually arguably pass for the synopsis of a shojo-action series :p.

Conversely however, I think a fine job was done with High School DxD's first season. While the front cover doesn't really say much and the DxD in the title probably speaks for itself, the spine features an image of Rias with clearly visible cleavage that would likely jump out even when sorted into the overcrowded blu-ray section at HMV. Then there's the back cover with clear sexualised imagery and the legendary tagline (which Jeremy Graves famously read out enthusiastically at a panel) - the intent of the series is clearly there. To that end, I'll be interested in learning how MVM's release of So I Can't Play H! does for them because I think the back cover in particular is a stroke of genius.

At the moment, one of Marvelous Games' most successful video game franchises is the ridiculously sexualised Senran Kagura series, which I imagine is largely down to the franchise being so unashamed to admit that it is what it is. I mean, this is the front cover of a niche game that made the UK Top 40 on release and convinced the North American publisher that it would be worth giving future games physical releases in that territory. Then when it came to releasing the sequel, pre-sales went pretty fast. The video game and anime markets tend to crossover nicely even before Senran Kagura's anime inspired visuals, so perhaps this could be a sign that the market responds more strongly to more suggestive artwork? Sadly, the artwork on FUNimation's release of the anime is pretty pedestrian (and I heard the adaptation as a whole was too, but that's another topic entirely).

I guess the tl;dr of what I'm trying to say is that maybe the best way to sell smut is to fully embrace what it is and run with it? I can already see Monster Musume: Everyday Life With Monster Girls being a strong seller for MVM because from the outset that series' marketing was frank about what it is and then it spread like wildfire through word of mouth. Of course, there is always the chance that a production committee may not actually want you to do that. It must work for Sentai Filmsworks though, considering how often they sex-up their covers.

(On that note, does anyone know which cover The Comic Book Artist & His Assistants used? The UK release is oddly absent from Amazon.co.uk, while Base.com shows different artwork compared to Manga UK's website; which was used by Sentai Filmworks and frankly, I feel captures the nature of the series better).

EDIT: Dear Arceus, did I really write such a long post about selling ecchi anime? I think I might need to go to bed...
 

BanzaiJedi

Pokémon Master
Joshawott said:
(On that note, does anyone know which cover The Comic Book Artist & His Assistants used? The UK release is oddly absent from Amazon.co.uk, while Base.com shows different artwork compared to Manga UK's website; which was used by Sentai Filmworks and frankly, I feel captures the nature of the series better).
The cover on Manga's website is the one they used, which caught me by surprise at the time. I didn't do much research on that series, so I blind-bought it mostly based on the Base.com artwork looking like a pleasant slice-of-life comedy with harem elements. Then it dropped through the letterbox and when I saw the actual cover my reaction was 'Oh, it's one of those shows'.
 

Rui

Karamatsu Boy
Administrator
Joshawott said:
I mean, aside from the single phrase "Juggle a handful of very powerful, very female master samurai" it could actually arguably pass for the synopsis of a shojo-action series :p.
Now this I would buy.

R
 

Shiroi Hane

Dragon Knight
Joshawott said:
I think it's worth pointing out that Jerome's comments weren't targeting titles with characters in any particular age-range but rather, fan-service driven series' as a whole.
He literally said "It's specifically the sexualisation of young girls in anime. Characters who look under 16 years or younger" and "the sexy underage girl thing".

NormanicGrav said:
That may be the case here in the UK but I'm pretty sure over in North America (and presumably Australia) it's doing pretty darn well. High School DxD's LE sold out instantly and that wasn't common for Funi sets at that time.
He does add that DxD S1 and HOTD are the best selling of their ecchi shows.

Joshawott said:
At least now when people say "All anime is tentacle porn", we can say "No it isn't and even when it is, it doesn't sell!"?
The irony that has been pointed out by The Clementary in the past is that Urotsukidoji has sold more copies that most anime can even dream of.
 

Buzz201

Mad Scientist
ilmaestro said:
I meant in HO. Ohoho is an even younger Elite than Milinda - she doesn't look any older than her age, but she uses a fake image of a much... older... lady as her public persona.
I don't think I saw her. I literally quit after the flute episode, because I don't have time at the moment and it was clear the show didn't want to drop the fanservice, which was really starting to annoy me. (I'm massively behind on everything and was hoping to catch up over Christmas/)
 

Joshawott

Monsieur Monster
AUKN Staff
Shiroi Hane said:
Joshawott said:
I think it's worth pointing out that Jerome's comments weren't targeting titles with characters in any particular age-range but rather, fan-service driven series' as a whole.
He literally said "It's specifically the sexualisation of young girls in anime. Characters who look under 16 years or younger" and "the sexy underage girl thing".
Ah, I must have missed that one. However, I would dispute the use of the phrase "underage" when referring to characters looking under sixteen years of age, due to the different national ages of consent between Japan and the United Kingdom. For example, I have witnessed North American commentators refer to Europeans who enjoy 16/17 year old characters in games and anime as "paedophiles" despite those ages being perfectly legal in European territories, which is frankly bonkers and for the large part, the same applies here.

I'm not saying there aren't anime that feature sexualised characters under the Japanese national age of consent (13) nor am I condoning the ones that do exist, but they are in the minority outside of certain circles. In regards to characters who are over the average Japanese age of consent but under those of western countries however, it should be expected that works don't always fall in line with the mindset and values of other territories; especially when they only generate around 10% to overall profits. On that note, I do agree with Jerome that the international market could have a lot to gain from becoming more involved in the production process; even if it only amounts to consulting on what may or not prove problematic in their respective territories. Honestly though, I don't get why the anime industry can't just do what the majority of video game publishers do and just age-up characters during localisation.

Joshawott said:
At least now when people say "All anime is tentacle porn", we can say "No it isn't and even when it is, it doesn't sell!"?
The irony that has been pointed out by The Clementary in the past is that Urotsukidoji has sold more copies that most anime can even dream of.
I remember even seeing a copy of the UMD video release in GAME many years ago; so it had a much wider distribution too. Clearly, what these kind of shows need then, is more tentacles :p
 

Buzz201

Mad Scientist
Joshawott said:
Ah, I must have missed that one. However, I would dispute the use of the phrase "underage" when referring to characters looking under sixteen years of age, due to the different national ages of consent between Japan and the United Kingdom. For example, I have witnessed North American commentators refer to Europeans who enjoy 16/17 year old characters in games and anime as "paedophiles" despite those ages being perfectly legal in European territories, which is frankly bonkers and for the large part, the same applies here.

I'm not saying there aren't anime that feature sexualised characters under the Japanese national age of consent (13) nor am I condoning the ones that do exist, but they are in the minority outside of certain circles. In regards to characters who are over the average Japanese age of consent but under those of western countries however, it should be expected that works don't always fall in line with the mindset and values of other territories; especially when they only generate around 10% to overall profits. On that note, I do agree with Jerome that the international market could have a lot to gain from becoming more involved in the production process; even if it only amounts to consulting on what may or not prove problematic in their respective territories. Honestly though, I don't get why the anime industry can't just do what the majority of video game publishers do and just age-up characters during localisation.
Assuming what you mean here is giving the wrong age rather than redrawing scenes/characters, I would assume it's because the fansubbing communicate would eat distributors for breakfast if they tried it. Hell, people are still really upset that shows like Pokemon get a dub aimed at cartoon watching American children, rather than anime watching adults, despite the obvious financial (and arguably artistic, given the show is aimed at children) reasons for doing so.

I don't know, but I'd assume reprogramming a game is far harder than ripping subtitles and tweaking a line or two. If you really wanted to stop people reprogramming a game you can encrypt the code and make it much harder. You can't really do that with a blu-ray, so it's far easier for somebody to make and (illegally) distribute a 'corrected' version of an anime than a game.
 

Shiroi Hane

Dragon Knight
Joshawott said:
Ah, I must have missed that one. However, I would dispute the use of the phrase "underage" when referring to characters looking under sixteen years of age, due to the different national ages of consent between Japan and the United Kingdom. For example, I have witnessed North American commentators refer to Europeans who enjoy 16/17 year old characters in games and anime as "paedophiles" despite those ages being perfectly legal in European territories, which is frankly bonkers and for the large part, the same applies here.
Jerome is aware that the AOC is lower in Japan, and does not consider that a good thing.

Honestly though, I don't get why the anime industry can't just do what the majority of video game publishers do and just age-up characters during localisation.
The "all characters are over 18" disclaimer on.. what was it called, the incest game from Mangagamer.. was hilarious. There are what, 5? full blood younger siblings of a guy who is clearly himself still in high school and even allowing for the twins that's an age gap of at least 9 months x4 for the youngest...

Joshawott said:
At least now when people say "All anime is tentacle porn", we can say "No it isn't and even when it is, it doesn't sell!"?
The irony that has been pointed out by The Clementary in the past is that Urotsukidoji has sold more copies that most anime can even dream of.
I remember even seeing a copy of the UMD video release in GAME many years ago; so it had a much wider distribution too. Clearly, what these kind of shows need then, is more tentacles :p[/quote]
Nah, all we need is a prominent tabloid piece about the evils of anime. Tentacles are just a bonus.
 

Rui

Karamatsu Boy
Administrator
I think we're supposed to believe that Japanese grown-ups still go to school to learn basic English or maths, dressed in uniforms and without any independence (or pretend that's what we believe).

Jerome is a father IIRC so in a rare move towards actually siding with him on a point, I can understand why he'd be completely grossed out over the idea of 13 year old characters in skeevy harem shows when he knows kids of that age in real life. Of course, parents also struggle with the idea of their progeny having sex at 16, 18, 20 and beyond, so there's some overprotectiveness at work... but in this country I don't think it's a bad thing to protect real kids in their early teens from being the target of that kind of attention.

Of course, the teenagers in anime are completely unrealistic and in no danger whatsoever due to not existing. However, as an adult I have witnessed (and been the target of) some very inappropriate advances from the kind of fans the Daily Mail likes to warn us all about, so while I don't personally believe there is any reason to think that young characters in anime cause adults to be attracted to young people in real life, I do think it feeds into the weird culture of entitlement towards girls that some more embarrassing fans seem to have. Most fans are sensible - or too shy to be harmful - but even as a hermitlike entity with zero appeal I've had enough personal experience of the other side to know that it's out there. Vulnerable people don't need to have to deal with fans touching them in public, inviting them to their hotel room at cons, stroking their hair when queued behind them at events, making vulgar comments and threatening suicide if they won't hang out with them. This kind of person exists in society at large, not just in anime fandom, but I do feel that the culture surrounding sleazy fan service shows and the normalisation of that behaviour in some groups attracts them to our circles. For example, casual lolicon jokes aren't acceptable in mainstream society, however the broad acceptance of that kind of thing in anime fandom encourages poorly socialised people to carry some bad habits across into the real world.

There are perfectly good examples of how using a young, vulnerable character in a provocative setting can be a good storytelling decision. I really enjoyed (is that the right word?) Mardock Scramble, and that's been the subject of various debates thanks to the age and experiences of its lead. The infamous Paranoia Agent cut was, to me, extremely heavy-handed, because using a child in that storyline increased the impact of its message. Stories which have a highly mature and intelligent woman in a younger body aren't a problem as they don't tend to sink to using such characters as helpless tools. Historical stories from a time before the age of consent was even a consideration should be able to respect the norms of that time. And of course, we mustn't end up with a sitution where anyone with a flat chest is automatically assumed to be underage even if they're an irrelevant silent background character because that's stupidity itself (thanks, BBFC). I can even see lolicon as being 'appropriate' (again, not really the right word) in its own niche titles where there's a defined audience; there are plenty of arguments for using non-existent characters to satisfy a need, something that is beneficial for society as a whole.

In an ideal world I would say it's fine to let creators create whatever they want and I'd imagine that would all even out. Some people would make lolicon material, others would prefer older characters, and no real people would ever be exploited so it seems pretty great. What actually seems to happen though is that it becomes a rapid race to the bottom where everyone continually tries to push the envelope further and feature younger and younger characters getting into an endless stream of inappropriate situations (I'm going to say 'less mature' rather than 'younger' actually, as adults who act like they're twelve are just as uninteresting to me).

I think some of it's shock value and some of it's just a perpetual race to stay on top of otaku trends; trends which are largely dictated by what came before rather than by artistic liberty or rational demand. Few of these characters act their age at all which makes it all even more confusing; they want to draw saucy young-looking girls, yet young girls in real life are sort of annoying so they act more like vapid teenagers. Every time. Or sometimes it's vapid teenagers who act like little kids. The age they're officially labelled with may as well be a 'breast size' value because that's all it truly means in a lot of shows.

Another thing that's a shame is that a lot of the shows packed with prepubescent girls are entirely harmless feel-good iyashi-kei titles. Because the other shows make it seem that most anime fans are into young girls for entirely non-innocent reasons, the fans who genuinely enjoy the moe value of watching young girls fumble through life end up tarred with the same brush, all in the name of artistic freedom. It's this generation's version of the 'tentacle porn' debacle of the past.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't like censorship but I'd really appreciate it if the original staff could be a little more intelligent about the way they depict fan service in future instead of just throwing a bunch of horny adolescents together with some onii-sama figure and calling it a plot. I can't work up any enthusiasm to argue that that kind of repetitive silliness should be protected and respected as a work of art, because it's not got anything to say.

I'm amazed I wrote this much about a topic which doesn't really involve me at all. It's Jerome's fault.

R
 

Joshawott

Monsieur Monster
AUKN Staff
Shiroi Hane said:
Joshawott said:
Ah, I must have missed that one. However, I would dispute the use of the phrase "underage" when referring to characters looking under sixteen years of age, due to the different national ages of consent between Japan and the United Kingdom. For example, I have witnessed North American commentators refer to Europeans who enjoy 16/17 year old characters in games and anime as "paedophiles" despite those ages being perfectly legal in European territories, which is frankly bonkers and for the large part, the same applies here.
Jerome is aware that the AOC is lower in Japan, and does not consider that a good thing.
I personally don't consider it a good thing either and would even go a step further and question whether our age of consent of 16 should be higher due to the average mental maturity of that age and their general fiscal inability to cope with the potential consequences (e.g. pregnancy), but that's perhaps a heavier discussion for another day :p

I would be just as outraged as anyone else if the BBC released a drama sexualising a 14-year old for example, but I don't think we can or should tar works with the same brush just for depicting something that is perfectly legal in their intended market and setting just because it isn't in our overseas territory (and why would the Japanese side really listen to us when we only provide around 10% of revenue?). So I can definitely see the incentive of wanting to become more involved in co-productions; to veer works closer to our domestic market's sensibilities and to become less tied-up in licensor politics. I'm all for that and have even suggested in the past that for example, Nintendo should involve their international divisions in production more to reduce controversies like the recent censorship of Xenoblade Chronicles X (where international versions lack the ability to customise a female avatar's bust). Otherwise, all licensing companies can really do before Japanese trends change is tackle what they can in localisation or only acquire properties that fit into their market's sensibilities.

Where I do think a line is crossed and need to be addressed though, is when works occasionally sexualise characters under the Japanese age of consent. For example, To Love Ru is a work that is largely fine in regards to the Japanese age of consent, but my stomach churns whenever an episode is centred around Mikan Yuki; because not only is she only twelve, but there's the incestuous implications thrown on top (why couldn't she have remained the responsible sister? And why can't Kentaro Yabuki make Black Cat 2 instead of drawing ecchi stuff anyway?). I'm also personally uncomfortable with seeing sexually-charged fan-art of characters under the age of 16 for example (especially if it's produced or posted by people living in countries where it is illegal), but I exercise as much tolerance if I know it's posted by a Japanese citizen living in Japan as I do when my European friends talk about 15 year olds (well, as much tolerance as I can for seeing that kind of material on my social media feeds anyway).

Another thing I don't appreciate is when sexualised elements are sometimes shoe-horned into series' that would have been perfectly fine without them. An example would be Food Wars; which could have still featured over-the-top reactions without resorting to provocative imagery like this. I will readily admit that I watch the dumb ecchi harem shows, but there's a time and a place. In fact, I would have readily recommended Food Wars to a lot more people if it didn't have that element to it.

Honestly though, I don't get why the anime industry can't just do what the majority of video game publishers do and just age-up characters during localisation.
The "all characters are over 18" disclaimer on.. what was it called, the incest game from Mangagamer.. was hilarious. There are what, 5? full blood younger siblings of a guy who is clearly himself still in high school and even allowing for the twins that's an age gap of at least 9 months x4 for the youngest...
Maybe they were all held back multiple times due to poor grades? :p

One game that I thought handled the whole age-up thing rather well was Bravely Default; where Edea Lee was 15 in the original Japanese release, but she and the other main characters were all aged by 3 years for the international release. I imagine this was done due to a particularly significant sidequest where as part of a mission, Edea has to attempt to court a known sleaze, only for her to be drugged and arguably even implied to have been raped. Obviously that's touchy material regardless of age, but being a minor would have made it even more questionable.

What XSEED Games did in regards to Senran Kagura having a school setting, was the international version erased any mention of the educational level and character ages, using the justification that it could then be interpreted as them being at university (although all the cast members are oover 16 in the Japanese version; so that was done for the North American market and other territories with a similar age of consent).

Joshawott said:
At least now when people say "All anime is tentacle porn", we can say "No it isn't and even when it is, it doesn't sell!"?
The irony that has been pointed out by The Clementary in the past is that Urotsukidoji has sold more copies that most anime can even dream of.
I remember even seeing a copy of the UMD video release in GAME many years ago; so it had a much wider distribution too. Clearly, what these kind of shows need then, is more tentacles :p
Nah, all we need is a prominent tabloid piece about the evils of anime. Tentacles are just a bonus.[/quote]
Maybe someone should trick the Daily Mail into believing Assassination Classroom radicalises kids into murdering their teachers? I mean, they believed Hestia's ribbon was a fashion trend. Assassination Classroom would have the bonus of tentacles on a technicality too.
 

Smeelia

Thousand Master
It's interesting that some people take the age of consent into account for this sort of thing. I wouldn't say that age is especially relevant to a person's ability to decide if they should be having sex (with a few exceptions), the reason we have a legal age is more for practical purposes. I can't really associate that with fictional characters/situations (except in so far as it may be story relevant, I suppose) since they have no will of their own and wouldn't be able to act in the real world even if they did. Basically, you might find your Waifu/Husbando (is that the right term?) sexy but you won't actually be able to have sex with them (and merchandise doesn't count).

As long as people can distinguish between fantasy and reality, I don't really see a problem with people having any kind of fantasy that works for them. I do think there seems to be a problem of far too many people struggling with that distinction but I'm not convinced that restricting or censoring material would really help to solve it.

I'd be willing to concede that people may be able to learn certain attitudes from the material they consume but restricting the material would be dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause. I'd say it would be better to put effort into making sure that people are able to analyse and interpret content for themselves as well as understand what to expect from different kinds of content. People may still choose to act in an unacceptable manner but at least it'd be better that they do so from malevolence rather than ignorance.
 

HdE

Comic Book Guy
Rui said:
There are perfectly good examples of how using a young, vulnerable character in a provocative setting can be a good storytelling decision. I really enjoyed (is that the right word?) Mardock Scramble, and that's been the subject of various debates thanks to the age and experiences of its lead.
Interesting you bring that up, Rui- I've been looking back at Mardock Scramble recently with a view to doing a video review.

The age of its lead is really never very close to my mind when watching that. It doesn't seem like a detail that was lobbed in to satisfy any perceived market need to have a young female character front and center. It just seems like a detail that's a natural fit for the story.

Of course, you have to bear in mind that the story in question goes to some pretty dark places, and has more than its fair share of scum and ugly. So it seems like a case to me of 'this is the story, here are its characters... now take it or leave it on its merits.'

I don't think there's anything gratuitous about it, is basically what I'm saying - in much the same way as I could say that about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. But both films / series are alike in that the material is no less discomfiting for what it contains.
 
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