Social Issues in Japan

Captaaainuniverse

Mad Scientist
Rape as a plot device I don't think is necessarily offensive, but using it for maximum shock value seems a bit lazy in modern stories now

And any time words like sexist, homophobic and misogynistic is brought into it about what creators make, I kind of bin the argument as entitlement and "represent me!" Creators don't have to do that, if they end up doing it all the better, if they don't there's no rule saying they have to.

If a character hates women or gay people, or even the creator themselves do and it's obvious in the treatment of certain types of characters, than That is what is worth the discussion, whether it's badly done, whether it's just blatant or if it's done well, not if something panders/complies to what someone wants out of it, the audience doesn't write the play after all

And if a creator doesn't care about something They don't care It doesn't make them a bad person or really say anything about them, the things they actually take a stance on says more about them
 

thedoctor2016

Soul Reaper
Persona 4 had Kanji. Ok his dungeon seemed a bit too played for laughs but then the nature of them is to show an aspect of the individual's personality taken to the extreme and it was never implicitly stated that he was bisexual or homosexual but he wasn't a typical charicature for it.
It kinda suggested he liked Naoto only so when she was a woman it was fine, and it was more Yusuke's OTT reaction to Kanji in the tent that annoys me these days.
 

thedoctor2016

Soul Reaper
Rape as a plot device I don't think is necessarily offensive, but using it for maximum shock value seems a bit lazy in modern stories now

And any time words like sexist, homophobic and misogynistic is brought into it about what creators make, I kind of bin the argument as entitlement and "represent me!" Creators don't have to do that, if they end up doing it all the better, if they don't there's no rule saying they have to.

If a character hates women or gay people, or even the creator themselves do and it's obvious in the treatment of certain types of characters, than That is what is worth the discussion, whether it's badly done, whether it's just blatant or if it's done well, not if something panders/complies to what someone wants out of it, the audience doesn't write the play after all

And if a creator doesn't care about something They don't care It doesn't make them a bad person or really say anything about them, the things they actually take a stance on says more about them
I dont want pandering at all like I hated how shoe horned Bill being a lesbian was in doctor who, I want a character who happens to be gay etc. Its the development of the characters and if they don't care its fine really in a way I can accept it, its the ones who fake reactions that annoy me. SAO won't ever have a gay character in it for example for it but it can treat its women characters well I think how Alice was done was very good. You can be progressive without shouting about it using it as promo is bad, Captain marvel that gay scene in Beauty and the beast (2017) are example of using progression as marketing when imo it should be natural not something to promote.
 

serpantino

Vampire Ninja
I do think that a lot of Japan's portrayals of sexuality & deviances is very much a cultural in-joke poking fun at how outwardly repressed their society is.

Japanese media seems to deal in extremes (nose bleed erections, constant comedy fondling, rape etc) rebelling against the outward appearance and revealing a truth in human nature that can't truly be repressed by society.

It's all so ridiculously over the top that I can't feel offended by it. I can't watch a western film with rape but the way the Japanese mostly handle it is so over the top & unrealistic that I don't really connect it with reality, the same goes for most other taboo that constantly seeps into their media. You only have to look at Takashi Miike's films to see how much people relish in the liberation this kind of fantasy extremity provides to daily lives filled with strict rules of etiquette.
 

Rui

Karamatsu Boy
Administrator
I think this is a very complex issue.

With manga, while the big titles are very regulated there is an insane amount of freedom in indie and niche printing and a lot of those titles are the personal opinions of individuals rather than the designed-by-committee fluff which often disappoint us when they get adapted into anime. Japan simultaneously has some of the worst, most painful portrayals of LGBT+ characters in the world and also some of the very best I've ever seen. I wouldn't ever be able to get my male friends to read things aimed at adult women normally, but when I pitched My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness as a series about mental health first and foremost, they gave it a try - and I think it helped expand their horizons just a little. Paradise Kiss is a daft fashion melodrama series and yet it shows more emotional intelligence in its portrayal of the (extremely lovely) trans and bi characters than I'm used to seeing in, well, anything. And Wandering Son sorely deserves a western home video release.

If something looks like it's trying desperately to pander to the point of not making coherent sense as entertainment (hi, Shield Hero!) then I just ignore its existence and privately analyse why I don't like it. I don't follow the Persona series because I find it disappointing too. I don't especially ask for the existing titles to change because there are enough non-disappointing shows/games out there to make it easy to avoid the ones which can't be bothered to appeal to me and I'd prefer to reward those who get it right the first time over those who just follow tired tropes. I don't mind the stereotypes at all so long as there are also non-stereotypical representations in the same show to balance the scales; when the sole representative of a minority group only ever gets to appear as a villain or an idiot, I feel embarrassed for the writers for having so little imagination.

With real-world persecution, I feel it's thorny. I also think that the enlightened west is dragging its heels severely even if we like to look down on other cultures and shake our heads. It's 100% true that the current Japanese government is not helping oppressed groups. It's 100% shameful that basic human rights are unavailable to huge groups of people because of where they happen to live. I dislike the side of Japan which perpetuates this, and I see the rise of nationalism with concern. But on the flip side, a lot of the western fans I see shaking their heads at the Kabukicho 'Mama' and transvestite stereotypes are basically telling groups of people (who most definitely do exist) that their way of life is wrong, which ironically oppresses them for not fitting into society just because their gender narrative doesn't neatly match the west's. I would like to believe that trans men and women can coexist with those who are approaching the gender binary in a different way, especially if the rest of society grows up and stops giving everyone a hard time for passing or not passing.

I'm probably not wording this well; simply put I wholeheartedly support the people who campaign for fair treatment in Japan but I do not support judging the social identity of members of another culture by the standards of our own.

I think Japan is on the right track, overall, but their slowness to change is exacerbated by the situation with their ageing population. Young people are more open minded but they're also dwindling, which makes it hard for them to be heard over the more conservative older generations (and the radical right wing zealots) who drown out the voices calling for change.

There's a somewhat-terrible Japanese comedy show on Crunchyroll called Why Did You Come to Japan? which has a bunch of Japanese television reps and comedians judging foreign tourists based on unscripted interactions, and while it is full of cringe-worthy nonsense there are several segments where they will encounter foreigners with much more liberal attitudes than are common in Japan (one of the segments follows a pair of very relaxed gay British men on their honeymoon, for example). The hosts are clearly out of their depth at times and the entire show has some problematic elements to begin with, but to their credit they treat the couples with as much respect as anyone else. Highlighting them, to me, shames viewers who know that couples in their country aren't being given the same freedom. I've met with several very vocal LGBT+ rights campaigners over there and getting this stuff normalised and out of the 'fetish or history' categories is slowly happening.

Anyway, when I can walk through my city in the UK and not witness casual racism/sexism/homophobia on a regular basis, I'll consider judging Japan with more critical eyes. I can definitely see how a lot of western (and Japanese) fans come away from anime/games/manga with weird views about minority groups which feed into their own internal narrative, but there's plenty of stuff out there which challenges the narrative too. That content deserves lots of support; some of the very biggest titles in recent memory come from indie roots and there's a lot of mobility between the indie scene and the mainstream. That's one of the reasons I find Japanese pop culture so appealing in spite of its flaws.

(Also, the second 'big' religion in Japan is definitely not Hinduism. I think Shinto is what was meant!)

R
 

ayase

State Alchemist
I've considered starting a thread about people's political and philosophical beliefs for a while now (or perhaps turning the politics thread towards that use, not that I can seem to get any discussion going at all in there) because I think a lot of this stuff is inextricably tied up in how people see the world and what role they think media plays in it.
I can definitely see how a lot of western (and Japanese) fans come away from anime/games/manga with weird views about minority groups which feed into their own internal narrative, but there's plenty of stuff out there which challenges the narrative too.
Not suggesting you believe in this personally Rui (I'm fairly confident you probably don't) but there is a utilitarian argument which is seemingly growing in popularity that even expressing certain ideas can directly or indirectly cause harm to enough people that it justifies their suppression - Not necessarily by threat of force or law but simply by personal choice not to do so. I just yesterday happened to stumble upon the idea of "information hazards" within what I'd consider a fairly extreme section of the utilitarian community (though not a particularly partisan political one) which is considerably more well thought-out and reasoned than a lot of the arguments I've seen on the subject, though I personally still consider it incredibly elitist. I have no doubt this is the way our rulers already think and in some cases act; We can't let people own one of those. We can't let people say that. We can't let people draw that. We can't even let people SEE that, it has too much potential to cause harm. A lot of the arguments I hear against certain media content have a very similar attitude to them. Even if people aren't arguing for censorship, they're arguing for people to choose not to say certain things for fear of the harm they could cause.

While I might vehemently disagree with that argument, I do understand it. I can see that some people are more impressionable than others. But I'm not a utilitarian and my individualist argument against that is just sort of "so what?" I remember a very long time ago we talked about the "trolley problem" and my response was and still is to do nothing - I don't believe in choosing to sacrifice the one guy to save five in the same way I don't believe in choosing to sacrifice my own freedoms (or those of others) for some people's idea of the greater good. I accept that means that probably, stupid and uninformed ideas and opinions will continue to propagate (though I'd argue the news media is far more responsible for this than films, games, anime or comics ever has been, yet I don't see a lot of people arguing that certain opinions shouldn't be expressed in newspapers). Everybody knows Ben Franklin's quote about liberty vs. safety and I stand firmly on the liberty side of this argument, but another I'm quite fond of is "If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."
 
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