Date: 2008 May 29 18:12
Posted by Joe
Some anime and manga fans in the UK might have heard about the new proposals which would ban obscene images of children. The proposals mainly cover drawings and computer-generated images, however due to certain parts of the proposals being a bit vague, it's not exactly certain what images are classed as obscene. The mainstream press are keen to wrongly cite manga as one such example.
Rather than going down to the Ministry of Justice and asking them about the new proposals. We decided to ask an expert in anime and co author of The Erotic Anime Movie Guide Jonathan Clements about the proposals and if the common manga reader should worry. He stated that:
"This law will stop you buying images of necrophilia, child abuse and bestiality. I don't think Hayao Miyazaki is going to have to hand his Oscar back."
Which we found reassuring mainly because the manga and anime enjoyed by fandom doesn't have any of these dodgy images in. Jonathan continued:
"I question how much of the act is enforceable. There are some good attempts to explain the language in each clause, but each explanation only offers a new set of questions. Under the terms of the Act as it currently stands, regarding the term 'realistic', for example, presumably magical sex wizards, angry androids, and multi-tentacled creatures from Mars are exempt. I'd say, for the anime world at least, it's business as usual."
Interestingly enough it's all down to interpretation, as the new proposals haven't been made law yet, or any test cases run, so we don't think manga fans have to worry as of yet. Mr Clements expanded on this:
"Under the new provision, Urotsukidoji could still be released, with the current cuts imposed by the BBFC, completely unchanged. Technically, Hokusai's 'Dream of the Fisherman's Wife' might now be illegal, but then again, a 'reasonable person' (whatever that means) would have to think that the image was real before anyone could enforce the law."
If you're curious the full proposal can be read here.
Rather than being sensationalist and screaming they're trying to ban manga (which appears to be some media's take on the proposals), the responses section of the proposal actually appears to listen to some concerns.
Point 37 states:
"Many respondents pointed to the difficulties in placing non-photographic depictions of children in an age group and cited a number of popular Japanese art forms, customs and stylisations that could prove to be particularly ambiguous."
Point 40 states:
"Issues surrounding the deﬁnitions of art were extensively discussed. The BBFC raised the issue of historical artefacts which depict indecent material and continue to be valued as works of art. Some respondents, including Durham Constabulary, were apprehensive about legislation covering freehand drawing altogether. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation highlighted the appeal to a youth market of some of the material."
The "historical artefacts" criticism also echoed by Jonathan earlier on in this article.
A lot of organisations have responded to these proposals, including the BBFC, BBC TV, Yahoo, Cyber-Rights & Cyber Liberties, various police forces, councils and related charities and organisations. Hopefully as manga is fairly mainstream it won't get wrongly classified as some of the media are stating.
Carefully considering the proposal, the responses and recommendations Jonathan Clements summarised the negative media attention with these wise words:
"I suspect that the street value of copies of Schoolgirl Milky Crisis is likely to go through the roof, so make sure you all buy extra copies."
The Otaku News crew agree with him and have already started to hoard copies expecting to make huge profits on eBay.