Friday, December 10, 2010

Tokyo International Anime Fair: In Jeopardy?

The Mainichi Shinbun has reported that 10 companies involved with anime and manga production in Japan have decided not to participate in the 2011 Tokyo International Anime Fair, due to disagreements with the upcoming amendments to the "Youth Healthy Development Ordinance" for the Tokyo Metropolitan area. I've produced a translation of the original article that was put on Yahoo! Japan's website:

(Tokyo Anime Fair) Urgent Boycott Announcement from 10 Comic Companies

December 10, 2010, 8:53 PM (Mainichi Shinbun)

On December 10th, Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan and other companies that comprise a coalition of ten comic companies that produce and publish major manga magazines and compiled volumes released an immediate statement that they would not cooperate with the 2011 Tokyo International Anime Fair to be held in the end of March 2011, nor would they participate in it. This is in protest to revision to the Tokyo Metropolitan Youth Healthy Development Ordinance brought by Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, who also works as the chairman for the TIAF planning committee. Kadokawa Shoten, also a member of the coalition, announced the suspension of its presentations for the same reason.

The announcement, in opposition to the amendments brought for the regulation of sales of manga and anime with extremely explicit content, expressed the danger that free expression would be stripped, stating that the amendments are being made “without any discussions with cartoonists and anime producers at all” and that “those items subject to regulation would be just as confusing as ever, if not more so”. The mayor and his administration criticized the statement, stating that they are “continuing to repeat disingenuous statements full of factual errors” about anime and manga.

According to the Metropolitan Tourism Department, the Anime Fair started in 2002 for objectives such as industrial development and personnel training. This year’s Fair in March had 244 production companies, television stations, and publication companies make presentations and an overall attendance of around 130,000 people. While they are predicting around a record 140,000 to participate in the Fair’s 10th annual show in 2011, the non-participation of large publication companies that carry many anime creators would make or break the success of the event itself. Representatives at the administration told us that they “could not say if there would be an effect from non-participation”.

(Suzuki, Hideo; Dai, Hiroshi)

Anime News Network reports that these ten companies include the puublishers "Shueisha, Shogakukan, Kodansha, Akita Shoten, Hakusensha, Shonen Gahousha, Shinchosha, Futabasha, and LEED Publishing Co., Ltd.", as well as presenters Kadokawa Shoten. While Shueisha won't be there to present their own works, they will be asking for their works to be pulled from production companies' booths and presentations. Manga creators have also supported their publishers; three creator-group organizations have announced their opposition, and Bleach mangaka Tite Kubo also expressed his opposition publicly on Twitter, stating that "as an artist, I support their decision."

What exactly does this mean for the status of the show? I attended the Fair last year and was astounded by the volume of companies that this could affect. I couldn't imagine a TIAF event that didn't involve these companies, especially when you consider the extent of their influence on anime pruduction companies, art studios, and sales companies. While the Tokyo government stated its preparations to produce a guide that explicitly states the restrictions, this could open a flood of difficult judgments about what is and is not considered "healthy" for viewers and readers.

We'll have to see just how far the effect of such an amendment reaches.


  1. First of all, Geoff, thank so you very much for your time and effort in translating this!

    I think that a mass pull-out by companies does a few things - it says that they won't just sit there and be a punching bag, and this encourages fans (many of whom travel to Tokyo for the event and have to eat, drink, stay in hotels, etc) to also boycott the event. There are few enough ways a fan can express disapproval. Writing letters and making calls is only so effective - pulling money out of a popular event could potentially speak volumes.

    It also opens the door for a less restrictive city to pick up the ball. Maybe Nagoya would like to be the new home of anime and manga. Probably not, but you know what I mean.

    Lawmakers worldwide seem to have been drinking som alien Kool-Aid and are putting their foot down on the most idiotic causes. It seems kind of obvious that trying to protect children by regulating comics - but not actual child porn - misses the mark by a pretty wide margin.

    With Ishihara's recent tirades against women, the LGBT community and this, it feels very much like he's waging war. I hope that this is his "enemy"s first reply to his salvo. (And I'd love the women of Japan and the LGBT community there to join the fight...)

  2. Erica, I find this law to be a particularly tricky position for me to stand. I, for one, am certainly a big fan of free speech, but I also understand the opposing side. How far can free expression go before it starts to become an uneasy thing to support?

    I certainly stand against the idea that a culture is justified in changing itself just for the sake of outside influences. I don't want Japan to change itself to appease to other taboos in other countries, just as much as I wouldn't want to justify acts here because they are done in Japan.

    I have a feeling that LGBT issues are just one of the things that is motivating Ishihara, but I also think it might be the influx of familial issues (i.e. incest). Considering the heavy dose of it to come in anime and galge recently, I think this issue might be justifiably difficult not to address.