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Does anime need to start being more politically correct for overseas audiences?

44 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Anime used to be conceived, produced, and consumed pretty much all within the confines of Japan. Sure, the occasional series would get licensed for overseas distribution, but with its story and characters so thoroughly rewritten, and its visuals so extensively re-cut, as to have little to no relation to the original version.

That started to change in the first major overseas anime boom of the 1990s, but even then, a series getting officially released outside of Japan was still the exception, not the rule. Nowadays, though, things have flipped entirely. It’s now practically a given that any anime but the most obscure or prohibitively expensive-to-license ones will stream online internationally, and most of those will get overseas home video releases too.

But as access to anime gets easier and easier, its overseas audience is continually expanding beyond people who grew up with or have an interest in/affinity for the set of Japanese societal values reflected in the medium. Because of that, there’s been increased debate as to whether or not anime needs to be more concerned with the idea of political correctness, and Japanese Twitter user @poepoeta01 recently weighed in with his opinion.

“Many people are under the mistaken impression that Japan’s manga and anime have earned their popularity overseas simply because of the artists’ high level of technical skill. Japan’s manga and anime are interesting because compared to other countries, they’re made under wild, limitless freedom of expression, without any restrictions. Saying ‘If anime isn’t more conscious about being politically correct, it won’t expand its overseas market’ it totally off the mark.”

The majority of the direct reactions to @poepoeta01’s tweet have been in support of his analysis and stance, with comments such as:

“Totally right. I think this is why Chinese-made anime-style animation hasn’t caught on internationally.”

“It’s like how late-night comedy shows are really funny, but then they lose their edge when the performers try to transition to more mainstream prime-time programs.”

“I can’t imagine another country where artists would be able to make a manga about Buddha and Jesus sharing an apartment.”

“Japanese culture has traditionally been a closed-off one, where otaku-like communities come together to push an artistic field forward, and while that inner circle is amusing itself, the art becomes so polished that eventually outsiders notice and are impressed by the quality. People who like anime support each other, and people who don’t like it don’t watch it.”

That last bit of reasoning, though, is something one could argue has new wrinkles to it in the current anime industry. With international distribution now easier than ever before, brand-new anime content is just a few clicks away for anyone with an Internet connection. Setting aside the question of whether or not anime has become more mainstream in overseas markets, access to it has definitely gotten much easier for non-Japanese media consumers, and an anime with content they find objectionable now risks leaving money on the table, money that could be used to help secure the long-term stability of a franchise and bankroll the continuing content production.

While not as numerous as the responses of agreement, @poepoeta01’s assertation that anime shouldn’t be concerned with political correctness also produced a few that disagreed.

“You’re totally wrong. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Looking at the staff credits for anime, I feel like you can say that it isn’t made only by teams that are 100-percent Japanese anymore, and I think that’s going to be the case more and more.”

@poepoeta01, though, went on to offer a different idea of how the internationalization of anime could play out in a follow-up tweet, saying that he hopes Japan becomes a bastion of free expression that will welcome artists from overseas who feel like their creative efforts are being stifled by regulations in their home countries.

In a purely mathematical sense, all else equal it stands to reason that reducing the amount of potentially offensive content in an anime broadens its potential market. On the other hand, anime’s distinct style and atmosphere, which grew out of its “by Japan, for Japan” nature, has established a fanbase outside its original country of origin that’s really only surpassed by Disney in the animation field. If the goal is to maximize anime’s popularity overseas, ostensibly there’s a sweet spot between “aligns so poorly with overseas societal expectations as to anger and alienate viewers” and “overlaps so much with the tone of overseas media that it can’t stand out as unique.”

The question of whether or not Japanese anime creators want to try to find that sweet spot, or if they fell trying to do so would put too much of a damper on enthusiasm from Japanese audiences, though, is something they still seem to be sorting out.

Source: Twitter/@poepoeta01 via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

44 Comments
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Absolutely not. If anime creators start worrying about being politically correct for other countries, then it will cease to be anime and become just another cartoon.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

PC should be illegal!

8 ( +17 / -9 )

This article, similar to a previous one here, is asking the wrong questions, or making the wrong assumptions, possibly by being too generalising.

"Anime" is a type of entertainment, with multiple genres and content as varied as the messages or markets catered for. Totoro is "anime" and so is "Fist of the North Star". Simply saying (all) anime must be "PC" is too simple, especially as as standards of "politically-correct" is also a matter of opinion.

However, just like any media, anime has, and will continue to, reflect or adhere to social norms (or ideals). It's not a immune to social changes around the world, and nor should it be. That said, it would be in error to confuse "being Western" to "being politically correct", either.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Just look at the type of anime funded by Netflix and you can see what's acceptable outside of Japan and what not.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I have never been interested in the manga and anime industry, but I do think there is a lot of perverted fantasies in them. The oversexualization of minors and prepubescent girls is one glaring thing I think is noticeable

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

JJ Jetplane,

The oversexualization of minors and prepubescent girls is one glaring thing I think is noticeable

Exactly

Japan’s manga and anime are interesting because compared to other countries, they’re made under wild, limitless freedom of expression, without any restrictions.

Limitless, as in a week teenager inherits some power but is still unsure of themselves, then unleashes they're true god-like power when someone close to them is in danger. I liked some Anime when I was in the U.S but after living here for a while it's a lot of rinse and repeat. There are a few good ones out there though.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

What is politically correct anyway? It's a trash can term used to complain about something you disagree with. I've said it for years, that the western world needs to keep it's ideas and hands off anime. You don't like it, you don't understand it, don't watch. Making anime more "consumer" friendly to the overseas audience will not only affect creativity but it will cease to be anime.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I can imagine anime will flop as soon as it starts trying to pander to outspoken PC types... it's already happened with Hollywood after all. I can understand not being racist etc but some people take it wayyyyy too far and make it all virtual signalling without any kind of story in there otherwise.

Focus on making something good and filter out the rubbish on the way if necessary

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Political correctness is fine when it is working on problems that actually exist.

Examples of actual problems with manga are oversexualization of minors and, to a lesser extent, drawing Naomi Osaka with a much lighter skin colour.

Political correctness is bad when it is pointing out imaginary problems somehow in the hope that changing a creative work will somehow change the real world.

Imaginary problems may include a story having no trans or openly gay characters, no characters from ethnic minorities, etc.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

PC should be illegal!

I too hate politeness.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

No. Japanese should not be beholden to foreign censorship. This is why I hate globalism. We are not a one size fits all world. If you don't like anime, don't watch it.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

No Way.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The oversexualization of minors and prepubescent girls is one glaring thing I think is noticeable

Think the Us has the opposite problem - oversxualizing old people in movies and shows. Maybe we should make watchable by people who dont like gerophilia (liking old people).

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Think oversxualizing in general is probably not good.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The article introduces the term "politically correct" in order to encourage knee-jerk reactions, but in fact, if you read it, there is not one example of what the author or the twitter user mean when they say "politically correct" .

Not one.

So what are some posters here angry about when you stomp and shake your fist, at the very use of the term "political correctness"?

So, what do they mean? Are they referring to same-sex relationships or homophobia, incest or rape, sexual images of children or prostitution, SMBD or violence, racism or objectification?

Are the authors and you readers in support of all that appearing, or against it, or what? Because without clarifying, this reaction is all so much hysteria: "DOWN WITH IT WHATEVER IT IS I DON'T LIKE IT!"

0 ( +6 / -6 )

@JuminRhee

Think the Us has the opposite problem - oversxualizing old people in movies and shows. 

I can't agree. I think the issue with the US right now is same sex couples. Seems like every movie and TV show has same sex couples and they are trying to throw as many love scenes between those couples as possible.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

No.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No No No - Political correctness is one of those bad things that come from the West, don't do it Japan.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

this is an absolutely ridiculous article the entire question is meaningless. Anime is a creation of Japanese culture and is exactly that - Japanese culture Chinese imitations are NOT Anime. Nor are American sponsored attempts Anime either.

There is no reason to make any changes in how anime programs are made. Westerners if they want to try to twist personal relations in specific ways are welcome to do it ..in the WEST. There is no need for it in Japan. Anime is fully supported and funded fine by the Japanese audience it is created for. It does NOT need to market itself to the West. To even suggest that shows that whoever wrote this article and the editors who chose it are far very far out of touch with Japanese culture. It is like trying to make American Baseball Teams introduce elements of British Cricket. It is trying to mix apples and oranges.

As for what politicaly correct means that is a muddled attempt to twist entertainemt and popular culture into a reflection of some rather twisted values imposed by Hollywood and a liberal elite. They do NOT represent the majority of American or western people and their values. So it is an attempt to hyjack cultural elements for a political purpose. This is actually one of the funniest ideas and articles I have seen in a long time. There is no chance any self respecting Anime studio or director or Producer would even consider this and I have been working with and in the Anime industry and related fields for years.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

H i undestand now. this rather silly article was written by a westerner who has made a profession out of seeing himself as a interpreter of Japan to the west. He evidently has not learned to respect and accept Japanese culture in its own terms instead of his own. To even suggest that bending Anime to fit western values shows very very little respect and acceptance of Anime and the culture that creates it. Japan is Japan, it is NOT an American clone or colony. There is no reason or need for Japanese Anime to please the market in the US, tho many hundreds of thousands of westerners have loved and supported Anime, Manga and much else of Japanese culture for generations now. I suppose it was useful to see this article to realize how strongly some westerners even some who have lived in Japan for years are not able to accept Japan in its own terms.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

No, absolutely not.

I, like many others, watch and enjoy anime because it is a different form of media coming from a different place with a different culture. I do not want to see anime become globalised, international, and politically correct. I want it to be what it is now.

Past the natural English dubbing, anime doesn’t need any other changes. To do so would be to destroy what it is and what makes it popular.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

“Many people are under the mistaken impression that Japan’s manga and anime have earned their popularity overseas simply because of the artists’ high level of technical skill. Japan’s manga and anime are interesting because compared to other countries, they’re made under wild, limitless freedom of expression, without any restrictions. Saying ‘If anime isn’t more conscious about being politically correct, it won’t expand its overseas market’ it totally off the mark.”

Exactly.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Using the term 'political correctness' already influences the debate because of the many, often negative, connotations the term has acquired. I think there are some issues in anime, particularly regarding gender, which personally puts me off watching a bunch of shows. The question is probably whether anime-creators even want to expand the market - if so, they probably have to re-think some things. I don't think this means every anime has to be streamlined and do the same things, but I think there's room for anime which is more sensitive to some social issues. Make room for new genres and ideas without necessarily eliminating everything that used to characterize anime. I think a lot of people could benefit from that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Anime is fully supported and funded fine by the Japanese audience it is created for.

Actually, that's not true anymore. More anime productions budget losing money from domestic revenue but expect on overseas revenues for profit.

Last year in 2019 Association of Japanese Animations (AJA) report, overseas revenues now account for 46% of total revenue, almost in parity with domestic revenue.

Without overseas revenue, many productions would struggle to break even.

Some studios now even go directly to Netflix or Amazon streaming since they know they can get funding that they won't get from a traditional production committee.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No.

The world of "for overseas audience" is a boring one, because they're all the same rehashed stuffs.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No, and no.

Political correctness is a mental virus affecting the Western world, and starting from 2010s, Japan media became superior to Western media just for this reason. In political sense, anime and manga are more free in conveying their thoughts compared to their Western counterparts.

PC kills the freedom of thought and promotes censorship. It kills creativity.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I will give you what's acceptable outside of Japan or not.

Acceptable

Godzilla Monster Planet

Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans

Dragonball series

Not Acceptable

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Gaiden

The iDOLM@STER

BanG Dream!
-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Anyone who has followed the SouthPark Series over the years, will have seen how PC is being considered by those in the Business...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Samir Basu:

I will give you what's acceptable outside of Japan or not.

Acceptable: Godzilla Monster Planet, Gundam Iron Blooded Orphans, Dragonball series

Not Acceptable: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Gaiden, The iDOLM@STER, BanG Dream!

Maybe in general, but many do like the latter in the west, including australia and new Zealand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think the recent issue with Interspecies Reviewers (Ishuzoku Rebyuāzu) and Funimation, which helped bring this concern to light, actually illustrates a totally different problem--that of companies outside of Japan blindly buying up rights to enormous amounts of anime series without regard for, or an understanding of, the content within. It's this desperate attempt to be number one by maintaining control of as many properties as possible that leads to debacles such as this. Perhaps the desire to be first and to ace out all other importers/localizers is the problem. Importers/localizers should be more discerning about what fits their "creative standards" before snapping up every title in a season, instead of being the anime version of Veruca Salt with their "I want it all!" attitude.

@Samt Basu: I think you're off base, there. I know that all series of BanG Dream! have been picked up by Sentai Filmworks. The new Madoka Magica side story is so popular that it's airing on both HIDIVE (Sentai's streaming service) and Funimation. The iDOLM@STER is also popular here in the U.S. If anything hampers the popularity of the musical series over here, it's the limited access to the music! It's near impossible to find the music here and why the untapped U.S. concert market hasn't been tapped is beyond me. There are enough anime conventions occurring across the country that groups could make a nationwide tour piggybacking off of convention appearances. Large audiences would be assured.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Westerner here: in the mid-west of the US. Should Japan make it's anime and manga PC? NO!

Anime reminds me a lot of the Underground Comics here in the US back in the 60s and 70s. Artists were totally ignoring the Comic Code Authority that had been in place for nearly a decade because some nut-case psychiatrist said comic books were a bad influence on our children. What we then called "The Beat Generation," a group of young artists with a Bohemian lifestyle, gave birth to the hippie movement which took the establishment to task with comic books. Focusing on sex, drugs, and rock and roll, these artists were the forerunners of today's independent comics, but they practiced freedom of expression.

I've only delved into anime/manga in the last 4-5 years, starting with a box set of Ranma½. The violence in the program was no worse than the US cartoons from the 40's and 50's, but it was only different in that is would, on occasion, show that women have nipples. They didn't even bother to shade them in. The PC crowd in the US doesn't want us to know about women having nipples, yet nature not only keeps giving them those, but even give the men nipples, too. for nearly 40 years, US comic books didn't even allow men's nipples to be shown.

What started this "Make anime PC" movement really pick up steam was the main-stream release of Interspecies Reviewers (異種族レビュアーズ) which is a sex comedy. while it falls short of being hentai/porn, it comes close. It reminds me of the teen sex comedies from the US back in the 1970s (or even the Italian sex comedies of the same era. Those were hilarious!) But not every comedy was a sex comedy, just like not every anime is a sex comedy. My grandkids (yes, I'm that old, but a newcomer to anime) look to me to recommend their anime viewing and manga choices because I've become knowledgeable in the US comics and cartoons. So far, they've liked about 99% of my recommendations because I do what a responsible adult would do: I screen the shows first and decide if A: I like it. (not everything I like is appropriate for teen girls) and B: if there is a hook that would allow the girls to enjoy it. Shows that have passed these screenings and the kids loved them are Astra no Kanata, Mairimashita! Iruma-kun, Zombie Land Saga, and Dr. Stone, to name a few recent shows, but there are a lot more.

I'm going to give the anime and manga creators the same advice I'd give US animation and comic book studios: Use your creativity and push the envelop. Don't aim for "Everyone", but aim for originality. I don't like every anime and manga that comes across my desktop, and I do try to keep some variety in my viewing and reading. But it's my choice. Treat your audience as adults and they will come.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@OKNewshawk

If you like The iDOLM@STER, BanG Dream!, even Sailor Moon, then you are considered a pedo in the US.

That's why Netflix won't pick these anime up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Samit BasuToday 07:51 am JST

@OKNewshawk

If you like The iDOLM@STER, BanG Dream!, even Sailor Moon, then you are considered a pedo in the US.

That's why Netflix won't pick these anime up.

I posted a story on this thread yesterday about a paedophile case in Florida in which the criminal discussed his love for My Little Pony and Japanese anime. He claimed to commit sex acts while watching them. "I'm a clopper," he said. Unfortunately the post was removed. Do you have any links to back up your claim about Netflix?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All anime should be politically correct.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Any anime that doesn't explicitly promote gay communism should be banned in my opinion.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

in every medium there is the attempt to ruin what is there with PC culture. How long are we going to need to wait for movies to come out that are actual movies and not backhanded PC culture political commentary. They are trying to figure out how to fix Star Wars because it was ruined so bad, Marvel discovered their movies dont work with the flop of Captain Marvel, Marvel Comics nuked itself and had all the comics stop because of pc culture. Stop aiming for people who wont watch your series, who wont spend the money to check it out anyways, your goal of bringing new people into your fan base is only getting rid of the fans you already have.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

They are trying to figure out how to fix Star Wars because it was ruined so bad, 

I agree. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a good start, buyback they flubbed it with episode 9. Instead of bringing back Palpatine, they should have made every character a gay communist, in my opinion.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

*but, not buyback. My autocorrect is being very naughty: it often makes me speak British English and now it’s not making any sense.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I agree. Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a good start, buyback they flubbed it with episode 9. Instead of bringing back Palpatine, they should have made every character a gay communist, in my opinion.

LOL, having one of those days?

Last Jedi was awesome, a real adventurous step for Rian Johnson to go with. Pity Disney bottled it and went for the crowd-pleaser, instead. It wasn't all bad, Palpatine still reminds me of a would-be Potus for life and the crash bang wallop of the pace was lively. I just feel it's the weakest of the latter chapters.

I'm pretty sure there's a manga version of the original out there, somewhere. And probably more restrained than some original Japanese manga and anime, obviously.

With some of the more violent and sexualised output in the genres, it's there for those who are into that kind of thing. Like books, film and other art forms, there's always going to be extremes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Marvel Comics nuked itself and had all the comics stop because of pc culture. 

Eh? Carol Danvers has been around for over 40 years, first as Ms Marvel and then as Captain Marvel (about a decade ago).

I don't recall Marvel Comics stopping any time recently? Perhaps you're referring to the over saturation of the comics market in the early 90s, which led to too many titles with too many gimmicks (multiple covers, must-buy issue #1 etc) but eventually the company (DC included) wised up and cut back the dross.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

SneezyToday 10:56 am JST

Any anime that doesn't explicitly promote gay communism should be banned in my opinion.

Now this is real Friday afternoon stuff.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

LOL, having one of those days?

Yep.

Last Jedi was awesome

Agreed.

Now this is real Friday afternoon stuff.

I took a half day and had a sneaky chu-hai.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As a westerner.

Looks like they are trying to push their racial diversity, woke culture and political correctness propaganda. These racists are trying to hijack, destroy and subvert Japan,Japanese people, Anime, Manga, Anime And Manga Industry.

Anime and Manga is Japanese Art, And Japanese pop culture.

Looks like Animegate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Anime is Japanese Animation

Manga Japanese Graphic Novels

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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