Japan’s Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization, also known as the BPO, is a non-government media consumer advocacy group. On its website, the BPO describes its mission as to “protect viewers’ fundamental human rights while also ensuring broadcasters’ freedom of speech and expression,” but those twin purposes sometimes involve a balancing act that isn’t ultimately able to please everyone.
In recent years, the BPO has been getting a lot of attention in the anime community as it publishes complaints about the sexual or violent content of TV anime. While Japanese animation, as a whole. has always featured provocative elements, they used to be primarily part of direct-to-video releases, with anime TV series being, for the most part, comparatively tame. In the modern era, though, almost all anime is first shown on free broadcast TV, including those where titillation is really the only intent, and the easy access to such content is a sore spot with some parents who then fire off angry emails to the BPO.
But last month the organization received a complaint not about anime, but about anime complaints. In its recently released collection of complaints from August (above), the very last one reads: “Too many people are complaining about late-night anime. Late-night anime is broadcast in those time slots so that young kids won’t stumble upon it by accident when flipping through the channels, so it’s ridiculous for parents to worry about ‘What if my kid sees this?’ If your kids are still awake when late-night anime is being broadcast, that’s because you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities as a parent and making your kids go to bed. It’s not the anime’s responsibility to do that for you.”
As mentioned in the complaint, anime with comparatively large amounts of violent or sexual content usually isn’t shown until at least 11 p.m., with the majority not coming on until after midnight. If your children are so young that the naughty cartoons are going to adversely affect their psyche, they’re probably also young enough that their bedtime should be before the late-night anime programming blocks start, asserts this critic of critics, and many other Japanese Internet users agree with him, with online comments including:
“Can’t be any more correct than that.”
“Letting their kids stay up that late clearly shows a problem with the parents’ morals.”
“Ever hear of the phrase ‘Parental discretion is advised?’”
“Parents who act like it’s OK to complain about things just because you don’t like them are the worst influence on kids’ mentality.”
Some people pointed out, though, that in the current media distribution landscape, you don’t necessarily have to be awake late at night in order to watch late-night anime. Sure, that’s when new content first becomes available, but between online streaming services (both legal and not) and DVRs, broadcast times are becoming increasingly irrelevant, and so late-night time slots may increasingly lose their functionality as a shield against criticism from disapproving parents. Of course, others would argue that just as media distribution has evolved, so too must parenting, and that it’s now Mom and Dad’s job to monitor and manage what their kids are watching via DVR or the Internet, even before the sun goes down.
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