Many heretics here will be familiar with ロリコン, though probably only when transcribed from Japanese into our alphabet as “lolicon”. Today we are privileged to have a guest blog on the subject by “Peace”, who doesn’t need translations. Peace knows Japanese and has been reading Japanese message boards, news sites, and blogs for some few years now, as well as sites written by English-speaking people living in Japan. He has also translated Japanese fan-made comics and zines. In his early twenties, Peace is a post-grad student, who spends most of his free time either writing fiction or translating comics and short stories. In this blog he describes a shift in Japanese culture, in which an earlier lolicon boom has given way to a related phenomenon, a “moe” boom.
Two of Japan’s most well-known and infamous exports are lolicon and shotacon – erotic art of young girls and boys respectively – and lolicon often takes centre stage in debates concerning cartoon child pornography. Pressure on Japan to meet global standards for regulating child pornography as well as turmoil from within their own country has transformed lolicon from being perceived as a harmless if strange hobby to what is often now seen as a deviant and perverse interest. Before this decisive cultural shift, Japan had a veritable mainstream “lolicon boom” starting in the late 70s that ended tragically come the 90s. Though lolicon was toppled from its throne, it rose from the ashes and gained new life in the form of the “moe boom.”
THE RISE AND FALL OF LOLICON
“Lolicon” is short for “Lolita complex,” obviously drawn from Nabokov’s famous novel. Though it tends to refer to erotic art of young girls or a sexual attraction to young girls, it can also be used as a noun that’s used to refer to one who is sexually attracted to young girls. It first entered the Japanese lexicon with the publication of Russell Trainer’s 1966 book The Lolita Complex; interestingly enough, the term originally applied to the reverse situation, wherein a young girl is attracted to adult males. The publication of Tatsuhiko Shibusawa’s An Introduction to Girls Collection in 1972 changed the term to its current usage of adults interested in young girls.
The lolicon boom didn’t actually start with manga, as tends to be assumed, but with photo collections of nude girls that became popular throughout the 70s, starting with Kenmochi Katsu’s Nymphet: The Myth of the 12-Year-Old. Both naturalist and gravure books were sold over the counter in general bookstores and some books sold up to 20 million copies. As the 80s hit, demand for the books increased, and more than 100 photobooks were released. However, as time went on, the books became the subject of societal scrutiny, leading to the banning and discontinuation of several series as well as regulatory practices that censored the photos.
At the same time, a new trend began to emerge in the manga and anime community. Starting with manga by loli-legends Aki Uchiyama and Hideo Azuma, cute, wide-eyed, and childish girls took to the spotlight in sexual stories. Subjects and situations usually reserved for older women – such as pantyshots, sexual humour, skimpy outfits, nudity, and even sexual activity – were now also in the realm of young girls. Lolicon-dedicated magazines like Lemon People, Manga Burikko, and Petite Apple Pie began to pop up, and there was a mass outpouring of both amateur and professionally published lolicon art. It wasn’t just relegated to the underground, either – magazines popular even now such as Weekly Shonen Champion and Animage had lolita works grace their pages. Even people and corporations now world-renowned for their non-pornographic work were involved; for example, the video game company Enix began life by publishing games made by programming hobbyists, which included the pornographic loli-centered games Lolita Syndrome and Guest Mariko Hashimoto. Lolicon was a force to be reckoned with, being not only popular but at times profitable. Shotacon did not have the same kind of media presence; the closest thing was the proliferation of manga that focused on romantic and/or sensual relationships between young boys (and sometimes young boys and grown men) that was mainly consumed by girls and created by women such as Hagio Moto and Takemiya Keiko.
What’s popular is not always accepted and lolicon is no exception, with dissenting voices coming from both within and outside of the community. Hayao Miyazaki, whose character Clarisse from the movie Castle of Cagliostro was especially popular among the loli community, had the following to say in 1988:
“[My female protagonists] immediately become the lolicon’s playtoys. In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict [such protagonists] as if they just want [such girls] as pets, and things are escalating more and more.”
At the height of the boom, women’s magazines ran critical and unflattering articles about lolicon, with titles such as “Girls are the victims of lolicon’s desires.” There was a growing anxiety among the older generation about the newer generation and what the young adults’ preference for fantasy, fiction, and children meant for the future.
Within the manga and anime community, the term “lolicon” became popular among fans, and many wore the title with pride instead of hiding it. The love of little girls, usually considered to be taboo, almost had its shame lifted by the lolicon boom. Along with otaku (a word meaning a great or obsessive fan, usually of anime, manga, games, or other pop-culture interests), lolicon were not dangerous, deviant, or abusive to children, but rather just enjoying fantasy – and such fantasy was definitely important to most lolicon. The magazine Manga Burikko originally featured more realistic sexual art as well as photographs of young and often nude women; however, complaints over the photos and the art resulted in the magazine removing the photos and focusing on manga and pictures that had softer, rounder, and more childlike characters. One fan complained, “I feel nothing for manga that is simply about penetration or girls being raped; I psychologically can’t accept it,” while another stated that they “preferred lighter eroticism over erotic-grotesque depictions.”
The fun ended in 1988 when Tsutomu Miyazaki was arrested for kidnapping, murdering, and then molesting the dead bodies of four girls aged four to seven. After police searched his house and found huge amounts of anime as well as child pornography, he became branded as “The Otaku Murderer.” The light-hearted and playful words “lolicon” and “otaku” instantly became pejoratives to describe sick-headed individuals who were dangerous or detached from reality, a stigma which still persists to this day. Soon after his arrest, the non-profit organization CASPAR (Campaign to Stop the Abuse of Asian
Children and to Safeguard Their Rights) started up and attempted to regulate pornographic depictions of minors, whether or not they were fictional. The early 1990s saw a successful movement to ban so-called “harmful manga” and arrest those who sold such obscene material, and the production, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute child pornography containing real children was outlawed in 1999. Lolicon was driven underground and became relegated to niche fanzines and manga hidden behind doors, and those who called themselves or were branded as “lolicon” were seen as simple perverts.
Legislation of lolicon and child pornography in Japan continues to this day, with the most recent being the criminalization of simple possession of child pornography containing real children in 2014. The most recent attack on lolicon and other work featuring older but still underage characters was the revision of the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths, also known as the “non-existent youth bill.” In 2010, the metropolitan government submitted an ordinance that would restrict “sexually provocative depictions of fictional characters who appear to be under 18 years of age” as well as work that “features either sexual or pseudo sexual acts that would be illegal in real life.” The vaguely-worded proposal as well as its implications for free speech earned it the ire of the manga and anime industry and praise from the Tokyo Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association and other child-safety organizations. Many manga artists, both male and female, held press conferences to voice their opposition to the bill and how it threatened the industry. The bill was finally defeated in June of the same year. Though not everyone who was against the bill is for lolicon, and though “lolicon” is still a word loaded with stigma, such resistance to the bill shows that the manga and anime industry still clings tightly to the concept of freedom of speech for all, and such freedom toward sex and fiction may have been one of the major contributing factors to the lolicon boom. Despite this, lolicon will never be culturally accepted as it once was due to Japan’s increasing presence in the global public eye as well as pushback from within the country.
Not all was lost for those lolicon, though. In the 90s, a new word began to emerge in the mainstream that described an affection towards young girls: “moe.” Though there’s no universal theory of how the word came to be or what it fully encompasses, it certainly has the same connotation of feelings toward young girls that were popular among lolicon. Moe tends to be described as a character that inspires feelings of tenderness, affection, devotion, and excitement within the consumer. It’s a versatile word, able to be applied to girls, boys, and even adults, but the most common application is towards young girls. So-called “moe” manga and anime tend to be centred around the usually humorous everyday exploits of girls and have often been described simply as “cute girls doing cute things.” What’s missing from moe, and what separates it from lolicon, is the sexuality. Very light eroticism can be moe, but more heavy sexuality is outside its scope; the commentator Tohru Honda says that the ideal form of moe love is “romantic love.” Another core component of moe characters is that the consumer wants to protect or nurture their beloved character: for many moe fans, adding sex to the mix tarnishes such love as well as the alluring “innocence” of the character.
Despite its sexual misgivings, moe is a more socially acceptable form of love towards young girls and is more popular than lolicon was in its heyday. Even with its cutesy designs and mostly kid-friendly stories, moe is still primarily consumed by adults. Moe manga are usually serialized in magazines targeted towards adult males, and the amount of expensive merchandise produced and sold means that it’s being consumed by those with disposable incomes. In 2005, the Hamagin Research Institute calculated that the moe industry made over 88 billion yen – about 887 million dollars – and that doesn’t even take into account the massive amount of fanwork that’s produced.
Though lolicon may find solace in moe, there is somewhat of a disconnect between older lolicon and newer moe fans and the way in which they envision their objects of attraction. Moe fans may see outright sexualization as destroying the “innocence” of girls that they’re obsessed with, while lolicon call the moe fan’s attraction shallow, infantile, or obsessed only with the image of purity or girlishness rather than the image of young girls themselves. Father of lolicon Hideo Azuma had the following to say about one of the more popular moe anime:
“I watched K-ON! It was empty. It was nothing. The jokes made no sense. It didn’t even have any eroticism, any grotesquerie. Just the mildest, faintest hint of fetishism. Are the people who made it and the people who watch it that unable to cope with reality? It just feels gross…”
It’s in this way that 80s mainstream lolicon could be seen as embracing all sides of an attraction towards young girls, while the moe boom can essentially be seen as a neutered form of its glory days: it strips away the “dangerous” sexuality and leaves us with the “safer” form of purely platonic and aesthetic admiration. It’s not perfect, and for some such a bastardization of their sexuality is unthinkable; they will instead stay underground with lolicon where they can attempt to be free from society’s standards. For others, though, it is the perfect situation: they can be a little weird, just a little strange, but will not be labeled as criminals or perverts. For them, the men and women of moe, this is the only way society has allowed them to live.
CHED EVANS CLEARED IN RETRIAL
Back to your resident blogger, and, once again, you heard it here first. Heretic TOC was a front-runner in exposing the absurdity of the Met’s Operation Midland, and has now been vindicated in supporting footballer Ched Evans’ continued claim to innocence after being convicted of rape. See When the law is out of order on rape for the coverage two years ago. Last week the jury at a re-trial brought in a verdict of not guilty.
Not that you’d guess it from the coverage in the mainstream media, where the focus was on the “outrage” felt by anti-rape campaigners, in coverage that strongly (but wrongly) implied the legal system had regressed to “slut-shaming” by allowing evidence to be heard about the alleged victim’s sex life.
While it is a good principle that a complainant’s previous sexual behaviour should not be used to undermine their credibility, which would often be in a one-person’s-word-against-another situation, the howls of protest failed to take into account that this case was different. That is because the woman’s word did not come into it. She never at any point claimed she had been raped. Yes, she was a prosecution witness because the police decided she must have been raped, but the case was purely circumstantial and unwisely cobbled into a prosecution for misplaced ideological reasons.
Instead of admitting this, the victim-feminism zealots blamed the footballer’s “clever lawyers” for getting their man off on a supposedly dodgy basis.
One of those lawyers was Judy Khan QC, who represented me some 15 years ago at Southwark Crown Court when I was up for importing indecent images. She had less luck in that case, unfortunately. Like Ched Evans I was innocent but found guilty. Unlike Evans, who appealed successfully and went to retrial, I lost my appeal against conviction. By that stage I had run out of entitlement to further Legal Aid and so had no money to keep paying for lawyers, clever or otherwise. Thus I was obliged to present my own case, standing alone before three appeal court judges in the Royal Courts of Justice: a rather daunting experience, I can tell you!
They did at least graciously describe me as “a dedicated enthusiastic and well-researched apologist for what he sees as innocent and non-exploitative pleasure in viewing photographs of juvenile nakedness” before dismissing my legal arguments in a way that struck me as grotesquely rigged: the appeal court does have a reputation for upholding the decisions of the court of first instance if it can fudge a way to do so. But I was so infuriated by their blatant chicanery that I found myself blasting them for it there and then. “This is a travesty of justice!” I hollered, as they filed out of the court. No doubt conscious of their dignity, they remained resolutely deaf and simply kept walking.
BATTLE OVER HENRIQUES REPORT
One of those three judges who ignored my outburst that day (see above item) was Sir Richard Henriques, whose report into the disastrous Metropolitan Police investigation of alleged VIP paedophilia through Operation Midland is expected in a few weeks’ time. But expected by whom? By the Met themselves, certainly. They have already received a draft of the report, but a row has broken out over who else will get to see it, if anyone. The Met have said that “that key findings and recommendations from his independent review would be published” but not the full report. This would “remain private as it would contain confidential and sensitive information”, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Met’s decision not to publish the full report, which will surely be heavily critical of the police (unless it is as biased as the appeal court ruling in my case), has been the subject of widespread disquiet. It looks as though the head of the Met, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, is trying to cover up his force’s embarrassment over wasting a vast amount of money investigating allegations made by an obvious fantasist – allegations that grievously damaged the reputations of innocent people, including former Home Secretary Lord Brittan, and Lord Bramall, former chief of the defence staff.
Why did the Met do it? Because, as in the Ched Evans case, the authorities were too much under the influence of victimological dogma – in this case the dogma that complainants should always be believed, regardless of how crazy their stories are. This mindless mantra was most egregiously manifested when a senior officer with Operation Midland publicly described the fantasists’ allegations not only as believable, which was ridiculous in itself, but “credible and true“.
NIGHTMARE OF THE LETHAL SURVIVORS
You couldn’t make it up as satire: the top brass of the massive and monstrously dysfunctional child sexual abuse inquiry (IICSA) have been so much at each other’s throats that a relationship counsellor was engaged in a desperate, doomed bid to get them to work together more cooperatively. It looks as though they were driven out of their minds thanks to all the abuse they were getting from the perpetually skrieky, tantrum-throwing, never-endingly demanding so-called abuse survivors’ representatives.
The upshot is that the future of the inquiry looks ever more wobbly. Three heads have rolled already, as successive chairs have failed to satisfy the blood-lust of the undead survivors, and even the fourth occupant of the obviously cursed job, Professor Alexis Jay, now finds herself under vicious attack.
This has all been coming out through evidence given this week to the Commons Home Affairs Committee of the UK parliament. It was on opportunity, duly taken, for Jay to bad-mouth her predecessor as chair, Dame Lowell Goddard. No need for details here. The dirty linen has been washed all over the media like a Hollywood divorce, but with one big difference: the most eye-popping stuff is not the parental squabbling between Jay and Goddard but the ugly sight of the kids kicking lumps out of both of them. Earlier it was Goddard taking flak for packing her bags and abruptly abandoning the family home with just a note left on the fridge. Now Jay is under fire for sensibly trying to tidy up the house a bit by getting the inquiry scaled down to a manageable level. Andrew Lavery, of survivors’ group White Flowers Alba, reportedly said: “Alexis Jay’s position is untenable, her statement is dishonest and disingenuous. She must stand down immediately.” That was fairly typical.