We invite readers to submit questions to us regarding anime, culture, religion, or most any topic! We’d love to respond to your queries!
Last week, Torin sent us the following comment:
Hello! I sincerely apologize if this seems inappropriate, but I’ve been trying to find someone to ask about this for quite some time. I have a question regarding the general anime community’s apparent preoccupation with sex. I’ve noticed this both online and at conventions. My question is, WHY? I can write some of it off as hormones due to the high number of teenage anime fans, but I can’t seem to avoid encountering hordes of people whose main interests I consider seriously immoral. I very much enjoy cosplaying but the other fans that I encounter are driving me away from my interests.
Torin, that’s a great question…and a very complicated one. My immediate reaction is that what we consume, media-wise, is a reflection of who we are. American culture is definitely moving more toward both the “anything goes” attitude – so showing of “explicit drawing” or reveling in shotacon (<— this REALLY gets to me) is becoming a little more acceptable, especially among our younger generation.
Also, and this is more just our natural condition, we seek fulfillment in things that titillate. As anime has grown in popularity, it’s no surprise that individual fans would become preoccupied with sexualizing their characters – bizarrely or not. But with the advent of the Internet and the growth of convention culture, along with that idea I mentioned earlier about more and more acceptance of almost anything, these ideas go from private to public, and take on a life of their own as Tumblr, Twitter, forums and other outlets key on our “consume it now and consume it fast” attitude.
As for cosplaying, I’m less sure – I’m not really attuned to cosplay and convention culture, honestly. But certainly, when I attend cons, I’m pretty surprised at what I see (certainly not all of these girls are super fans of Yoko Littner, are they?!). But I do believe that same connection I mentioned above applies here. And it becomes very scary because as we push our boundaries further and further, lacking restraint, horrible things can occur. Isn’t there some connection here to rape culture and the problems that women encounter at anime conventions?
Torin continued his comments with the following:
For example, a few years ago I discovered Hetalia. I’m extremely close to giving it up entirely because I can find no one to hold an intelligent conversation with. They care only for their favorite yaoi pairings, feel the need to show off explicit drawings they’ve made, and have no respect for the characters or actual history. Similar behavior may be found among the fandoms of the other anime I watch. It’s terrifying. I would have been perfectly happen never to learn what ‘shotacon’ means. I lack the capacity to understand why so many people are obsessed with these things. Do you have any ideas about why this might be? Thank you!
I conferred with R86 on your question, and he had some really great thoughts more specifically on some of the ideas you mentioned:
The anime fandom in general (plus associated groups such as the Vocaloid fans) are, in my estimation, a group for which everything goes, especially regarding sex. And I don’t claim any moral superiority here, since I think about sex as much as anyone. It’s the insisting on reading sex into everything one sees that I don’t understand. Many of the people Torin references are well out of their teenage years, and should be used to the hormones by now.
R86 goes on to discuss yaoi pairings:
I would argue that shows like Hetalia and Oofuri are NOT about homosexual relationships. (Of course I do not deny that there are plenty of shows that ARE about such relationships.) One has to be looking for yaoi overtones, and purposely reading them into things, in order to see them in such anime series. An example is the popular Tajima-Hanai “pairing,” when they certainly didn’t even seem to me to be especially close, nor to spend much time together outside of practice and games. Or to take an extreme example, look at the relationship between the Hitachiin twins in Ouran. Even though they do act as if something beyond brotherly love is going on, unguarded moments between them convince me that it’s just that — only an act. But anime, as I’ve said earlier, is like a magic mirror. We see what we want to see, for better or worse. But while I wish I could shed more light on why so many people seem to want to read sex into every story, no matter how much they have to extrapolate in order to see it, I’m afraid this is as far as my understanding goes.
So, Torin, these are some of our ideas. As you can see, you’ve hit on something about which both R86 and myself have a lot of thoughts – much more than we have time for in this short blog post. Thank you for the food for thought, and I hoped we helped to clarify some (through we probably actually just added to the noise).
How about you readers out there? How would you respond to Torin’s question?