Some anime fans have been contacting us for a while with hints and tips about certain forms of censorship, localization changes, and politicking creeping into the anime market. The increasing occurrence of certain trends within the market has sparked discussions within the anime fandom communities, and one fan in particular put together a lengthy five part series of articles highlighting what he feels is the potential makings of an #AnimeGate if things continue in their current direction.
Author Gabriel Persechino-Forest published the first part of the series back on March 12th, 2018 over on Sakura Anime News. It’s titled “Anime’s Mainstream Struggle” and it covers the different aspects of the changing industry and how it’s been affecting the West due to going mainstream. It also covers some of the effects bleeding into the Japanese market as well.
The article points to Anime Feminist, Geek.com, Mel Magazine, Vice, and ComicBook.com all publishing articles within a short span of time at the start of March, criticizing the anime community for “gatekeeping” after Kim Kardashian announced that she was a fan of Japanese animated shows and movies. Gabriel believes it’s a precursor for things to come, similar to what eventually transpired with #GamerGate, where the media collectively colluded to push the narrative that “gamers are dead”, spawning a four year campaign of gamers being pitted against their own enthusiast media providers.
The article states…
“Just as with gamergate and comicgate, we can expect our very identity as fans to be attacked and for all of us to be characterized as losers, trolls as well as sexist and racist; unless we decide to agree with everything the mainstream media has to say about our hobby and wilfully surrender our identity and subculture without a fight. Of course, female fans who already enjoy anime will see their opinions dismissed by the mainstream media has they are lumped in with the generalization that current anime fans are only elitist males.”
The article argues that eventually these sort of attacks will eventually reach and begin affecting the source material in Japan. While many gamers and anime fans believe that Japanese artists and creators are impervious to what other nations and activists think about their work, the Sakura Anime Network points to Japan actually folding to activists from Mongolia, who felt the depiction of Gengis Khan in an manga was disrespectful, which resulted in the book being forced off of shelves, as reported by Sora News 24 on March 1st, 2018.
Gabriel also points out that this is a multifaceted attack that is organized by factions within entertainment media and even from international organizations like the United Nations, which actually did attempt to pressure Japan to censor anime and manga, as reported by Niche Gamer.
“The incoming attack on anime is itself part of a greater war on geek culture in general; from video-games, to comics, to anime… and is occurring across all levels of the media. Make no mistake, this is not a random result of progressive political ideology gone awry, it is calculated and intentional. If you noticed, this movement is being pushed by journalists of the entertainment mainstream media, of the regular establishment news media, by actors and actresses, by professional feminists, by professional activists, by political pressure groups, by figures of authority and influence… The average Joe has no say in this movement one way or the other and the ones spearheading this movement have the support of the United States government (And Japanese in this case) and the United Nations; who are supporting and vindicating their efforts.”
In the fourth part of the series, it’s pointed out that anime has been under a steady but subdued attack for the last decade, but initiatives are slowly starting to ramp up to “monopolize” the “target market”.
We have seen cases where FUNimation took liberties with the localization of Hajimete no Gal (also known as My First Girlfriend), which included Trump jokes and taking shots at light novel fans calling them “misogynistic creeps” in the dubbed version, essentially lambasting their own audience. When confronted over the liberties taken with the localization, FUNimation redirected the conversation about politicized localization to talk about harassment.
These kind of sociopolitically themed liberties in the localization also found their way into other animes as well, most notably with FUNimation’s localization of Prison School, which took a jab at #GamerGate, as reported by Niche Gamer.
Just recently CrunchyRoll’s localization team took liberties with the English port of DanMachi: Memoria Freese, enacting censorship and then saying it wasn’t censorship just the removal of features to suit the different audiences in different regions.
So what’s the solution? Well, Sakura Anime News suggests foregoing attaching oneself to political factions or engaging in tribalism, and instead uniting against the media forces, writing…
“This is not a partisan issue, the political left is attempting censorship of sexuality and free speech while the political right is attempting censorship of violence and unpatriotic behavior; it is a cooperative effort and both groups complement each other. As a fanbase, we must not rely on a political faction to protect us as they only serve their interests and agenda. We must in fact take politics out of our hobbies. To do that we must come together as a fanbase and, through collective efforts, resist all attempts to destroy our communities, hobbies and sub-cultures.”
When gamers attempted to warn their communities about the Regressive Left (also known as Social Justice Warriors) before #GamerGate actually started, many gamers scoffed and said “If you ignore them they’ll go away”, which obviously did not happen. Various games have been censored or are getting outright banned from release with increasing frequency these days.
Sakura Anime News wanted to put together a preemptive manifesto of sorts to warn anime fans about what could be on the horizon, based on the trends popping up in the localization communities and the sort of narratives currently being hewn by the media.
Sakura Anime News hopes that unlike what happened with gamers and the comic book industry, hopefully anime fans can step out in front of the narratives and avoid having the entire fandom usurped with caustic sociopolitical agitprop, which has become a prominent staple in the stories, characterizations, and narratives of video games, movies, and comic books.