TOKYO (majirox news) – A battle royale is brewing in the billion dollar anime world. Things usually simmer under the surface in Japan; however, when 10 major publishers stage their own anime fair that coincides with Tokyo’s International Anime Fair (TIF), something is obviously not right.
TIF will be held at Tokyo’s Big Sight exhibition hall in the Koto District March 24-27, hosted by the metropolitan government. It’s rival, the Anime Content Expo, will be on March 26-27 at Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba near Tokyo.
The boycott could cripple the world’s biggest anime fair, which attracted a record 132,000-anime fans, more than 1,200 overseas buyers and 244 booths last year.
Ten publishers, including Kadokawa Shoten, Shueisha, Kodansha, and Shinchosha, and some anime related companies are protesting Tokyo’s government’s passing of the recently amended ordinance of the Youth Healthy Development Bill. The amendment bans sales of manga and anime depicting violence and unlawful sex acts, such as rape, incest or sexually stimulating material which encourages cruelty and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior in those under the age of 18. The publishers allege it amounts to censorship and fear it could expand. Violators face a fine of up to $3,600.
Tokyo’s Governor Shintaro Ishihara was gloating over the industry’s defeat. In fact, in interviews he has laughed saying, “If they’re outraged about this then they shouldn’t come.” Ishihara has said that manga fans are “abnormal” and have “corrupt DNA,” and condemned sexually explicit manga as “causing harm without a single benefit.”
A source close to the manga industry asks why the anime media is being singled out.
“Other media are much worse, and there isn’t the slightest breath of restrictions against them,” she says. “These additional restrictions amount to censorship of manga as a media because the same restrictions are not being applied to all other media and DVDs.”
Some anime companies complain that it’s too late to pull out of Tokyo’s Fair. Sonic’s anime writer and illustrator Norihisa Imai is one of them.
“My friends and I who have small and mid-size companies have already committed to Tokyo’s Fair,” he said. “I am now worried about Sonic’s reputation — I don’t want our fans to think we agreed with the ordinance, because it goes against freedom of speech.”
The boycotting group says it’s not trying to challenge TIF. According to a Kadokawa Shoten press release, they are striving to please fans and create a place they will enjoy.
Exhibits of new releases will be shown at Content Anime Expo, such as the popular series Pocket Monsters by Media Factory Inc., which is part of the boycott group.
The President of Welz Animation Studios Masashige Hiranuma agrees something needs to be done about the ordinance. “It will limit our filmmaking,” he says. “Many anime filmmaking companies feel the same way.”
According to the Asahi.com, an official with the Tokyo metropolitan government’s industrial and labor affairs bureau, which oversees the event, said it was too early to know what the impact of the rival fair will be.
If the boycott grows, it could definitely hurt the prestigious event, or even ruin it. It sends a strong message to the government about the huge opposition to the bill by manga artists, scenario writers, filmmakers and publishers.
We will update you when the Anime Contents Expo gives out more information.