You know, Friday afternoon last week, I felt like I had too many people on my side. While that’s nice and all, let’s take a look back at one of the topics I’ve done in the past. Last May, while I was still in high school, I wrote the editorial “Nonsense Rights of Fictional Characters” and if I’m being honest, it’s near the bottom of my list of favourite editorials. It was rushed, it was poorly thought out, and while I still stand by what I said, I feel like it could have been presented in a much more interesting and thought provoking way revolving around two main points: How many “rights” fictional characters are given in the United States and lolita complex illustrated pornography. They’re incredibly touchy subjects if you dive in enough (or just mention them, in the case of lolicon) and rather than dive into them, I ranted and forced an opinion, which is just poor writing. I had built up a sort of merit to my editorials by now that I never push an opinion. I always declare mine in an open way and provide an outlook, or at least information about the subject, for my audience to approach their own feelings about a subject. I didn’t do that in the aforementioned editorial, and I want to try again, because I feel like there are some much more interesting things that can be discussed concerning this topic. Let’s get into it then, shall we?
So the last time I discussed this topic, I focused a lot on the idea of fictional characters having rights, or at least it seeming that way in the United States. With people being outraged over how a fictional character is depicted or harsh laws an enforcement surrounding lolicon porn, but I didn’t really dive into them and more just yelled my opinions about them. So, let’s get off on a foot that will either make me public enemy number one or get on a lot of people’s sides. So long as loicon pornography isn’t in any way based off of a real life scnario in the slightest, I have zero problem with it existing. So long as the characters being depicted in unfavourable ways are purely fictional, I have zero problem with the depiction existing. The reason behind this: Their lives do not matter because of the fact that they don’t exist.
I stated this last time too, but I don’t think I went in deep enough about this idea in specific. In the anime community, at least here in the United States, there’s a romanticisation of fictional characters to a very large degree. This isn’t always bad, as fiction that makes you feel a genuine connection to it’s characters is good fiction in my book, but going so far as to get overly attached to a fictional character is problematic. If you ever get to the point where you genuinely feel that any wrong done to them is immoral, you’ve hit a problem point. I wouldn’t be surprised if this, to some people, would be a difficult argument to understand, so let’s dive into this a little bit. When you have a character that’s purely made up, it’s job might be to make you feel a connection to it at some point. That’s fine, it’s hard to care about a character you know little to nothing about. If a character is supposed to go through a rough time or die and we can’t sympathise with them at all, there’s a clear disconnect and there’s no reason we should care. A good example of this is the the difference between what happens to Hitoe Uemura in selector infected WIXOSS and what happens to Kagari Yukino in Lostorage Incited WIXOSS. While the Kagari’s inevitable fate was drastically worse than what happened to Hitoe, the audience cares more about Hitoe because they’ve been given a connection to her. By the time Kagari’s horrible event happens, I legitimately forgot who she was and had to have a friend remind me; as a result I couldn’t care less about what happened to her. The connections made to Hitoe makes what happens to her feel genuinely bad, but if that wasn’t there I likely wouldn’t have cared about her either.
To reiterate, that’s all good. Using negativity as a plot device is a great thing when done right and in order to make it effective, you need to have a cast that you feel connected to. The problem arises when the line between reality and fiction begin to get blurry. Things like “waifuism” or feeling a genuine connection to a character are also fine, as to a degree you recognise that these characters are still just that – characters. When you begin a disconnect, and say that somehow the pornography of someone of age being abused in a fantasy setting is universally morally bad, there’s a problem. Why there’s a sudden problem here is that you’re saying you care so much about the realm of fiction that you’re allowing the events that transpire there effect your reality. Disconnection from fiction is problematic. This is problematic not only because of the belief that lolicon is influencing people to become pedophiles is ridiculous (and is about as flimsy as the argument that violent video games make people more violent), but that it’s believable. Anime in general is an obscure medium, but when you have people with a genuine attraction to lolita characters, that’s alarming to someone who just sees it as it is on paper. Of course, it’s always gross and creepy to a degree, but alarming is something it shouldn’t be.
Alarming suggests there is a large problem at play that needs immediate addressing. Lolita porn is alarming on paper because what if these desires leaked into their real life and they began lusting for actual little girls? I respond to that question with another question: What’s the difference between Komari Koshigaya from Non Non Biyori and Tsukiko Tsutsukakushi from HENNEKO? They’re both young, Tsukiko is actually older, but there’s a key difference here between their characters: Tsukiko is a lolita while Komari isn’t. A lolita type character is someone who is deliberately sexualised or made sexually appealing; lolita (and by extension “loli”) is not a blanket term for all little girls. The term for that is “little girl” (real rocket science, let me tell ya). With that said is it still alarming? Lolita complex isn’t lust for Chihiro from Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away because Chihiro isn’t sexually attractive. Lolita complex does cover lust for Erio Touwa from Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko because she’s ultra blatantly sexualised. The only way lolita complex could spill into real life is if there was an intentionally sexually attractive young girl that, by the definition of lolita, was also sexually precocious. I would hope to God no one like that exists in real life.
Gross and creepy? Sure, I without a doubt can see why people would reach that conclusion. Alarming and illegal? Why? If lolicons are safely exercising their lust purely in a fantasy setting and aren’t harming anyone, I don’t see the damage done. This ties into the second point I poorly elaborated on last year: The United States giving what seems like rights to fictional characters. These little girls explicitly made to appeal to a set of people with a complex for them are not threatening real life little girls for reasons that I just went over; reasons that Japan, some states in the United States, some provinces in Canada, and some countries in Europe understand. This is clear in them marking lolita complex porn as legal at least in some way or another with any set of loopholes the local government has knowingly allowed to exist (or by straight up just saying lolicon material is legal altogether). So then why is legal punishment still so threatening? If governments know that lolicons wont hurt anyone, what it seems like is giving fictional characters rights and the government wanting to defend these little girls who don’t exist.
Of course I know this isn’t literally the case, but it’s something that I feel like ranting about when the inevitable topic of lolita complex comes up in a long enough and right type of conversation about anime. Outlawing any type of not only pornography but type of creative expression is in hand limiting the types of creation and creative growth that can happen from it while simultaneously turning innocent people into criminals. The number of now professional mangaka who once worked as solo pornographic doujinshi artists isn’t a small one, the number of up and coming writers who got their start in fanfiction (including myself) is astronomically high, and by destroying the expression that started their creative careers you’re in turn destroying any chance of inspiration that would influence creative growth. Purely fictional creative expression is something I feel should never be limited. Whether this is a start in scetchy porn for a weird subset of perverts, writing a fan story that would never happen in the actual canon, fan art of someone’s favourite characters, or fan games of well known franchises, limiting the chance of these things being made is quite frankly ridiculous. I feel like most people will agree with me there.
So what does this have to do with fictional rights? Well if we agree that limitation of expression in general is a bad thing, how is protecting individual characters and in extension character types any better? If by protecting the lolita trope and saying that they can only be in specific types of expression, how is that any different from saying something like no one is allowed to write Star Wars fanfiction? This is where the absurdity of rights comes in. It becomes confusing for me because fictional characters are protected from more than seemingly anyone in the United States who is a living human being is protected from. This begs the question that if these things are so dire that they can’t even be expressed creatively, why aren’t more people on board with preventing similar things from happening in reality? Of course child pornography is super illegal (and super messed up, to add), but some laws go so far as to say things like abuse in fictional pornography is illegal while at the same time, not every state has recovery programs for people who have been abused. The fact that abuse cases can go on for years is already stupid, but that punishment for owning a banned type of pornography can happen lightning fast in comparison.
Why it seems so absurd to me is that local governments know (or at least trust) that these obscure forms of fictional pornography are safe, it’s needlessly restricting creativity, it’s creating criminals, and it’s seemingly placing fictional characters before real human beings in a vain attempt to stop a problem that doesn’t exist in any sort of correlation to the banned fiction. It upsets me, sure, but it’s something worth thinking about. People are going to express themselves however they want regardless, so is it so necessary to make what they’re doing illegal when what’s assumed that they lead to in real life have little to no actual research backing it up? The anime community tends to paint in broad strokes a lot and sometimes those broad strokes end up dismissing topics I feel are important to think about. Hopefully, I got my opinion across in a better way this time.
So this post probably pushed me a bit closer to being on a criminal watch list with how many things pertaining to lolita complex I had to Google in order to double check I was getting my facts straight. If I ever vanish from Twitter and WordPress entirely, you know why now. As always, if you’d like to see what I’m up to when I’m not writing for this blog feel free to follow me on Twitter. I’m curious to see what others have to say about this topic now that my audience has grown a bit so don’t hesitate to leave a comment. See you all next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist コ゛りぼて.