The maker of nondescript school anime Hyakko may very well be planning to pursue criminal slander charges against persistent online detractors who have been brazen enough to call the not universally well received anime “rubbish”.
Slander is a criminal as well as civil offence in Japan, with substantial prison terms possible.
We see the following exchange in a Hyakko thread:
“Hyakko is a crap anime.”
“In the Hyakko thread, some guy who called Hyakko crap looks to be getting hit for slander. It’s not surprising, as calling an anime ‘crap’ or ‘rubbish’ is completely slanderous, so if the police come knocking at your door, it’s your own doing.
Don’t blame the guy who reports you, ok?
The poster quotes this mail posted in another thread:
“Thank you for your report.
We think this one is the same person from the last case. They’ve been reported occasionally since around the time the anime started airing.
I get the feeling this malign commenter is operating on the principle of ‘if we call white black enough, eventually the world will think it is grey’. We’ve been in talks with the publisher since they started in December, and discussions with a lawyer specialising in these matters are ongoing. We’re requesting his details with a view to assembling a slander case against him if possible.
I’ve been extremely busy, so unfortunately I’ve not a chance to gather information myself – as a result I’m very grateful for your reports.
If you see any further posts which look like they may be from this person (it doesn’t matter if you’re not sure) or are otherwise similar, please do report them to us. If they’re from the past, that’s ok too.
Thank you very much.”
This mail’s from the makers. You’d better get ready. It’s a real shame, but you went too far, as expected!”
This exchange took place in a Hyakko thread on 2ch. Plenty of astonished responses follow, along with a number praying for the arrest of more wicked Hyakko haters.
Hyakko itself has been the subject of substantial criticism for its mediocre production values, and has not been a substantial success, so the actual criticism of the show is unsurprising.
It looks as though determining the veracity of this apparent suit will be difficult at this stage. The company planning it (presumably Nippon Animation, the makers of Hyakko, or perhaps the production committee) clearly will not let slip that it has such action underway for a variety of reasons.
The actionability of the statements seems plausible enough, although it’s not clear whether calling a title “rubbish” is truly likely to sustain criminal charges – the posters certainly seem to think so. If it is, the 2ch anime boards are likely to become much quieter…
There are any number of incidents where comments on 2ch have led to charges of slander, with prison sentences of over a year reported, though it seems this would be the first case in which a publisher has attempted to silence criticism in the various fan communities present on 2ch.
Certainly, many thin-skinned anime producers would likely want to remove the frequently vitriolic criticism they receive in such venues, which seems often to be inappropriately interpreted, by those perhaps not familiar with the workings of online “debate”, as being akin to traditional calumny.
However, 2ch is not designed or managed with the interests of would be censors in mind, though it certainly does cooperate with law enforcement to an extent.
These kinds of issues are precisely why the management goes to great lengths to shield the boards from legal assault; 2ch founder Hiroyuki has justified this by saying “there is no free speech in Japan”, a reasonable assessment if we consider the effects anti-libel laws have on those not well equipped to defend themselves from such.
Even should this be a fabrication, it is perhaps just as interesting as it represents something of an escalation in anime otaku efforts to defend a favoured series – the battle between pro and anti taken to the level of spreading legal terror in order to quieten detractors of a series; not a positive development by most estimations, although Hyakko fans have been quick to shortsightedly urge the arrest of the anti contingent.
The latest high drama from 2ch, or a chilling effort by a publisher to stifle criticism?