Governor Ishihara’s initiative to rid Tokyo of depraved 2D filth has finally come into effect on the first of July, making it a crime to distribute any anime, manga or game the government deems “unhealthy” without consigning it to the same channels hardcore porn is distributed by.
In the best traditions of Japanese law making, the law itself is vague and its application is entirely in the hands of unaccountable civil servants and very nearly unaccountable politicians like Ishihara and his deputy Naoki Inose, both of whom have made their loathing for manga, anime and games no secret.
The law itself specifically targets (2D) content which “improperly glorifies or promotes illegal sexual activity,” a notably broad definition which Tokyo, for the time being at least, has clarified as specifically targeting “works depicting women enjoying being raped or incest as being fun.” It is widely expected that underage sexual activity (i.e. anything involving schoolgirls) is intended to be part of the ban in due course.
The actual scope of the law excludes novels (otherwise Ishihara would be in the unique position of banning his own novels, which feature lurid tales of underage rape) and photographic material. Although drafted with manga foremost in mind, it is also intended to cover anime and, in principle at least, also supplants Japan’s game censorship regime.
The letter of the law also suggests events such as Comiket are now technically illegal, and if permitted are only allowed to continue on government sufferance – at present the only thing supporting Comiket’s legality is a series of tweets by vice governor Inose in which he invents various legal arguments, such as that Comiket is in “festival space” and that doujinshi publishers are not actually “publishers” and so are not covered by the ordinance.
The law has already been ferociously criticised by mangaka and the publishing industry for its vagueness and indiscriminate nature, with many concerned that fear of the ban alone will cause nationwide “self-censorship” so as to avoid being shut out of the mainstream publishing industry.
Several high profile works, such as Akisora, have already been banned, but it is likely that the majority of the law’s effect will be from publishers quietly cancelling or declining to publish material they feel Ishihara might disapprove of, as some mangaka have already reported.