This interview of Mamoru Oshii made me think. The entire article is locked behind a mobile application so I've extracted the the part I want to highlight here:
(talking about how the 2020/21 Oscars were chosen based mostly on political correctness rather than quality)
OSHII: Western games are the same. Do you know?
Cute girls and pretty women of all ages have been eradicated from western games.
Only ugly women show up in them. Gamers are pissed.
Interviewer: So you're saying that most gamers think "if I'm playing a video game, at least let me play with cute girls", right?
OSHII: Yes. It wouldn't be overstating it to say that people play video games because they want to play with cute girls.
It's ridiculous to prioritize political correctness over that original desire!
Now, Japanese games are still okay.
There are plenty of cute girls so it's fine, but people like me who play Western games have it tough...
Though to be honest, I've only Western game I've really played within the last five years is Fallout 4 (laugh).
This made me wonder why I am much more likely to enjoy Japanese media than Western media. My conclusions are fairly obvious but still.
Why is Japanese media good?
In short, it's because of the difference in how Japanese and westerners think. In the west, there is a tendency to take freedom to its extreme even when it harms others (unless it involves guns :^). In Japan, you respect other people more than yourself in many cases. Most Japanese media focuses on what the creator wants to make rather than spreading ideologies to "increase freedom". Sure, yuri is a thing, and the naive response would be to call that pushing the gay agenda. However, yuri isn't meant to spread politics like a Westerner would by injecting lesbians into their work, yuri is done solely because the creator wants to draw cute girls and romance without having guys involved (perhaps he and/or his audience dislikes self-inserting as a generic male character). Yuri is much less obnoxious than a westerner forcing politics onto the consumer; the Japanese are in it for the characters, whereas the westerners usually just wants to push his opinions onto others, usually to gain brownie points with people he already agrees with.
Few appreciate the fact that a lot of Japanese creators started out not because they wanted to spread ideals or for social validation via virtue signalling, but because they were just making whatever they felt like. Many people who are interested in anime don't realize that lots of anime source material is made by people who basically started out as porn artists.
These Japanese creators are unencumbered by the pretentiousness that plagues the west, and explore the deep dark corners of their creativity without worrying about how it will affect others' opinions of them.
Tsukushi Akihito, the creator of Made in Abyss, is a good example of someone who just makes what he wants while giving zero fucks about how others think of him. He's an absolute madman, saying and doing things both in and outside of his creations that no westerner would do for fear of being cancelled and/or becoming a pariah. Watching interviews he appears in gives a good idea of how unrestrained he is; here are a few favorites of mine from casual searching on YouTube:
- Saying that it's fun to draw cute characters suffering
- Buying a model of a young girl's torso, dressing it up, and saying he wants to decorate a room for it
- Eating during interviews
- Keeping over 10 Nanachi plushes in his room (which he plays with and sniffs on camera)
- Making and selling limited-edition perfume that "smells like Nanachi's ears"
- Making and selling limited-edition perfume that "smells like Faputa's ass"
- Calling the company that publishes Made in Abyss insane for doing so
And that's not even touching the weird shit he pulls in his manga. He draws what he wants simply because he wants to, and that makes it good. If he were to self-censor for fear of being cancelled or try to convince you of his beliefs via his work, it would be ruined. I have absolutely no clue what he thinks of anything politics related, which is just how it should be. If you make robot boy not get a boner when he gets a whiff of furry girl's scent, you're indirectly ruining anime.
Japan is not infalliable
Many fans of Japanese media including me are worried about Western "fans" who wish to "right the wrongs" found in Japanese art. A few especially rotten ones are actually learning Japanese and becoming l*calizers, trying to worm their way into the Japanese entertainment industry and ruin it for the rest of us by "educating" the higher ups and inserting unfunny jokes and political propoganda instead of translating. At the current point you can avoid their subversive work by using fan translations instead, or by just learning Japanese which isn't hard but does take time. That should be especially helpful when Japan gets fully infected with the mind virus the West is exporting, and don't delude yourself, the Japanese entertainment industry is being influenced by checkmarks on Twitter. Even then there are still more past works than you can consume in a lifetime.
Enjoy it while it lasts, and remember to download everything before they try to take it from you.
Here is a short list of links related to media censoring in Japan (may occasionally update):
- YouTube channel: Censored Gaming
- Sony Japan president confirms they follow "global censorship standards" (archive)
- Sony confirms there are no rules for censorship, decided by staff (archive)
- [460K webp] Fire Emblem Fates - Sakura A-support: translation vs localization
- [401K webp] Fire Emblem Fates - Sakura B-support: translation vs localization
- [308K webp] Fire Emblem Fates - Sakura C-support: translation vs localization
- [384k jpeg] Fire Emblem censorship of the word "crossdresser"
- [784k webp] Fire Emblem Fates - stupid meme translation 1
- [2.05M webp] Fire Emblem Fates - stupid meme translation 2
More recently there's the whole Guilty Gear remake scandal in which Bridget, a male character raised as a girl because of superstitions, was officially retconned to be transgender because of pressure from non-fans in the West. The game flopped massively in Japan to no one's surprise; Bridget was a pretty popular otokonoko (feminine male) character, and people don't fucking like it when you put politics in your games holy shit when will developers realize this.
I find this particularly ironic and/or bad for several reasons.
The first is that being a man was kind of important to his plot, him becoming a bounty hunter to prove he's a man and whatnot.
The second is that they're basically saying that you can't be feminine if you're a man, and that you must actually be a woman in a man's body; does this not strengthen the gender stereotypes these people are supposed to abhor?
The third is the most concerning. Since Bridget was raised as a girl and became transgender as a result, they're basically saying that grooming is actually pretty cool. I hope I don't have to explain why that's bad.