Let's address the big, pink elephant in the room. The topic that frequently comes up at conventions and in half-written "news" reports, and yet nobody wants to answer.
For the sake of this blog, I will be censoring one or two words, but you already know what this is about. And at anytime if you see a blue link, it's in reference to whatever it is I'm talking about.
For as long as pen has hit paper and created animation, there has always been a worldwide problem of animated kids and tweens in adult situations. Some say it's "cute", harmless or even indicative of the many "coming of age" trials and tribulations the average adult faced before entering their teen years, while other people denounce it as crossing a line.
Always, it's written off as a "to each his own" issue, and often, we find this recurring question swept under the rug, and usually, it's swept just in time for E3 to get started, rife with new video games, many of which feature scantly clad anime chicks, a majority of which are not even old enough to drive a car yet.
Cosplayers rarely even question it anymore. Quite often, you will find adults, dressing up like they are 8 to 10 years old again, and plastering DeviantArt with their Lolicon art.
But the question remains. Does anime actively promote the PedoBear culture?
I know what you're thinking. "But Earth-chan, it's just a cartoon. It's not a REAL little kid, so what's the problem?"
Simple. The problem is that it's still a kid. It really doesn't matter if it's a kid made of pen and ink or digital paint. It's still underage and therefore, it is WRONG to see her in lewd positions.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a prude. I don't have a problem with people watching adult films if they choose to watch them. But as I have time and again noted on Moon Sisters, I am highly against the sexualization of underage cartoon characters.
I find it absolutely amazing that Japan, way ahead of the rest of the planet when it comes to technology, gifted with endless amounts of knowledge, is somehow against medical m*rijuana, which has been scientifically and medically proven to put cancer patients into remission, and yet they have no problem with selling an oppai mouse-pad of an 11 year old little girl. And yes, that is Shiro of No Game No Life. And yes, she really is eleven years old. And that right there is what is wrong with this whole picture.
In recent years, Japan has slightly tightened up it's laws about underage cartoon characters. I'm sure you've heard recently about how the BPO threw a hissy fit over PriPara. And why? Because the ending theme song shows fourteen year old Sophy/Sophie Hōjō, wearing a revealing bedroom outfit, similar to one Marilyn Monroe wore. Studios Tatsunoko Production and DongWoo A&E who animate PriPara for Tomy's children's video game, at first balked at the report, especially when the BPO also noted that the ending frames also depicts girls ages 10-14 in provocative "bikini" shots and slightly see-through clothing, but they came to a compromise. Sophy's second solo scene was re-animated to show her fully clothed on a boat..... but the other shots were left completely untouched and are still making air.
Now I must admit, much of the media against anime is wrong. I think we all had a good laugh when CNN on purpose edited a fairly tame manga to make it "look" like it was adult in nature, but even though most of the media is slanderous, the fact remains that there are some titles that do make being a PedoBear seem like an ideal job title.
Some anime titles have found a partial balance. For example, in Sailor Moon SuperS, Chibiusa looks like an eight year old in the first two episodes, a nine year old in the first half of the season, a ten year old by the midway point, and then an older tween in the final episodes of the season. This was the season that even edited, disturbed viewers when it first aired on Toonami in 2000, because there are scenes of Chibiusa getting into a relationship with Pegasus/Helios.
It starts with Pegasus instructing her that they can only meet in private in the middle of the night, and that she must never tell anybody what it is they do or where he takes her, and the season is rife with images of her less than fully dressed.
However, where the anime got away with it is with her age. Those following the series via the manga by this point knew Chibiusa was over 900 years old. By setting her age centuries beyond that of the main character, you can virtually do anything with her, and still squeak past the censors, a trick Toei Animation later repeated with Sailor Moon Crystal, where this time, Chibiusa's age was blurted out as loud as possible, again allowing the animation team to later animate a blurry, lewd shot of her, without it being a problem.
Many hentai video games have used Toei's example, allowing them to draw "Lolicon" girls, but having the game's pamphlet swear they are above 18.
And then some don't even care anymore. Take for example the new video game Omega Labyrinth, which follows young girls who slay ghosts in an effort to grow their breasts. You can help them by giving them massages with a stylus pen, and no, none of that was a joke.
Adding to the problem of the underage delima is the treatment of more age appropriate characters, more-so with females. Here are some examples:
The closer you get to being 18 or older, the less likely you are to being seen as desirable. Unless the animators gifted you with comedicly large breasts, you are a side-show freak. Hot-headed, desperate, lonely, drunk or in most cases, the mother of a teenager. Or you may be depicted as an adult child, still looking as you did before middle school, but acting like a kindergartner.
But is this proof that anime, video games and manga are promoting PedoBear behavior?
There are still many shows, such as Place to Place, I can't understand what my husband is saying and Wakakozake, which do not feature or promote scantly clad underage characters. And not all adult titles allow for it.
But it is clear that many of the titles which have the largest toy output do feature these scenes.
PriPara airs on Saturday mornings in Japan at 10 in the morning, for ages 2-14. And yet the show sees nothing wrong with Sophy, or any of the other girls, running around in see-through clothes and miniature bathing suits. The series has spawned a toy line, clothing line and even a children's makeup line ~ the latter of which is throwing gas on this fire.
It's only been within the last two years that Sailor Moon ~ originally aimed at teen and adult males anyway ~ has gotten it's rightful TVPG and TV14 rating for certain episodes. Dragonball Z Kai, which has scenes in the first season of four year old Gohan and flash backs of 3 and 12 year old Goku in their birthday suits, just left NickToons and hit Cartoon Network's Adult Swim Toonami block almost a year ago, and both shows, while they now only sell figures for the aged 15 and up crowd, used to have toy-lines aimed at children, with DBZ originally having multiple kids' meal toys.
If the merchandise wasn't such an issue, we may not have noticed to what length the PedoBear debate goes. But with the main shows in question having sold clothing, makeup and more to children even younger than the characters appearing on screen, and with it being deemed "acceptable" and part of Japan's "culture" one cannot ignore that most of the best loved shows... are drawn by perverts.
Do these shows promote PedoBear activity?
While watching these shows will not automatically turn you into a pervert, and in some sick way, may actually provide enough relief to a real PedoBear that they likely will be satisfied enough not to harm a real live person, the debate will still be raging on, at least until we can all agree to stop allowing the animators to draw the underage this way.