Sexualization in Japanese Anime as Its Most Peculiar Feature
In the world of animation, the overseas audience sometimes does not get to see the actual show that is originally created due to localization in the form of censorship. Many anime shows that first came to the United States were dubbed and heavily edited to remove elements of Japanese culture. Sailor Moon which is a very beloved show in the world was originally produced by Japan with LGBT content and nude content. However, in the United States, producing companies like DiC Entertainment and Optimum Productions had decided to change the lesbian relationships between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune to just being cousins. Other countries such as France also tried to hide homosexuality content in this show by making Sailor Uranus’s secret civilian identity as a male in the French dub version. In the Japanese version, Sailor Moon is completely naked during the last episode as Japan thinks the naked body as a representation of purity. However, other countries such as South Korea and America find it extremely necessary to make the near-nude scenes less obvious as most of the audiences are kids. In the South Korea version, the heroine is covered with an elegant white dress. As for DiC Entertainment version, the breast size of the Sailor Scouts was being toned down to be more wholesome for the kids.
Another example would be censorship by the subsidiary 4Licensing Corporation, 4Kids Productions which English-dubbed and censored Japanese animation to make them more kid-friendly and to adhere to American cultural norms. They removed all materially suggestive objects such as guns and replaced them with water guns or popguns; all elements of ale were replaced by juice. Not only that, but Sanji’s famous cigarette was also replaced by lollipop, making most of the dialogues sounding odd as they changed with this edit. The whitewashing of roles is shown as a form of censorship in the American version of One Piece by changing the skin color of the black ethnic characters as they want to avoid any sort of stereotypes that will cause racial controversy. Some scenes are confusing as well because Zoro’s swords can no longer cut people open. These edits by 4Kids were apparently overdone as it had butchered the original Japanese version, leaving many plot holes in the show.
Sexualization is an idea for anime shows to make it sell as it is a big part of what the audience wants and is also part of the culture of Japanese anime. Sexualization has been very prevalent in recent anime shows as it is the key to profit in this generation. Plus, objectification within the anime contributes to the comedic factors of the show as most of the humor is surrounded by sexual situations of the characters. The young female sexual attraction is often being used as a pull factor to appeal to the male viewers as they are the dominant group among the entire anime audience. However, sometimes the female characters are being overly sexualized to the extent it might be sexist and distracting. For example, there is a female character called “mune-mune” which means “chest-chest” in Scorching Ping Pong Girls which shows the close-up of her chest. Not only that, but it is also horrendous to find the entire show of High School DxD is centered around naked underaged high school girls with extremely large boobs that sometimes rub into the male character’s face in almost every episode. I would never agree with hypersexualization and infantilization of adult women, but to think in the anime industry’s point of view, sexualization is tolerable if it does not take it too far where it ruins the integrity of the entire show.
Fan service is giving the audience what they want by adding certain elements to please them, may it be sexual, love, or violent elements. Fan service is an essential aspect of the anime commodity for domestic and global audiences as it has become a common expectation for a wide variety of anime shows because of its vast appeal to Otaku male audience. However, just like candies, fan service is nice to be consumed but cannot be given too often as it is not healthy for us. We must admit the fact that it has gotten to a point that it has negatively impacted the modern perception of anime from people who are outside the anime viewership. As much as the Otaku fans enjoy indulging in the series despite the various racy and lustful elements in the shows, it already causes various controversies among the people who do not normally watch them. Some people may feel uncomfortable and even hesitate before they start watching one as they may find some anime shows very discouraging and unrealistic that makes them doubt the whole purpose of the show. It frustrates many people that the female characters always come with exaggerated size breasts, cleavage, small outfit, and overly short skirt, knowing these characters only exist to be fetishized. Female characters are always supposed to be good looking and have a perfect hourglass body which lacks the variety in appearance as male characters do. Fan service serves well for Otaku fans as these groups of people are very obsessive towards the anime series that production companies would just create anime shows full of fan service merely for fulfilling their fantasies and keeping them interested. For instance, Rosario + Vampire has been heavily criticized for its fan service as it is often seen as unnecessary and out of place. While fan service can enhance an anime, there should be a balance between fan service and the main story.
When considering future anime productions, we can expect a whole bunch of not-explicitly-ecchi anime shows with inappropriate fan service that merely exists just to satisfy the needs of the audience and lack the essence of a good storyline. Rather than creating a female character with a complex range of emotions, with personal goals and motivations, anime creators chose to sacrifice its meaningful ideology to create a fan-service product of sexualized ideology. They cater to a creepy and immature male audiences which has isolated many female viewers and distracts the audience from the show’s intended narrative. Nevertheless, there are still many good-quality anime shows that do not really promote sexualization or fan service such as Attack on Titans but still manage to gain popularity among audiences from all other the world. Perhaps the production companies should consider the needs of the female viewers and create more anime shows that are relevant to both genders so the whole anime situation would not be tilted heavily towards the male Otaku group.
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