A child safety bill recently passed in Tokyo might not only irrevocably change the manga/anime industry – it could cripple the largest anime convention in the world.

Earlier this month, the Tokyo government passed a bill into law that was ostensibly aimed at curbing sexualized depictions of minors in anime and manga. However, the language involved was vague enough to essentially give the government power to classify anything remotely sexual that it didn’t like as pornography, except for actual pornography, as long as it was animated.

This means that even works that were not sexual in nature could be potentially relegated to the back room with the actual porn, as long as they had some material that could be argued as “harmful to the development of minors.” Berserk‘s sex scenes and traumatic rape of one of the female leads by a turncoat villain; Evangelion‘s creepy-and-probably-symbolic nudity or that one hospital scene; even implied nudity in transformation sequences in shows like Sailor Moon could all potentially put works like these at risk.

Japan’s anime & manga publishers – most of whom are located in Tokyo and would be affected by the bill – aren’t willing to roll over without a fight, though. Many have urged the creators on their payroll to continue producing the works they want to produce.

Ten of the largest publishing houses – including major names like Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa – have withdrawn from this March’s Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF) in protest. TAF chairman Shintaro Ishihara is the very same Tokyo governor who sponsored the bill in question in the first place, so it’s understandable that the ten publishers (now allied as the Comic Ten Companies Association) would have a frosty disposition toward the event.

TAF is the largest event of its kind in the world, and last year attracted 132,492 visitors and 244 exhibitors, 59 of whom were foreign companies. To put it in perspective for a gamer audience, this is like if Activision, EA, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all jointly decided they weren’t going to show up at E3 anymore.

To make matters worse for TAF, the ten publishers have announced that they will now be exhibiting at a rival event taking place the same weekend. If the boycott expands, it will almost certainly cripple the prestigious event, if not kill it outright.


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