Archive for 2011

Tokyo Manga Ban

Tokyo MX: “We’ll Stop Showing Anime” “No Jobs For Otaku”

Tokyo’s manga ban has been signed into law after passing a final vote, and is set to come into effect in 2011, with Tokyo governor Ishihara crowing that “Japan still has some common sense left after all!”

The ban already passed a committee vote, and as expected also passed a final vote on the 15th – the law stipulates that “voluntary restraints” must begun in April of 2011, with the full force of the ban to come in July.

All the major parties supported the ban – the ruling DPJ (leftist) insisted on a “prudent application” rider but otherwise did nothing to oppose the law as they did with the previous bill.

The LDP (right-wing) proposed and supported the original and current version of the bill. Their usual coalition partners, the Koumeito (the political arm of a Buddhist cult), also supported the bill, leaving only small parties to the left of the DPJ to oppose it.

Once again the motives of the DPJ can only be guessed at – they have repeatedly blocked national bans on possession of child pornography (already illegal to distribute) on civil liberties grounds, opposed the previously rejected version of the bill because it was worded as a ban on “virtual child pornography,” and actually insisted the just passed Tokyo law remove a “duty not to possess [real] child pornography” clause.

However, when the current bill’s wording was changed to ban depictions “promoting illegal or immoral sexual activity” (effectively a vastly more far-reaching ban than previously) rather than “[virtual] sexual activity involving minors” (this version of the ban was clearly targeting loli manga) as in the current version, their previous opposition all but evaporated.

That the law explicitly excludes photographic material can probably be interpreted both as a specific attack on “otaku” culture and an effort to avoid antagonising Japan’s mass media, who obviously would not support any restrictions on themselves but are only too happy to support them on other industries.

The 10 publishers who have boycotted the Tokyo Anime Fair are angry at the treatment meted out to the industry by Ishihara and his cronies:

“The earlier bill was defeated with heavy opposition, and we are indignant that the bill should be resubmitted in so short a time.”

Kadokawa’s CEO has vowed opposition will continue, although just what publishers can do about it is not clear, particularly in light of their evident ineptitude in handling politicians.

Ishihara for his part is crowing over the industry’s defeat:

“It makes sense for this to have passed – Japan still has some common sense left after all!”

In interviews he merely laughed at the industry boycott:

“If they’re outraged about this then they shouldn’t come. They’ll come the next year, for sure.”

Veteran shoujo mangaka Machiko Satonaka speaks of complete betrayal at the hands of the politicians:

“There were representatives who promised us ‘we won’t resubmit the bill without consulting manga and anime producers,’ but they submitted it anyway, so I feel we were tricked. There are many issues with the ordinance, in particular the ‘improperly promote or glorify [sexual activity]‘ passage, and there is no way we can accept this.

In particular, I worry about the future for young mangaka – I hope they will persevere without the industry falling into decline.”

Sony NGP (PSP2)

  “No Battery Changing for PSP2 BecauseoPirates”
 The batteries of Sony’s newly announced “NGP” cannot be changed, purportedly in an effort to stymy pirates who previously used the battery to hack the original PSP models.  

One method of hacking the copy protection on the original PSP to enable piracy involved the use of specially modified batteries (the batteries contain additional circuitry as well as the actual battery) – the sealed battery of the NGP is suspected to be part of an effort to make such hardware hacks more difficult.

The combination of a”
4-5 hour” battery life and the inability to change the batteries seems unlikely to be well received – and if the 3DS is any guide, a recharge time of some hours can be expected, making the device rather less portable than might be hoped.

Sony’s NGP is touting its 3G mobile connectivity features, but Sony has unsurprisingly confirmed this will not be free, and consumers and even Nintendo’s CEO all appear extremely hostile to the idea.

SCE’s European boss has confirmed that the NGP’s 3G connectivity will not be a free service, meaning contracts with mobile phone providers will almost certainly be involved.

If the market for smartphones is anything to go by, this will likely mean $20-$100 monthly data plans, minimum contract periods and a variety of other inconveniences, all without the benefit of actually being able to make phone calls or do much beyond play games (which of course also have to be bought).

Nintendo’s CEO actually rubbished the NGP for just this reason, saying he thought it would be extremely difficult to persuade consumers to stomach the costs of a mobile data plan:

“I won’t deny we’ve been looking into [3G support for the 3DS]. However, with the separate subscription fee required it is a very difficult option to consider.”

Of course, this was the man who said a console with a battery life under 10 hours would be “no good” only to release one with a 3 hour battery life.

That the NGP’s 3G will be a hard sell, if not an impossible one, is already in evidence from the 2ch reaction to the news that a fee will be involved:

“It’s finished.”

“If this is true, then it’s already done for in the Japanese market.

Consumers will never accept the notion of paying ¥3000-¥4000 monthly for a game console which they can’t use as a phone or for anything else.

And the parents will never let their kids have these. Without schoolchildren it won’t take root.”

Providing a non-3G model (which is confirmed) and carefully marketing the subscription plan to both buyers and those who want no part in it may prove marketing hassle Sony could do without.

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