Via Yahoo Japan, Nobuhiro Watsuki, the Creator of the hit anime/manga series Rurouni Kenshin has been arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police for possession of child pornography. Watsuki was detained for soliciting child pornography of young girls in their early teens. Watsuki obtained numerous DVDs of pornography in October while working in Tokyo and the videos contained disturbing, explicit footage which featured unclothed minors. The Tokyo police discovered Watsuki’s collection while investigating another related case. They were also tipped off by an individual who remains anonymous. Watsuki has also preyed on girls in elementary and early junior high school years. Watsuki faces up to a year in prison and a million yen in fines.
The Rurouni Kenshin manga debuted in debuted in 1994 and went on until 1999. The anime adaption of the manga ran from1996-1998 and went on to have multiple successful films and a live-action adaption. The story takes place in the 11th year of the Meiji period in Japan, following a former assassin known as Hitokiri Battosai, who disappears to become Himura Kenshin, the wandering swordsman protects the people of Japan with a vow to never take another life. The story revolves around themes of atonement, peace, and romance. This is very disappointing and upsetting to hear as someone who has been a fan of the series and Nobuhiro’s work.
However, this is a major issue within anime culture of Japan. Now, just maybe we can raise awareness and create a dialogue for this issue. This isn’t the first instance of child pornography within the industry. The anime industry has an issue with displaying children in a sexual manner. This is a problem and something that needs to be addressed. Too often we see young female characters who are minors, depicted in a sexual way. Risqué shots and fan service scenes are way too common and have occurred numerous times. More than I can count. The Loli-con character type is a preference among many male anime fans. The character archetype is what gets advertised most frequently within Akihabara, the otaku haven. Shows and games like Idol Master and Love Live feature young high school girls dressed in cute suggestive outfits dancing and singing draw in a large male audience as well. But who within the industry is setting the boundaries? Who are holding these men accountable for sexualizing minor female cartoon characters? This type of behavior and preference falls into their personal lives, and becomes a reality more than just a fictional fantasy. One could even say this kind of media is potentially transitioning it’s consumers to prey on real young girls.
The internet went into an uproar months ago regarding issues of men sexualizing a young child from the anime Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Kanna is one of the younger dragons, and is about 8-9 years old in human registry. People were creating suggestive fanart and images, while some were even defending those sexualizing her character. I think it’s time we really took a look at these character archetypes and themes within anime, and begin addressing it. There should be a harsher sentence for someone convicted of child pornography. A year in prison seems too generous, lax, and quite disturbing.