The third edition of The Anime Encyclopedia is preparing for launch. Despite being on separate continents for much of the year, the miracles of modern communication mean that my co-author and I have managed to co-sign hundreds of bookplates to go into special editions. (I wonder if I’ll get one of them? And will I be able to read my own handwriting, or find myself wondering why a doctor signed this?)
Getting ready for this auspicious event, I cast my mind back sixteen years to the launch of our first co-author venture. We pitched it to Titan Publishing under the persuasive banner “Sex sells!”
Sixteen years on, much has changed in the anime business, within and outside Japan. But not much has changed about pornography, because not much has changed about the way women and children are viewed by society.
This is the Titan press release for
THE EROTIC ANIME MOVIE GUIDE
by Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements
Published: 2 October 1998 £12.99 paperback 1 85286 946 1
A fascinating exploration of anime’s approach to the controversial realms of sex and the erotic.
Anime is a true cultural phenomenon, with a fervent and ever-increasing
following in the West. Of its many varied categories and genres, none
however is as endlessly fascinating and controversial as its portrayal of
the highly charged area of the erotic…
While westerners’ obsession with Japanese pornography is growing, there is
still little serious examination of the genre itself. Now, in the
pioneering follow-up to Titan’s award-winning Anime Movie Guide, this
revealing book uncovers, for the first time, this neglected area. Written for
both the intrigued casual viewer and committed fan alike, the authors seek
to challenge the stock response that anime is just sick oriental porn by
intelligently discussing the complexities of this area.
Painstakingly researched and packed with detail and stunning images, this
guide covers all aspects of the genre, including:
– Censorship and the media
– Early erotica, before the advent of OAV
– Comedy and the Cream Lemon phenomenon
– Shonen Ai: gay erotica for women
– Legend of the Ovefiend: sex, horror and tentacles
– Interactive erotica
– A-Z listing of over 200 erotic anime titles
Helen McCarthy is Britain’s acknowledged expert on Japanese animation, and
is the author of The Anime Movie Guide and Anime! A Beginner’s Guide To
Japanese Animation (both Titan Books).
Jonathan Clements received a Master’s degree from Stirling University for
his research into anime and manga publishing. He has adapted over fifty
anime and manga titles into English and is currently the editor of the
magazine Manga Mania.
Newsflash: sex still sells, and though some of it it wears different guises it sells to very similar patrons. One of my tasks for The Anime Encyclopedia was to trawl through Japanese porn websites for material released since the second edition. I met a surprising number of old friends – the tropes we recognised in The Erotic Anime Movie Guide still working the same street corners in pretty much the same outfits, alongside the newer recruits in their moe getups.
This little book caused some controversy in its day – but nothing compared to the Press reaction to anime itself. “Ban These Sick Snuff Cartoons!” thundered a respectable organ of the British press, as if our whole way of life was somehow being threatened by these dastardly foreign imports. I actually hoped that this book might change a few minds, might persuade people to see that our similarities are greater than our differences, that most pornography is the same regardless of point of origin, and that porn is just a ghetto for ideas and needs that society finds so shameful it needs to hide them under a dirty overcoat.
Now, it all sounds a bit silly. In a world where women can be murdered for being on a bus with a friend and threatened with rape for expressing an opinion about computer games, it seems trivial to get worked up about drawings on a screen. Animated orgasm and coprophilia seem pretty mild compared with some of the things real women are exposed to, and the small minority who watch anime porn exercise little influence over society.
But I’m more convinced than ever that all the sound and fury about this “sick Japanese cartoon porn”, as members of the British press tagged it back then, was only a diversionary tactic. Because if you really wanted to do something to improve the way women are treated and portrayed in society, you wouldn’t waste time ranting about a few minor entertainment genres. You’d pay them the same as men and make sure the law protected them from violent bullies.