This is a product and WE are the market.
I LOVE SHIROBAKO, and if you have not seen it, then stop reading and go watch it. It might not be your usual take on anime, but its a beautiful journey every anime lover should sing up to. Now that I have stated that, let’s discuss this.
(I won’t include an image, but you can go to the link and see for yourself. Kind of NSFW though)
Personally, I’ve never consider myself a very sexual person, and thus, I’ve never feel very attracted to the idea of consuming overly sexualized products, nor have I been pleased with the sexualization of media that I have associated with a very different emotion. That being said, I do understand the reason for its existence.
You might be a little puzzled about why am I taking this particular series for my post, and the reason is that this anime was never in any way focused in sexual fan service. It does contain a very vast cast and they’re mostly girls but not even once the focus was on their love lives or anything sexual; that’s one of the many reasons I overly enjoyed the series. They just focused on the plot, their work, their dreams. If an anime succeeds on engaging you without showing you any kind of fan service while keeping focus on the premise then it’s worth the praise, but I digress.
Going back to the topic, anime content is a product, and a product needs to bring profit. You might not like the way X artist is portraying your favorite character from X series, and you feel in some way attacked, but the reality is that the friend next to you that shares the same passion for this media might actually like it and buy it.
Now, this does not mean that this person does not have morale or is lacking some essential sense of rightfulness. It just means that you see things differently. We could go deep into the conversation of what is morally right or socially acceptable, but that goes beyond the scope of this post and I encourage you to read a much richer take on the morale of Otaku culture in Frog-Kun post. My personal take though? “Socially Acceptable” does not really matter. If it sells, is good for the market. This is the base of the market that is pushing the new content, and is a force that is needed for you to see the new season of your favorite X series.
The act of sexualizing the content that was not meant to be consumed that way can be seen as a way to incite some of your consumers that already enjoys your media to buy more by creating some “specialized” content they would not let pass, or attract consumers that where not initially interested in your product but like that aspect of it.
There are many different gradients of this topic, as some of the content is targeted for an audience that consumes out of some need of companionship and emotional aid. And this is a reality. Japanese men, the main market for this content, have become increasingly more inclined to resort to virtual companionship and fantasy to fulfill their needs for affection. This mostly caused by their inability to maintain or establish a relationship because of all the focus to their work life (Long hours, business meetings and such) and mixed with some social awkwardness. This particular case is covered beautifully in the video from “Game Theory’s Culture Shock”.
My recommendation? If you feel like me, just don’t consume it. We are free to choose and as I stated in the beginning “WE are the market”. If the market no longer consumes, then the product changes.
See you in the next post!