Thursday, May 31, 2012

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Something Something Something, The Facts of Life

A pair of very interesting legal actions in Tokyo within the past day, and huge thanks to Anime News Network and to Sankaku Complex for the goods:

First off, a man from Chiba prefecture was arrested for copyrights violations for selling three unauthorized, modified figures of Nami from One Piece on auction websites.  The figures in question were "ma-kaizoku" pieces, which are ecchi, customized figures of characters in poses and states of dress and are not licensed or approved by the rights holder.  Often these figures are composites crafted by individuals from other licensed figures available for retail.  According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, the suspect was arrested with the suspicion that he was importing the figures from a black-market mass producer in China--would they have pursued him were he just producing the figures on his own and reselling them? 

Not heard--"Cheese it, it's the feds!"  Thanks to for the image
One has to wonder where exactly the line is, and what sort of behavior actually shows up on the radar of rights holders when it comes to fan-made goods.  I cannot imagine that local police took it upon themselves to investigate and arrest the accused--surely Toei Animation asked for intervention--but how far off could we be from a doujin-related arrest, I wonder?  When considering the volume of goods and printed materials moved at the biannual Comiket alone, never mind the multiple other doujinshi events held nationwide throughout the year, the amount of yen changing hands over unlicensed goods that are surely more objectionable to the series' bosses than these figures must be a staggering amount.  The only thing I can think of that staves off the wolves is the idealized not-for-profit aspect of the doujin scene, but there's no way I can be convinced that top-flight circles like NiseMIDIdoronokai and clesta don't see some kind of profit with each release, which, when boiled down, absolutely cashes in on the popularity and success of other people's hard work. 

Not for profit?  Not a problem.  For now.  I think.  Maybe.  Thanks to for the image
I do sincerely hope that the acknowledge-and-tolerate relationship between license holders and the doujin/ma-kaizoku/garage creatives doesn't get fractured.  Toei has a reputation of being more fiercely protective of their licenses than most, so if the results of the investigation show that the aforementioned accused was importing and reselling the unlicensed figures for profit, then congrats to Toei, I say.  I'd just hate to see legal pursuit of fans who create such pieces on their own, 2D or 3D, and sell them as they wish--again, a fine line to walk, and who's to say where hobby ends and business begins? 

Secondly, and rather encouragingly, non-ero erotic anime series par excellence Yosuga no Sora escaped the Ishihara Banhammer, otherwise known as the Tokyo Youth Healthy Development Ordinance or Bill 156.  Anime News Network and Sankaku Complex reported that the 2010 anime series was subjected to review by the governmental council in charge of monitoring content sold to minors, along with four other titles not mentioned in the minutes of the meeting that prompted the articles, after a member of the public reported it to the government. 

NOT GUILTY Y'ALL GOT TO FEEL ME.  Thanks to for the image
Yosuga no Sora was originally an eroge, centered around twins Haruka and Sora Kasugano as they move back to a town they once called home.  The anime is structured very much the same way as Amagami SS, with a block of episodes coupling Haruka with one of the several girls he interacts with, resetting at the end of each block with a "What if...?" as it moves on to a new girl and a new story.  The final, and undoubtedly the most gut-wrenching, is the final collection where Haruka and Sora come together, but there is considerable nudity and sexual activity depicted between Haruka and several of his conquests. 

The Council deemed that the sexual content, including the incestuous relationship between the twins, was not of a nature that glorified the nature of the relationship, and that the sexual content was not deemed excessive or gratuitous.  Indeed, treatment of sexual congress in the series was generally handled in a respectful and a loving manner, and the twins suffer a rather steep penalty for succumbing to each other. 

While it is grievously unfortunate that such a committee exists at all to examine such works, I take it as something of a victory that Yosuga no Sora was treated fairly and judiciously--there is plenty of mature content in the series that, if taken without any consideration of artistic merit or context, could easily be seen as objectionable by elected officials in grey suits.  That they came to this decision, to allow Yosuga no Sora of all things as acceptable for general sale, is surely a significant result other series may favorably measure against in the future.

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