Shimoneta: Of Public Morals and Limitation of Speech

Ripping off the total surveillance setup from Psycho-Pass, Shimoneta decides to take Psycho-Pass‘s setup and thought “What if we lived in a world where dirty jokes were illegal?”

I’m pretty sure Shimoneta is satire of overly “moral” people and how they enforce a categorical, black-white idea of what is moral and what is not, especially regarding a subject that is considered to be taboo, yet is totally natural.

Shimoneta and Plato’s Cave

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Plato’s Cave, go fucking educate yourselves. It is a timeless allegory and it has been subtly used in many motion pictures. To learn more about the allegory, simply read Book VII of Plato’s Republic.

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Shimoneta is Plato’s Cave in motion. Tokioka school students are like the prisoners trapped in the cave, where the government enforces a fabricated reality, both in ideas and physical reality. Through censorship of sexual innuendo and crackdown of pornographic material, the government enforces a fabricated reality for society. Books are burned and people can only access information digitally. The government also censors the internet, prohibiting people from accessing lewd websites. Anna here is the perfect “victim” of being in the cave too long, she no longer has a grasp of the reality outside the cave. Then, she is turned to insanity as she “sees the light” and embraces her inner lewdness. The crazy scientist (the one with seaweed hair) is one of those prisoners who is trying to break the chains holding her down in the proverbial cave. She is an example of a truth-seeker in an ignorant society, where through science, one can reach reason, just as Plato had suggested centuries ago. Kajo is the example of one who has broken free of her chains and seen the light, and when she returns to the Cave, she is met with resistance from the still-shackled prisoners.

Digging deeper into Shimoneta, I’ve also noticed how power uses euphemisms to obscure reality and instill ignorance. The citizens of Shimoneta‘s world live in ignorance. They have little to no understanding of basic biology due to the government censoring speech. People don’t even know how babies are made because the government has made people use overly obscure jargon to describe procreation. People cannot even comprehend romance due to total censorship and the need to resort to complicated, humanity-deprived jargon to express such emotion, leading to a generation unable to enjoy the rewarding experience of being in love.

Shimoneta‘s Moral Police

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Shimoneta‘s “moral police” kinda reminds me of an article I’ve read a few months back in Think Nusantara. Titled the “Condomization of Indonesian Society?”, the post laments how authority misses the root of the free sex problem in Indonesian society. The author raises the point of Indonesian authorities’ zeal to “mitigate immorality” through half-baked measures.  Our society’s view of sex in general is shaped mostly by old wives’ tales and superstition, not actual science, causing most of our people to have skewed perceptions and opinions on sex. I find that the state of Indonesian society is relevant to Shimoneta, where with the emergence of more conservative Islamic values in society, authorities are prescribing the wrong medicine for the wrong illness. Shimoneta has shown that by limiting speech and sexual education in the name of upholding public morality, they have achieved a society that has totally been stripped of their basic human nature.

The issue this author has is not with the moral crusade being undertaken, but the desperately flawed and impractical regulations that emerge from this desire to mitigate immorality. Limiting condom sales will not stop young people from having sexual relations, especially if they don’t generally use contraceptives in the first place. About half of sexually active secondary school seniors reported not using condoms in their last sexual encounter.

If the MUI issues a fatwa against condom sales, or the government takes the next step and legally bans the sale of condoms to those under 21, it will be detrimental to the health of the nation. What Indonesia really needs is not half-measures that increase the chances of transmitting sexual diseases and facilitate unplanned pregnancies, but a mindset overhaul that allows for an open discussion on sexual practices and awareness. The national curriculum should implement mandatory sexual education health classes that teach these youth of the dangers of unprotected sex, ways of preventing the transmission of sexual diseases, ways to confidently say no to peer pressure to engage in sexual activity, and other lessons. These will do far more to encourage youth to lead a healthy and responsible lifestyle than a blanket ban on condom sales ever could.

Conclusion

Shimoneta’s world, though described playfully by the deluge of sexual innuendo throughout the course of the anime, is not a world that we would want to live in. It is an Orwellian world where we are deprived of our basic freedoms that make us human all for the sake of a vague sense of “morality”. Even if the proclaimed best girl is an innocent-turned-nympho yandere.

Unfortunately, the deepness of Shimoneta only lasts for four episodes. Then the series starts degrading into a horribly stereotypical harem romance comedy. As more characters join the fray, the sexual humor suffers from overuse.

Of course, just because Shimoneta “fights” for freedom of expression of our truly banal selves in an overly conservative society, it does not justify animalistic sexual behavior as acceptable.

I would recommend Shimoneta for someone who wants to understand how power can shape our sense of reality. Or if you like really childish sex jokes.

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