Hey, how’s it going there? My last post was in… holy shit, it was back in June. Anyway, before I get to reviewing New Game, I think I owe you readers an explanation for my very long absence from the anime world in general. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you might know already. But for those people who don’t even know I have a Facebook page, get over there and like it already.
So, I’ve decided to continue my studies in Singapore. It’s a one-year Master’s degree program, so things are quite jam-packed. I’ve been cooped up with lots of reading and work and to be honest, I just feel so bummed out. Thanks to this workload too, I can’t even keep up with all the new anime that continuously comes out. However, a lot of my friends recommended New Game as an anime that I should watch because Aoba is a good girl reasons. So, since I finally got a well-deserved two-week break, I decided I might as well binge on it. And that I did.
Alright, I told myself I was going to write about moefication during the KanColle game boom, but that idea suddenly disappeared. It came back to me while I was taking a stroll at the beach and saw a large ship on the horizon.
Alright, you guys do know about the “moefication” phenomenon right? Well, “moefication” is a term that refers to the act of anthropomorphizing non-human beings with moe qualities. It is also known as moe gijinka. Basically, you take a non-human thing, like a ship, and turn it into a human (preferably female) and add a little moe qualities (like make it a tsundere or something like that). Even Wikipedia has a fucking article about it and there’s a bunch of examples of moefication in it too.
Why am I suddenly bringing this up? Well, I find moefication of stuff quite interesting. It’s creative, and some of the end products are funny in their own right. But then we get to that weird part of moefication. Recently, I’ve seen moefications of Ebola (in the form of Ebola-chan) and even ISIS (ISIS-chan; which I partly support because she’s cute and satirical). It has occurred to me that perhaps there are some things that should be left un-moefied. Especially Ebola-chan. I don’t find her as cute or interesting or moe in any sense; I consider Ebola-chan to be a fucking sick joke.
Of course, I use the term “moefication” because there’s actually no clear boundaries between gijinka and anthropomorphization. Think of it as a blanket term.
Why and how did moefication start in the first place?
Anthropomorphizing objects has long been a part of otaku subculture, especially in the doujin area. Of course, it’s really hard to accurately pinpoint when exactly moefication began. However, according to Know Your Meme, the art of moefication perhaps started in the Pokemon fandom, when a Japanese artist uploaded a series of Pokemon gijinka featuring the original 150 Pokemon. It spread on 4chan and once something is popular on 4chan, it’s basically an internet phenomenon. And somewhere along the line, moefication started becoming a big thing in Japan. Almost anything can be moefied, from castles, swords, military hardware (Upotte, Strike Witches, and yours truly KanColle), to even countries (Hetalia). And, holy shit, there’s even a moefication of the Japanese Constitution?! That’ll definitely encourage people to study politics and law.
Why moefication though? I guess it’s the freedom of expression, the individuality and creativity that’s alluring. For freedom of expression, you, as an artist, are free to express yourself in your art. You might want to convey a message, either directly or indirectly. You might want to make a statement. You might just be doing it to get recognized. For individuality, for every artist, you feel the need to make your characters unique, to stand out from the crowd. But more importantly, it’s how to make your characters your own. For creativity, well, you’re making a non-object become a human. By moefying objects, you basically make your own version of something that already exists. It’s a creative process, it’s a statement of your individuality, and it’s also part of what you want to express.
For example, take ISIS-chan. I interpret ISIS-chan as a way to alleviate the grief caused by the capture (later, execution) of two Japanese nationals by the terror group ISIS. Rather than condemning ISIS, the artist chose to satirize ISIS by attaching contrasting moe qualities to an organization known for its brutality.
Good/Bad? You Decide
There is also a part of moefication that can be good or bad: perception. As an art, moefied characters can be perceived differently by different individuals. Of course, you could get praise or a shitstorm depending on what people think.
And here’s my stance: I believe that some moefications are good, and others… well, you might wanna keep the characters to yourself.
For example, as far as KanColle goes, I’ve enjoyed the various moefications of Japanese warships. Despite the fuss about possible glorification of Japan’s wartime past, I find KanColle quite entertaining. The ships’ personalities, to a certain extent, match their real-life counterparts. Take Tenryuu. The real Tenryuu is a veteran warship, and the KanColle Tenryuu also acts like a hardened battle veteran. Not so for the I-8 though.
And as for the moefication of the Japanese Constitution, I seriously consider it a fun way to get people attracted in studying the Constitution. I particularly like the moefication of Article 9, or Kyu-Jou-chan, as the character accurately represents the essence of Article 9. The same goes with the moefication of castles (I forgot what exactly the series was) and even Japanese historical figures. They play a large role in helping people appreciate culture and history.
As for ISIS-chan, I’m rather ambivalent. On one hand, I know that moefication tends to incite feelings of attachment towards the object. Like, that’s why military nerds watch Upotte or Strike Witches. I’m concerned that ISIS-chan could actually make people want to join ISIS. I’ve seen people purchase comics just because they have cute mascots (ahem, I’m looking at you, Re:ON). But perhaps that’s just my overactive imagination. On the other hand, I enjoy ISIS-chan as an attempt to satirize the fucked-up organization. As long as ISIS-chan is used solely as a joke, I’d be fine.
But then there’s Ebola-chan. I personally fucking hate Ebola-chan. It’s an insensitive, unhealthy, and sick fucking joke to a serious condition Africa is facing. It’s even more disturbing that Ebola-chan was used in an major internet troll against Nigerians, where the Ebola outbreak was happening. Seriously guys, not funny. Also, how the fuck can a deadly virus be moe? I just cannot see how it can be done. Bitches’ll be like “Ebola-chan is my waifu”. You’d seriously want a deadly virus as your waifu? You must be so fucking lonely.
In the end, it really does come back to the individual as to judge whether a certain moefication is good or bad. Some things are good when moefied, some things should just be left as… things.
I’ve had the idea of writing this post ages ago, but I haven’t been able to assemble the information I needed to make a sound analysis. But now, I have what I think is sufficient to discuss an ongoing problem which the general public may not know of Japan – Japan is suffering and we have moe to (partially) blame. In fact, if left unattended, Japan may possibly suffer death by moe and I’m not talking about “moe-betes”, which in my lexicon is defined as “that sugar rush you get when you see a character that is oh-too sweet”.
Just a heads-up though, I won’t be talking mainly about anime but also games because the two are closely related to the issue. And besides, a lot of games make it to the screen like Persona 4: The Animation. So, in this THEORY, we shall discuss how anime (and also games) contribute to Japan’s population decline. More importantly, could Indonesia fall into the same trap?
Understanding Japan’s Population Decline
Now, those living outside of Japan may have only heard good stuff (by “good” I also mean “weird”) about Japan, like their advances in robotics, their economy, or just their entertainment industry. Or maybe not since the government decided to ramp up anti-piracy measures, push for constitutional reinterpretation, and continue hostilities with China.
Anyway, those aside, there has been one ongoing problem which may seem trivial now, but could impact the country’s overall well-being. That problem is Japan’s fertility rate.
After World War II in the 1950s, Japan had a booming young population due to the wartime “Beget and Multiply” campaign by the government. Sixty years later in 2010, those young people grew up… but they didn’t give birth to enough children. Fifty years in the future in 2060, it is estimated that Japan’s young population will reach a dangerously low levels. Check out the following population pyramids.
You may say “So what? People are supposed to grow old and then die!” Here’s the problem. The population pyramid is akin to a real-life pyramid. It stands strong if its foundation is strong. Imagine a pyramid that is heavier at the top or the middle without a strong base. It would collapse. And that is exactly what would happen in Japan – a demographic collapse.
Once the productive (middle) age range has entered the non-productive (upper) age range, who will be there to work and support the upper part of the pyramid? Of course their children. But what happens when the “productives” do not give birth to enough children? You then have a population crisis on your hands.
It’s not just about supporting the aging population. When a country doesn’t have enough productive people, its economy suffers. Less young people means a dwindling workforce, leading to less productivity. As the population ages, the government would need to increase the social security budget. If all of the budget goes into social security, what’s there left for development and defence?
Yuriko Koike, a member of Abe’s conservative, nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, warned that, as of 2012, the average fertility rate for Japanese women amounted to only 1.41 children, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 needed to sustain a stable population. Japan’s birth rate has not been above 2 level since 1974. At present trends, by 2050 there will be only 1.3 workers to support each senior, from 2.6 workers currently. By 2026, social security costs are expected to climb to 24.4 percent of GDP, up from 22.8 percent in fiscal 2012, the country’s welfare ministry projected. (International Business Times, March 2014)
Now that’s just the general overview. Check out these graphs that list population growth per prefecture.
As you may have noticed, there are two prefectures experiencing population decline. And they’re in the top ten highest.
Here’s the top ten lowest growth rates.
Aomori and Akita are experiencing a 1% decline in population. Now, if that wasn’t enough, consider that the bottom three prefectures are top rice producers in Japan. Japan may not only face a population crisis, but also a looming food security problem.
But what about immigration?
Japan has a stringent immigration policy. This is because the country is bent on protecting its citizens and overall economy.
Among the core supporters of LDP lawmakers, including Abe himself, are nationalistic voters opposed to welcoming large numbers of unskilled foreign laborers, who are now barred from Japan. They fear that bringing in such people would increase the crime rate and deprive Japanese of job opportunities in the still-sluggish economy. This concern seems to be shared by a majority of Japanese. According to a poll by the daily Yomiuri Shimbun in April, while 74 percent of the 1,512 polled said they believe population decline will hurt Japan’s economy and contribute to its decline, 54 percent said they opposed bringing in more foreigners versus 37 percent who backed the idea. (Japan Times, 2014)
A cultural allergy to diversity, as well as negative impressions of the experience of other countries, have combined to make Japanese authorities and the public wary of immigration. Xenophobic voters on the Internet have amplified those concerns, making conservative politicians even more reluctant to address the topic. (Japan Times, June 2014)
Even if Japan suddenly decides to become a second United States, they would need at least 650 000 immigrants per year to sustain the population pyramid. That’s a tough thing to do, especially considering the homogeneity of Japanese society and the rigidity of their customs.
So, we now understand Japan’s population decline… or at least WHAT it is. We still need to understand the REASONS causing it.
What Causes Population Decline?
Ho ho, now it’s time to get to the roots of the problem. There are two major reasons to Japan’s population decline and they’re both closely related.
Reason number one is that people are just not interested in marriage, or even dating, anymore. In a survey conducted by the Japan Family Planning Association in 2012, 36 percent of males aged 16 to 19 said they were not interested in sex. If that’s not bad enough, 59 percent of females in the same age group were also uninterested in sex.
Why does this happen? How can you not be interested in sex? It’s probably the greatest thing ever! Ahem… There are socio-cultural and economic reasons behind this.
Let me start with the cultural view of marriage. In Japan, when a woman gets married, society pressures her to maintain the traditional maternal role. This means the woman becomes a stay-home wife: she has to quit her job and spends her time raising her children. Basically, for a working woman, being a mom is a career-killer. Japanese employers highly stigmatize women with children and with Japan’s grueling 50-hour per week workload, a woman just can’t handle the burden of having a child and coming to office. Childcare is also expensive in Japan, not to mention scarce.
Also, more on the customs of marriage in Japan. Being married in Japan, a wife is expected to stay home all the time, doing housework and tending to the children, while the husband works all day long and gets wasted with his colleagues after work. Yeah, the comics like Kariage-kun and Crayon Shinchan explain this pretty well. As Japanese women become more progressive and educated, they see this lifestyle as unfulfilling. Yoko Haruka, the author of Kekkon Shimasen (I Won’t Get Married!), explains that she will not get married if she was expected to uphold the traditional jobs of a housewife. It’s just too much work for the women.
Which leads me to parasitic singles.
Another cultural reason is the trend of women being “parasitic singles”. The term was coined by sociologist Masahiro Yamada. Basically, a “parasitic single” refers to a woman who decides to live off their parents, like staying at their parents’ house so she does not have to deal with the expenses of a rented apartment and the household chores she would otherwise have to manage alone. She then spends disposable income on designer goods, excursions with friends, going to the mall, etc. So, basically like most young women in Jakarta.
And because they are accustomed to such a lifestyle, they expect a man to be able to support her financially so that she doesn’t have to do housework. Sadly, not all Japanese men are stinking rich.
Stop accusing me of being sexist, I’m just getting to the male part.
Being a country with a patriarchal culture, men enjoy alpha status in Japanese society. They are expected to work and support the family by working long hours. They expect their wives to stay at home and take care of the kids while they work grueling hours at the office, which entitles the men to a night of getting wasted with their work-buddies.
But that has changed, ever since the economy changed and living standards increased. It is not that Japanese men don’t want sex, it’s just that they don’t want a girlfriend.
Having a girlfriend is a hassle; let alone marriage. For a Japanese man, he grows up believing that a male should be able to support his woman and children financially. With the wife automatically disqualified from work (thus eliminating a source of income), the male has to do all the work. This means working long hours at minimum wage with a miserable prospect of getting a promotion as a salaryman. So, why bother getting a girlfriend and settling down? If I wanted sex, I’d just pay a hooker! In sum, Japanese men don’t want be committed because when he gets married, his standard of living (read: income) will be slashed by more than half.
Also, similar to “parasitic singles”, “hikkikomori” is a term used to describe a shut-in; a person who shuns human contact and spends their days cooped up in their rooms playing games, watching anime, or doing God knows what. They rely on their parents, especially the mother, for food and essential amenities. This is not a shock, since in Japanese society, the mother-son relationship is symbiotic.
But there’s a group of men who don’t want sex. Known as “herbivore men”, a term coined by Maki Fukasawa in 2006, these men shun relationships and prefer to masturbate to virtual girls on their computer screens. Herbivore men are being targeted as the main reason for Japan’s population decline by the government because not only are they unwilling to chase women, but are settling down for virtual relationships.
So, you see now that both men and women have played a role in shaping the population crisis. Women are becoming more assertive, while men are becoming more passive. This reversal of roles causes a shock to Japan’s longstanding gender roles and results in a society that is confused and not willing to procreate.
The Role of Moe in the Crisis: Synthetic Relationships
Which now brings me to reason number two: flourishing synthetic relationships. Ever since the Moe Uprising back in the 2004s or so, we have seen an increase in moe female characters in anime. Heck, their numbers increase by more than Japan’s population per year! And they also get even crazier. I mean, it’s one thing to “moe-ify” battleships, but castles and even cockroaches? Seriously Japan, what the hell!? What’s concerning is… males (and even females!) are settling down to synthetic relationships compared to real ones.
Now, what is a synthetic relationship? Put in simple terms, it’s a relationship with a human and a non-human object. To be more specific, a synthetic relationship is when a guy dates his dakkimakura and soils it with his semen, takes it out on romantic dinners, and acting as if it is his real partner. Also applies to women too, just adjust the words to fit the biological appropriates.
But why are synthetic relationships harmful?
To paraphrase Gaijin Goombah, here’s a question for both you guys and gals. If you had a partner who is visually flawless, has your ideal physical requirements, does not nag nor argue with you, will cater to your every wish and needs, and even service you sexually in any lewd way you could imagine, would you still pick a real person?
Let me give you time to think on that.
It’s all right to have bizarre fetishes, but synthetic relationships are just… ugh. Check out Gaijin Goombah’s video on Dating Sims and Synthetic Relationships below.
What’s interesting about synthetic relationships is that they are becoming more and more acceptable in Japan, to the point that the entertainment industry and even the tourism industry is actually trying to make money off it. If you watched the video till the end, there’s that part when Tech Arts 3D make a masturbating peripheral to synthesize sex. That’s bringing self-pleasure to the next level. And there is now a way to do the honka-honka on an anime girl’s boobies too! And there’s also Ohnoya Hotel which caters to synthetic couples by providing them with the help of augmented reality.
As more and more anime females pop up to cater to every man’s idea of an ideal woman, more and more males are becoming uninterested in real-life women. Also, the anime females make males set really high standards for real-life females. Yes, I’m looking at you, Love Live! and every other harem romance comedy anime ever released. Same goes for the females. As more and more anime hunks appear, female standards increase until no male in real-life could match their high standards. I blame Kuroko’s Basketball and Free! and all those other boy’s love crap for this.
Now, it’s fine and all for people to have weird fetishes and so. That’s why hentai exists. But, from a demographic perspective, the idea of accepting synthetic relationships is unacceptable and potentially dangerous. Japan needs people having sex and procreating, not making out with their handhelds and groping unreal boobs. The most concerning part is… it may be too late to reverse this trend.
So, synthetic relationships with moe females are causing Japan’s population to spiral into demographic oblivion.
But, as Indonesians, why should we care about this? It’s Japan’s problem, not ours. Besides, we’re a developing country with a large fertility rate, unlike Japan. Our population is booming!
I do agree that Indonesia still has ways to go before it reaches Japan’s state. But still, there are potential danger signs that Indonesians need to pay attention to. Free anime downloading has made anime available to any Indonesian with Internet access. The “otaku” culture is arguably widespread in Indonesian youth. While I still consider it to be benign, I have seen signs (a lot) of people embracing the “waifu” concept, a concept which you may or may not have heard on the Internet. Basically, a “waifu” is the Japanization of the word “wife”, meaning, well… “wife”. Except the wife is an anime character. You might know where this is going…
And also, don’t let me get started on the delusions of male “otakus” whining about how girls in real-life can’t match the flawless ones in anime. We’re already seeing males ramping up the standards on females. And females are doing the same thing. They want a male that is as perfect as… I don’t know, anybody from Free! or Kuroko.
So, let me just close this post with this. Japan is indeed facing a serious case of death by moe and they’re pouring millions to fix the problem. We don’t want to be next, because frankly, the government would just corrupt the money and we’ll die from moe anyway.
But hey, it’s just a theory. An ANIME THEORY! Thanks for reading!
At first, I thought Non Non Biyori was gonna be another typical moe anime with your typical fan service and nothing else than fan service. After I watched six episodes in one sitting, I realized I was wrong. It’s fair to say I haven’t enjoyed some anime warmth and laughter since Nichijou. Now, Nichijou is just plain twisted. Non Non Biyori on the other hand, has heartwarming moments and its fair share of tickling comedy. It’s not like the overly idiotic, physics-defying comedy like Kill la Kill, but it’s something fresh. Well, I was getting tired of the typical romance comedy or “girls being too kawaii to actually be funny or mean something”.
Non Non Biyori tells the story of Hotaru, a fifth-grader who has the bang-able physique of a high-schooler, who moved from Tokyo into the boonies. That means she’s the transfer student. Please Japan, does the main character always have to be a transfer student? What’s so special about them?! Anyway, she discovers that the school in the country only has five students including herself, and they’re all in different grades! Wow why is that school still standing? So, Hotaru’s new life begins with her new friends, which we shall now refer to as the anime Non Non Biyori.
Yeah, it’s a moe-loli anime. Yes, I may suggest that creepy otaku may be fapping over this. There’s one thing that has me hooked on the anime, and I can assure you it’s not the loli… well, it may be the lolis… OKAY FINE! It’s the lolis. Loli aside though, this anime is a very light anime and can be processed without any real thinking. The overall ambiance is “warm, heartwarming, and just cute”. Yeah, I smiled every time I finished an episode. It’s kind of those “awwwww that’s so fucking cuutteee!” feelings, just like when you hold a Nendoroid three centimeters from your nose. I haven’t seen a major plot line yet, since it feels like every episode is well… episodic. There’s one story per episode, and the only thing linking them together is a consistent timeline. From spring, to summer, and perhaps we may see autumn and winter. Oh yeah, there’s minor girls’ love involved. Nothing that serious though, just saying if you’re one of those who don’t like girls’ love.
So, my recommendation? Grab a dose of Non Non Biyori when you feel there’s nothing cute in this fucked-up world anymore. I guarantee that one episode per week is gonna change that frown into a warm smile. Oh yeah, if the anime isn’t warm enough, the OP sung by nano.RIPE does the trick. It’s smooth, mellow, and… warm. Gosh I’ve been using that word a lot in this post.