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Why Does Bollywood Have A Problem With Japanese Anime?

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I’ve been watching anime since 2005, when Doremon, Beyblade, Dijimon, Pokemon, Shin-chan and Kochikame were at their prime. It was during the time when we actually had great cartoons and anime. There was a time when Animax was the channel where Indian anime fans would find exclusive anime. Now, we have Chhota Bheem, Motu-Patlu and what-not.

I’m gonna be really honest, Chhota Bheem is just a poor rip-off of Popeye the Sailor Man where, instead of eating spinaches, the character Bheem eats Besan Ke Laddoo. Where Popeye gets his power from eating spinaches, Bheem somehow gets stronger by eating Laddoos. In real life, we’ll be getting diabetes if we ate too much. So these types of cartoons that kids of this generation are watching are completely misleading and bland.

When Pewdiepie rightfully trashed these terrible cartoons our industry is making, “netizens” started playing the patriotism card into it. This isn’t the only time that they brought the patriotism card in similar discussion. It just shows how there has been a decline in the quality of Indian cartoons, just like of Bollywood and journalism

Image has been provided by the author.

Anyway, anime means animation series made in Japan. The genre is widely known throughout the world and has millions of fans. It has not only created a huge impact on its fans, but also in the pop culture. Hell, anime is one of the major reasons why I’ve started sketching. Alongside video games and movies, anime is the reason  I’ve started speaking and writing in English. And when you learn English outside of school, that means there is something really wrong with our current education system.

When Akira was released in 1988, it changed the history of the animation. Not only did that anime begin to challenge the Disney-dominated animation industry, it also influenced the Western and Eastern pop culture. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away was the first anime movie to win an Oscar in the Best Animated Picture. It was also the first non-American animated movie to do so.

And who can forget Ramayana the Legend of Prince Ram ? The movie was released in 1992 to strengthen the Indo-Japanese relations. Anime has achieved so much in the last 30-40 years with its mature storytelling, great characters, beautiful soundtrack and stunning animation.

So, why does our society have a problem with anime? Maybe, it it just because the millennial generation or Gen Z loves to belittle people who play video games (gamers) or watch anime (otakus/weeaboos) by shoving their opinion of how it is a waste of time down our throats. They then go to watch their precious sitcoms such as F.R.I.E.N.D.S., Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother on Netflix for 18 hours.

For that I’d reply, just go back and watch those overrated shows. No one asked you and no one cares. We can watch whatever we want, we don’t question your tastes or interest like that. So how come you have a problem with someone else’s relaxation and interest? How would it make you feel if we say trash about your shows or your characters Ross or Barney?

Sorry for getting carried away, but that’s not really the case. People in our country have a negative perception about anime and there are few reasons for it:

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

1. People think that anime is for children

This perception among people is because of the popularity of American cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Lab, Ed, Edd and Eddy etc., all of which I, too, used to watch as a child. Since anime is created in a 2D animation medium, many assume that they are cartoons as well, which is really ignorant of them. Just because a show is animated doesn’t mean that it is for kids. Sure, cartoons from the West are mostly for kids, but now there are Western animated shows as well that are made for adults. These include Rick and Morty, Big Mouth, Archer, F is for Family, Bojack Horseman and so on.

Just like these shows, anime is made for late teenage and adult audiences. Some of these series are Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Another and so on. Anime also touches upon mature themes of racism, war, violence, friendships, depression, friendship, loss, bullying and so on. And they do it in a better way, unlike in Bollywood, which mostly makes pyaar waali kahaaniyaan. And to be really honest, it’s really hypocritical if you talk about how anime is for kids and then you make your kids watch Bollywood movies where women are being objectified in all item songs.

By the way, Shin Chan, an anime we used to watch as kids, actually has adult comedic material. That’s why the censor board censored a lot of scenes from that anime, which is really hypocritical of them, given that their own TV shows have softcore porn in them and they don’t even bat an eye. But a mere anime somehow offends them. Their morality is hypocritical in nature, which can be perfectly witnessed by the banning of the movie Lipstick under My Burkha. And yet, Bollywood continues to objectify women in its songs and movies.

2. People think that anime and hentai are the same thing

Yeah, this is a thing. There are people who think that anime and hentai are the same just because they are made in Japan and have the same type of animation. Where anime is for all ages and covers all genres, hentai, on the other hand, is mostly anime with porn. It’s Japanese animated pornography mostly meant for the adult demography.

Now, one of the most controversial side of hentai is the sexual portrayal of underage characters, known as lolicon and shoutacon. Although the depiction of children is illegal in most of the world and in India, it is protected by the Constitution under Article 39 and the POSCO Act. It is legal to portray both lolicon and shoutacon in Japan and they are widely used in adult manga and hentai. People think that both promote child abuse and child pornography, but a lot of people debunked that comment.

Youtuber MoistCritikal/Penguinz0 said that lolicon and shoutacon are fake. They’re fictional because they are animated. At the same time, he criticised a movie called Cuties. For a movie that claims to criticise real life sexualisation of children, Cuties actually promoted sexualisation of kids and could attract pedophiles and child predators. And get this, Cuties was released by Netflix. This post does not condone child pornography, it is merely touching the subject. The argument regarding real life or drawn/animated sexualisation of children in the entertainment industry is highly debated.

Don’t watch the movie. It’s really terrible.

And to add things up, calling out people who watch anime and hentai is like calling out people who read Sadat Hassan Manto’s story in the 1940s and 1950s. He’s an Indian born Pakistani writer who is also controversial because of his stories and received a hostile reception by both the Left and Right wing people just because he talked about subject matters that were (and still are) considered taboo in society.

If you ask me, his stories are very human and depict the brutality that occurred during the Partition of India. I’ve watched the movie starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and it was beautiful. Also watch the video on YouTube where he says that people should progress over time. The point I’m trying to make is that people who are offended over hentai should either whine about it or just ignore it, but they should just stop trying to bring the argument of morality or defame someone because they have different interests and opinions.

Image has been provided by the author.

3. Mainstream Media and Bollywood

Kirtichow made a very interesting video on how mainstream media and Bollywood have started a propaganda against kids. The simple answer is that they are insecure about anime. I’m not really surprised to see this, considering how the quality of Bollywood and mainstream media has declined in the worst way. My trust in both of them has gone in the aftermath of Sushant’s case.

Anyway, why do you think that shows like Naagin or cartoons like Chhota Bheem and Motu Patlu and mostly all of Salman Khan or David Dhawan movies are made ? The answer is simple, to decrease the audiences’ IQ and deprive them of their understanding capability. Think about it. They don’t want the audiences to be smart because if they’re not smart, they’re easily manipulated and can be made to watch dumb movies, shows and channels.

Kirti brought the example of Doremon, which talks about space and technology. The media knew that people won’t watch any crappy Salman Khan movies if they’re smart and they also knew that there are lot of people who don’t have the internet and they will look for secondary options such as TV shows and movies. So, they removed anime shows and brought the atrocity of shows such as Motu Patlu and Chhota Bheem. Thank god, during the pandemic, people started to understand the downsides of mainstream media and Bollywood.

Image has been provided by the author.

As for Nepowood (Bollywood), Kirti said that with movies such as Student of the Year 2 releasing and Bollywood being anti-outsiders for most of the times, they will lose all their jobs and money if a movie like Spirited Away was released. So, they misuse their power and influence to keep anime out of the picture so that their terrible movies like SOTY2 make quick bucks, thus proving their toxic monopoly system.

They also have the audacity to say that the Japanese culture might have a negative influence on the Indian audience, like making women wear skirts, which is considered problematic to some people. Wow, as if making women wearing short skirts is going to solve major issues in society. I mean their actresses literally dance on their item songs while wearing revealing clothes and they have a problem with skirts (Yeah, I’m bringing out the item song thing, but it sums up their hypocrisy). It’s true that India and Japan have different cultures, but don’t just go out and blame cultures for it.

Now that’s out of the way, I just wanna say that I wish Indian companies and artists make an Indian anime so that we could not only be proud of it, but people from all ages and walks of life enjoy it. I’d also recommend Dhruv Rathee’s video about the Indian perception towards anime. He did it in a more detailed manner.

So, why do I love anime? It’s like a TV show, but in a more detailed way. My first anime that I actually finished was The Meloncholy of Harumi Suzumiya, followed by Lucky Star, Oregairu, Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Konusuba, Devilman Crybaby, Madoka Magica, Tanya the Evil, Spirited Away, Akira, RWBY and Afro Samurai with Samuel L Jackson.

Hell, even Hollywood has used anime in their franchises such as Blade Runner 2022: Blackout, Animatrixand Kill Bill Volume 1. I hope that someday, Bollywood or an Indian independent artist makes something that will surpass movies like Spirited Away and Your Name with its visuals, storytelling, characters and music. I hope that happens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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