CNN reporter Kyung Lah recently filed a story on out-of-print erotic game Rapelay. One Japanese manga creator has taken her to task in an open letter.
The game was released in 2006 and a controversy of the game was caused in the West in spring 2009. Oddly, CNN decided to revisit the game late last month.
And then, Lah did a follow upon on her original story on Rapelay, writing, that the "lack of participation of women in positions of power sets the cultural stage for why hentai games thrive openly in the country". An associate professor at Temple University in Japan is quoted extensively by Lah. (Please read all of the associate professor's quotes.)
Manga creator Takeshi Nogami, who is perhaps best known for doing art for the Strike Witches franchise, has penned an open letter to CNN in response to the cable network's reporting.
"I have seen your news report that tries to stir up fear, prejudice and misunderstanding," he says. "I have no connection with the spiffy hentai game featured in your report, I am sorry to say; however as an author of Japanese hentai manga, I think I am well qualified to object to the views you present." Nogami started out doing ero manga, but most of his work now is largely non-erotic.
"As a Japanese citizen," he continues, "I am deeply offended by the insulting implications of that so-called expert who associates Japanese people at large with heinous criminals." He points out:
As this objection had to be put together promptly, precise data will be presented later, but it is a fact that in this 21st century, we Japanese enjoy one of the most safe and peaceful societies on Earth. Naturally, that is not to say that our society is without problems, but to be honest, I frankly do not think that you are the ones to tell us.
Men and women are equals in politics and in the law. Your society and ours are no different there. Moreover, the crime rate statistics for both general crime and sex crime in Japan are, with all due respect, several times lower than in the United States. Did you, for instance, fear for your safety while walking the streets of Akihabara, or Ikebukuro (holy ground of hentai books for women)? They're probably many times safer than the streets of New York, let alone those of the suburban housing districts around. (And guns are illegal, too.) Furthermore, in our Akihabara and Ikebukuro, there is no persecution of men or women alike, or of sexual minorities like homosexuals. We all live together in peace, expressing ourselves freely.
It also goes without saying that human trafficking and violence against women are serious crimes in Japan too.
Nogami's argument is clear and sensible. "Is hentai detrimental to the upbringing of children? Yes," he writes, "it some circumstances it may well be the case. It certainly true, for instance, of that game you reported about. I am an average citizen with a younger sister and two nephews; I can relate to your concerns. And precisely as such, I beg to differ with your argument."
"Those products are developed for rational adults," he writes. "You surely don't believe that a rational adult would be influenced by such a game into committing rape, do you? Of course, in Japan, both that game you reported about and the hentai manga I draw are only distributed and sold under strict age restrictions to adults." In Lah's reporting, none of these issues were part of the dialogue.
"That your children might obtain such materials on the Internet is a trouble for us as well," he points out. Because, he continues, those are pirated copies. "We would be grateful if you could let families and schools issue proper warnings to children. And would it be too much to ask that appropriate age restrictions are put in place in stores in your country so that the rational adults can buy legitimate copies?"
Moreover, Nogami puts today's erotic art and games in a historical context: "By the way, in the proud Japanese traditional popular art of ukiyo-e (woodblock prints from the Edo period), there were many works with sexual subjects, called shunga. ...Well, we are their successors. We make works of art. Let me say that again. It is just art. I assume that you are capable of distinguishing fiction from reality like we do. Are you not?"
In closing, Nogami declares, "I do not think that people being hentai is a sin. There is nothing wrong with rational people being hentai."
Nogami's full letter is posted in the link below and translated by website Tsurupeta.
An open letter to CNN by Nogami Takeshi [tsurupeta.info]