Shimoneta, Censorship, and Education

Censorship is a difficult subject to explore because the battle over it is rife with conflicting and contradictory values. On the one hand, it usually derives from good intentions, specifically the desire to avoid exposing people to that which is deemed morally inappropriate. On the other hand, it can be a tool for control, especially when the standard for what is morally right is itself flawed through biases such as racism and misogyny. To create a work of fiction around the idea of censorship is to potentially step into a minefield.

Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist is an anime adapted from a light novel. Its premise is that Japan has outlawed dirty words, dirty thoughts, and of course dirty pictures in order to improve public moral health. High schooler Okuma Tanukichi is the son of an infamous “dirty-joke terrorist” who resents his father and seeks to reunite with his childhood love, Nishikonimya Anna, a symbol of purity and righteousness. However, he ends up getting roped into joining a dirty-joke terrorist organization known as SOX (substitute the O), led by a girl clad in only a cape and a pair of underwear on her head who goes by the name “Blue Snow.”

Though a comedy, I don’t find the series to be that funny. Then again, it would have been foolish of me to expect extremely clever jokes from a series premised around trying to restore people’s ability to shout, “PENIS!” Rather, what ended up interesting me was how it tackles censorship, and how I can’t find myself in total agreement with its ideas on the matter.

The world of Shimoneta, or more specifically the elite school in which most of its story takes place, is an environment where people are so sheltered from profanity, pornography, and obscenity that they cannot even recognize it when it is literally thrown in their face. Aside from a few eccentrics who are either extremely good at hiding their feelings or have their interests tied up in other things (one character’s interest in sex is mostly from a scientific point of view), they are mentally unable to process their own sexual desires. From here, I believe it is easy to see why a series like Shimoneta can be simultaneously uncomfortable yet thought-provoking even if one potentially disagrees with it. The idea that the removal of dirty jokes from a country has rendered its men and women psychologically immature could be utilized as both an argument against “political correctness” and an argument against oppression of people’s rights to be sexually active. After all, women are attacked both for having sex and not having sex.

Where Shimoneta stands on the subject feels somewhat unclear even after finishing the series, and this has a lot to do with the fact that the series is rife with anime and light novel tropes. Anna, for example, turns out to be a stereotypical yandere character whose burning desire for Tanukichi (she can literally smell his scent from hundreds of meters away) swings his view of her from aspiration to monster, while her large rack and hourglass figure clearly make her a sexually attractive character. At the same time, Anna is the very symbol of how a lack of sex education can negatively affect a person. Because she has been taught that righteousness is the polar opposite of profanity, she believes that anything she does in the name of righteousness is by definition pure, even if it involves pinning Tanukichi to the ground and trying to take his virginity against his will in highly sexually charged scenes.

What is Anna? Is her behavior more representative of a warning towards keeping people ignorant about sex, or is she a nymphomaniac designed to thrill the audience? For that matter, what is the ethical standing of a little girl character clearly designed for a lolicon audience, whose hair is shaped like a penis? Is it an innocent joke, or has it gone too far? And in this way, is Shimoneta directly commenting on actual society (assuming Japan but perhaps it can apply elsewhere)?

I feel that the ambiguity of that last question is what makes Shimoneta worth watching, at least for a few episodes. It opens up a potentially interesting conversation about how we view media, and even in disagreement I believe it can be a fruitful discussion.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Shimoneta, Censorship, and Education

  1. I think it’s just otaku trash pandering with a pretend deep premise to make booby shots and other potentially porny premises with a generic dude mc

    Like

    • TL;DR: I found the show enjoyable, because otaku trash like me take their weaboo stuff too seriously.

      I am otaku trash, so found the show interesting.
      I’m not sure it’s the show itself though.
      It felt like a catalyst; made me think.

      An anime show satirizing (if satire is not too high a construct for otaku trash) censorship on sexual matters by over-exageration.
      “Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”

      IRL, it’s 2016.
      Japan *still* censors its pornography. By law.
      Initially I used to say: “Haha Japan, you silly, but Japan is weird anyway”.
      But then I look around and what else do I notice?
      UK bans certain sex acts like fisting, watersports, female ejaculation.
      Some people got arrested over hentai possesion (CAD, UK).
      Why? Morals? The children?
      I am otaku trash, so I probably wouldn’t understand what with my already corrupted mind.

      However, if I take a step back I can see further, and I notice something similar but somewhere else: the rise of the offended culture.
      This guys don’t want to debate about it, they want the obliteration of the offending source.
      Unfortunately their offence at reality translates into fighting against the means of exposing reality, and those means erode.
      Free speech offends. Opinions offend. Wording offends. Men offend. Your job offends.

      By this point, I’m deep in my own rabbit hole and I hallucinate many things:
      – I see 1984’s newspeak: eliminate words-> eliminate thoughts translated to eliminate dirty jokes -> eliminate lasciviousness.
      – I see Brave New World’s elimination of natural reproduction: Fuwa is left wondering. The sex in BNW is quite prevalent though, but then so is Anna’s (if she had her way) without knowing what either sex is or where babies come from. In essence, everyone has sex, has no idea what it is, therefore they are still morally pure.
      – I see Fahrenheit 451’s destruction of books to suppress ideas

      For me, this show has a striking resemblance to the movie Idiocracy, in the manner it conveys its message. Which is to say, you see, there was no actual planned message, but reality made one.

      Like

  2. It had a great idea, but fell down on the execution, partly because it didn’t go far enough in presenting sex without shame or advancing the cause. Even the uncensored BD versions largely only have uncensored soundtracks, stopping short of showing genitals, which is unintentional meta-parody of some sort. :-P

    Mostly it forgot to make any hay of discussing what a lack of sex education would do, instead choosing to make as many unfunny dirty jokes as possible (though I suppose it’s realistic that a teenager would just shout dirty words and find it funny).

    Another thing – you see pregnant women, there’s been no population crash and there are condoms, so where’s it going on? Is it purely in marriage for the purpose of procreation, and if so, who’s teaching them? Are there government-sanctioned PreProc centres where newlyweds go to learn their distasteful duty? Or are there hidden sex centres and underground dating clubs?

    Like

  3. There are a lot of cultural barrier for me to enjoy this show. The references and word plays often fly over my head. I feel you had to get all those real-life links in the show to really understand Shimoseka’s appeal as a satire. As is it’s a little too light on substance.

    > led by a girl clad in only a cape and a pair of underwear on her hand

    That would be creative to say the least.

    > or is she a nymphomaniac designed to thrill the audience?

    Eww?

    Like

    • Thanks for the typo catch.

      I think the censorship of the words didn’t help much because without knowledge of Japanese sometimes you don’t even know what they were trying to say.

      Like

      • Thanks for bringing that point up. I wanted to say something when I read about this as you were discussing it in the post but it slipped my mind.

        There are at least 2 takes on this (which is like most things associated with Shimoseka). The first one is obviously a play on the usual “buy the Blu-ray for uncensored tittay” angle. The other is actually what’s thrilling about a public performance of dirty jokes (for certain types of otaku), which is hearing these upstanding voice actors say really naughty things. Depending on personal policy or the agency’s policy, there are limits to what can the seiyuu can say in a performance, a recording or a radio show, etc. Sometimes the agency is okay with just censorship. And I guess sometimes the agency is okay with not censoring in the Blu-ray.

        Censoring people saying penis and pussy is reasonable when it’s an on-air broadcast but in that instance it’s due to regulations from a government agency, not because of rules from the management. I don’t know what was involved. In this case most of the uncensoring was for Ishigami Shizuka, who is an up-and-coming voice actress that has done some adult content for games before, so there’s definitely the personal factor as well as the management allowing for it…

        Like

  4. Pingback: SHIMONETA: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist – Otaku Post

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s