*Takes deep breath* Okay… we’re really doing this? Today I’m going to talk about the controversial topic of loli characters. Before the impending shitstorm ensues, I’m not here to pitch up a tent on either side of the current debate surrounding lolis (or shotas), but I will talk about the origins of the term and what’s caused the aforementioned shitstorm.
A few disclaimers before we begin:
- I am the one writing this; not Ayano, not Tsubaki, not Alexie, but Bodell. I’m not planning on expressing opinions but know that anything I say does not necessarily align with the thoughts or opinions of the rest of the Panda Gang. Ayano is checking to make sure this post is acceptable, but that doesn’t mean that this represents her thoughts on this topic.
- This discussion will delve into the concept of loli porn, and of course the accusations that it reflects child pornography. If this makes you uncomfortable, I urge you to not read this post.
- If you feel strongly on this subject on either side of the debate, I ask that you do not try to force this opinion on others down in the comments. If you wish to discuss this, please be respectful or do it elsewhere (I know that most of you guys will be respectful, but I felt the need to mention this just in case).
So, let’s begin. What is a ‘loli’? A loli is a female character that either is or has the qualities of a child. Typically, they are short and cute, but their in-fiction age varies drastically depending on the series and its art style. That’s all we’re going to say on age for now, but I will come back to it later in this post.
But before I get into the debates, let’s discuss the origins of the term ‘loli’. ‘Loli’ is short for ‘lolita’ which has two distinct meanings in Japanese. The first being what I’ve already mentioned, and the other being the Edwardian style fashion you see some Japanese girls adorning, think Harajuku fashion and you’re on the right lines.
I don’t know how lolita fashion fits in, but the term ‘lolita’ actually comes from outside of Japan. In 1955 a Russian-American author, Vladimir Nabokov, wrote a book called Lolita in which a middle-aged man becomes sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, nicknaming her ‘Lolita’. The book is extremely well regarded, to the point that it’s been branded as one of the best books of the 20th century by many. However, when adopting this as a term to describe young-looking female characters, it’s almost impossible to not draw the lines between these characters and paedophilia (yes that is how it’s spelt in Britain). The term ‘loli’ was seemingly always set up to fail.
However, if you say something for long enough, it begins to lose its original power. This is why discussing things like sex were taboo years ago, but nowadays no one really cares. I believe a similar thing has happened with the word ‘loli’ in the anime community, as we no longer fully consider where the word originates from. The word has taken on a new meaning.
Loli now refers to a particular character design within the anime/manga sector of the medium of cartoons/animation. There are so many loli characters that we universally love and enjoy watching, these characters often aren’t sexualised but the term has become a blanket that often just means a moe girl that’s young-looking. As I said earlier, loli characters vary drastically in in-fiction age, with the term “legal loli” arising referring to characters that are over the age of 18 but are still lolis. So, if these characters are legally allowed to be engaging in sexual activities in universe, what’s the problem with watching them?
Two words: pseudo photography. Once again, I’m going to remind you that I’m not expressing an opinion, but what I understand the controversy to be. Also, I would like to state that I learnt this from a personal friend who works in computer forensics. It is this man’s literal job to scan seized devices and catch people who are up to no good, including paedophiles. I’m sure you can guess where this is going.
In UK law, loli porn is 100% illegal… especially if the character is under 18 in-fiction. And this is because of what I said above, pseudo photography. A drawing of a child is treated similarly to a picture of a real child because, in the eyes of the law, a sexual attraction is still being formed between someone of consenting age and someone who is not.
I can’t believe I’m actually researching and writing about this, but child pornogrophy is graded in catergories, the most severe offences being A grade, the less severe being C grade. A is exactly what you’d expect, I’m not going to describe it because I don’t want to conjur unsavoury imagery for you. C, however, can sometimes be photos that seem innocent, pictures of a child fully clothed, maybe even with some family. It depends on the relationship between the child and the owner of the pictures, and the context surrounding the case. Psuedo photography comes in when this imagery is rendered through drawings, animations, video game cutscenes, etc. It’s not real but it represents something that is.
Now, does that make someone who watches loli porn a paedophile? Some would say yes, some would say no. It could be raised that someone who watches rape porn isn’t a rapist and doesn’t necessarily plan on becoming one; equally someone who watches incest porn doesn’t necessarily want to sleep with their actual family. There’s the possibility, that part of attraction is the taboo surrounding it, the rush of doing something wrong. However, others see that roleplay between consenting adults is different to that of an adult and a child, and that the fact that this kink exists is enough to warrant imprisonment.
The laws on this are less strict in the USA and in Japan (hence why Japan makes a fuck tonne of this stuff), and its arguable that Japan’s laws on paedophilia are also less strict in general. You might remember the situation surrounding the author of Rurouni Kenshin in 2017 when it was discovered that he owned DVDs of naked underage girls. This, obviously, went public and the current arc of Rurouni Kenshin was stopped. This culminated in a $2000 fine and his manga resumed in June 2018 in the same magazine. If that was in the West, he’d be ostracised by society and would likely never be allowed to publish in that magazine ever again.
I think we mostly can agree that this is problem, because these were images of real girls. The issue we have in the community right now is that some people believe that fiction is fiction and it doesn’t hurt anyone, whilst the opposite side believe that fiction is based in reality, and if the reality is wrong, so is the fiction.
Okay this is pretty heavy shit so I’m going to end it here. This is where I’d normally ask you a question but today I’d just like to wish you a nice day. I’m going to fuck off to Japan for 2 weeks so I won’t be reading any comments, but I will still be posting as I have a few scheduled for the next couple weeks.