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Japan 2

Hikikomori: The Digital Age Hermit

Editor’s Note:  This is a text version of episode 32 of my friend and I podcast “The Swarthy Nerd Podcast” . It has been edited for this blog.  You can listen to the episode in full by clicking on this link. Please enjoy! 

 

Japan: A nation rich in cultural tradition, technological advancement, animation innovation, and an unreal politeness. It’s a peaceful county that holds the status quo on the highest pedestal.   From childhood to adulthood, the Japanese are expected to follow the status quo, daring not to stand out from the crowd; as they will be hammered down like a nail sticking out from the board.

You’re expected by society and by your family to work hard. At school, work, and for the general public, Japanese citizens must put on their best face (or tatemae 建前, たてまえ lit. “façade”); regardless of what they might be going through in their personal life thanks to the nation’s intense conformist nature.

But, what happen when this intense conformist nature Japan is known for becomes too much for one person to bear?  Let’s say a salary-man gets chastise by his boss for a one minor mistake that can be easily fix.  In America, we might get in our feelings over the matter for a split second then seek to correct the issue.  In Japan however, the salary-man will cave in, withdraw into his shell, and finish the work for the day – never returning to work the following day.

Instead, he’ll lock himself away in his disgusting, trashy room of his parent’s house in a state of deep depression for months or even years. He doesn’t interact with the outside world beyond the virtual, online world – a world in which he feels is much safer than brutal reality.  He wastes his time and life away watching anime and playing video games; never contributing to society.  His parents provide his need out of “support” until they grow old and die.  They don’t know what else to do with him or get him out of this state.

This man is a member of Japan’s missing one million: hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引きこもりlit. Pulling inward, being confined).  A social phenomenon with origins dating from the mid-1980s and appearing in the Japanese mainstream in the late 1990s, the hikikomori is the modern-day reclusive hermit who has withdrawn from all social interactions.

According to the 2016 Japanese census report, 540,000 people aged 15-39 are considered hikikomori. However, some experts has estimated that the number is 1.55 million (since hikikomori do not interact with society and prefer to be hidden) and growing.  This condition can go on for years – even decades – and this is a problem that Japan must address before it worsen.

There are hikikomori that in their 40s (the first generation) who have not left their aging parents’ house in decades, leading to Japan’s “2030 Problem”; an issue in which the hikikomori baby boomer parents are entering their 60s, 70s, and 80s; therefore, they  cannot provide for their hikikomori children (due to retirement, illness, and death).  With the parents dying, this causes concern as many are wondering who’ll take care of these hermits and what to do to help them come out of their shells.

In this episode of the Swarthy Nerd Podcast, we will explore one of Japan’s infamous dark side: the hikikomori. What is a Hikikomori?  Why so many men in Japan are withdrawing from society and causing a strain on the Japanese economy and their family? And could America experience their unique version of the Hikikomori.

JOIN US!

 

PART I
BREAKING DOWN THE HIKIKOMORI

 

Before acknowledging why Japanese youth are becoming Hikikomori, we must analyze what causes and does not cause Hikikomori. 80% of Hikikomori are male; with the reminding 20% are females. The average age of Hikikomori is around mid-20s. However, there are reports of   Hikikomori in their teens and 50s. A Hikikomori must’ve not partaken in society for a period exceeding six months.

They are not employed, seeking employment, or in educational training (NEET). Forms of entertainment fill their time, for example: video games, internet, and television.   While it’s possible for some Hikikomori to suffer from pathological problem disorder such as autism, borderline personality disorder (BPD), schizophrenia, et cetera, Hikikomori itself isn’t considered nor treated as a pathological disorder.

The following items are what don’t make one Hikikomori. Simply going from home to work and only having interactions with people from those places doesn’t make the criteria for Hikikomori; as you’re employed and interacting with society.  Non-conformity isn’t hikikomori.  While Hikikomori itself is an extreme example of non-conformity, the act itself isn’t inherently Hikikomori. Japanese Herbivore Men who don’t desire a relationship with the opposite sex aren’t Hikikomori; as most are social.  Understanding what makes and does not make a Hikikomori based on the factors listed above; we can begin to look into the reasoning behind the why.

 

PART II

WHY JAPANESE YOUTHS ARE BECOMING HIKIKOMORI

Referring back to the introduction of this essay/episode, Japan is a conformist nation where individuality is frown upon. Their youth are expected to aim high towards academic, social, and career success.  Matt Davis’s article for BigThink.com on Hikikomori and the rigidness of Japan goes further on such expectations:

“Like most behavioral issues, it’s difficult to pin down exactly what mechanism lies behind it. However, there are some common features.

Japan is a very rigid, structured society, and the pressure starts early. Students are expected to study constantly, the school year lasts six weeks longer than in the U.S., and, when the Ministry of Education reduced the school week from six days a week, many parents began enrolling their children in juku, or “cram schools,” to fill in the extra hours with as much education as possible. Because of the emphasis on exams in Japan, about half of all junior high students in Japan attend juku.

Combined with the fact that the period from 1990 to 2010 saw very little economic growth in Japan, many students questioned the purpose of their high-intensity education when there was little guarantee of work at the end of it.

Social life in Japan, too, is highly structured and etiquette practices can quickly become complex depending on the situation and the others involved. For example, Japanese has many grammatical structures that vary depending on the exact nature of the person being addressed, whether they’re a superior, an employee, a customer, an older woman or man, a younger woman or man, and many others. Giving gifts is common, but certain items are considered impolite. Giving a kitchen knife to a newlywed couple is a no-no, since this implies separation.

What’s more significant than the specific rituals and rules in Japanese culture, the general, pervasive sense of propriety and correct behavior can be stifling. It is impossible to go through life without embarrassing yourself socially at least once, but in a culture where correct behavior is highly valued, slipping up in this regard can be traumatizing.

Often, a triggering academic or social failure prompts young men and women to withdraw from society and become hikikomori. It’s also been speculated that this social phenomenon is due, in part, to a culture of shame surrounding mental health issues. Depression wasn’t even recognized as a real condition until the late 1990s in Japan, and it is sometimes still seen as an excuse to take time off of work. Rather than be labelled as depressed or anxious, the term hikikomori paints people with a broader brush.”

And from William Kremer and Claudia Hammond’s BBC News article Hikikomori: Why Are So Many Japanese Men Refusing to Leave Their Homes:

The trigger for a boy retreating to his bedroom might be comparatively slight – poor grades or a broken heart, for example – but the withdrawal itself can become a source of trauma. And powerful social forces can conspire to keep him there.

One such force is sekentei, a person’s reputation in the community and the pressure he or she feels to impress others. The longer hikikomori remain apart from society, the more aware they become of their social failure. They lose whatever self-esteem and confidence they had and the prospect of leaving home becomes ever more terrifying.”

Let’s refer back to the word tatemae.  As tatemae literally means “façade” or “pretense”, you will display a sort of masquerade of “happiness” and “carefreeness” for society: never revealing your true face, or honne (本音 ,ほんね). What is honne? Honne literally translate to “true voice” or the dark thoughts you keep hidden from the world. Thoughts such as “My boss’s idea is so fucking stupid; he needs to be fired!”,  “I want to kill my bullies”, and “I’m tired of you crying about your problems all the time”.

The clash between tatemae and honne births inner conflict. You want to speak out about what’s bothering you or how you truly feel about a situation, but you live in Japan: a country of conformity – with tatemae a major component of Japanese social conformity.

Balancing between honne and tatemae for the Japanese can be stressful to the point that it can drive many to isolation.  Why face the world with a façade, never being allowed to express your true thoughts when you can alienate yourself from said world?    However, isolation is a dangerous trap.  Having others support you won’t work well in the long run.

PART III

The Strain Hikikomori Cause

Hikikomori refusing employment and educational training to support themselves causes an ill effect on the Japanese economy and their caregivers.  The Japanese workforce is dwindling as the numbers of Hikikomori increases.  Aged  Hikikomori whom decided to return to society find  reintegration difficult; as they lack the (job) skills to generate income —  especially as they’re entering the worst job market in modern history (the lingering effect of the 2008 market crash).

When discussing the caregivers of Hikikomori, we must bring up two set of numbers: 2030 and 8050. 2030 represent the year in which the first generation of Hikikomori will turn 50 while their caregiver parents will turn 80 (with some Hikikomori turning 65 even).  By this time, the caregiver parent(s) of their Hikikomori child have long since retired and eventually died; leaving the Hikikomori without their primary support system.

Diving into the morbid, there are reported cases in which parents of the Hikikomori have passed away in their house. Due to Hikikomori’s lack and fear of social interactions, few Hikikomori have spent days or even weeks with the decaying body or bodies of their decreased parent(s) for days or weeks before contacting law enforcement.

Example 1: Late November-Early December 2013: 34-year-old shut-in  man from Osaka, Japan was arrested for corpse abandonment after reporting his father passing in their house – two weeks after his death.  Did not contact the police due to Hikikomori state  Source: https://soranews24.com/2013/12/16/man-finds-dead-father-lives-with-the-body/

Example 2: November 9th, 2018: 49-year-old shut-in from The Kanagawa Prefectural arrested for failing to report the death of his 76-year-old mother after sister of the Hikikomori male discover their mother’s body in her bedroom. The mother died in mid-October. Source: https://nextshark.com/japanese-hikikomori-mom/

Now, imagine hearing multiple reports of rotting bodies of the Hikikomori parents discovered in their houses because of the Hikikomori’s extreme social anxiety in 2030. I fear that it’ll be the norm come 11 years from now.

PART IV

The American Hikikomori

 

For decades, it was believed that the Hikikomori phenomenon was a Japanese exclusive problem; a cultural issue of sorts.  While not as extreme in Japan, there have been case studies of the Hikikomori in the United States.  In her February 2019 article for the New York Magazine titled When ‘Going Outside Is Prison’: The World of the American Hikikomori, Allie Conti spoke with 21-year-old reddit user “Luca” through private messaging about his case of Hikikomori dating back from the age of 12.  During class, he’d become so anxious that he’d forgot to swallow.  The anxiety led his mother to remove him from school and take online classes – which he would soon drop out of those courses as well.

After watching the anime series Welcome to the N.H.K (an anime about a Hikikomori man “discovering” Japanese broadcasting company N.H.K, or Nippon Hoso Kyokai, translation: Japan Broadcasting Corporation conspiracy to transform Japanese youths into shut-ins), Luca decided to quit school and forego work as a personal rebellion against the world (meaning he’s a lazy ass white boy who needs to grow a pair of balls).

University of California researcher Alan R. Teo theorized that Hikikomori-like conditions are coming into the light in America. In 2010, the mother of a 30-year-old anime fan contacted Teo after her son, “Mr. H”, read one of Teo’s translation; leading him to diagnosed himself with Hikikomori.  From the New York Magazine article:

“Teo encouraged Mr. H. to come by his office at the University of California in San Francisco for treatment, despite the fact that would mean stepping outside for the first time in three years. Mr. H. wore a leather jacket that reeked of cigarette smoke, had mangy hair, didn’t shower, and had long fingernails. “During the first and most severe year, he remained within a walk-in closet, ate only-ready-to-eat food, did not bathe, and urinated and defecated in jars and bottles,” Teo would later write in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry.

“He passed the time surfing the internet and playing video games.” Tests run on Mr. H showed seemingly conflicting results. While he exhibited traits consistent with obsessive compulsive and schizoid personality disorders, various scales and inventories concluded he had neither. Mr. H. claimed his reclusiveness was based on something pretty simple: He just didn’t want to be a part of the world, which is both what hikikomori in Japan had long said and basically what Luca told me.”

Throughout America, a large number of young men are isolating themselves in their parent’s basement bedrooms.  They cannot cope with work, school, and lack motivation to launch themselves. Recent economic crisis combined with the labor market has discouraged recent college graduates, especially given when 12.6% of college grads are underemployed (source: https://www.epi.org/publication/class-of-2016/) Princeton researchers suggests that technological usage such as video games and social media has led to a 23-46% decrease of young men working in the labor force (source: https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/maguiar/files/leisure-luxuries-labor-june-2017.pdf).

We must not also forget that the 69% of college grad are entering the real world with with an average of $29,800 worth of debt – something that an average min. wage job cannot pay off (source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/20/how-much-the-average-student-loan-borrower-owes-when-they-graduate.html).

With seemly unpayable debt, a weaken work force, and an economy that’s expected to crash soon, more and more American youth are partakning in the hikikimori lifestyle to escape reality.  This is not good for the American society.  If this problem continues in America I fear we will see the same problems with Hikikomori in Japan with Americans – especially with most male Hikikomori in the West are radicalized through white supremacist and incel groups.

FINAL PART

Yuki’s And TV Guru’s Thoughts on Hikikomoris

 

Yuki: “First off Japan, stop shamming people for failure: everyone fails. There’s a difference between failure and stupidity.  Shame people for being stupid, but don’t shame them for failure.  Another way to prevent hikikomori is reduce the workload on workers and students alike.  You got people in Japan working 12-18 hours a day and it’s literally killing them (karoshi lit. death from overwork). Finally, stop shamming people with mental health issues; people in Japan are afaird to admit their issues due to the stigma link with mental health. Why would people admit they have mental health issues if they are being shammed for it?”

TV Guru: “Same thing, you can’t be fucking shaming somebody for failing. But, that’s the pressure they put on society.  You can’t pressure somebody into working hard. Yea Japanese people are smart because they spend hours studying but all that long-term studying comes with a price…”

****

“The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves.  A fortress seems the safest.  But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, it makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies, mingle.  You are shielded from your enemies by the crowd.”

“The weight of society’s pressure to conform, and the lack of distance from other people, can make it impossible to think clearly about what’s going on around you.  As a temporary recourse, then, isolation can help you gain perceptive. The danger is, however, that this kind of isolation will sire all kinds of strange and perverted ideas.  You main gain perspective on the larger picture, but you lose a sense of your own smallness and limitations.  Also, the more isolated you are, the harder it is to break out of your isolation when you chose to – it sinks you deep into its quicksand with your you noticing.”

-Robert Greene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anime Industry 7

Pirating Does NOT Hurt the Anime Industry

On August 11th, 2017, YouTube anime vlogger Digibro uploaded Where Should We Watch Anime?, a video where he explores four seperate anime streaming services: Crunchyroll, Amazon Strike, Netflix, and the infamous illegal site “KissAnime”. Digibro states that while he does use Crunchhyroll to view anime and  support the industry, he  also uses KissAnime, but only as a last resort (if there’s no legal alternate to view an anime, if the legal services offers a worse product than the illegal websites, etc.)

Despite his statement (and because anime fans lack comprehension skills), the anime community misinterpreted his words; believing he was  promoting the illegal sites. This resulted in his his follow up video Utter Morons ForneverWorld & Half of Anitwitter Totally Miss the Point Of My Streaming Video where he states once again, that he only uses the illegal streaming services if the legal ones are offering a worse product than the legal websites or if he can not find a legal alternate to view an anime.

Both backlash and support for Digibro’s views followed.  Many were furious at him for “suggesting” the usage of illegal websites.  Others praised and understood Digibro’s stance.  Those who supported his views brought up that the anime industry doesn’t make enough money off Blu-Ray and DVDs sales, that the industry’s main profits come from secondary sources of income (which he also states in the follow up video) as well as bringing brought up how major studios take most of the profits from the different income sources and not paying their artists a fair, livable wage. The  anime fans opposing piracy rebuttal; to them,  every dollar counts in supporting the the industry.

These videos breathed new life into an age old controversial topic within the community: Does pirating anime hurt the industry?

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As someone who keeps it real, it’s my duty to tell you how I feel about this subject it is without holding back. From researching the topic, reading  articles, and watching anime vloggers of both sides of the argument,  I don’t think pirating hurts the industry.   I do  get where opposing fans are coming from with their anti-piracy stance, but again, I don’t feel that piracy does harm to the industry.

From my research, I discovered how the anime industry create captial in the modern era outside of Blu-Ray and DVD sales. Aninews’ video The Data Behind Digibro’s Stance on Anime Streaming: Legal vs. Illegal, breaks down how legal streaming services fund the industry through bidding for the rights to stream an anime on their services (the link to the video is listed in the cited source section).

When a streaming company wins the rights to a show, they’ll have to pay the licensing company (such as Aniplex)  the cost of each episode, royalties, and licensing fees.  Once paid, the licensing company takes their cut of the the money and split the rest up with everyone involved in the production of the anime.  This meansthat regardless if you use an illegal  streaming services or not, the animation companies have already received their money for the shows the provided to the streaming services.

At worst, the streaming companies will operate on a lost from ad revenue due to not breaking even or beyond from piracy.  Therefore, the company will have to operate at a loss – forcing them to reduce the number of series to buy off the licensing company for the upcoming season.

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Another way anime studios make money is through product placement. Some industries in Japan (such as the automotive and food  industries) will reach out to animation studios and offer to pay thousands or millions of dollars for the show to promote their product or brand.  For example: Sunrise 2006’s anime Code Geass, famously promoted the pizza brand Pizza Hut in many episodes due to a deal between both companies.  This provided Sunrise extra capital for their pockets. Misty Chroenexia’s video Piracy is NOT Killing The Anime Industry explains this further in depth (the URL to the video is listed below in the source section).

Finally, companies make extra capital from merchandising such as toys, video games, figurines, body pillows, drama CDs, and  music soundtracks.  Bigger companies such, as A-1 Pictures, are linked to major companies: giving them access to extra funds. Miki Sim’s article How The Anime Industry Earns Money further explains this:

      ‘A few larger anime studios, such as A-1 Picture, actually sits within a larger entertainment ecosystem. They are linked to record companies, such as Sony Music Entertainment Japan. With the popularity of anime OPs drive the sales of anisong singles and albums. That is another reason why the anisong industry is becoming larger than J-Pop too.’

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In short: Some studios are large enough to use high amounts of capital thanks to a connection with a thanks in part of another major company or brand.

What does all of this means for me?  Well, if companies are making profits through other sources of income, have already received money from  streaming websites such as Netflix and Amazon ,  and have connections to larger companies such as Sony (who have diverse income thanks to their products and investments) for extra cash, then me pirating their shows does not hurt them at all.

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Admittedly, I do have an active Crunchy Roll subscription to support the industry. Crunchy Roll is wonderful and they provided me with good services.  If Crunchy Roll has a show I want to watch then  I will view it on there as oppose to say KissAnime.  Now, if they do not have a show I want to see and there is no legal alternate available (that I like), then I’ll use an illegal streaming site.

This brings me to my next point.

I’m going to keep this all the way real: It’s the fault of the Japanese animation studios for not releasing their new shows outside of Japan (where there is a market for those show, niche or otherwise) to a legal service in North America (or any other international regions). Consequently, this forces fans to pirate shows that they cannot access legally because the Japanese businesses do not want to adapt to the current trend of anime viewership globally.  In my opinion, this is bad business.  Anime is a global market.  You have to carter to fans around the world.

You have fans who’re willing to watch new shows legally.  They want to show their support with the money, but these companies  aren’t listening.  If they do release a show, it’s usually a season or two later.

Example: Netflix recently acquired the rights to Kakegurui, one of the most popular anime series of the Summer 2017 season.  Netflix will air Kakegurui in Winter 2018 – two seasons after its original Japanese broadcast run. This means if you want to watch it legally, you will have to wait five months (at the time of this writing) to support it legall.  The only way to watch Kakegurui  and stay current with it  is through an illegal streaming service.

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Now, if you can’t afford to pay Netflix that $10/month plus tax because you have other paid streaming services you’re subscribed, to and you want to support it legally, well, you’re out of luck.   This is another case of bad business practice.  You have three streaming services fighting each other to win the rights for a show.   And if the winning company is Netflix, you may have to wait a few months to view the show.

Now that I think about it, this is goofy.

Once a company wins the rights for a show, they have that show exclusively. No other streaming company can have it, just that one company.   Let’s say Amazon Strike wins the rights to the show The Misadventures of an Alcoholic Magical Girl (this is not a real show). Since Amazon is the only North American company to stream that show, you cannot get it off your Crunchy Roll and/or Netflix account(s). You really want to watch and support the show, but can you afford an Amazon Prime account along with the cost of $4.99/month with Strike and $6.95/month with your CR account?

So, what you’re going to do?  Spend that extra cash?  Cancel your CR account to save some money?  You can do that,  but  now you have to wait a week  to watch the newest episodes of a currently airring show.  If you really  want to watch it, then you have to pirate it.  Which is not that bad if you bare in mind the animation studio has already earn the money from Amazon.

Let’s take this a step further.

Netflix and Amazon are notorious for not understanding their anime fanbase demographic. Netflix has been under fire for uploading anime shows with false “HD” and horrible subs quality. Amazon Strike requires you to have an Amazon Prime account along with paying $4.99/month for Strike.  Doing the math $8.99+$4.99 = $13.98/month.  Then you have your Crunchy Roll account, which is $6.95/month.  So $13.98+$6.95=$20.93/month.  THEN, if you want to watch an anime that’s only on Netflix, you’ll going to wind up dropping $10/month plus tax.  So $20.93+$10.00=$30.93/month plus tax. Finally, if there is a show that you desperately want to see that is not available legally on all three legal platforms, you’re out of luck.

Unless you pirate of course.

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Pirate sites host anime with true 1080p or 720 HD (both native and upscale). They have fansubs in excellent quality.  They offer a massive selection of anime that you can stream and download for free without worrying about hundreds of dollars on.  There are shows on these websites that may never get a re-release.  Viewing them on these sites is the only way to experience those shows.  If you want to explore the history of anime at its fullest, you may have to use KissAnime or 9anime.

This begs the question: Why pay and support a service to companies that doesn’t care about their anime demographic, rip them off by offering them “HD” quality that is not HD at all, and provide low quality subtitles?  At least  CrunchyRoll understands their given that company is fun by anime fans. They need our money and support.  But Netflix and Amazon?  Screw them. Screw them and their bad business practices If Amazon Strike and Netflix’s anime streaming services belly-up due to piracy, oh well.   They’re large companies with other sources of income to keep them afloat.  I doubt Amazon and Netflix would suffer that much.

The whole business model is stupid.  Japan not expanding further and adapting to the current trend for their anime demographic is ass backwards. I honestly don’t feel bad for pirating their stuff.  They’re providing poor-to-bad services because of it.  If you’re giving the customer a bad experience due to your shitty practices and you can’t help with their needs, you don’t desire to make money.

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At this point, you may be asking “Ben! So what about the little guys?  Yeah, cooperate assholes may make a lot of money, but the artists and creative team only make little to no money a month!  They need your support!”  Well, that brings me to my next point – a good point Digibro brought up in his video that I like: A donation button.

Artists put in countless hours of hard work into their craft; providing us with amazing shows that we all love and enjoy.  Because they work hard and passionately, they deserve our money.   However, while  there is a lot of capital flowing in the industry, the top people will get the largest payout while the smaller ranking dudes will get less.  Way less.  The average animator in japan makes about $300-$500 a month.  The “lucky” ones make $1000 month.  Still, that’s criminally wrong. Even if I do view anime legally through Crunchyroll, the animators are being screwed by their employees regardless.

This is why I like the idea of studios of exploring alternate ways to make money through donation service websites such as Pateron or Go Fund Me.  Let’s say at the end of an episode or season, you can click on the donation button and give whatever amount you feel that episode or series was worth. If you feel a series was excellent, then you can drop $80-$100 on it. If the series was horrible, then you give it little-to-no money.  This allows fans and the studios to cut out the middle man and have a direct connection with one another payment wise.   Most anime fans stream anime nowdays and Blu-Rays and DVDs are pricy (although not as pricy as they were ten years ago), and enjoy the convenience of watching a show on-demand, so this could work out in the future.

Studio TRIGGER is rumored to have experiment with the idea of using Pateron to crowd fund future projects, but efforts have been slow to pick up due to Japan’s conservative, old-school ways of performing business.   Animator Jun Sugawara has opened an animator dormitory in Japan funded by Generosity.  This dormitory is open for animators across Japan who don’t want deal with the bullshit of the current industry standard, as well as work in a fair, almost stress-free environment I think these are great ideas and I hope it catches on within the industry.

I would rather pay the creative staff behind my favorite shows my money to support them, rather to give them to Crunchy Roll.  As much as I respect Crunchy Roll and support them, the money I give to them supports shows and studios I don’t like – not just the ones I enjoy.

This means that shows I hate such as In Another World With My Smartphone and Sword Art Online are being funded.  I don’t want those horrible shows being supported off my hard earn money.  A1 Studios is also getting a cut of my money.  I can’t support that company after the fact their strict, brutal practices caused an animator to commit suicide in 2014 due to being overworked. I can not support that company ethically.  I don’t feel right about that.

Let’s hope that  more teams and studios get on board with this new donation and crowd funding model.  Japan really needs to adapt to the new era and stop being stuck in traditional about their old-school way of handling business within the anime industry.

It’s clearly taking a toll.

While I am not bothered by piracy, I do understand why people are against it.  Pirating shows take away extra profits off Blu-ray and DVDs sales.  Mother’s Basement’s video How Much Money do the Biggest Anime Pirates Make states that the pirates of  KissAnime earn an estimated $18,000,000 USD a year from ad revenue – much more money than the animators in the industry.   KissAnime also has a history of stealing subs from official streaming services and fansub groups and reuploading the files to their website.

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According to  GoBoiano’s  article How Much Money You Cost the Anime Industry When You Illegally Stream illegal streaming services and torrents  has cost the anime industry an estimated $33,009,636 to $132,038,554 in 2016.  In 2015, animation studio Manglobe (famous for Gangsta and Samurai Champloo) filed for bankruptcy due to an estimated debt of $4.43 million USD.  Fans have theorized that the lost profits from piracy resulted in the company’s demise, but this is just a theory without any solid proof backing these claims.

In July 2014, the Japanese government founded the “Manga-Anime Guardians Project” to combat against online piracy of anime and manga, monitoring illegal websites for uploads, and  as well as help fans find legal alternates to stream and watch anime.

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With pirates making multi-million dollar profits from stealing official subs, the industry losing millions from it, the Japanese government having to step in and protect the work of artists, and a company bankrupted due to possible piracy, I can see  why opponents of piracy want to end it.   Animators are losing jobs and money from illegal activities.  You can easily assume the reason why animators are underpaid is because of piracy and the companies have to operate at a loss.  A loss of money means less pay and fewer jobs on the market.

To conclude, I do not see the big issue about pirating, but I still want to support the industry.  With companies making money through other sources of capital such as promotion, legal streaming, and maketing,  I don’t feel that pirating doesn’t hurt the industry at all. Even if stream anime legally, the major players of a company will take the majority of the profits, leaving the creative forces with less than livable wages. The industry and businesses need a new model to operate on. People aren’t buying blurays or DVDs anymore. Fans would rather stream their shows.

The idea of studios and animators using crowd funding for anime is a fantastic idea which we as a community need to get behind. Animators deserve a living wage for the hard work they put into their craft.  While this won’t completely stop piracy overall, it does give fans a chance to support their favorite companies without a middle man.

I am just one person who believes piracy isn’t harmful but there are many who believe it is and they have good reasons to think as such.  Illegal streaming services cost the industry millions is lost capital. That’s not right.  The animators earned that money – not the pirates.

And finally, if you believe that these legal streaming services are giving you a worse product and service, stop using them! Don’t give them your money because it’s the moral and right thing to do.  You know what’s not moral and right?  Ripping off people with a shit product.

Vote with your wallet you weeaboos.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS:

Where Should We Watch Anime by Digibro
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSZDkF0YTRo

The Data Behind Digibro’s Stance on Anime Streaming: Legal vs. Illegal by Aninews
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYmKCRRbTIM

Piracy is NOT Killing the Anime Industry by Misty Chronexia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5nxyV0Jrvg&t=406s

Frost Bite: Anime Piracy and Illegal Streaming by Glass Reflection
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxMQ6ROoB00

How Much Money do the Biggest Anime Pirates Make by Mother’s Basement
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAg4gIhdfg

 

MONEY IN THE ANIME INDUSTRY:


http://www.digihara.net/anime-industry-earns-money/

http://kotaku.com/average-anime-industry-salaries-get-depressing-1774852881

http://goboiano.com/heres-money-actually-made-anime/

http://kotaku.com/the-average-anime-salary-in-japan-is-shockingly-low-1700892325

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/062515/how-netflix-pays-movie-and-tv-show-licensing.asp

https://www.otakujournalist.com/where-your-crunchyroll-dollars-really-go-an-interview-with-the-ceo/

 

PRO-PIRACY ARTICLES:

http://www.japanator.com/does-piracy-help-anime-sales-in-japan-study-says-yes-18459.phtml

https://torrentfreak.com/internet-piracy-boosts-anime-sales-study-concludes-110203/

Alison’s Hawkins’s Piracy as a Catalysis for Anime Evoultion essay
https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/102759/allihawk.pdf;sequence=1

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/402969/when-piracy-becomes-promotion/

 

 

ANTI-PIRACY ARTICLES:

 

http://aminomailer.com/page/anime/5240302/the-dangers-of-anime-piracy
http://goboiano.com/much-money-cost-anime-industry-illegally-stream/

http://www.animeherald.com/2015/11/12/manglobe-begins-bankruptcy-proceedings-reports-544-million-yen-debt/

http://www.animeanime.biz/archives/21786

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/jpgjj4/japan-protects-its-anime-with-anti-piracy-hires-

http://manga-anime-here.com/guardians

 

MISC. SOURCES:

Jun Sugawara’s Animator Dormitory Project
https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/2017-animator-dormitory-project

http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2014/05/07/suicide-of-anime-worker-recognized-as-job-related

http://www.capsulecomputers.com.au/2014/05/a1-pictures-animator-suicide-caused-by-overwork/

http://manga-anime-here.com/guardians

IMAGE CREDITS

Featured Image:
Erika Furudo from Umineko: Ougon Musou Kyoku CROSS (Golden Fantasia CROSS)
©2007-2017, 2012-2012 07th Expasion, Ryukishi07

Ruby Heart from Marvel Vs. Capcom 2
©2000-2017 Capcom

Nami from One Piece
©1997-2017 Eiichiro Oda, Toei Animation

Marika Katou from Bodacious/Miniskit Space Pirates
©2008-2017 Yuuichi Sasamoto and Satelight

anime 0

Hitagi Senjougahara: Trauma, Trust Issues, and Defense Mechanisms (Truth in Fiction)

TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, molestation, and child abuse mentioned.  If you’re bothered by these things, please please please, for the sake of your mental health, do not read on.  Thank you.

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A traumatic incident can screw up one’s mind.  It creates defense mechanisms, anxiety, and trust issues.  Hitagi Senjougahara, main heroine of the anime and light novel series “Monogatari”,  experienced such things.  To repay a debt owed to a cult, Hitagai’s mother  set her up to be molested and rape by a high ranking cultist. Hitagi resisted, hitting the cultist with a spiked shoe.  Afterwards, her dad filed for divorce, and Hitagi haven’t  spoke to her mom since.

Overtime, Hitagi grew distance, hostile, and untrusting of others.

‘And now you’re kinda cold to the people you met
Cause of something that was done to you by some creep.’
Whodini: Friends (1984 hip-hop single).

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Throughout the “Hitagi Crab” arc ,  we learn of the condition and causality of Hitagi’s literal weightlessness, as well as her hostile nature.  After Araragi (series’s main hero) saves her from an otherwise fatal fall, he discovers that she’s weightless. In fear that he might run his mouth about her state, Hitagi attacks him. She shoves a mini stapler inside his mouth, stapling his check.

After removing the lodged staple from his check, Araragi reveals his healing factor.  Hitagi was shock that there was somebody like her (in terms of weirdness).  Araragi offers to help her regain her weight, taken by a god crab spirit.

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As Araragi and Hitagi bike to Oshino’s (friend of and occult advisor to Araragi) residence, the two engaged in an interesting conversation.  Hitagi refers herself as a tsundere (otaku slang for a character who’s hostile and cold initially, but grows softer and warm towards close ones overtime).  This fits her well. Hitagi is cold, distanced, and hostile due to her mental trauma and physical condition. With Araragi’s reveling  his powers, understanding her situation, and knowing someone who could help her, Hitagi gradually warms up.

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Right!

There are two points I want to explore here:

Prior to meeting Oshino, Araragi asks Hitagi if he could hold on to her school supplies (which double as her weaponry). She responds “You set me up, right?”, pauses, and surrender her goods.  At the second point, upom meeting Oshino, Hitagi asks if he could save her.  Oshino responds with that only she could save herself. Hitagi snaps on him, stating that  five people prior told her the same thing, only to try to scam her.  She then asks Oshino if he was a scammer himself, which he only laughs off her (somewhat baseless) fears.

This made me wonder: are her worries defense mechanisms?  If so, you can’t blame her. Victims of traumatic experiences tend to be more defensive and aggressive towards others.   Traumatic experiences can changed one’s point of view, as Oshino pointed out to Hitagi about hers.

‘If I trust a person so easily, I don’t know how many times I would’ve been tricked.”
-Hitagi Senjouhara

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Fasting forward to episode 2’s ritual scene, Oshino asks Hitagi a series of questions.  The first few are basic: school life, date of birth, and favorite author. All to each she answered unhesitating.  When asked about her most painful memory of her life however, Hitagi freezes up, taking a sharp breath.  Regaining herself, Hitagi painfully recalls the attempted sexual assault.   She brings up that  her mother was punished because she fought back against the cultist.

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Her parents divorced soon after.   Hitagi felt guilt for her resistance, blaming herself  for breaking the family apart (of course, it wasn’t her fault). She felt anger towards  her mom;  she did not save her. Oshino tells her that these were her feelings, feelings that she can’t transfer to others.

Feelings that she must carry the burden on her shoulders.

In their conversation, Oshino uses the word “omoi”, which can either mean “Feelings” or Weight” (depending on the kanji).  What I like about the word usage is the  symbolism of the meaning. The feelings caused by horrific, traumatic experiences are a heavy weight to carry.   You go through life blaming yourself when you should not, closing yourself off from others and being on edge; unsure if people will hurt you physically, or emotionally.

A weight that you can never get rid of;  just only overcome  it with proper help and support.

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At the end of the ritual, Hitagi  confronts  the crab god whom stripped her weight.  Hitagi freaks out.  Her breathing is heavy, eyes widen.  Her body is frozen in fear , muscles tensed.  Hitagi asks if anyone else can see the crab, which the others reply with that they cannot.

Hitagi shuts down right as the crab attacks.  Oshino rescues Hitagi and destroy the spirit.  He explains the crab is the result of her  mental state.  Finally, after thanking him, she breaks down and starts to cry uncontrollably.

Hitagi’s freezing, fears, tense body language, breathing heavily, avoidance of the crab, and crying made me think:  was she having a PTSD flashback of the attempted rape? Yeah I mean, the crab is a supernatural force for storytellin, but her response to not confront it, in addition to her being asked about her most painful life experience, can be debated in favor of this theory.

When triggered, victims of traumatic events experienced symptoms such as heavy breathing, feelings of tightness, emotional break downs, and avoidance of anything that reminds them of the incident to name a few examples.

After Hitagi regain her composure, Oshino tells her that despite how much she longs for her family to return, and her desires to remove the pain, those things will never happen.  She must learn how to overcome it and grow stronger.  At the end, she gained a new friend (and eventually boyfriend) in Araragi and  gain her “weight” back as well.

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Ohhh…tired of the strain and the pain’
‘There’s so much pain…’
-2pac: Pain  (1994 rap single)

Special thanks and shout out to my homeboy Mr. Y giving me advice and tips and checking if my info on mental health was correct.  Check out his blog here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/61835112

Further reading:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder
https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/
http://traumaabusetreatment.com/trust-issues-after-trauma
http://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2013/06/20/childhood-trauma-defence-mechanisms-resulting-from-stress/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/somatic-psychology/201107/effects-trauma-estrangement-family

Screenshots Source:
http://blog.seiha.org/index.php?s=bakemonogatari