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Old 2013-10-24, 15:13   Link #1
NinjaRealist
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BBC Article: Japan birthrate downfall due to otaku

Article link is included in the headline. Picture is included in article. I wasn't sure if hyper-linking to BBC would violate the TOS and I was also unsure if re-uploading to imgur would violate the imgur TOS.

Also, sorry if this article should have gone in the general chat or the music forums. I mostly want to discuss the lack of appreciation that the article has for music technology, but, more generally, it's an article about anime and manga culture. So I was genuinely unsure where to post this.

The Japanese men who prefer virtual girlfriends to sex

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Unless something happens to boost Japan's birth rate, its population will shrink by a third between now and 2060. One reason for the lack of babies is the emergence of a new breed of Japanese men, the otaku, who love manga, anime and computers - and sometimes show little interest in sex.

Tokyo is the world's largest metropolis and home to more than 35 million people, so on the face of it, it is hard to believe there is any kind of population problem at all.

But Akihabara, an area of the city dedicated to the manga and anime subculture provides one clue to the country's problems.
Frankly, I think the use of Miku Hatsune as the cover picture for this article is ignorant and offensive. I'm not trying to criticize the lifestyle depicted in this article: far from it. What offends me is that, while Miku is certainly a bastion of otaku culture, Miku also represents a revolutionary use of software to produce a writable and editable version of the human voice. To, by association, reduce Miku Hatsune to being simply an icon of Otaku culture is really overlooking the technical genius and musical implications of this technological feat.
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Last edited by NinjaRealist; 2013-10-24 at 15:14. Reason: typo
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Old 2013-10-24, 15:46   Link #2
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I'm not even sure they aimed specifically at Miku, considering it is your usual figure advertisment poster at Akiba. They most likely just roamed around and took pictures.

Anyway, the article can't be any more inaccurate, considering they picked the hikkikomori population as the evidence of Japan birthrate downfall and all, despite it is a generalized issue, not limited to hardcore otaku anyway.
I'm even surprised they still find people hanging around with Love Plus, considering how its popularity plummeted hard after the 3DS fiasco.
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Old 2013-10-24, 16:19   Link #3
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Originally Posted by Klashikari View Post
I'm not even sure they aimed specifically at Miku, considering it is your usual figure advertisment poster at Akiba. They most likely just roamed around and took pictures.
I agree. Especially since the text under the opening picture reads "Manga and anime advertising posters on a building in Akihabara, Tokyo". I've never heard of a Vocaloid anime, and I don't think there's a professionally-made Vocaloid manga. They just aimed the camera at something that looked like an anime promotion to them, and went 'click'.

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Originally Posted by Klashikari View Post

Anyway, the article can't be any more inaccurate, considering they picked the hikkikomori population as the evidence of Japan birthrate downfall and all, despite it is a generalized issue, not limited to hardcore otaku anyway.
I think you might be being a bit too harsh here. It's hardly a big logical leap from "Prefers 2D girls to '3D' girls" to "declining birth-rate". If someone is concerned about the declining birth rate in Japan, then it seems like this pop culture trend is something worth focusing on for a bit, at least.

But yes, of course there's causes for the declining birth rate beyond just this alone.
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Old 2013-10-24, 16:29   Link #4
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I think you might be being a bit too harsh here. It's hardly a big logical leap from "Prefers 2D girls to '3D' girls" to "declining birth-rate". If someone is concerned about the declining birth rate in Japan, then it seems like this pop culture trend is something worth focusing on for a bit, at least.
That assumption is fine within your usual discussions between individuals. But from a news source, that's anything but professional: you don't pull numbers at your readers, expecting to convince anyone if the fundamental subject at hand is mistaken right from the get go. Sure, it is one of the reasons why Japan's birthrate dropped, but presenting in such fashion without expanding the core issue is an oversight.

I think the biggest issue I have with this article is its title and the introduction (especially "the" Japanese men, giving a clear generalization in there).
It really presents some hikki as the bonified example of Japan's numbe 1 social issue.

It is funny that the BBC manage to fail so hard into a display of "oh look, Japan fails because of 2D lovers" while the Guardian did their homework in a much more convincing way. The latter article has lots of actual insights and search done. And while it does mention a bit anime/virtual stuff, it is just a very small piece of that puzzle.

BBC timing can't be any more coincidental if you ask me.

Last edited by Klashikari; 2013-10-24 at 16:46.
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Old 2013-10-24, 16:29   Link #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I agree. Especially since the text under the opening picture reads "Manga and anime advertising posters on a building in Akihabara, Tokyo". I've never heard of a Vocaloid anime, and I don't think there's a professionally-made Vocaloid manga. They just aimed the camera at something that looked like an anime promotion to them, and went 'click'.
Which I think speaks to the shallowness with which they're portraying the subject matter.

It's really a shame that, if your only source of knowledge was this article, you would assume that Miku was simply an anime character and not an ingenious, revolutionary, music technology.
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Old 2013-10-24, 16:40   Link #6
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Yeah, that Guardian article is much better and more comprehensive (and also with a more accurate opening photo, lol ). It explores the issue more deeply. Thanks for sharing, Klash, it was pretty informative and eye-opening.
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Old 2013-10-24, 16:48   Link #7
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Yeah, that Guardian article is much better and more comprehensive (and also with a more accurate opening photo, lol ). It explores the issue more deeply. Thanks for sharing, Klash, it was pretty informative and eye-opening.
Seconded. Glad that some other people still value integrity in journalism.
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Old 2013-10-24, 17:30   Link #8
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I think you might be being a bit too harsh here. It's hardly a big logical leap from "Prefers 2D girls to '3D' girls" to "declining birth-rate". If someone is concerned about the declining birth rate in Japan, then it seems like this pop culture trend is something worth focusing on for a bit, at least.

But yes, of course there's causes for the declining birth rate beyond just this alone.
Personally, I see that leap of logic a a pitfall likely to snare those who don't really have "on the ground" experience in a fandom like ours.

Think about it: doesn't "I only like 2D girls" often come across as self indulgent cheerleading and rejection of the mainstream by otaku? Do virtual girlfriends reduce sex drive, or merely provide an outlet for it?

I got into anime late enough (first year university) that I have a pretty good memory of life before anime. Anime has not lowered by sex drive. If anything, watching the sort of romance titles that are often associated with otaku has increased it by a noticeable amount.

To me, the kind of stuff noted in the BBC article are clearly symptoms, not causes.
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Old 2013-10-24, 17:48   Link #9
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Originally Posted by 0utf0xZer0 View Post
Personally, I see that leap of logic a pitfall likely to snare those who don't really have "on the ground" experience in a fandom like ours.
I don't see a pitfall there. Some people really do take their love of the artificial to the point that they are able to live without the real.

There are unhealthy extremes in the anime fandom just like there is in most fandoms. I certainly don't think it's our job to defend, or deny the very existence of, those unhealthy extremes.

I love Star Trek, but that doesn't mean I'm going to defend or support that Star Trek fan who actually dressed up in a starfleet uniform while doing real world jury duty.


Quote:
Think about it: doesn't "I only like 2D girls" often come across as self indulgent cheerleading and rejection of the mainstream by otaku? Do virtual girlfriends reduce sex drive, or merely provide an outlet for it?
Sometimes an outlet is all a person needs. So I don't think this question is as important as you make it out to be.
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Old 2013-10-24, 17:53   Link #10
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A Britain newspaper writing about Japan. How typical!

Anyway, that's a forgeiner's look, not a Japanese look for sure. Decilining birth rate is a common problem with developed countries. As the price to grow a child continue getting higher,
combine with the fast life and consuming culture, having a child was simply skipped by the youth. Not to mention you guys know well about Tokyo and Akihabara district. There is a reason it was named "The City of Lust". A continuos exposure to these would provoce a man's instinct even more. If BBC could change the title into something like "The Loneliness caused by Digital", it would be much more appropriate.

And for the record, only the richest but also scum in Vietnam go to Club. Thanks you, but we don't need the bad American influenced anymore!
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Old 2013-10-24, 18:11   Link #11
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Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
AThere is a reason it was named "The City of Lust".
That's the very first time I ever heard Tokyo nicknamed like that. Basis of this?
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If BBC could change the title into something like "The Loneliness caused by Digital", it would be much more appropriate.
That would still match the article content, which is wrong to so many levels.
Japanese society is the core issue considering the mindset and various impairing points of raising a child there.

Having some of them indulging themselves with virtual stuff is a one of the few consequence of it. A byproduct in short, similar to other non otaku "herbivore" salarymen and the likes.
It is arguably not a major cause of such trend.
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:00   Link #12
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Originally Posted by Klashikari View Post
That's the very first time I ever heard Tokyo nicknamed like that. Basis of this?
Here you go: http://travel.cnn.com/explorations/l...-cities-174006

Quote:
That would still match the article content, which is wrong to so many levels.
Japanese society is the core issue considering the mindset and various impairing points of raising a child there.

Having some of them indulging themselves with virtual stuff is a one of the few consequence of it. A byproduct in short, similar to other non otaku "herbivore" salarymen and the likes.
It is arguably not a major cause of such trend.
Sometime I wonder are we being tested by two force: The Old Culture, and the new One. And this article is one of those.
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:17   Link #13
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You know, my main issue with the article is its focus on MEN. Why should the decline birthrate be blamed on guys, when it takes 2 people? Not that I am saying the women are "at fault" as such, my point is that both genders have decided at the same time that having children is too difficult and the child would have a hard life even if he/she was born.

I don't see Japanese women complaining about being rejected by men, so clearly it isn't just the men being out of the game. I believe all this is due to the collapse of the social contract and lack of opportunities, not the fault of either men or women, I just think the news article overstep its bounds claiming the men are the ones at fault.
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:17   Link #14
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Last I checked, most who espouse 2D over 3D do so because they cannot get 3D. If they had no access to 2D, that would not affect the birth rate at all.
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:19   Link #15
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Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
I don't see a pitfall there. Some people really do take their love of the artificial to the point that they are able to live without the real.

There are unhealthy extremes in the anime fandom just like there is in most fandoms. I certainly don't think it's our job to defend, or deny the very existence of, those unhealthy extremes.

I love Star Trek, but that doesn't mean I'm going to defend or support that Star Trek fan who actually dressed up in a starfleet uniform while doing real world jury duty.
People obsessed with anime characters often make little effort to date or get laid. I can acknowledge that. However, people who are obsessed with MMOs and FPSes and other games often act essentially the same way.

I am deeply suspicious of any theory that anime, manga, etc. produce way more people disinterested in dating than other hobbies because people find virtual girlfriends oh so satisfying.

Plus, there's other explanations for Japan's predicament. Think about Watamote for a second. Think about Tomoko's attitudes towards Yuu.
I hate to say it, but I believe Tomoko's attitudes are a fairly accurate representation of how quite a few otaku - and not just bishoujo anime fans and the like - see most women.
Such an attitude isn't driven by virtual girlfriends. It's driven by wanting to externalize blame for your social failings and a whole lot of internet cheerleading by like minded people. Seriously, the amount of misogyny geeks generate across the board - and not just in the anime fandom - is pretty incredible sometimes. And I say that as a proud geek myself.

In Japan, you also have the fact that being single looking more appealing to many people, even non-otaku, for various reasons outlined in the Guardian article. Hell, it sounds to me like it's even becoming fashionable in some circles, both male and female.

My experience is that virtual girlfriends (or the closest experiences I have) aren't enough to make you not want a real girlfriend. On the flip side, we have the aforementioned attitudes among Japanese men and women, otaku or otherwise. Hence I think the highlighted attitudes are much, much more important, and that a focus on virtual girlfriends is a pitfall to be avoided.

Quote:
Sometimes an outlet is all a person needs. So I don't think this question is as important as you make it out to be.
If it were just about having a decent outlet I think internet porn would have put developed civilization into decline years ago.
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:22   Link #16
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Originally Posted by GDB View Post
Last I checked, most who espouse 2D over 3D do so because they cannot get 3D. If they had no access to 2D, that would not affect the birth rate at all.
And also because there is a suspiciously lacking of cases of women unable to find willing men. There is a lack of eligible men as far as being able to support a full time housewife, but I hear nothing about women saying all the men are missing.
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:25   Link #17
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Originally Posted by GDB View Post
Last I checked, most who espouse 2D over 3D do so because they cannot get 3D. If they had no access to 2D, that would not affect the birth rate at all.
That's right, but it's better to pretend correlation equals causation and make crappy headlines with it to make money. >.>
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:37   Link #18
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Originally Posted by Fireminer View Post
That's just a travel article from a CNN blog. Fun read but not very informative. And to be honest, it's pretty crappy.

Anyways...this article is so bad I don't know where to start.

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It seems they no longer have the ambition of the post-war alpha males who made Japan such an economic powerhouse and no interest in joining a company and becoming a salary man.
How about...they can't? The economic woes of the 1990s caused heavy layoffs in debt-heavy corporations, and corporate mergers and bankruptcies reduced people's hope in finding a salaryman job to none. It's like blaming unemployed people of being lazy where there is zero jobs to be found. The Japanese salaryman will increasingly become a symbol of the past, as economic woes and corporate flexibility are already causing heavy layoffs over and over again.

Quote:
Tokyo-based social commentator Roland Kelts says many young Japanese men are pessimistic about the future. They don't believe they will match their parents' wealth and don't want to commit themselves to relationships.
With families struggling all over Japan thanks to rising taxes and costs while wages stagnate and decline while Shinzo Abe and the Yakuza...erm...LDP hands over another nice corporate tax cut, I wonder why...

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"If you compare China or Vietnam, most of those kids on scooters going to nightclubs, and dancing their heart away and perhaps having sex - they know it's getting better, they know they are probably going to rock their parents' income," he says. "No-one in Japan feels that way."
They might be dancing in nightclubs and having sex with heavy condoms and birth control, but they aren't having kids, especially not in China where skyrocketing property prices, the ever enlarging wealth gap and high youth unemployment is causing many people to forgo having a kid. Nevermind the one-child policy.

Truth is...Japanese economy is in the toilet. Families can barely afford to feed their kids in many parts of Tokyo. Japanese corporate culture looks like crap to most young people today and you probably aren't gonna get hired anyway. Welcome to the Lost Decade...and we really don't have a way to get out of it. In a situation like this...why bother having kids?
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Old 2013-10-24, 19:44   Link #19
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Originally Posted by GDB View Post
Last I checked, most who espouse 2D over 3D do so because they cannot get 3D. If they had no access to 2D, that would not affect the birth rate at all.
Or maybe they have access to 3D but they find the negatives of relationships to outweigh the positives.
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Old 2013-10-24, 20:01   Link #20
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So, anyone agree that this is crap?

Oh, and should I mention that the Rate of Suicide for Man with Family and Stable Employed Job always high in Japan. Even worse, a lot of them suffer from overwhelming stress and have to retire early.
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