With Japan’s relatively lenient attitudes towards sex and violence in cartoons, you might get the impression that the whole society has come to a consensus that anime artists can draw whatever they like. That’s not always the case, though, and in recent years a string of crimes committed by individuals with an obsessive love for animation and comics has rekindled the debate about how much, if any, legal control should be placed on anime content.

It’s no shock that a former manga artist and adult video director has spoken out in opposition to such regulation. What is surprising, though, is his pick for the creator of the most detrimental anime: Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

Tatsuya Egawa has worn many different hats in his life. After a brief stint as a college math professor, Egawa became a full-time manga artist, penning manic and risqué comedies such as Be Free and Tokyo Daigaku Monogatari. He’s best known among English-speaking fans for Golden Boy, which was adapted into a six-part anime in the ‘90s and follows the adventures of wandering pervert savant Kintaro Oe.

▼ Seen here becoming sexually aroused while cleaning his female boss’ toilet.

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Egawa later went on to direct porno films with real, human actors, and has recently served as director for a few general release, non-X-rated movies, including a live-action version of his own Tokyo Daigaku Monogatari.

On September 1, the multi-talented Egawa appeared on TV personality Beat Takeshi’s TV Tackle program to participate in a debate over whether or not provocative anime provokes actual crimes. Taking the position that it very much does was criminal psychologist Yasuyuki Deguchi, who argued that, “For people with a distorted way of thinking, the fact of the matter is that anime is a big trigger [for them to commit crimes].”

Egawa quickly took issue with this, pointing out that, “Not everyone who watches anime commits crimes.” Although he acknowledged that anime can have an influence on those watching it, he asserted that the problem is not adult content itself. Rather, it’s a lack of awareness and self-recognition.

“Kids have a natural desire to see erotic things,” he began. “Trying to suppress that is wrong.” To Egawa, presenting sexual material as being sexual is fine, as long as the anime is aware of and recognizes what it’s doing.

For example, Egawa sees no harm in anime’s frequent magical transformation sequences that show its female characters in the nude. “That’s fine. You can clearly understand that it’s saying, ‘Hey, check this out! She’s naked!’”

▼ Lightning doesn’t count as clothes.

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In response to Egawa’s assertion that both good and bad anime exist, one of the other guests asked him for an example of the latter, to which he unexpectedly offered up what’s often considered to be the gold standard of purity in anime, the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

“I think Miyazaki’s anime are the worst. To the untrained eye, it’s not noticeable…but Miyazaki’s works, which craftily conceal sex and violence, are bad anime.”

Just to be clear that he wasn’t merely stating a personal dislike for the anime legend’s works, he lumped them in with anime that hide such things unconsciously, condemning such anime as being “the most dangerous.”

Egawa didn’t go into greater specifics on his criticisms of Miyazaki’s films, nor did he specify whether or not he felt the Studio Ghibli projects helmed by other directors were also guilty of such things.

▼ More details would have been nice, since we’re not sure how this sequence from Princess Mononoke qualifies as “craftily concealing violence.”

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Egawa’s vague remarks have been stirring up debate in anime and media circles in Japan, so hopefully he’ll take it upon himself to clarify and expand on them. We’d be curious to hear more, since we still can’t bring ourselves to believe that kids’ favorite Totoro is dangerous (his giant teeth notwithstanding).

Sources: Livedoor News, Yahoo! News Japan
Insert images: Craig Lotter, Tumbler, Photobucket