Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by WittyUsername » Tue May 15, 2018 11:43 am

JulieYBM wrote:
WittyUsername wrote:
DragonBallKing wrote:It bothers me that people can get triggered by a cartoon character might as well complain about catwoman or Jessica rabbit. What about Roshi he's almost always punished for being a pervy old man in the same way Johnny bravo is never rewarded for acting like a giant tool.
Catwoman and Jessica Rabbit are adults. Bulma wasn’t an adult at the beginning of the series.
Being an adult fictional character doesn't give her the ability to consent anymore than a fictional sixteen year old character. Does Selina really consent to one jackin' it to her being drawn at sexy angles with nice, big titties any more than Blooma does when somebody gets their rocks off to an old man getting a look at her vagina just because Selina is 'an adult'?
Keep in mind that this thread is meant to serve as a question about the ethics of sexualizing Bulma at the start of the series. It’s not me making any definitive statements on the matter.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Tue May 15, 2018 1:58 pm

Doctor. wrote:
ABED wrote:I think that's a fundamental distinction. Put an adult female in an S&M outfit is one thing, but putting a kid like Chichi in one is off-putting.
Sure, but Chi-Chi is actually a kid.

I don't see any discernible difference between a 16 and an 18-year old to be pedantic about the distinction, especially when Bulma is one of the most independent and self-sufficient characters in the series. Saying the former is a kid and the latter is an adult is an arbitrary distinction; a necessary one for society, yes, but ultimately a meaningless one in the context of this discussion.
You have to draw the line legally somewhere and 18 makes as much sense as anything else. 16 is still legally underage in most countries. 18 is considered an adult, so it's very different. I don't see how that's arbitrary.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Doctor. » Tue May 15, 2018 2:14 pm

ABED wrote:You have to draw the line legally somewhere and 18 makes as much sense as anything else. 16 is still legally underage in most countries. 18 is considered an adult, so it's very different. I don't see how that's arbitrary.
I said it's a necessary distinction in real life. But this is fiction. What difference does it make whether Bulma is 16 or 18? That's just being pedantic. She's autonomous a character as she can get. If I cared about this sort of stuff, I would have a bigger problem with the way blue-haired Lunch (an adult) is treated than Bulma.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by WittyUsername » Tue May 15, 2018 2:22 pm

ABED wrote:
Doctor. wrote:
ABED wrote:I think that's a fundamental distinction. Put an adult female in an S&M outfit is one thing, but putting a kid like Chichi in one is off-putting.
Sure, but Chi-Chi is actually a kid.

I don't see any discernible difference between a 16 and an 18-year old to be pedantic about the distinction, especially when Bulma is one of the most independent and self-sufficient characters in the series. Saying the former is a kid and the latter is an adult is an arbitrary distinction; a necessary one for society, yes, but ultimately a meaningless one in the context of this discussion.
You have to draw the line legally somewhere and 18 makes as much sense as anything else. 16 is still legally underage in most countries. 18 is considered an adult, so it's very different. I don't see how that's arbitrary.
Technically, 16 is legal in most parts of the world, including in many parts of the U.S. Still, it’s certainly rather questionable to be sexualizing a character who’s below the age of what many of us often think of as an adult, even if the character in question is just a pen and ink drawing.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Tue May 15, 2018 2:28 pm

Doctor. wrote:
ABED wrote:You have to draw the line legally somewhere and 18 makes as much sense as anything else. 16 is still legally underage in most countries. 18 is considered an adult, so it's very different. I don't see how that's arbitrary.
I said it's a necessary distinction in real life. But this is fiction. What difference does it make whether Bulma is 16 or 18? That's just being pedantic. She's autonomous a character as she can get. If I cared about this sort of stuff, I would have a bigger problem with the way blue-haired Lunch (an adult) is treated than Bulma.
It's the age, not the lack of autonomy. I know there are places, including in the US, where 16 is legal, but that feels very skeevy.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Doctor. » Tue May 15, 2018 2:40 pm

ABED wrote:It's the age, not the lack of autonomy. I know there are places, including in the US, where 16 is legal, but that feels very skeevy.
I'm asking why. This is fiction. Age is literally an arbitrary number here. Would the situations Bulma is put through be any less "skeevy" if she was 18 instead with the same personality? Again, she's autonomous, she's independent, and she usually gets into those situations herself; unlike Lunch who is oblivious and doesn't really act like a mature adult. I find it baffling that age is the thing being complained about here.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Tue May 15, 2018 3:47 pm

Doctor. wrote:
ABED wrote:It's the age, not the lack of autonomy. I know there are places, including in the US, where 16 is legal, but that feels very skeevy.
I'm asking why. This is fiction. Age is literally an arbitrary number here. Would the situations Bulma is put through be any less "skeevy" if she was 18 instead with the same personality? Again, she's autonomous, she's independent, and she usually gets into those situations herself; unlike Lunch who is oblivious and doesn't really act like a mature adult. I find it baffling that age is the thing being complained about here.
Yes, because 18 is legally an adult. It's definitely less skeevy. It doesn't matter that she's independent, she's not yet an adult. Bulma may be smart but she's not exactly the most mature person in the story.

Game of Thrones has incest. The fact that it's fictional and consentual doesn't make it any less disgusting.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Doctor. » Tue May 15, 2018 5:17 pm

ABED wrote:
Doctor. wrote:
ABED wrote:It's the age, not the lack of autonomy. I know there are places, including in the US, where 16 is legal, but that feels very skeevy.
I'm asking why. This is fiction. Age is literally an arbitrary number here. Would the situations Bulma is put through be any less "skeevy" if she was 18 instead with the same personality? Again, she's autonomous, she's independent, and she usually gets into those situations herself; unlike Lunch who is oblivious and doesn't really act like a mature adult. I find it baffling that age is the thing being complained about here.
Yes, because 18 is legally an adult. It's definitely less skeevy. It doesn't matter that she's independent, she's not yet an adult. Bulma may be smart but she's not exactly the most mature person in the story.

Game of Thrones has incest. The fact that it's fictional and consentual doesn't make it any less disgusting.
Look, I get feeling bothered because of the sexual harassment. I'd say it's pointless to feel bothered since it's fiction, but it's at least a morally reprehensible situation when Bulma is not consenting to the groping/stalking going on. But feeling bothered because the situation involves a character that was arbitrarily written to be 16 when she could just as easily pass off as 18 is completely baffling to me; even more is the implication here that the situation would somehow be fine if she actually was 18. As if a number on the page means anything. And your definition of legality is coming purely from an American perspective. I'm sure most Japanese readers would feel bothered by the fact that Bulma is being sexually harassed, not because she's 16.

I'd argue that it does, but I don't really have much of a problem with the people who practice real incest either.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Kunzait_83 » Tue May 15, 2018 7:39 pm

So yeah... I've tended to largely stay out of topics like this one for a long time now, and I'm mostly regretful of that, because I have a LOT to say and unpack about it.

So much so that for the 2nd time in my entire time here (3rd if you count the Wuxia thread) I'm gonna have to break this all down into two parts, not to mention actually put some... ugh... actual time and effort into this (since I usually hammer out most of my posts pretty quickly and rapidly, despite their reputation for their length).

So with that being said:

Part 1: General Topic Overview

This is a ridiculously complex and nuanced issue: on the one hand, anyone who's familiar with me (and a lot of my... specific choices in avatars from back in the day) around here knows that I'm the farthest thing in the known universe from a prude. Generally I'm of the feeling that almost NOTHING should be off limits in media: be it for children or not.

That having been said though... yes, there still ARE caveats even for people as loose and open about media content as a guy like me is. I don't have very many lines... but I DO indeed have a few.

So on the subject of sex in general: no, absolutely under NO question do I think that sexual content, in and of itself, should be something that is barred from even media aimed at small children. Sex is as fundamental and natural a part of life as eating, breathing, sleeping, and dying: that Western society has demonized it and made even the merest mention of it as taboo as it has is unbelievably childish and absurd in the extreme.

Children, even small children, SHOULD NOT be shielded from just the mere EXISTENCE of sex, human sexuality, and sexual urges. Honestly, I genuinely believe that shielding kids from this stuff is ultimately greatly DETRIMENTAL to their upbringing and needlessly puts what is ultimately a negative aura of "forbidden fruit" around the whole idea of something that is, quite frankly, necessary to our species' very survival (not to mention to the psychological development of us on a more individual basis). And I think that rendering sex in that type of "forbidden" light ultimately has VERY negative long-term consequences.

Does Dragon Ball, a manga and anime made for small children, containing sexual content bother me in and of itself? Absolutely not. No way. Not remotely. Like anything else, the younger you educate your children about this stuff, the better (not that something as whimsically slight like DB should be any kind of primary source for educating children, but you get my meaning).

BUT... does the specific NATURE of some of (some of mind you) Dragon Ball's sexual content bother me? Actually... kinda, yeah. Some of it indeed does: at least on an individual case-by-case basis. And a lot of it is part of a much bigger picture with a much more broader issue with anime and manga as a collective whole, apart from just Dragon Ball; which is a MASSIVE topic unto itself that I'm gonna try my best to unpack here, because frankly I think its WAY long overdue that I speak up more in-depth on my (very, very strong) feelings and thoughts on this particular issue (one which I think contains a great deal of importance).

So lets get down to the core issue at hand: Bulma. And by extension really, Muten Roshi. Is Bulma handled well as a female character throughout Dragon Ball? Overall yes, for the most part... but with some caveats.

Bulma, like many other Toriyama female characters, is driven, smart, has a ton of agency and dimensions, suffers nobody's bullshit, and isn't ever portrayed in a negative of shameful light for being tough, independent, or having goals and desires of her own. And she's flawed. Quite flawed. For all her positive traits like intelligence, independence, ambition and drive, she's also incredibly selfish (a recurring theme among so many other Toriyama characters) and narcissistic, not to mention a bit greedy and judging of others in a shallow light; though these things all improve gradually as she grows and matures throughout the series' run. So she's believably human and not a hollow "Mary Sue" type, and is also capable of evolving.

Later on her relationship with Vegeta consumes a LOT of her character, and that's definitely kind of an issue: but in fairness, that's not until much, much later into the goings, after a LOT of the series has already passed (really its just in the final two story arcs out of over a dozen, in most of which she's given more than plenty to do).

Overall, pound for pound throughout the bulk of the series, I wouldn't say that her character is, broadly speaking, defined by her relationships with the male characters, or by her sexuality alone and unto itself. She's sexual (which is perfectly fine and human), but not a glorified sex-toy of a character.

On a broad scale, Bulma generally (more often than not, with just a few notable exceptions here and there) acquaints herself to the audience as a very strong and well defined female character. And all this WITHOUT her ever being a martial artist in any way at all in a series that is wholly and intrinsically defined by its focus on martial arts and martial artist characters; which is honestly kinda genuinely impressive in itself, especially in how often she still manages to be part of the action alongside all the other fighters.

So far so good. More or less anyway.

But then we get to how she's handled in a lot of the earlier arcs, mainly with regards to her sexuality (and how its used with other male characters).

Like with so many things, you have to judge these things on a case by case basis. Obviously Bulma, being a normal human girl, should absolutely be portrayed as a sexual being with sexual desires of her own. Whether she's being flirty, or she's attracted to someone, or trying to be "seductive" to get something that she wants (a trait that she never single-handedly relies on; its just one of many tools in her kit): generally speaking all of this is (for the most part at least) handled just fine and doesn't come across in any way as creepy or sexist or reductive of Bulma's character in the slightest. By and large, she's the one with the agency and decision-making. She's the one in control of her sexuality and how she chooses to use it. Fine.

(ABED earlier mentioned the bit with her and Blue in the Pirate Cave, and yeah, I think that the scene generally works just fine; not only is it a perfectly serviceable use of Bulma using her sexuality to humorous effect, but it even includes use of Blue's homosexuality that, unlike that one godawful bit in the anime with that one Dr. Slump character, is totally fine and not in any way negatively portraying gayness - so its something of an impressive hat trick in that regard.)

The issue comes about when she (and really, any other female character) is treated less as a person and more as a sex object: when her individuality is tossed to the side and she's reduced to wank-fodder. Generally this mainly only tends to happen the most when it comes to interaction with characters like Oolong and Muten Roshi; the latter especially.

Look, like I said before: I'm generally the kind of person who is in 99% of most cases TOTALLY fine with the portrayal of almost ANYTHING in art of fiction of any sort. That being said though: yeah, even I have my (very rare) limits, and there's that pesky 1% that comes about from time to time. And Dragon Ball indeed has a few of those instances.

Do I have an issue with rape or sexual assault being portrayed in children's media? Like anything else, I actually don't... provided of course that the CONTEXT is right for it. And that's the issue with how Bulma (and other female characters in DB) are used in conjunction with Muten Roshi or Oolong: context. Because really, most of Dragon Ball's problems with sex have little to do with Bulma, or any one particular female character, and more to do with the humor centered on Muten Roshi (and to a much lesser extent, Oolong).

The problem with (some of) Dragon Ball's sexual humor is the framing and context of it: whether people like it or not, sexual assault is a HUGELY important issue in the world. And its not like this is new or sudden in the 2010s with the whole "Me Too" movement.

Unlike a lot of folks here, I was alive, cognizant, and socially aware as a little kid during the 1980s and 90s: sexual assault was indeed VERY much a thing in the cultural zeitgeist of the time. The 1980s and 90s were not some stone-age, medieval era where we all somehow "didn't know any better" until we all of a sudden got "enlightened" a few years ago when the Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby scandals broke out: we've fucking known better as a society for MANY long decades upon hundreds of years going back numerous generations now.

Rape is abhorrent: unwanted sexual advances are inexcusable. They aren't cute or charming in ANY way, in ANY context, and NEVER were at ANY point in time. Period.

In fact I well remember when there were a whole RASH of workplace/office sexual harassment cases that were MAJOR cultural news during the late 80s and early 90s: we had anti-sexual harassment ads and PSAs sweeping mainstream TV during a time when Bill Clinton was getting absolutely (and justifiably) MASSACRED in the media for his unwanted sexual advances on women like Kathleen Willey, Paula Jones, and Juanita Broaddrick (and this was YEARS before even the whole Monica Lewinsky thing took place). "No means no" was a phrase that was DEEPLY embedded in the national climate all throughout my childhood.

The point is "it was the 80s, we didn't know any better" is and always has been an unbelievably weak-sauce excuse. It wasn't ok in the 80s (as if the 80s were some far-off, long-ago and faraway bygone fossilized ancient medieval era instead of just 30 years ago; Christ, I have Marvel comic books older than that): sexual assault wasn't considered morally trivial in Japan (the notorious Junko Furuta case springs immediately to mind, among countless other horrific sex crimes from that country), America, or anyplace else on Earth shy of some of the rock-bottom worst 3rd world countries with rampant barbarism, despot rulers, and no infrastructure.

Grown-ass adults knew better and have ALWAYS known better, and they don't get any kind of a free pass or get off the hook for their moral failings (in the realm of sex or otherwise) because "it was a different time": shy of the fucking dark ages, there was NEVER "a different time" in the modern era when this shit was cool or ok. You do something wrong, you willingly victimize another human being: that shit's on you and NOT on "the era" (especially when "the era" in question was just a single generation ago). Own it, and take some fucking responsibility for one's actions like a goddamned adult.

ALL THAT BEING SAID... the issue with Dragon Ball's sexual humor, particularly where it concerns Muten Roshi's antics, is NOT even that its centered on sexual harassment. I'm someone who believes you can make jokes and humor out of almost ANYTHING, up to and including even rape, mass murder, or other horrible, gravely serious issues (though you obviously have to be INSANELY delicate about it intellectually, contextualize it appropriately, and not be careless or irresponsible should you opt to tread there in such waters).

The issue is entirely in how the sexual harassment is framed. The issue in Dragon Ball is that its NEVER framed as if Muten Roshi is doing something that is GRAVELY and horrifically fucking wrong... the issue is that his penchant for sexual assault almost always portrayed as a slight social faux-pas. Its the old "Oh that rascally scamp: will he ever learn?" routine.

And yeah; in this context and framing, that shit just DOES NOT fly. Its not funny: not only for all the horrendous gender/social subtext, but even just on a raw comedic basis. Toriyama is normally such a skilled comedic artist, but a LOT of these jokes (not all by any means, there's some genuine cleverness at times, but a vast ton of them) just have absolutely ZERO sense of comic timing to them and come across as incredibly lazy, hackneyed shtick (this is compounded WAY more so in the anime filler, where Toei are often even WORSE about it).

Yes there are exceptions, some that are either contextualized/framed better (Yamucha accidentally sneaking a peak at a naked Bulma, which is about as genuinely innocent a sexual joke involving someone getting aroused by Bulma as it gets), are genuinely clever and witty (Kuririn's absurd scheme to use Muten Roshi's reaction to Bulma's breasts to make Suke-san visible for Yamucha), or both (the aforementioned “getting Lunch to dress in sexy lingerie” bit, which is easily the all time funniest “Muten Roshi is an old pervert” joke in the whole series without being in any which way creepy or unsettling about it).

But outside of some notable exceptions, a ridiculously large percentage of these jokes simply don't add anything at all to the series or the Muten Roshi character (and if anything, detract from both), not even cheap laughs: they're just uncomfortable and a MASSIVE black stain on what is otherwise a series that is simply a perfectly fun, awesome little "Ka-POW!" bit of kung fu fantasy silliness.

Again, don't get me wrong: I'm not talking about ALL of Dragon Ball's sexual jokes. There's a TON of sex jokes in the Pilaf arc, many of which work just fine and are downright hilarious (particularly the ones centering on Goku's naivety and lack of basic knowledge or worldliness in such matters): again, most of this is centered firmly on Muten Roshi, who while otherwise in most all other contexts outside of this one is SUCH a rich, awesomely layered and wonderful character (one of my dearest favorites in the whole damn series in fact), is rendered in these scenes as unbearably creepy and gross: and NOT in a good way like I'd expect from a cool horror movie or piece of grindhouse sleaze. This stuff is, more often than not anyway, just pure, pure cringe on every conceivable level.

This is all part of a MUCH larger issue that I've long, long had in a broader sense with anime and manga as a whole (one that was certainly there in the 80s and 90s, but has gotten REALLY, grotesquely fucking out of control in the 2000s and onward): how certain sexual topics that are intrinsically abhorrent (rape, pedophilia, sexual harassment, and just generally creepy and overly-aggressive displays of sexual attraction, etc) are framed and contextualized as "cute, charmingly quirky, and fun!"

People on these forums who've gotten to know me well over the years know that I have a deep, abiding love for some truly, deeply sick and depraved shit. I grew up as a small kid on a steady diet of grindhouse filth: chainsaw murderers, rape movies, cannibalism, ritualized torture, etc. The thing about that stuff though is: there is just about NEVER, ever, ever, ever ANY question as to the context or framing of such things.

No matter how sick or twisted or beyond fucked up the movie's content or subject matter... there is ZERO ambiguity that this stuff is being portrayed as anything other than just disturbingly, ghastly, sick, gruesome, and utterly fucking WRONG. I mean, that in and of itself was part of the entire POINT of horror and grindhouse: to purposefully seek out and face down things that are clearly meant to make you squirm and twist in your seat in sheer discomfort, disgust, and fear.

You don't watch a movie like the original I Spit On Your Grave (which features a notorious, legendary 25 minute agonizingly long gang-rape sequence that is a fucking gauntlet of sexual horrors for only the most iron of stomachs to get through) and come out of it thinking "Daaaaaaaaw! Isn't that just the most charmingly adorable and whimsically quirky thing ever how those guys pinned that woman down over a tree trunk and sodomized her against her will?" God knows you DAMN sure don't watch it getting sexually aroused by its contents. If you do to ANY degree... then for fuck's sake, and I say this with utmost sincerity and urgency, please seek IMMEDIATE professional help, ASAP.

The point is that works of that nature expressly and with utmost sobering clarity acknowledge that there is a moral line here, and that they are purposefully stepping over that line with the clearest intent of trying to get a rise out of you (one that is hopefully one of disgust and morbid fascination; as opposed to somehow genuinely getting one's rocks off on it, because... no). The issue with anime and manga that feature large amounts of Muten Roshi-esque "sexual assault is just another charmingly harmless personality quirk!" style humor is that they don't even acknowledge the fucking line at all... the "line", under their framing, is in fact just a misunderstood puppy that's actually really sweet and lovable once you get to know it.

And that's just... dear mother of GOD, no no no no no no NOOOOOOOO.

I don't have any issues whatsoever with healthy consensual sex, rape, pedophilia, or just about anything else of ANY taboo (sexual or otherwise) being depicted in ANY form of media for ANY age demographic: but for god's sake, CONTEXT AND FRAMING ARE EVERYTHING.

Contrast this with what is quite possible my all time favorite manga of all: Shamo. Shamo is a gritty, hardboiled crime manga (that has a ton of sports and martial arts elements sprinkled in as well: even just a sliiiiiight twinge of Wuxia for one specific lone story arc) about a disturbed young street punk (formerly a popular high honor student from a happy upper middle class family... before he has a complete mental breakdown and was sent to prison for gruesomely knifing his parents to death at the breakfast table one morning) named Ryo Narushima who aimlessly travels the streets of various Japanese cities in search of his estranged sister while navigating the seedy worlds of Japanese youth gangs, crime cartels, illegal underground fighting, and drug culture.

As that series progresses, the reader follows Ryo's path as he paradoxically becomes an increasingly skilled and disciplined (not to mention lethal and effective) martial artist, while at the same time descending into a complete abject moral decay and psychological erosion. During the course of the story, he commits a ton of unbelievably sick and awful crimes... up to and including raping women.

But the thing is... the story NEVER makes apologies or excuses for his actions and behavior. Whatsoever. You're not meant to SYMPATHIZE with him when he does these horrible things: you, as a reader, are being dragged along on this character's total and utter collapse into a total monster as his soul continually withers away and his moral compass spirals down a drain.

The rape scenes are brutal and horrific and relentlessly fucking unsexy and unfetishized: as they damn well SHOULD be. These actions are grotesque in the extreme, and they're portrayed as the dehumanizing, brutal, and unconscionable acts that they unmistakably are. And the very real pain of the victims is never shied away from either; you're made to feel the consequences of Ryo's vile acts upon these women and how he's irrevocably scarred and violated them, and its palpably bone-chilling. You are CLEARLY not meant to get aroused by this; and if you are somehow, then god help you.

AND furthermore on top of that... there's also the added layer that Ryo's character, and his journey into total rot and decay as a person, is intended as a bit of social commentary on Japanese culture's own issues in dealing with its more troubled and criminal youth and pointing out all sorts of flaws in their education and juvenile prisons systems. So there's also a ton of pointed purpose to this stuff aside from just raw shock value.

I bring up Shamo in this case as a point of comparison: imagine if Ryo's rapes were handled differently, as they would be in a more "conventional" manga series. Where instead of treating the matter with grave severity, its played up as "fanservice": what, he's just raping women! Its CUTE! Its funny! You know how men are with women: boys will be boys! Don't you have a sense of humor? Or are you some kind of a prude? Lighten up!

Violence Jack is another manga series known for its gruesome and violent sexual imagery: but again, there is NEVER ANY question at ANY point throughout where the manga's morality on such acts is centered, even as its viciously and knowingly exploiting it. The premise of Violence Jack is that in the aftermath of a great earthquake, Japanese society has been cut off from the rest of the civilized world and has collapsed into a feudalistic, post-apocalyptic hell on earth, and roving gangs and marauders terrorize the weak... including preying sexually on women.

Rape is bad, sexual abuse of women is bad, and the manga clearly knows this as it depicts this type of abhorrent sexual violence as something which is wielded by the bad guys throughout the story as weapons against the innocent. Nothing is glamorized, nothing about any of it is rendered as desirable or "hot" in ANY way: the most common audience reaction to any given rape scene in Violence Jack is one of abject outrage and horror at what they're seeing: which is of course the entire point.

Again, I sometimes imagine what a series like Violence Jack would be like in a landscape where casual objectification and portrayal of female characters in manga and anime as little more than fuck fantasy outlets for lonely, socially awkward shut-ins is more so the norm and more widespread now than ever before: where instead of playing the violent sexual scenes for gruesome horror and framing it from the perspective of abject startling terror at what the women characters are undergoing (and how some of them have to deal with and overcome the aftermath of it), where the focus of the narrative is from the WOMEN'S perspective as VICTIMS OF A HEINOUS CRIME...

...these scenes would instead be presented from the perspective of the uncontrollably pervy, leering men who can scarcely be asked to contain their sexual wants and see these women as thinking, feeling human beings, and where the underpinning of the scene instead would be one of arousal and making the reader feel ok and comfortable with it by "lightening" the punch via rendering it as some sort of harmless and charmingly cute playfulness between rascally young men and shy, uptight young women (who secretly want it deep down), or some such.

I know that that's an AWFUL LOT for what ultimately amounts to a series of (bad and tasteless) jokes in a kids' magical chop socky comic full of peepee jokes and such... but the reason I'm going this deep into the weeds is to illustrate the point that this shit matters: these things, whether we like it or not, have an impact on society and on us as individuals. No, that doesn't in any way mean I believe we need to be overly self-conscious about every little detail in our art and media and censor everything: quite the OPPOSITE of that obviously.

What I mean is that, while we should be free to express whatever we want in any kind of art for any kind of audience... freedom also comes with some basic, common-sense degree of fucking responsibility. THAT'S what I so often find missing from all this "free speech" bullshit I see so often from alt-right leaning young dudes online in communities like this one and others (who take even silly matters in nerd culture like this sort of discussion here and are just as guilty of overly politicizing them as the SJW-types they hate so much are): everything from them is always "we should have the freedom to say, think, and do anything we want!" with almost ZERO regard or thought paid toward the basic adult responsibilities that comes with that sort of freedom.

Because no, freedom isn't free: everything that we say and do, be it among ourselves in real life, and in our art and creative media, and whatever else... it ALL has an impact on SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE. Everything we say and do, in any medium or in any area of life, has both personal as well as societal consequences on somebody, somewhere.

None of this shit exists in a vacuum and there's no such thing as being truly, purely, and utterly apolitical; and pretending otherwise is simply ignoring and flying directly against a fundamental nature of reality and how the world works. Every word you speak, every choice you make in life... ALL of it is political in SOME way, and ALL of it makes a statement to others about what you feel and think about them and the broader world at large. True apolitical neutrality is a fantasy, as even expressing a desire for neutrality in something is, in and of itself, a political statement that you're making, whether you like it or not.

Does that any of this mean that I think some kid somewhere is gonna instantly become brainwashed into some kind of roving, raping, sexual predator just because they saw Muten Roshi grope at Bulma's ass in a Dragon Ball comic? Obviously fucking not, of course. But I think what a lot of people in these kinds of forums miss in discussions like this is the bigger picture:

...that over the duration of MANY YEARS, over the course of COUNTLESS different works, IN ABUNDANCE, when ALL of this shit that we put out there and consume in our art and media and culture is taken in as a collective whole, in its totality and summation over a long enough period of time: we as a people and as an audience are ultimately, whether we like it or not, whether we choose to see and acknowledge it or not... we are sending a clear message out into the world.

"This is what we think about X groups of people."

"This is what we want and demand out of our art."

"This is the sort of thing that is ultimately a window into our souls and that is lurking somewhere within our deepest, darkest thoughts and desires."

I think that a LOT of the problem here is that we've raised an entire generation (or two) to be critically disengaged from art and from creative thinking. To see creativity purely as a mass market product like TV dinners and stereo equipment (and to judge them on raw functionality) rather than as works that function and operate on a subliminal level (and this can even include the most banal and childishly simplistic of works out there as well).

Because of this, among the MANY problems that this creates in the broader discourse about art and creative media, it creates a disconnect in people's minds when it comes to framing. People RARELY to almost NEVER give any active thought to how even individual works, much less broader-sweeping swaths of works collectively, are framed and from WHO'S perspective: “who” in this case meaning groups of or “types” of people, as this is a VERY diverse world we live in (and always has been: we've simply fluctuated over time, as a society, in how and to what degree we choose to acknowledge and address that).

I know that a LARGE majority of people on this forum (and in geek communities in general) are guys: largely of the heterosexual persuasion. I know there are women and gay people here too, and obviously of course that's fine: but for purposes of this particular topic, I'm talking about the overall lion's share majority here. For all the many, many, many hetero dudes reading this, join me if you will for but a moment in a little thought experiment:

Pretend for a moment that you're a woman instead. Everything else about you is still you, including all your various geeky interests and hobbies, all of your passions and life goals and interests, etc: you're just now a female version of you. Whenever you get a chance, if you ever feel so inclined (and I would indeed urge you to do so at some point in time), try to spend a day, even a couple of days, looking at the world around you from the point of view of this hypothetical girl version of yourself.

When you TRULY put yourself into that other set of eyes... a LOT of shit that you may have formerly taken for granted about the stuff you love suddenly takes on a TOTALLY different meaning than it did before.

Imagine being a woman, and in SOOOOO many places you look, time and time and time and time again... you see women representations in so many corners of media (on TV, in magazines, in books, in the movies, on a stage somewhere, on a website or a youtube channel, maybe even on the radio: everywhere) reduced to little more than a set of tits and ass, with few other defining characteristics. Everywhere you look, you see their sexual agency and sense of control and sense of self completely stripped away for the moral comfort and perverse sexual amusement of young, horny, lonely young guys (who are seen, by and large in many corners of media, as “the majority target audience demographic” from a marketing perspective).

Its not 100% universal no, and there are gasps of breaths of fresh air to be had with a fair degree of much better realized and rounded women characters (who can still be sexual as well; just not have that be their ONLY defining reason for being)... but by and large, this framing of “female figures in media are mainly here for the sexual gratification of young men” is the default setting a disturbingly LARGE percentage of the time in total; and it can sometimes (or oftentimes) get to become overwhelming.

On top of that (and again, we're still working from our thought experiment of “you're a girl version of you looking out at the world from a female set of eyes”), there's the issue of guys of a sort that you know all around you in your personal life, and how these constant subliminal messaging can or tends to impact them.

Many of these guys are probably your friends who share similar nerd interests as you; but sometimes the friendship... steers itself into awkward and uncomfortable territory and you notice the guy looking at you funny sometimes. You KNOW what he's thinking about you. You're not interested in him like that, which is fine. Doesn't mean you're not interested in guys at all: but you're not interested in just giving it up to every guy you happen to know and who happens to treat you halfway decently.

But he (your hypothetical guy friend who's into your same nerdy shit) doesn't get that, because somewhere deep down, somewhere he isn't consciously aware of, he isn't quiiiiiite thinking of you as a complete person with thoughts and feelings and individuality like he has: he's thinking of you as a conduit for his physical (and emotional) fantasies. In part (not SOLELY, but JUST IN PART) because he's had that perspective reinforced COUNTLESSLY time and time and time and time and time and time again endlessly across SOOOOO many movies, comic books, video games, emo pop songs, youtube rants from other similarly lonely young guys like him, etc.

Imagine that being your reality 24/7 EVERY SINGLE DAY OF YOUR LIFE. Imagine the discomfort, imagine the constant anxiety and pressure and fear that that instills in you over time throughout the course of your life... imagine what the message your seeing sent about you (and all other girls like you), oftentimes subliminally and in a very almost They Live-esque fashion:

"You're not a person: you're just a pair of tits and ass. You're a fuck tube. You're here to get other people off; everything else about you is secondary. What you think and what you feel, they don't matter. And no one else on this planet who matters (i.e. people with a penis) cares either: all they want out of you is your sex, and the rest of you is comparatively irrelevant."

What I'm trying to get at here is, on an individual basis, a lot of this shit (pop culture, media representation, etc) is trivial and meaningless drivel: over time and collectively though, this shit has a very, very real impact on how millions of real everyday people think and see the world around them. These things shape young minds and color perspectives for sometimes entire lifetimes. It may not be any one particular thing specifically (it rarely tends to be): but as a collective whole, in its totality over a long enough timeline, these things have immeasurable power and resonance.

Or as the great thinker, scholar, and social philosopher of our time, internet summer blockbuster film critic Harry Plinkett, is often fond of saying:

”YOU might not have noticed it... but your brain did.”

So really, again I ask, try and take a look at the things (movies, TV shows, books, web sites, stories, youtube channels, what have you) that you consume daily, the things that you sometimes may not even realize can be subtly or subliminally coloring your outlook on the world over time... what do these things consist of the most? What are some of the most recurring deeper themes (overt and/or covert) in the works that you are drawn to the most frequently or the strongest? What do they say, as a collective whole, about what it is you think and are drawn to the most? Possibly even what it is that you want deep down?

Really THINK about the stuff that you're absorbing into your brain on a daily basis. Not only that, but more importantly: think about the PERSPECTIVE in HOW this stuff is often framed and what kind of audience desires its catering to. Is it framed with a perspective geared towards all sorts of different people (male, female, black, white, gay, straight, etc.)... or is a suspiciously LARGE percentage of it crafted with a framing geared toward the perspectives of people like you (generally a male, hetero "you")?

This also has little to nothing to do with raw porn, which is obviously intended as largely pure masturbation fodder, for BOTH genders and across the entire sexual spectrum. And just having raw masturbation fodder handy (har har) is obviously totally fine, so long as no one is specifically being hurt by its production ala child porn and actual, non-simulated rape/snuff films and such (this is the farthest thing in the universe from some kind of anti-pornography screed by any stretch).

Rather, this is more to do with just general art and narrative storytelling as a collective whole: art and storytelling being on some level VERY much different from raw, pure pornography (however otherwise sexual it might be) and up to a point IS ultimately a fundamentally important part of our daily lives and our culture in a broader sense.

On its own, Dragon Ball is just a harmless, dumb little kids martial arts comic (that at times happens to feature a LOT of jokes and scenes where a creepy old man chases and gropes after buxom young teenage girls).

On its own, something like K-On is a silly, stupid, fluffy anime about a bunch of school girls playing in a pop band and frolicking about in cute outfits doing cute activities together cutely (that seems AWFULLY suspiciously like its tailored more to what certain kinds of guys like to fantasize cute young girls' lives are like rather than what actual girls lives are actually like).

On its own, Ikki Tousen is a vapid T&A manga/anime about well endowed female fighters jiggling their unrealistically oversized boobs at the audience as they throw punches and kicks.

And on and on and on and on down a never ending list we can be here all damn day (and then some) running through.

Hell, on their own, much of these franchises are what a LOT of Japanese anime and manga ultimately just amounts to: silly, stupid shit used as an excuse to indulge in FILL_IN_THE_BLANK (most oft answer to that blank usually being: cute young girls doing X in such a way that makes awkward, lonely young dudes hard).

But instead of looking at each one on their own, in a vacuum, as just a self-contained work... think bigger and broader and more overarchingly big picture for a second. Imagine for a moment that you're NOT some horny, lonely young guy with raging hormones and endless fantasies about girls you like, and instead that you yourself ARE a girl... but no less a nerd just the same and who loves anime and manga and video games nonetheless:

What is all of this shit collectively and in its entirely as a mass blob of media ultimately saying time and time and time and time again about you and about how other guys think of you and other girls like you?

Yeah. Its... not pretty. Or flattering. At all. If there's any word I find accurately describes it, its... vaguely (and sometimes not-so-vaguely) sexually threatening. Maybe even dehumanizing.

Again: just because we're all free to say and do and think and create whatever we want however we want does not absolve us of the responsibilities from the various repercussions that that freedom ultimately has on others. You are what you do. You reap what you sow. Etc.

And its not that I somehow think that even something as ridiculous and silly as Dragon Ball should NOT have sexual jokes at all: by all means, make silly, filthy, and dumb peepee and boobie jokes all the live long day till the cows come home. Nor am I advocating that any of these sorts of thoughts or viewpoints that I'm advocating for here be somehow enforced in some sort of mass mandated tyrannical censorship, or anything of the kind (which is a common strawman argument that people in online debates about these kinds of issues always like to trot out).

All I'm ultimately saying, with ALL of this shit in this big-ass post is just... think this shit through first, even to just a BASIC and token degree. Just TRY to do better (with regards to either Toriyama, Toyotaro, or whomever the fuck else over at Toei in the “Dragon Ball room”).

That's all these sorts of writings ultimately are with topics like this (usually at least): an appeal for people to think more deeply and clearly about the impact that their voices, thoughts, and works have on others, and to try to improve upon those things as best they can, in great or small ways. Be a better artist, no matter how silly or trivial your work otherwise is, and just be a better, more thoughtful and empathetic person in general.

And you can VERY much do those things while STILL retaining every ounce of “edge”, “shock value”, “offensiveness” and whatever else have you in the things that you create; because being “edgy and offensive” is in NO way inherently tied strictly to being just a callous douche. You can be smart, empathetic towards other people's viewpoints, morally thoughtful, AND potentially offensive/edgy all at the same time and in the same breadth. Why, its almost like the total spectrum of human behavior and thinking isn't always some kind of ridiculous zero-sum game.

Again, don't get it twisted: I'm not coming down on sexuality in and of itself. I'm certainly not coming down on sexuality being portrayed in ANY WAY across media, or women in art or media being portrayed as sexual creatures in general, or of men having ANY sexual interest AT ALL in women: I'm a heterosexual, sexually active male myself, so that'd be pretty damned counter-intuitive of me. :P All of these things of course are and should be seen as 100% healthy and fine by pretty much everyone, just by virtue of being human and having a pulse.

What I'm asking is a much, MUCH more nuanced question here about the vantage point through which the sexuality of women is often framed throughout most mass media: that perspective of women generally consisting of being from that of young, sexually interested, hetero men, whose unchecked raw hormones might zero-in predominantly on women's boobs, butts, legs, and vaginas, as well as personality traits which mainly highlight those body areas as well as most men's sexual interests in general (girls frolicking along a beach playing volleyball for example, or girls engaging in giggly activities and light conversations about nothing particularly challenging or that might kill the fantasy with too much unsexy reality, etc).

What I'm talking about is a landscape where the deck is so over-stacked that its considered “the default setting” for male characters to be more than just raw sexual fantasies and have other attributes that define them, but its something that has to be struggled against actively (even today) for female characters.

Male characters can (and often do) have chiseled good looks and well muscled bodies, just as female characters tend to be built like runway models: but while body-image across media is a whole other issue in itself, that's not even what I'm predominantly getting at here. With male characters, the Adonis-like physique is often backgrounded in favor of the characters' other defining traits: be it bravery, cowardice, determination, resourcefulness, dimwittedness, intellect, etc.

While there are exceptions to everything of course (there are indeed male characters here or there that are raw sexual fantasies for women or even gay dudes), again this is about the bigger picture: by and large, most male character personality traits aren't used to highlight some sort of sexual fantasies in female viewers: they're there to either provide wish-fulfillment fantasies for young male audiences (“I want to be as big a badass fighter as Goku, I want to be as brave and forthright as Captain America, I want the power of a god like Superman, I want to be a gazillionaire brooding badboy like Batman” etc) or providing male characters with depth and shades of nuance to them, because male audiences are well aware and most acutely in tune with THEIR OWN deeper nuances: leading to male characters with relateable feet of clay, like The Fantastic Four's Thing's self-consciousness about his physical deformity (lots of young guys, especially nerdy ones, can relate to not being seen as handsome or as good looking as the Johnny Storm-esque pretty boys) or Tony Stark with his issues with his own insecure ego and substance abuse.

With female characters, its hardly the same or on equal footing. Yes, there are an increasing number of exceptions now, and have been for some time (as we have indeed come a LONG way over the years): but even with the ever-increasing progress that's been and still being made, the overall broader spectrum is STILL tilted in many ways to where there's SO. IMPOSSIBLY. MANY. Female characters across ALL forms of media for ALL ages that are are principally there to cater to the sexual fantasies (both conscious and subconscious) of young guys; and not just in raw physical appearance, but again in their demeanor, their personality traits and their interests, etc. Most of the female cast of Scott Pilgrim for example is basically just raw “the perfect nerd girlfriend material” fantasy for geeky, lonely young men who grew up on NES video games with little else to define them (“She's pretty and likes all the same things I like! One of them's even a cute Japanese schoolgirl!”).

This issue is WAY more compounded in Japanese media: again, there are noteworthy exceptions (every fan of excellent manga should make a point to at some point in time drop whatever it is they're currently watching or reading and go check out the excellent, unsung gem of Katsuhiro Otomo awesomeness that is The Legend of Mother Sarah: seriously, its fucking amazing and criminally under-appreciated and has as its titular focus one of the coolest female manga characters of all time), but the VAST majority of anime and manga is almost downright suffocatingly geared toward the sexual fetishes of young men; specifically shy, introverted, socially awkward young men who have clear and obvious issues with relating to or empathizing with women as regular, fully formed people like they see themselves rather than as simply walking/talking outlets for their sexual desires (however consciously or subconsciously; and for most people, its usually the latter).

Those of you who may have your rooms plastered full of all this stuff: big-breasted anime girls in short skirts - generally rendered in VERY young ages, and often in shchoolgirl attire - all over all of your DVD/Blu Ray cases, posters on your walls, statues and action figures, t-shirts you wear, etc. The ones of you (and I KNOW there are some if not plenty of you here that this indeed applies to) who go all out on this stuff and display it all proudly in your place of dwellings. Imagine you have a girl over your house as a guest: hell, imagine you have a number of girls over, either all at once or over a span of time.

Obviously every person is different and every person has their own individual reactions to things: but on average, in the general realm of likelihood for the typical girl... what do you think that all of this stuff is saying to a girl, deep inside her mind if even only just subconsciously, about you and about how it is that you perceive women?

No, none of this is to "shame" guys into feeling bad about enjoying sex or sexy women (real or fictional): again, I'm a guy too. I have a functioning sex-drive no different from the rest of you. I've eyeballed and fantasized about women I've found attractive, I've watched porn, I've engaged with erotica (Japanese or otherwise) with total guilt-free enjoyment of it, and I've had my fair share of actual sex with other women. I'm as human as the rest of you, and I make zero apologies whatsoever for my enjoying being a sexual creature, and I would not expect any different of anyone else.

This isn't about a micro picture but a MACRO picture. That's all that ANY of these conversations about broader societal gender disparities - across media and other facets of life - that have been continually being raised by left-leaning people (reasonable, non-crazy/ridiculously silly ones at least) have EVER been about from day 1.

When SO MUCH of you (and when so much of "us" in a broader, societal sense) is displayed through these figures of INSANELY youthful, barely-pubescent sexuality, female figures who are little more OTHER THAN raw sexual fantasies for the male libido, with nary any shred of reality or substance beyond that reflected in even the tiniest amount: when absorbed in its totality, what do you think is probably going through the mind of the average girl you might invite over to your house as a guest when she sees all this stuff? What does it likely say to her about your perception of women in general?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions, and ask them while looking at the world, and while looking at the average lifestyles of most typical young, heterosexual male nerds/geeks (especially within the Otaku realm) from through the eyes of a female. Either a female version of yourself, or even better, through the eyes of other women you might know.

Ask yourself these sorts of questions, place yourself in these different perspectives for a good while... and then take another look again at some of Dragon Ball's sexual jokes revolving around Muten Roshi chasing after terribly young girls all the time, along with plenty of other similar material across countless other anime and manga out there.

THEN tell me how those depictions might register.
Last edited by Kunzait_83 on Tue May 15, 2018 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Journey to the West, chapter 26 wrote:The strong man will meet someone stronger still:
Come to naught at last he surely will!
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Kunzait_83 » Tue May 15, 2018 7:42 pm

Part 2: A long, LONG overdue evisceration of the comically absurd, and vaguely disturbing viewpoints on sex and erotica of one particularly noteworthy member of this forum.
JulieYBM wrote:Lots of stuff, in this and tons of other threads around here.
Okay. This is WAY past overdue now, and I feel genuinely bad that I haven't properly tackled a whole ton of earlier, similar points that you've made in other threads about these kinds of topics. But I aim to correct on that oversight right here and now.

Sooooo...
JulieYBM wrote:I've always thought that Toriyama was mostly tame, even with his sexual jokes, but that he would also use them to better define the characters and make them fallible. One moment Blooma's trading in on her sexuality, the next she's walking into a trap (the panties scene) or just plain bombing (trying to seduce Blue). It gives some variety and dimension to the subject, which you don't really get elsewhere.
While I agree that, within the grand scheme of things, Toriyama's sexual humor is generally fairly tame (often typically at something of a 3rd or 4th grade level of bathroom humor, which is appropriate given his audience), I find the idea that his use of it gives some uncommon degree of dimension to how sex is applied to characterizations in narrative fiction that isn't typically seen to be both immensely laughable as well as denoting a ridiculously and downright embarrassingly low degree of knowledge or experience with much of any given work of media operating outside of a very juvenile level (which ad I've been often saying lately is, for this community, generally par for the course most of the time).

Works from sexually-fixated artists/storytellers as wildly diverse in their styles and depictions of sex and sexual ideas and themes as Mike Nichols, Anne Desclos, Henry Miller, Virginie Despentes, Pier Paolo-Pasolinni, Marquis de Sade, Catherine Millet, Marguerite Duras, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Vladmir Nabokov, Todd Solondz, The Wachowskis, Robert Crumb, Ingeborg Day, Ken Russell, Paul Verhoeven, Erica Jong, David Lynch, Ursula K. Le Guin, Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, Neil LaBute, Nikos Nikolaidis, and countless, COUNTLESS others paint a ridiculously sprawling array of works that have untold volumes and dimensions more to say about the subject of sex and the dynamics of human sexuality through both their characters and narratives than a guy like Toriyama (whose work I generally REALLY like for what it is, but who on this subject is basically just operating on the level of a fairly bright 8 year old who's only just starting to truly grasp this whole “how sex works” thing) has ever come within untold lightyears of achieving in all his potty joke comics.

Hell, one passing viewing of the movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape (which is effectively “baby's first classic indie movie”) would more than overwhelm and drown out Toriyama's entire body of work in terms of the dimensionalities through which its characters and story examine and depict sex and sexual dynamics from a vast variety of different perspectives and viewpoints. Hell, a fucking early Kevin Smith movie has oceans more going on in this department.

This seemingly confused naivete on the depth and dimensions of both sex in and of itself and moreover on how sex is portrayed across art/media as a whole that you, Jacob, have been continually perpetuating your outlook upon around here will from here on out be the running theme of the rest of what follows.

So strap in...
JulieYBM wrote:Nope. Blooma isn't a real person and exists only to do the impossible for creators and consumers of art. With someone like Blooma you can not only enjoy doing things you can't do in real life but you can do them from the perspective of being that character.
Here's the problem with your whole rationale here: what most characters in most anime and manga (and this includes Dragon Ball, generally in the “Muten Roshi is a pervert”-related jokes) do is NOT portray these sexual situations from the perspective of a female who's in them. The vantage point of many of these kinds of material is firmly on that of the guy: be it the guy in the story, or the guy reading/watching it at home. The situations are set up to reinforce the fantasy/paradigm of “This is not that serious or harmful; its just what guys are naturally want to do when they're around attractive young women... its even kinda charming in a way”.

Again, Bulma is a fairly well realized and fleshed out female character in general, so she isn't totally reduced down to simply “fuck toy to be passed around” and thus this issue isn't QUITE so bad here in DB as it is in so many other works (especially in tons of anime and manga, which are just stomach-churningly nauseating about this stuff a lot of the time): and yes, generally Muten Roshi is “punished” for his behavior in the form of a good solid punch or slap in the face (by Bulma or whoever else he's groping after at the moment).

But again: the issue is more with what the overall paradigm of these “comedic” situations are reinforcing about unwanted sexual aggression from males onto females (particularly older men on younger women: an issue that Japanese society IN PARTICULAR struggles with... again, context is everything here). Dragon Ball doesn't treat Muten Roshi's antics as if they're totally 100% fine and kosher, because obviously the narrative is at least on Bulma's (and other women's) side just enough to where it portrays them as rightly infuriated and throwing the old guy a (comedic) beating for his efforts.

But the problem is more that Muten Roshi's behavior is treated as little more than a “cute and harmless” annoyance: groping and sexually advancing on a young girl (under Dragon Ball's terms) isn't good, but its also not THAT terrible or serious either; its trivialized more as simply just “bad manners”, like burping or farting loudly in public.

A character like Muten Roshi, in these sorts of scenes specifically (where he's “humorously” sexually forcing himself onto pretty young girls) is clearly intended as a stand-in/avatar for the sort of typical horny Japanese guy that Toriyama has admitted himself to being (Japanese culture and society having a dumptruck's worth of issues with the sexual dynamics between older men and younger girls) and the sorts of older men that a lot of his young boy readership both live with at home and will probably grow up into later on.

What this does is (vicariously) take the moral onus and responsibility OFF OF the male in these sorts of situations: “No” Toriyama is saying in these sorts of scenes, “trying to sneak a little grabby grab on a cute young girl you like without her permission isn't OKAY per se... but its not the end of the world either. Its in poor taste maybe, but it isn't THAT serious of an issue, is it? She's just a girl... she'll get over it. You're a guy: its what's expected. Boys will be boys. Etc. Women get that too, don't they?”

Contrast that with how murder is treated: characters who are stone cold killers and murderers is when all of a sudden this otherwise silly and whimsically light little fantasy kung fu comic/cartoon all of a sudden gets VERY serious and goes into full-on drama. As well it should of course: but it DOESN'T grant that same level of severity to something like “an older man sexually assaulting/molesting much, much younger girls against their will”. The murderous violence is portrayed as brutal and horrifying... but the sexual violence is all in lighthearted good fun.

And no, sorry: the old “but its just fiction, it isn't real, so no one's really getting hurt” is not only in no way a valid counter-argument, it also COMPLETELY misses (rather glaringly obtusely) what the actual fundamental problem here is. Obviously there's no real Bulma and no real sex crime at work, since its all, as you've repeatedly noted, “just blobs of ink on a page”. And no, just looking at this comic, by itself, isn't going to suddenly brainwash young boys into becoming dangerous serial rapists. Again, obviously that'd be a wild and ridiculously stupid overreaction.

The issue, again as I've been trying to get at in more detail up above earlier, is in what sorts of societal norms (especially as they apply to Japan, but this goes for anywhere in general) and expectations about gender relations it helps reinforce alongside OTHER works that exist out there (many of which are WAY worse about it anyway, particularly among other anime and manga) in a more broad, overarching totality as a collective whole.

Because again: this stuff doesn't just echo off into a consequence-free vacuum. Over time, with enough repetition: this stuff seeps into people's subconscious. They become just one single part of a broader, societal framework that puts forth what is “normal” and what is “expected” of people in various situations and walks of life.

And also because, while young boys may be the primary target demographic: they aren't the ONLY people on the planet who exist and who might (and indeed do) take an interest in something like Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball has indeed accrued its own share of females in its fanbase over the years... the overwhelming majority of whom, I can guarantee you, became fans DESPITE material like this, and in NO way because.

Even setting aside the gross sexual, inter-gender relating paradigm these specific scenes/jokes helps put forth among young guys, there's simply the matter of “Dude.. you realize there ARE some girls actually reading this shit too, right?”

Its not even a question of me (of all fucking people) thinking that Dragon Ball, or any other work of fiction or art of any sort shouldn't reserve the right to “be gross and offensive”... god only knows the VAST lion's share of works that I enjoy and am drawn to can almost categorically be deemed “1000% trashy and offensive to any semblance of good taste” (so much so that most of this forum, that typically eats up these sorts of anime/manga sex jokes, has made it no secret that they've traditionally found most of my non-DB interests beyond the pale and FAR too much for their own sensibilities to tolerate).

But like with anything else, there's ways of doing this shit - yes even being as gross and offensive as humanly possible - with SOME vestige of a nod towards being even just halfway intellectually responsible about it and having at least some vestige of a focus toward what's subliminally lurking within the subtext of whatever it is that you're writing/drawing/creating.

Again, my treasure trove of nerd shit is packed to the brim with some of the most repugnant filth imaginable (that would, and indeed has, sent a lot of you folks running for the hills in disgust over the years): but its repugnant filth ON PURPOSE. Its very obvious that the people making this stuff clearly KNOW the difference between right and wrong and ACKNOWLEDGE those differences as they then proceed to purposefully step over each and every possible line of good taste imaginable... because they operate under the framework that this shit they're doing/depicting is VERY, VERY much NOT even the slightest bit acceptable, and you're clearly intended to REACT TO IT as such.

That's NOT what's going on when Muten Roshi acts the way he does (towards Bulma or any other female character he sets eyes on): while some token sympathies in the narrative are indeed with Bulma and the other girls, MORE THAN ENOUGH of the narrative's sympathies are also on Muten Roshi's side. Just enough in fact to “let him off the hook” as not being all that bad for what he's doing.

In other words: what's not ok about Dragon Ball's (and tons of other anime and manga's) approach to this sort of material, compared to other approaches taken to it in other works (even some VERY offensive ones) is that it has the overall net effect of helping to “normalize” it by presenting it as morally palatable: intentionally or not intentionally, often on a raw subconscious level.

If a character like Muten Roshi were operating within something along the lines of a typical grindhouse or horror movie, he'd unquestionably be portrayed as 1000% the in the wrong for what he's doing, probably as an antagonist, and would be treated by the narrative as suitably creepy and sick for it: there's be no “letting the character off the hook” as some sort of avatar/self-insert for the desires of the viewer: the viewer would be made to, rightly and justly, CRINGE at his behavior.

Hell, within Japanese manga, this type of broader societal trope in Japan with older men perving on young, schoolage girls, is certainly indeed addressed in the earlier mentioned Violence Jack... to a MUCH different and vastly more sobering and truly “honest” (to use your own word, more on that momentarily) degree than it is in something like DB and tons of other more “conventional” Otaku-geared anime/manga material: where this behavior is treated instead as the damaging, ghoulishly awful slime that it is.

Its exploitative and sensationalistic as hell, yes, but its also obviously attempting to denormalize this sort of mindset and behavior (within the context of a society like Japan's where its VASTLY more noramlized in general than other regions) in its narrative approach to it as sick and harmful to others; because it is.

So this stuff in DB is gross and offensive in a PAINFULLY misguided fashion because on some level its twisting itself into knots trying to justify that this (VERY serious, and not AT ALL light) crime is in fact just... the way shit is between older men and younger girls. “Its okay, because its not that serious: i.e. its normal. Boys will simply be boys, and you can't expect much else from them. They're not dangerous when they do this stuff, nor should they be seen as such: they're just being rascally scamps.”

And half the time (more than half the time really) ITS NOT EVEN ALL THAT FUNNY IN THE FIRST PLACE. So its gross and offensive IN ALL THE WRONG WAYS while also being a complete and utterly pointless waste of time that adds nothing whatsoever to the series except (totally justifiable) ammunition for people to hate it and dismiss it as garbage.

And considering the issues we have as a broader culture not only with actual, real-life sexual violence against women, but also in how its so often similarly trivialized across other forms of media (and it indeed is: the term “rape culture” doesn't just come from nothing), all the more so pointedly in Japan: then yeah, I would consider DB's sexual humor regarding Muten Roshi (and a few choice bits from Oolong as well) to be, at a bare minimum, irresponsibly thoughtless.

Are there MUCH worse offenders out there? Particularly within manga and anime? Yes and yes, absolutely and unquestionably; Dragon Ball is hardly some particularly vile or gruesomely terrible specific work in this regard. Do these issues otherwise completely invalidate not only DB's numerous other virtues and strong points as a work of genre fiction, but also its strengths in how it otherwise portrays some of its female characters (Bulma in particular)? No and no, I definitely don't think so. Obviously.

Are these moments however, something that should be held to task as a general and unfortunate black mark on the series as something it shouldn't repeat any further in the future going forward (now that its been reactivated/revived as an ongoing work)? To that, I would absolutely say yes.

That doesn't mean I advocate for going back and censoring what was already done: because I don't, as I don't believe in ANY way in rewriting, whitewashing, or sanitizing the past (if for no other reason than that would help prevent us from actually LEARNING better from it). Just that, if more Dragon Ball is to be made going forward, the approach taken to sexual jokes like these ABSOLUTELY should be rethought drastically and altered accordingly.

And once again no, that DOESN'T mean I'm saying that DB shouldn't have sex jokes at all: just that Toriyama or the other writers think through the underlying, subliminal/sub-textual ramifications of what they're saying with them a bit better.
JulieYBM wrote:I think Blooma represents the sort of perverted, twisted element that exists in all people, not just Toriyama, so from that perspective it's great not only seeing her whore herself out for things but also be on the losing end of some delinquent act.
Dude... DUDE. Take a second, step back from the books worth of Moe apologetics that you've (many times in many other threads before) admitted to consuming a whole ton of over the years, and LISTEN TO YOURSELF and to the bullshit that's coming out of your mouth (or from your keyboard rather) with a fresh set of ears.

“This story, which matter-of-factly shows an old man sexually pawing at a barely-of-age young teenage girl with almost predatory sexual fixation and aggression... is speaking to something that is NORMAL and inherent within ALL people.”

Don't get me wrong: I in no way believe that people are somehow innately “good”. People are, if anything, in equal parts selfish as well as cooperative, depending on all sorts of combinations of factors ranging from day to day and moment to moment circumstantial context all the way down to general life experience and upbringing... because BOTH of those traits (selfishness and cooperation) are geared towards the one thing we can safely say for sure in endemic within our species: that of survival. To that end, just EVERYONE is perfectly capable of ALL MANNER of horrific, abominable acts, given the right set of circumstances; as well as acts of immense kindness and generosity on the flipside.

That DOESN'T therefore mean that we should collectively “shrug off” those worse traits and lesser impulses within our being, or that they should either be encouraged or otherwise laughed off in any way (up to and including how we voice our thoughts on these matters through art and creative works).

There's a whole gigantic ton of philosophical debate to be had in what constitutes the nature and definition of good versus evil (or rather positive versus negative thought and behavior to be more precise): but I would safely say that a MASSIVE and difficult-to-argue piece of that definition on the part of the negative end of that equation is “anything which willfully, purposefully, and needlessly visits harm, to whatever degree, upon another human being, particularly with little thought or regard to their humanity”.

This obviously includes unwanted, un-reciprocated sexual aggression.

This has already gone on VERY long (even by my usual standards), so getting into the finer details and nuances of human sexuality is territory that this is hardly the time or place to dive deep into the weeds of.

So I'll leave it at this: having a desire to force oneself sexually onto very, very, VERY young people is in NO way “normal” nor is it the least bit “inherent” or endemic to the sexual desires or wants of EVERYONE within some type of a broader swath of humanity. For SOME people, sure, those sorts of deep desires are indeed present within them: but in most cases, these sorts of sexual fetishes tend to be within people who (much more often than not) suffer from SOME form of deep, deep, DEEPLY ingrained psychological and psycho-sexual damage or trauma.

The spectrum of human sexuality is IMPOSSIBLY broad and vast. There are ALL KINDS of weird fetishes for ALL sorts of oddball things. But in 90% of most cases, they tend to be things that are COMPLETELY harmless among consenting adults: be it BDS&M, role-playing, wearing costumes, group sex/swinging, even stuff like golden showers and the like (provided the right sanitary precautions are met at least), WHATEVER your particular “kink” happens to be. In many if not most cases, it usually doesn't (or doesn't always necessarily HAVE TO) denote or stem from anything that is particularly “wrong” with the person: people like whatever they happen to like.

But having a fetish for acts of unwanted and non-consensual sexual aggression and/or violence, or a fetish for underage (and thus inherently non-consensual) partners: these are VERY different and dangerous waters to tread in because they ARE genuinely and severely harmful to other people. The fundamental, inherent dynamics of them are DEEPLY negative and unhealthy, because they depend on the framing of there being a victim and a victimizer, rather than two equally willing and equally participating partners.

And having a sexual fetish that is of a genuinely serious threat or danger to someone else, regardless of whether or not you have ever acted upon them... that's INCREDIBLY dicey terrain to be playing in, especially so cavalierly.

The fact that you, Jacob, have over the years now in these sorts of discussions talked about these kinds of... IMMENSELY questionable sexual kinks - the dynamics of which are again inherently predatory and victimizing in nature, whether you want to face up to that cold-hard reality or not – in such a grossly over-apologetic and defensive manner... the subtext behind MUCH of your posts in these matters over the years is something that I find to be COLOSSALLY serious and deeply, deeply unsettling.

And I already know what you're (oft-repeated) defense of this will be: because you've also repeated it in this very thread:
JulieYBM wrote:Who is hurt by these things happening to a comic? If horny comics made readers law-breaking, immoral people who assaulted the innocent there would be far more crime than there is now.
Yes all of that's true... but that's also a total dodge of the underlying issue here, which is that these works of fiction/art/drawings are playing to and indulging in a sexual FANTASY on the part of both the author and the audience.

The issue isn't that the people reading/watching this stuff are all going out there doing this stuff (though some are, but that's largely irrelevant to the point here): the issue is that these drawings are speaking to a deeply-held DESIRE AND WANT within the subconscious of those who are indulging in this shit: and that the implications of what those deeply-held desires and wants in such people ultimately say about them and how their views on sex have been wired over the years are something which all too often goes PAINFULLY uncritically remarked upon and rarely to never self-examined.

This is VERY different from something like, again to go back to this example, horror: which is playing on FEAR. On things people DON'T want to actually happen, to themselves or to someone else. The fundamental dynamics are ENTIRELY the reverse: the subliminal effect being played on is “Oh my god, wouldn't it just be fucking HORRIBLE if...” as opposed to something like porn or sexual fantasies, which are “Boy I would just LOVE IT if...”

So lets not beat around the bush here: what is the most readily identifiable recurring theme of the sexual fantasies presented in most of the typical, average anime/manga that relies on Otaku-pandering “perverse sexual humor”, be it some of Dragon Ball's choice moments to your average, run of the mill Moe/ecchi harem romcom type of deal?

Overwhelmingly the fantasy represented is usually some variation on male characters (across a vast age spectrum from young boys to MUCH older men: almost always acting as some form of author or audience self-insert surrogate) forcing themselves sexually upon very, VERY young girls (usually either just barely of age, or outright underage: pre-teen to teen usually) who's personalities are often times reduced down to usually being incredibly weak, vulnerable, and childlike in some fashion and who respond with either loyal submission, or disturbing “token resistance” (in the form of screams and pleas of “No! Stop! Don't!”

Dragon Ball at the very least generally avoids the latter parts of that fantasy (to its benefit): but a DISTURBINGLY vast amount of other Japanese anime/manga and assorted media indulge in it wholeheartedly and unapologetically.

Obviously, as you've pointed out numerous times Jacob, this is all fictional: these characters aren't real, so none of this is actually happening to anyone. We all get that 100% just fine. That's COMPLETELY not at all what the real issue is here and is a total dodge.

The real issue is that these specific recurring sexual motifs keep cropping up time and time again countlessly across SO much Japanese media in the direct service of catering to a very particular fantasy/fetish: a fantasy/fetish that VERY OFTEN skirts the line toward rape (and definitely crosses it in plenty of other cases) and is in NO way psychologically or psycho-sexually healthy nor is it something that's in the least bit inherent within EVERYONE (or even MOST people in average) as a buried desire, as you keep insisting upon.

And yet, this rape (or quasi-rape) fantasy/fetish is continually catered to in the audience for Japanese media time and time and time again. To a point where it now, as of the past decade and a half or so (if not longer), functions as one of of the primary sources of annual income for the Japanese anime industry as a whole (something which it DID NOT prior to the 2000s, visible though it still was way back when).

The issue has nothing at all to do with fictional characters who are incapable of being hurt, and EVERYTHING to do with these works playing into a particular kind of sexual desire in not just their creators, but in their most hardcore audience: a desire that, I will STRONGLY argue, is NOT a healthy one to continually stoke and entertain... certainly without DEEP critical self-analysis on the part of that audience and those creators.

Also, since you brought this up earlier:
JulieYBM wrote:One can enjoy ReCoom breaking Gohan's neck without that glorifying violence. It's a mighty big double standard to be okay with the abject depravity and lack of wholesome messaging about violence in Dragon Ball and other works but then get into a goose fight over some titties and ass.
The sympathies of the audience in the scene in question (hell, in most ALL scenes like it) are 1000% on Gohan's side. NOT Reacoom's. Reacoom is the villain. He's the bad guy, the antagonist. What he does to Gohan is monstrous... and that's the point. Because these characters (Freeza and his army) are themselves amoral monsters, monsters that the heroes are meant to overcome and vanquish. Whether they succeed or fail in that is otherwise beside the point: the point is the narrative thrust and its framing is NOT on Reacoom's side, nor is it on the side of other-such characters like him.

It IS though, however tacitly, on Muten Roshi's side when he forces himself on some 16 year old high school girl or what have you. Because Dragon Ball, as well as Toriyama's humor in general as well as much of anime and manga as a broader swath (with notable exceptions of course), share in that same fantasy of “Man, I would just LOOOOOOOOVE to have a fistful of underage boob or ass right about now... its all the more hotter when they SCREAM in protest and try and resist it!”

The narrative is simply NOT indulging, in that scene of Reacoom in question, in some type of fantasy along the lines of “Man I sure would LOVE to break some little 5/6 year old kid's neck sometime!” Because the audience's sympathies are meant to be with Gohan, they are thus HORRIFIED and SCARED for Gohan, and (ostensibly) want him to be alright and hope that Reacoom eventually gets somehow paid back for what he just did to him. That's clearly and unarguably how the story is structured. This same logic generally applies to the VAST majority of such violent fighting scenes in question; be it Videl's brutal beating from Spopovitch or whatever else have you.

And to my earlier point to counter your point on this issue: with regards to the former Muten Roshi fantasy, no, not EVERYONE shares in that particular type of predatory sex fantasy. Hell, not even MOST people on average. Absolutely fucking not.

What you're doing here is absolute textbook psychological projection: some part of you has (or at the very least sympathizes with having) these sorts of sexual desires and fantasies... so you therefore assume that obviously EVERYONE ELSE must share them as well somewhere buried deep down, just like you do.

When the reality is... no dude. No we don't. That's you and a relative minority of other people with very clearly unresolved sexual issues at play that a whole LOT of other people (of ALL manner of places on the sexual spectrum and sharing in all manner of otherwise healthy and harmless sexual fetishes and kinks) DON'T actually share in any which way.

The idea for most people of engaging in a sexual act with someone who is either unwilling or clearly underage... is the exact ANTITHESIS of arousing. The idea of getting off sexually on something that visits harm on another person (and by that I mean REAL harm, not “harm” in a clearly playful and equally consensual BDS&M sort of way) is the sort of thing that makes most people sick to their stomach to even HYPOTHETICALLY entertain the idea of just in fantasy: rightfully so.

And I say this as someone who grew up from a VERY young age watching some of the most grotesque rape films imaginable: but that was because they were genuinely DIFFICULT and disturbing to watch. They were about confronting (and owning) fear, not indulging in a secret, buried desire to actually partake in these hideous actions.

There is a MASSIVE contrast between how most audiences (again, like with anything else, with exceptions) respond to scenes of violence, even the most extreme kinds of violence, and how they respond toward depictions of sex. Generally speaking, the more extreme the violence, the more gruesome and realistic it is, the more of a HUGE fundamental shift there is psychologically in terms of how the audience responds to it emotionally.

Fantasy, softened violence, particularly of the kind present across a lot of children's media, is very often times seen as “wish-fulfillment” because there's a disconnect inherent between the audience and what they know is real: “Wow, I'd LOVE to be able to bash evil robots and aliens apart like Superman; that must be SO COOL.” Contrast this with how violence is portrayed in a great deal of horror: where there's a visceral quality that brings things closer to what people perceive as relatable.

People cannot ultimately relate to things like being able to fly around in space and smashing asteroids with their bare fists: they CAN however relate to being cut with a knife and bleeding out. That's a LARGE part of the reason why there's SUCH a contrast between how most audiences react to seeing someone get cartoonishly knocked through the sky and land on the pavement intact and seemingly unharmed, versus seeing someone get stabbed, being visibly injured, and reacting in a realistic way to it.

This distinction makes ALL the difference in the fucking world: its the difference that separates “Gee, wouldn't it be cool if..” versus “Oh my god, it would be fucking HORRIBLE if...”

With sex, this distinction generally more often than not DOES NOT apply nearly as much: everyone can relate to sex, and everyone (or just about close to everyone) enjoys sex and finds it a desirable experience. Sex in most media is FAR more often than not generally depicted in a wish-fulfillment context: shy of things like grungy horror/rape films and challenging arthouse material, sex across most conventional/mainstream media is meant to have a more pleasing effect on most audiences, as again, most audiences like sex.

ALL of these factors (and tons and tons more I'd be here forever delving into) make GIANT WORLDS of a difference between how violence and sex are both depicted as well as received and interpreted across most media by most audiences. You simply CANNOT equate the two so dismissively, as I've seen you do now Jacob across countless threads like this one tackling similar subject matter.

With violence, the more outlandish and unrealistic it is (i.e. the more detached from realistic and brutal consequences it is), the more an audience is willing to entertain it as something they might like to experience if it were possible, while the more realistic and and brutal it is (i.e. the more closely relateable it is to dire consequences) the more an audience will recoil from it in horror. You see this distinction even in Dragon Ball: any given comedic fight between Goku and early Budokai contestants or most average Red Ribbon goons, versus something like Videl vs Spopovitch.

With sex, there's a similar dynamic involved: most any given conventional depiction of sex in a piece of media will generally be met with pleasure and arousal by most people. The exceptions to that are when the sex is turned into something brutal and vicious: generally unglamorized depictions of rape or other forms of sexual violence will turn off and horrify anyone but the most already-depraved and screwed up minds out there.

The problem with both Dragon Ball's “Muten Roshi sexual harassing Bulma/other women” scenes as well as broader Moe/Ecchi-type anime/manga depictions of a similar (and very often, much more extreme) nature is that they take sexual acts that are FIRMLY non-consensual (or at a bare minimum, skirt that line AWFULLY close) and are thus not okay, and try to eroticize them: they're sexual acts that under ANY other circumstances WOULD and SHOULD make most people recoil in disgust, but are presented in such a way as to try and “normalize” and fetishize them as either inconsequential and harmless, cute and charming, and/or otherwise generally hot and arousing.

The net effect is often one of an almost uncanny valley that is... UNBELIEVABLY gross and twisted (and obviously unintentionally so on the parts of the creators) to most people who have healthy and properly functioning emotions and psychology regarding their sexuality. And for those who don't... you have fetish fuel that further stokes and “legitimizes” sexual desires they've developed (i.e. an attraction to unconsensual sex acts: be it outright rape or statutory molestation with much younger children) that are in NO way “normal” or healthy.

THAT is where the root of the problem with this particular type of Japanese media lies: NOT in people somehow thinking that a sex crime committed between two blobs of ink on a piece of paper is tantamount to an actual sex crime between two real, flesh and blood people.

All that being said now: no, obviously I don't take you for someone who's a “serious threat” to anyone, nor do I think you're someone who ever would act on these fetishes and fantasies (or at least I dearly hope not): but what I will say is that having these fetishes while not directly confronting them for what they truly are, while being in clear and vociferous abject DENIAL about what they are and what they symbolize somewhere within your subconscious... that is DEEPLY psychologically and emotionally unhealthy.

I've found it INCREDIBLY ironic, and telling, that a word you've gone back to in many of your posts about this stuff time and again is “honest”.

“These creators (of typically “perverse” Japanese media; i.e. fantasizing about sexually molesting underage or barely-of-age young schoolgirls) are at least being honest with their work” and statements of that nature have been repeated refrains of yours whenever you've gone on these rants.

When the reality is that not only is there NOTHING the least bit truthful in the idea that everyone or even most people are secretly deep down yearning for these sorts of sexual outlets... “honest” is what you are in NO way being with yourself in your continued, and transparently desperate, attempts at convincing yourself that these toxic sewage notions about sex are in any which way healthy or natural for someone to have.

Please... PLEASE. Think long and hard about this stuff. This kind of shit, and moreover the very public ways in which you've flaunted about these - incredibly disturbing and misguided - ideas about sexuality (both your own and that of other people in general) for YEARS now... this can't go on unremarked upon.

I won't name any names, but there are various people on this forum (myself included) who aren't at all cool with a lot of your stated views on this stuff and have found these statements of yours (and what they clearly imply about your own notions on sexuality) to be deeply concerning and worrying for plenty of years now. And the fact that its been allowed to go on this long like this unremarked upon is something that GREATLY bothers me, and I hold myself accountable as well for not addressing or confronting you about it WAY sooner.

And yeah, I'm doing this publicly here, because these are the sorts of conversations within fandom for Japanese media in general that we SHOULD be having openly like this. I've never remotely cared for when people bury this shit and leave it away from the disinfecting light of day.

And yes, before you give me an Amazon link to garbage like “The Moe Manifesto” or some such nonsense like that as a response/justification, I'll save you the trouble: I have indeed also read through both that book as well as other similar books about the subject.

And I would say that the tortured pretzel logic that's peddled in that sort of vile tripe are clearly and obviously mostly self-rationalizing mental gymnastics put forth by damaged people within both the fandom and the industry alike; people who have glaringly MASSIVE issues with sexuality (their own in particular, as well as more broadly in general) and with relating to women.

People who are clearly attempting to absolve themselves publicly of their sexual hangups and how the proliferation of those hangups across so much widely consumed media aimed at such similarly affected men – hangups that have for years now continued to go unaddressed, unexamined, and uncritically confronted - contributes to the wider-spread cultural problems with sexuality in modern day Japan (problems which are VERY well documented and plain as day to any rational, sensible human being).

And they're doing it by attempting to spin the whole Moe phenomenon (and all the farther-reaching sexual issues plaguing Japanese pop culture, society, and media that the phenomenon stems from) as little more than a harmless little counter-cultural movement: one that tries to present itself with a twinge of being “cutting edge” and “hip” if even just by virtue of its “underground, unfairly oppressed subculture” status.

“Oh woe is the plight of connoisseurs of charmingly innocent and endearingly illustrated pedophilia fantasies from the judgmental glare of the uncompassionate mainstream public who just don't understand our art.”

As a former punk rock kid myself who came up during the whole hardcore era (and thus someone who grew up in a counter-cultural movement that was genuinely misunderstood and mistrusted by the mainstream; before eventually being co-opted like so many others) I find this whole notion to be as sickeningly twisted and backwards as the (disturbingly similar) excuses that the alt-right uses to justify their own BS.
JulieYBM wrote:Modern Japanese works have become more skilled at integrating the sexuality into coherent story form, though. Shokugeki no Souma employs a massive number of girls in its plot and gives them storylines and development while at the same time coating them in sex-appeal.
These descriptions of yours for these kinds of works where you attempt to hyper-intellectualize (re: justify) these cheap, chintzy, tacky, and sickeningly vile works of putrid garbage that try to put a grotesque (not to mention laughably unconvincing) smiley-face on one of the most neurotic, sexually naïve forms of misogyny that panders shamelessly and cynically to the most awkward, sexually repressed kinds of diehard Otaku shut-ins... they make my stomach get caught somewhere between a howl of depressed laughter and a sudden lurch of genuine nausea at how utterly delusional and ridiculous they are, almost to the point of self-parody.

Modern Japanese works within this particular realm of anime and manga have utterly devolved and degraded themselves into becoming nakedly (no pun intended) brazen and thoroughly disturbed wank fantasies for an ever-growing population of adult men in the country (and similar such men overseas in other territories, like our own here in the U.S.) who are hopelessly awkward, socially inept and introverted, and helplessly detached from being able to even remotely capable of relating to women as fellow human beings.

I've done (far, far, far too much of) my fair share of time over the years submerged in the swampy muck of the Moe/ecchi/fanservice realm.

Here's the fantasy distilled in a nutshell: imagine reducing women as a collective whole down to effectively being little more than “an adorable, vulnerable little puppy you'd like to simultaneously care for as a protector as well as vigorously use as a fuck object”.

It takes a VERY specific type of (male) person, one with an IMMEASURABLY broken and emotionally stunted sexual outlook on the female half of the species and even on general human interactions in general, to both A) concoct that sort of twisted, grotesque fantasy to begin with and B) find it even the slightest bit legitimately and genuinely arousing.

My general (and summarized/simplified) take on the psychological why's and how's of it: that its a direct byproduct of shy and withdrawn young men with no social skills or helpful parenting advice spending their sexually formative years repressing and running from directly dealing with what are supposed to be totally healthy and natural urges, failing to be sufficiently educated to understand them early on enough in life to deal with them properly (usually by well-meaning, but smotheringly sheltering and over protective and/or neglectful parents/family), and becoming so developmentally stunted and shut down from human interaction (both in general, as well as particularly with women who aren't family members) that as an adult they often spend most of their time shrinking violently away from most forms of healthy, outgoing, and productive socialization out of both paralyzing fear as well as undealt with and repressed social anxiety and trauma from a very early age.

My problems with this whole aspect of both the anime/manga industry and fanbase stems from the clear and obvious psychological, psycho-sexual, and social dysfunction that much of the appeal towards it so often stems from and exploits.

Young heterosexual men who have had healthy and productive upbringings and romantic encounters with women... this isn't a thing that normally or naturally takes root in their brains, this yearning and desire to uncomplicate and simplify women down to being little more than an adorable house pet that allows them to facilitate both their protective paternal instincts (which clearly stems from either feeling a lack of such paternal care, or possibly too much of it in smothering amounts) as well as enact their every sexual desire (which are unarguably by the very nature of the fantasy rooted in a sick need to feel “dominance” over something weaker and helpless that depends upon them) without anything even vaguely approaching a challenging or complex personality that might get in the way; as it probably has in many of their own real life encounters with women.

The sexual fantasy at work in these types of Japanese “erotica” media is one of a power fantasy for weak, awkward, deeply insecure young males who have felt sexually confused and disempowered for literally their entire lives, and would rather wish for and wallow within a fantasy world where relating to women is a VASTLY easier and more simplistic endeavor (“They're just like little girls or house puppies/kitties! Hell sometimes they just ARE little girls! Because adults are scary!”) than they would confront and step up towards working on and fixing their own atrophied social skills.

There's literally NO other explanation for this deeply-held desire to perceive women in this particular (grossly over-simplified and docile) light and within these particular sexual dynamics (which is almost disturbingly more akin to one between a father and daughter or a house pet and its master rather than two equally mature lovers).

And with that being said...
JulieYBM wrote:The overall quality of the series is debatable, but the solid combination of erotica and 'mainstream' storytelling is the hallmark of a truly great work.
My misgivings, contempt, and disgust toward this retrograde, insultingly reductive, and regressive sewage form of anime/manga completely aside, I generally have NOTHING against erotica whatsoever (so long as its coming from a halfway healthy and constructive framework, like anything else).

That being said though: erotica is in NO WAY WHATSOEVER some kind of end-all, be-all quality to a truly great work. Sex is an intrinsic, and deeply important part of life... but its hardly ALL there is to life either, and PLENTY, nigh countless untold scores of great, immensely worthwhile works involve NO form of erotica whatsoever (or “mainstream forms of storytelling” for that matter).

Plenty of others obviously DO of course... but calling “the hallmark of a truly great work” something that blends mainstream storytelling (of all things) with erotica (which is perfectly fine on its own, but is merely but one of COUNTLESS dizzying varieties of subgenres of art that a work can aim for)... that's the work of a mind with WAY too much focus on one particular thing. Which in and of itself might be fine... but comes across as more unsettling when also taken into account and into context with all the other factors being discussed here.

I have my personal pet favorite subjects and creative elements as much as anyone else does for sure, and repeating themes that crop up time and time again in a lot of my favorite works that I'm most consistently drawn to, just the same as any other person out there naturally does... but in no way would I call very many of those things “necessary hallmarks of a truly great work”. That's absurd on so many levels, if for no other reason than it needlessly puts art and human creativity as a whole into a VERY tiny and narrow little box (which is in itself, another oft-recurring theme in many of your posts on these kinds of subjects).
JulieYBM wrote:I'll often see people drool over female actors in live action films but always find that phenomenon weird. To say nothing of the idea of lusting over a real person you don't even know, these actors don't even exhibit erotic features or attempts to portray themselves as such. That's just...not sexy. The erotic features with Blooma are intentional (or relatively interpret-able) and don't hurt Blooma...because Blooma has no sentience to recognize such.
I can't count the number of ways this is SO supremely psychologically twisted, bizarre, and just plain confused as to even the bare-most basics of the nature of how sexual attraction works between individuals in real life. A therapist (particularly one with an expertise/focus on sexuality) would have a fucking FIELD DAY with you.

First of all, lets start with the obvious: people lust over people they don't know ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Its part of a condition called “being alive, drawing breath, and having a functioning libido”. Do you have ANY idea how many real life couples began as total strangers at one point? Pretty much ALL of them. And how many where the attraction began as one-sided and wasn't somehow instantaneously simultaneous? The overwhelming VAST majority.

If human beings didn't become attracted to people that they (at some point in the course of their lives) don't actually know but can clearly see in front of them, then the species simply wouldn't exist because NOBODY would be having sex or procreating in the first place. You see someone you like, someone who, whether it be raw physical appearance, their demeanor and attitude and personality, or some combination thereof, just plain DOES IT for you... bam. You're attracted to them, regardless of whether or not you know them or they know you.

By that very same token, celebrities/actors are VERY high profile and publicly visible people: also many of them are more often than not VERY physically attractive people with VERY powerful, attention-grabbing, strong personalities: they HAVE to be by the innate virtue of their fucking job (which is generally acting, singing, dancing, or otherwise performing publicly in some manner).

In so broadcasting their physically and non-physically attractive qualities to pretty much the entire fucking world... naturally a LOT of the world is going to therefore become very powerfully attracted to them; sexually and/or otherwise.

Obviously these people are also still people, still individuals with lives and wills/agency of their own, so they can't be expected to be under some insane obligation to date/fuck potentially the ENTIRE world's population all at once (that mental image just gives me twisted flashes of Castlevania's Granfalloon boss or the ending Shunt sequence to Brian Yuzna's Society)...

...so most of the world operates therefore under the ridiculously obvious and common-sense innate understanding that most of us will likely be anywhere from mildly to powerfully attracted sexually/romantically to any number of different celebrities over the course of our lives, but nothing will or could obviously ever come of it beyond just a passing admiration as we go about our lives and pursue more tangible, realistic, and just plain old practical (not to mention healthy and fruitful) romantic/sexual relationships.

Its just a fundamental nature/byproduct of their jobs as public people/entertainers, and traditionally the only people who tend to fail in that understanding are stalkers or otherwise obsessive (and usually lonely) weirdos with mental issues of their own.
JulieYBM wrote:So long as you're attracted to the fictional aspect of those characters (even real life idols) I think that's understandable. The sort of thing I find weird is wanting to bang, say, Scarlet Johansson or whoever. Making you horny isn't exactly her intention nor a character she plays in her public persona.

But hey, do as you please. I'll stick to my fictional characters and normal, everyday people I know with great personalities.
Okay, lets break this down:

1) Making another person (man or woman) horny in common day to day life is VERY exceedingly RARELY ever someone's express intention. Again: people, by sheer product of being sexual creatures, are simply attracted to whomever they're attracted to, regardless of whether or not it was that other person's intent to be attractive for them.

How many women have you simply passed by walking down the street and thought in the back of your mind “Damn, that girl's hot!” Guess what? Despite not knowing her, despite her in NO way intending to make herself expressly attractive to you... in that moment, you felt attraction to her.

Its totally fine: there's nothing AT ALL wrong with that... its just called “being alive”.

This same logic applies to celebrities: and even more so, since again, in many cases it actually IS their intent to make themselves attractive for others. Even an actress like Scarlett Johansson: like many other actors and actresses, she's taken on roles in movies where PART OF THE PURPOSE of her role is that she's attractive or sexy.

Now that generally shouldn't often be the SOLE purpose of most characters (particularly female ones since, again we don't live in an ahistorical vacuum, and its generally throughout history been female characters in media who've had this issue rather than generally men: again with obvious exceptions): but in many cases, it can be A purpose, even a prominent one.

Look at a movie that Scarlett Johansson starred in around five years ago called Under the Skin: in that movie she plays an alien creature disguised as an attractive human female, whose whole motivation is sexually seducing young men that she meets throughout Scotland in order to “feed” on them (its heavily implied) in an almost succubus-like fashion. Again: being physically alluring and sexually attractive is both an ingrained part of the whole point of her character and her storyline. There's a LOT more to it as well, of course: but her sexuality and sexual allure plays a KEY role.

Ergo, it IS in fact part of her job to make people (be they in the movie or in the audience) horny, to lend her role in the context of the story being told any sense of credibility. After all, the audience has to buy into the idea that the men in the film would be tempted and seduced by this alluring woman; it'd be kinda difficult to do that if real life men (and gay women, since there's probably plenty of those in the audience as well) in the audience didn't also find her to be attractive and sexually tempting as well.

This same type of (incredibly cursory) logic applies to COUNTLESS actors and actresses and the roles they take on.

And 2) I find the implication that its only “fictional aspects” of characters in media that one should be attracted to to be... UNBELIEVABLY fucking weird and nonsensical. What's “fictitious” about someone in a TV show or a film just being attractive and sexy to someone watching? The character they're playing obviously isn't a real person of course: but their physicality, how they look, and the demeanor they put on in how they talk and act... obviously those are VERY much real things that they're doing in order to have a desired effect on the audience: which can, as mentioned before, also include being very much sexually attractive to them.

And ALL OF THAT'S not even getting into the earlier quoted point of yours about how “they (real life actors and celebrities) don't even exhibit erotic features or portray themselves as such”.

…...dude. DUDE. Seriously? Seriously? Do we have to have a “birds and the bees” discussion here (on a fucking Dragon Ball forum of all places) on the mechanics of how this stuff actually works?

Like I said before, for many if not most celebrities, its their fucking JOBS (either partly or entirely) to look attractive, be sexy, and exude/project eroticism. Everyone from porn stars to pinup models to runway fashion supermodels to a great many Hollywood actors and musicians... being sexy and projecting sexiness is what they do for a fucking living. And a great many of them are clearly doing it VERY well as evidenced by the resulting worldwide, international fame and attention that many of them get for it.

The actual specific “attributes” that you fail to understand qualifies them as being sexy/projecting sexiness is... something I'm almost terrified to ask for a clarification on. I'm pretty sure most of us are generally of the understanding that its some combination of face and various specific facial features, hair, legs/arms/appendages, musculature, genital areas (crotch, breasts, buttocks), stomach, skin, and overall attitude/demeanor and even way of speaking and moving/carrying oneself that quantifies “sexiness” for both males AND females alike.

(And all that's not even touching on the whole “foot fetishists” thing)

And... yeah. A TON of real life actors, actresses, musicians, models, TV personalities, hell all manner of public people out there... yeah, all these various combinations of qualities generally applies to them. In goddamned SPADES.

You see those very same qualities rendered and highlighted in illustrations and animation as well (assuming you're not one of those particular kinds of My Little Pony fans anyway or something along those lines: that I even have to make that kind of clarification is a sad indictment of the times we live in): so I'm failing to understand exactly WHAT precisely might be getting lost in the translation here, aside from the inability of reality to exaggerate some physical characteristics to absurdly grotesque proportions as one could with pencil to paper and their imagination.

And actually, thanks to the modern miracles of plastic surgery, we actually sorta CAN do that (to however a limited degree)... but as within the realm of illustration, the results of such things can usually be... not quite so appealing and natural-seeming. And thus, usually a turn-off to most.

Ultimately it sounds like part of the problem here might actually be that the actual reality of how the human body looks and works in the real world may not be measuring up to the fantasies that years upon years of mentally living inside the worlds of cartoon drawings might have built up inside your mind from an early age.

And if that is indeed the case (I can only speculate as I'm hardly a mind reader) then that's... certainly in NO way a commonplace issue that most people face. Quite the contrary in fact. And yes, I would definitely say that once again, this is NOT a psychologically or sexually healthy mindset for anyone to have in general, and would be the sort of thing that most people would probably tell almost anyone suffering from such a mindset to go talk to a professional about.
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Journey to the West, chapter 26 wrote:The strong man will meet someone stronger still:
Come to naught at last he surely will!
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by JulieYBM » Tue May 15, 2018 8:44 pm

Kunzait_83 wrote:Part 2: A long, LONG overdue evisceration of the comically absurd, and vaguely disturbing viewpoints on sex and erotica of one particularly noteworthy member of this forum.
What's so 'vaguely disturbing' about treating real people with empathy and understanding their personal boundaries, getting to know somebody on a personal and platonic-level and being attracted to them for their personalities?

Let me show you as much decency as I can muster here. You placed a great deal of time into your post but I'm electing to not take a response that resorts to silliness like 'Moe apologist' hand waves as a serious contribution to discussion. It's entirely arrogant and self-fulfilling of me to feel that way but I feel bad not replying to someone who places that much of their time into a reply to me, so I wanted to at least give a small reply. Thank you, but it's 66F out right now in a state where it rains nine months out of the year. I need to enjoy that.

(That and it just drives me nuts when I repeat myself, which I would inevitably do in a real reply to this post. Sorry!)
WittyUsername wrote:
JulieYBM wrote:
WittyUsername wrote:
Catwoman and Jessica Rabbit are adults. Bulma wasn’t an adult at the beginning of the series.
Being an adult fictional character doesn't give her the ability to consent anymore than a fictional sixteen year old character. Does Selina really consent to one jackin' it to her being drawn at sexy angles with nice, big titties any more than Blooma does when somebody gets their rocks off to an old man getting a look at her vagina just because Selina is 'an adult'?
Keep in mind that this thread is meant to serve as a question about the ethics of sexualizing Bulma at the start of the series. It’s not me making any definitive statements on the matter.
I wasn't really intending any sort of hostile-bent to the post. ♥ I think it's something to consider when asking ourselves about how we feel on the subject, though.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Tue May 15, 2018 8:49 pm

Doctor. wrote:
ABED wrote:
Doctor. wrote: I'm asking why. This is fiction. Age is literally an arbitrary number here. Would the situations Bulma is put through be any less "skeevy" if she was 18 instead with the same personality? Again, she's autonomous, she's independent, and she usually gets into those situations herself; unlike Lunch who is oblivious and doesn't really act like a mature adult. I find it baffling that age is the thing being complained about here.
Yes, because 18 is legally an adult. It's definitely less skeevy. It doesn't matter that she's independent, she's not yet an adult. Bulma may be smart but she's not exactly the most mature person in the story.

Game of Thrones has incest. The fact that it's fictional and consentual doesn't make it any less disgusting.
Look, I get feeling bothered because of the sexual harassment. I'd say it's pointless to feel bothered since it's fiction, but it's at least a morally reprehensible situation when Bulma is not consenting to the groping/stalking going on. But feeling bothered because the situation involves a character that was arbitrarily written to be 16 when she could just as easily pass off as 18 is completely baffling to me; even more is the implication here that the situation would somehow be fine if she actually was 18. As if a number on the page means anything. And your definition of legality is coming purely from an American perspective. I'm sure most Japanese readers would feel bothered by the fact that Bulma is being sexually harassed, not because she's 16.

I'd argue that it does, but I don't really have much of a problem with the people who practice real incest either.
Point taken, but do you really not find it more disgusting to harass someone underage? It's not either or. Her being underage compounds the problem. No one has said that unconsented groping or stalking is okay.

The implication you speak of isn't the implication, that's your inference.

The fact that it's fictional has no bearing on this issue. The fact that she COULD pass for 18 doesn't make her not 16.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Kunzait_83 » Tue May 15, 2018 9:02 pm

JulieYBM wrote:
Kunzait_83 wrote:Part 2: A long, LONG overdue evisceration of the comically absurd, and vaguely disturbing viewpoints on sex and erotica of one particularly noteworthy member of this forum.
What's so 'vaguely disturbing' about treating real people with empathy and understanding their personal boundaries, getting to know somebody on a personal and platonic-level and being attracted to them for their personalities?

Let me show you as much decency as I can muster here. You placed a great deal of time into your post but I'm electing to not take a response that resorts to silliness like 'Moe apologist' hand waves as a serious contribution to discussion. It's entirely arrogant and self-fulfilling of me to feel that way but I feel bad not replying to someone who places that much of their time into a reply to me, so I wanted to at least give a small reply. Thank you, but it's 66F out right now in a state where it rains nine months out of the year. I need to enjoy that.

(That and it just drives me nuts when I repeat myself, which I would inevitably do in a real reply to this post. Sorry!)
I don't really care ultimately whether or not you end up responding to it: but I WOULD highly, highly recommend that you at least read the whole thing over sometime (whenever you have an opportunity to do so), and really give what I'm saying here some serious consideration.

Because statements like this:
JulieYBM wrote:What's so 'vaguely disturbing' about treating real people with empathy and understanding their personal boundaries, getting to know somebody on a personal and platonic-level and being attracted to them for their personalities?
Clearly indicate that you did not in any manner give a word of this a serious look. Its fine if you've got other stuff going on right now, I'm in no way demanding that you drop whatever it is you're doing and read it all immediately: just whenever you've got some time to kill, PLEASE actually read carefully what it is that I'm actually saying here and take a moment to try and absorb some of it.

And yes, dismissing the whole thing in its entirety out of hand as "not a serious contribution" simply due to one lone term that you disapprove of is TREMENDOUSLY ill-advised and yes I agree, also quite arrogant. If you read it, you'll also find that I explain my perspective quite clearly and try to back up my usage of that kind of description and that (contrary to what you may think or believe) my thoughts on this matter are NOT coming from a place of ignorance on my part.

Nothing in any of that post is meant as some silly flame or trolling or "slam" against you, or any sort of attempt at insulting you: its all coming from a place of genuine concern (concern that's also shared by a few others as well).
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Kunzait's Wuxia Thread
Journey to the West, chapter 26 wrote:The strong man will meet someone stronger still:
Come to naught at last he surely will!
Zephyr wrote:And that's to say nothing of how pretty much impossible it is to capture what made the original run of the series so great. I'm in the generation of fans that started with Toonami, so I totally empathize with the feeling of having "missed the party", experiencing disappointment, and wanting to experience it myself. But I can't, that's how life is. Time is a bitch. The party is over. Kageyama, Kikuchi, and Maeda are off the sauce now; Yanami almost OD'd; Yamamoto got arrested; Toriyama's not going to light trash cans on fire and hang from the chandelier anymore. We can't get the band back together, and even if we could, everyone's either old, in poor health, or calmed way the fuck down. Best we're going to get, and are getting, is a party that's almost entirely devoid of the magic that made the original one so awesome that we even want more.
Kamiccolo9 wrote:It grinds my gears that people get "outraged" over any of this stuff. It's a fucking cartoon. If you are that determined to be angry about something, get off the internet and make a stand for something that actually matters.
Rocketman wrote:"Shonen" basically means "stupid sentimental shit" anyway, so it's ok to be anti-shonen.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by KBABZ » Tue May 15, 2018 10:30 pm

I pretty much agree entirely with Kunzait on this one.

---

One aspect I forgot about is what Bulma's original wish was: to get a boyfriend. You don't exactly need a deck of tarot cards to figure out what an in-puberty 16 year old would want to do with one of those. In fact, in Funi's dub of Path to Power (no idea on if the original script is like this), after Bulma says she wants to wish for the perfect man, Goku asks "What do you do with that?", and Bulma blushes and laughs dreamily, like the answer in her head is "F*** his brains out of course!". She's a go-getter and she goes and gets it, if in an eventual roundabout way with Yamcha.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Robo4900 » Tue May 15, 2018 11:32 pm

KBABZ wrote:In fact, in Funi's dub of Path to Power (no idea on if the original script is like this), after Bulma says she wants to wish for the perfect man, Goku asks "What do you do with that?", and Bulma blushes and laughs dreamily, like the answer in her head is "F*** his brains out of course!". She's a go-getter and she goes and gets it, if in an eventual roundabout way with Yamcha.
Original was:
Bulma: "My wish would definitely be for a nice boyfriend."
Goku: "A nice boyfriend...?"
[Bulma stares out into thin air, seemingly daydreaming, then regains her composure]

Not as direct, but you could easily read that into the original.

Kunzait -- I've read pieces of your posts, and you look to have made good points, but I'm gonna need to set aside some time to fully read it all. Thanks for posting, though; you're very insightful, and I look forward to reading those through.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by KBABZ » Tue May 15, 2018 11:38 pm

Robo4900 wrote:
KBABZ wrote:In fact, in Funi's dub of Path to Power (no idea on if the original script is like this), after Bulma says she wants to wish for the perfect man, Goku asks "What do you do with that?", and Bulma blushes and laughs dreamily, like the answer in her head is "F*** his brains out of course!". She's a go-getter and she goes and gets it, if in an eventual roundabout way with Yamcha.
Original was:
Bulma: "My wish would definitely be for a nice boyfriend."
Goku: "A nice boyfriend...?"
[Bulma stares out into thin air, seemingly daydreaming, then regains her composure]

Not as direct, but you could easily read that into the original.
Thanks for that! Yeah, Bulma being distracted pretty clearly conveys the subtext there.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Doctor. » Wed May 16, 2018 5:38 am

I'm sorry for nitpicking your behemoth of a post, Kunzait. I agree with the majority of what you said, even if I don't necessarily share your concerns about the real-life implications of DB's sexual humor. I feel like some of your statements need to be challenged, though, mostly because I feel you're making some ridiculous comparisons and gross simplifications.
Kunzait_83 wrote:Contrast that with how murder is treated: characters who are stone cold killers and murderers is when all of a sudden this otherwise silly and whimsically light little fantasy kung fu comic/cartoon all of a sudden gets VERY serious and goes into full-on drama. As well it should of course: but it DOESN'T grant that same level of severity to something like “an older man sexually assaulting/molesting much, much younger girls against their will”. The murderous violence is portrayed as brutal and horrifying... but the sexual violence is all in lighthearted good fun.
Because one is murder and the other is sexual harassment. This isn't an apt comparison because they are not comparable crimes. There is no rape scene in DB (and even if there was, I'd still argue that comparing it to murder isn't appropriate, as the latter is worse). A better example would be Goku slapping Chi-Chi through a house, a scene which was "lighthearted good fun", the same as the sexual violence. Toriyama isn't glorifying domestic abuse, and I'd find it hard to believe even you would argue that such scenes have unintentional ramifications in the way husband-wife relationships are perceived or they mirror the sociocultural context of Japan in the same way you argue for the sexual harassment in the series.

Now, I'm aware you make the argument later that there is a difference between characters getting thrown through mountains and characters getting stabbed, and it's that difference that dictates whether we turn a blind eye to the violence or feel some emotion from it. I'd argue that it's a pointless distinction to make, at least the way you make it - in that it's the quality of "unbelievable" or "unrealistic" versus "grounded" or "relatable" that distinguishes the two situations. It's all about execution and context, yes, but it's the fact that those scenes where characters get blasted through rocks get treated as so matter-of-factly that makes you ignore the implications of the violence. In the same vein, something "unrealistic" like a planet being blown up, let's say planet Vegeta, can incite some sort of emotion, awe and horror of Freeza's power in this case.

Dragon Ball's sexual humor gets treated in the same matter-of-factly way as characters hitting pavement or Goku slapping Chi-Chi. It's an unusual, ridiculous situation played out for laughs, "lighthearted good fun" as you call it. The intent isn't to be dramatic and make some big statement about the nature of Japan's sexual dynamics and I don't think it's fair to judge the series because it doesn't have that large a scope. You laugh if you find it funny, you read with indifference if you don't; either way, you move on. To suggest such easily digestible, almost throwaway scenes will influence anyone's thoughts on women is ridiculous; to suggest it reflects the nature of Japan's society is a more nuanced concern, but one that ultimately doesn't matter in this discussion. We're talking about sexual harassment in Dragon Ball, not sexual harassment in Japan, and whether or not Dragon Ball has those scenes, it would in no way influence Japanese society. Japan's views of women are far too ingrained into society for Dragon Ball to make any kind of impactful statement (be it positive or negative) about it.

Not to mention we're talking about the series that lets criminal transgressions fly. Characters like Vegeta get away with genocide, so it's no wonder Roshi gets nothing more than a slap on the wrist. I know you'll argue that the fundamental difference between the two lies in realism - sexual harassment is much more grounded and believable than genocide, so it's worthier of concern. I've already highlighted the flaw in this line of thinking above, but not only do I think this is highly reductive, I think it's a byproduct of a characteristically Puritan influence still lingering in American society to hold sexual violence as the be all end all of crime. I mean, look at it this way. Take a school shooting joke, a VERY real and VERY pressing issue in your country RIGHT NOW. I don't have any concrete examples in mind, but I'm sure either Family Guy, the Simpsons or South Park has made a joke in the name of "lighthearted good fun" much like Dragon Ball has. Yet you may even find the joke funny. Does this mean you feel like school shootings have been normalized or that you don't understand the implications of the scene? No, it means you found something funny. Are those scenes inherently bad because they poke fun at a real and pressing issue that haunts American society right now? No, not everything is political in nature.

And I don't buy the hypothesis that Toriyama doesn't understand or isn't aware of the implications of his sexual harassment jokes, as you've said elsewhere in your post. We're talking about the man that wrote a story of a woman getting raped and turning to prostitution because she liked the money. Now whatever your opinion of Lady Red may be, even you would be hard-pressed to argue that Toriyama doesn't understand how serious rape is or that he seriously thinks rape should be treated with a slap on the wrist despite the way he portrays rape in Lady Red. He understands just fine, he just doesn't share your concerns or he may be even poking fun at the ridiculous nature of the society he lives in.
And yet, this rape (or quasi-rape) fantasy/fetish is continually catered to in the audience for Japanese media time and time and time again. To a point where it now, as of the past decade and a half or so (if not longer), functions as one of of the primary sources of annual income for the Japanese anime industry as a whole (something which it DID NOT prior to the 2000s, visible though it still was way back when).

The issue has nothing at all to do with fictional characters who are incapable of being hurt, and EVERYTHING to do with these works playing into a particular kind of sexual desire in not just their creators, but in their most hardcore audience: a desire that, I will STRONGLY argue, is NOT a healthy one to continually stoke and entertain... certainly without DEEP critical self-analysis on the part of that audience and those creators.
Now don't get me wrong here, I'm no sexual deviant like Jacob (no offense meant). In fact, I'd go as far and say I'm an extreme prude, despite my defense of some questionable sexual practices in this thread and elsewhere. I agree that, most of the time, excuses lile Jacob's of "it's just fiction" and "EVERYONE has these desires" are projections. But I don't see how providing unhealthy individuals with an outlet for their sexual fantasies is a negative thing. Far from encouraging them to act upon their desires, it gives them a way to express their repressed desires. Unless you have a ridiculously naive and idealistic view that these unhealthy psychological conditions will go away, be it via therapy or by stopping the production of ecchi anime that portray women this way, then providing these people with an outlet should actually prevent them from going outside and harassing someone. You may argue that porn already exists for that, but porn is equally mysoginistic, especially if they use the same scenarios these ecchi anime you're complaining about use to portray women as weak and defenseless.
Modern Japanese works within this particular realm of anime and manga have utterly devolved and degraded themselves into becoming nakedly (no pun intended) brazen and thoroughly disturbed wank fantasies for an ever-growing population of adult men in the country (and similar such men overseas in other territories, like our own here in the U.S.) who are hopelessly awkward, socially inept and introverted, and helplessly detached from being able to even remotely capable of relating to women as fellow human beings.
This isn't an accusation or a smartass comment, more-so just a genuine question. What about the sexualization of men? Which, though not as prevalent, is still out at large demand in the anime industry. Be it the buff, topless men fighting, which are the equivalent of the skimpily-clad women in Shounen battle manga, or the feminine "traps", which teach weaker and smaller men that embracing their femininity as their only personality trait is the only way they will ever be loved (a recent controversy on 4chan's /r9k/ board comes to mind, one that made the news, involving a group of individuals coercing mentally ill otaku who jerk off to these "traps" to undergo hormone treatment and become "traps" themselves). I'm aware the subject of the thread is the portrayal of female characters, but you seem to be implying that women are the sole targets of objectification in anime, or media in general. They're not, and maybe you don't notice it because you are (presumably) a straight male, so any objectification of women, be it intentional or not, offensive or fine, will stick out more. But I still you as a bi male that men are, too, targets of sexual jokes in various occasions, in much more normalizing ways.
ABED wrote:Point taken, but do you really not find it more disgusting to harass someone underage? It's not either or. Her being underage compounds the problem. No one has said that unconsented groping or stalking is okay.

The implication you speak of isn't the implication, that's your inference.

The fact that it's fictional has no bearing on this issue. The fact that she COULD pass for 18 doesn't make her not 16.
I can understand how, from an American perspective, it may feel disgusting. But from the perspective of a European, where relationships between teenage girls and older men is much more common (not old men, granted, but 20+ regardless), this isn't something to be concerned about, especially if it were consensual (as it usually is, with Bulma, since she's the one who offers herself). Again, I'm not bothered by this sort of stuff, but if I was, it would be the sexual harassment that would get to me. Bulma being arbitrarily written as two years younger than 18 in a fictional fantasy series imitating a foreign culture with different values regarding age of consent and sexual dynamics would be a small variable at best.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Wed May 16, 2018 7:46 am

You keep saying "arbitrarily", but two years when you're a teen makes a big difference, and I think part of it was to show that at a time when other kids are in high school, she's a wunderkind. And we're not talking about a teen and someone in their 20's. We're talking about a man that's over 100. However, I don't' know what the age of consent is in Japan.

The age of consent isn't 18 in just America. Sure, I can't dissociate myself from my nationality, but unlike the drinking age, this is an issue where I think that age is a sane choice. 16 feels too young.
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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by Doctor. » Wed May 16, 2018 8:25 am

ABED wrote:You keep saying "arbitrarily", but two years when you're a teen makes a big difference, and I think part of it was to show that at a time when other kids are in high school, she's a wunderkind. And we're not talking about a teen and someone in their 20's. We're talking about a man that's over 100. However, I don't' know what the age of consent is in Japan.

The age of consent isn't 18 in just America. Sure, I can't dissociate myself from my nationality, but unlike the drinking age, this is an issue where I think that age is a sane choice. 16 feels too young.
But Bulma already acts like an adult, that's the point. She's reasonably mature, she's sexually open, she's intelligent and she's independent and autonomous. I keep saying arbitrary because it is arbitrary. She just as easily could pass off as an 18 year old. You're getting hung up on a number despite the fact that teenagers still mature, are still influenced by hormones and their brain still develops past 18, up to their early 20s.

Roshi's age would be a problem whether Bulma was 16 or 18, the age difference simply is too huge. Now whether you feel like it's worse because, in the United States and a few other countries, 18 is the age of consent doesn't matter, because that's not the culture that Dragon Ball is borrowing from. I'm not saying you should agree that people should be able to fuck 16-year olds; I'm saying that a 16-year old being in a relationship with an older man is probably not all that unfamiliar to a Japanese reader.

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Re: Does the sexualization of Bulma at the start of the series bother anyone?

Post by ABED » Wed May 16, 2018 10:04 am

Some people are mature for their age. That doesn't make them adults. I know people still mature into adulthood, but there's still a world of difference between a 16 and 18 year old.

It's not a relationship. As weird as that would be, it's Roshi perving on a teenager which is already skeevy. The age makes it worse.

I don't mind "sexualizing" a teenage character if their interactions are centered around characters their own age or reasonably close.
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