Gender Inequality and Localization

In the previous blog, Localization Through Time: After the Captain Tsubasa Trial, we discussed the shocking Captain Tsubasa lawsuit, but there’s since been even more surprising news.

The anime “Dragon Ball” has been banned in Spain, as it was seen as portraying gender inequality that gave a bad message to children.

It was only banned in one area of Spain, so I don’t think the entire country feels that way; but the worry is that more Japanese content will be banned for similar reasons. In the 80s and 90s, there was not much awareness about gender issues, which resulted in anime and manga made in those eras featuring a lot of expressions would not be tolerated these days (one example being Dragon Ball, mentioned above).

This has made me realize how necessary constantly updating our information is, because it’s up to us to convey to customers what’s okay and what’s not in their target countries as a localization company.

We asked one of our executives, Higuchi, and the head of the sales department, Yoshimasu for a comment.

Higuchi: Anime and Manga during the Showa (1926-1989) and Heisei (1989-2019) periods featured a lot of harassment—particularly in Showa. I do feel things have gotten more difficult, but there are always loopholes. BL (Boy’s love) and TL (teen’s love) is a good example, I think. I believe our mission is to localize the content people are asking for while complying with current laws and trends.

Yoshimasu: Localization becomes more and more difficult as the need for it increases. Nowadays many things can be purchased globally, so people recognize that content can be localized from each user’s perspective. However, it is not easy to perfectly reflect the world view of all content using situations, culture, and trends from each individual country. In addition, since localization affects development (correction of stories, characters, etc.), communication with publishers and development companies grows ever more important. Localization is vital, so much so that there will be user backlash if it’s bad, and it links directly to sales. I believe more and more professionals will be needed as time goes on.

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