Posted by: 愛撫 | 06/27/09

Op/Ed time: Eroge websites blocking non-Japanese IPs

Well, it was only a matter of time: in the hullaballoo surrounding infamous eroge RapeLay and the subsequent (admittedly well-justified) feminist complaints against the eroge industry in general, a number of strict restrictions (link NWS) on the content of eroge have been imposed and, Japanese otaku and eroge manufacturers being calm and reasonable like they always are, have one by one proceeded to ban all foreign IPs from accessing their websites because it was the dirty gaijin who did this to them.

Japan, it should be noted, has a long history of throwing babies out with the bathwater. It’s kind of a national hobby over there.

Now, you definitely aren’t asking, why does this affect I’ve Sound Blog enough to warrant an op/ed piece on a blog previously devoid of such things? The answer, of course, is firstly because the lack of justice implied with the reactionary isolationism is unfair to those of us who play end enjoy eroge outside of Japan, myself and anyone else who’s ever supported the good work of companies like JAST USA included, that blocking foreign IPs will do nothing to get the draconian censorship laws they’re fighting (or at least they should be fighting, I’ve found no examples of any legitimate protesting going on) overturned and that it really just makes the eroge community of Japan seem like a bunch of whiny, butthurt, overgrown babies. Of course, that’s only the half of its relevance – the other half is that the hypocrisy of the whole thing has been made hilariously visible recently with regards to a Japanese blog aggregator.

Erogmap, a website that collects eroge news and sorts by the game they’re relevant to, interestingly enough would feature I’ve Sound Blog posts amongst its links to coverage of these games: it’s a useful site for sure (I’d used it to see what other blogs were saying about the eroge I’ve was doing themes for, made only somewhat difficult by the fact that mine was the only English blog in their selection far as I could see), and I had just gotten a fresh batch of hits from their site when I went over there, only to find the following message awaiting me:

This website is able to be browsed by Japanese or people who lives in Japan.

Some foreigners seem to be having an antipathy against EROGE. Therefore, We prohibited the access from foreign countries, to defend our culture.”

It almost seemed apologetic. Not apologetic enough to, y’know, unblock all non-Japanese IPs and stop being such massive dicks about the whole deal, but reading their use of the term ‘some’ in there one gets the feeling even NOG, the director of Erogmap, gets that the whole thing is really stupid and petty. And what else could define this pettiness better than the fact that the writer of I’ve Sound Blog, which they’ve linked many a time over these last few years, can’t as much as go back to their website in return?

Basically, my cry into the screaming void of isolationist paranoia that otaku culture in Japan has become right now is thus: we love you guys. We don’t think the censorship is fair either (especially the really stupid parts like pregnancy being disallowed), and we of the international brotherhood of otaku only wish you wouldn’t shut us out like this.

Now, I’m not going to limit comment-thread discussion, because this is an important matter and all aspects should be open for discussion, but what I would like to request is that anyone reading this who has had good memories associated with eroge share their stories; they don’t have to be long or even more complicated than ‘I really liked this game’, the important part is just getting it out there.



  1. I’ll kick it off with the eroge discussion:

    Big shoutout first of all to Mirror Moon, the greatest visual novel translation group I’m lucky to say I know of. Every time they complete a translation I’m sure to look into it, and the best of the best with them is none other than Fate/stay night.

    I had played Tsukihime before (to the point of obsession – Completed the game with every possible CG and ending without using a guide), but Fate/stay night was an eye-opener of the best kind. Characters that felt real and developed well beyond most anime (oversimplifying Rin’s character, as so many have done, by calling her a ‘tsundere’ misses the point by a longshot), a compelling plot that found far less time to get bogged down in the technical details of the TYPE-MOON world setting than its predecessor, it was truly a game on an entirely different level than anything I’d played before.

    I would find myself starting it up, and then looking at the clock to find that late nights had turned to early mornings thanks to TYPE-MOON’s masterpiece. It was one of the best experiences I’d ever had with a game, and it was an eroge just like any other. And I know I wasn’t the only one who’s felt this way about an eroge (the buggers are pretty damn engrossing), much less the only one who felt this attachment to Fate/stay night.

    • Hahaha, it turns out I’m playing Fate/stay night right now. Still haven’t gotten past the Fate route. But I will. Eventually…

      • Dude, the Fate plotline is cool and all but you will not believe the awesomeness of Unlimited Blade Works. Second storyline’s better than the first, no question.

      • Well, I just completed Unlimited Blade Works, and I’d have to agree with what you say. Shirou actually manages to be epic and the story is much more original and interesting. Plus Unlimited Blade Works itself is just kickass.

  2. FYI you can still access the erogmap website, just type “確認” in the text box and click OK. They can’t possibly block access to all non-Japanese IP forever, because they’ll get shit from Japanese nationals who are foreigners themselves.

    Personally I choose to blame “people” like Daikichi Amano (for the love of god, DON’T GOOGLE HIS NAME) and his artsy-fartsy cockroach porn, over harmless eroge that only involves fictitious characters, including RapeLay. But what’s my opinion going to change? Nothing. I’m only in this for the music, really. I realize that eroge puts bread on MOSAIC.WAV’s table, but their primary market is Japan and they certainly never needed any of us to make it to where they are today. So status quo for me on this issue.

    But about the reaction of some of these studios (like Minori), that’s just deplorable. In my many contacts with Japanese musicians and eroge studio employees, I’ve found that they fit exactly one of two profiles: 1) Those who are fascinated that foreigners would even care about what they do and 2) Those will never acknowledge non-Japanese folks as human beings. It’s too bad those recent events might tip more people over to the second profile than the first…

    • “…their primary market is Japan and they certainly never needed any of us to make it to where they are today.”

      Says the guy who just wrote a post very recently about MOSAIC at the Japan Expo in France. Yes, it might be true that these Japanese groups didn’t need foreign support up to this point, but the landscape is changing and, as someone who’s spoken with these artists personally, you of all people should know that international concerns aren’t just curiosity anymore.

      A Hikaru Utada album got on the Billboard top 100, manga is regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, everyone in North America knows the terms ‘anime’ and ‘manga’, and terms like ‘hentai’, ‘cosplay’ and ‘yaoi’ are following close behind. Japanese visual culture is by no means just about Japan anymore, for better or for worse here, and otaku isolationism like is being shown here is a big deal. What can we do about it? As of yet, I have no idea. But rooting for a return for eroge to return to their ‘status quo’ as a cult phenomenon limited to Japan, that cannot feasibly exist now that RapeLay’s brought eroge into the worldwide spotlight, certainly isn’t the way to get anything accomplished.

  3. Wow. Just wow. As a Japanese-Canadian myself, I find the way these people are handling the situation over in Japan to be very poor. IP banning creates more problems than it solves, and that fact that there are so many people around the world interested in otaku subculture means that they are effectively barring out a large chunk of their fanbase. The removing of fetishes from eroges is an obvious showing of the prejudice/fundamentalism of the feminists who have been protesting these kinds of things. While I do agree that free speech is conditional in that it does not violate human rights, the fact that pregnancy, of all things, is being banned strikes me as just plain stupid. Plus, these are mere portrayals and do not reflect or promote real life situations. If homosexuality was banned as well, I’d say they would be taking things much too far (not that they haven’t already).

    • Amen! The worst part about this situation is that, when comparing the situation with eroge to the (somewhat) similar case of EC Comics in the 1950s (I think it was the ’50s at least) is that, while the comic books that were supposedly so obscene were indeed marketed at least in part to children, eroge are by definition restricted to the 18+ set. Censorship of non-restricted materials I can understand, but this is pornography we’re talking about!

      That, and you are indeed correct: banning fetishes takes things far away from the supposedly benign intent of removing rape from these games and into the realm of thoughtless censorship of that which has no reason to be censored. The fact that eroge manufacturers have been so childish and cowardly in blocking out IPs for no adequate reason just helps reinforce negative stereotypes of the Japanese as nearsighted isolationists, and it’s an embarrassment to see such behaviour when they should be attempting to harvest all the support they can get.

  4. This reminds me of the time when SNS mixi imposed a new rule upon user registrations in which you needed a Japanese cellphone to register. Since the majority of Japanese people who concievably would want to use mixi would in all likelihood have a cellphone, this move was seen as kinda xenophobic because the only people who wouldn’t have these phones would be foreigners signing up to improve their Japanese or Japanese living in other countries.

    Anyway, I’m a female and I enjoy playing eroge every now and again and while some games have fetishes that aren’t really my cup of tea, I don’t go batshit insane over the fact that they exist. (I mean, the most recent eroge I played was 淫妹BABY and that was mostly because KOTOKO’s Hajimemashite, Koi was the theme and that was… well, lolitastic.) That and I would have to look really hard to find the bizarre ones as these tend to be low key. But some of these “rights groups” just get the complete wrong end of the stick and are completely deluded. The fact that the feminist group in question is US-based says a lot already (We must go and change the world! We don’t care about other people’s cultures, let’s just stick our nose in because we know what’s best!). I mean, my perception of it is that the eroge that are popular are the ones that are very… tame as far as fetish stuff goes since the sex is seen as the cherry on top of the cake.

    I think the response on all sides of the matter has just been completely taken out of proportion and it’s such a shame, because I think the general production of eroge as a whole is becoming more and more sophisticated. Blaming foreigners and banning them isn’t going to remove the restrictions and banning fetishes sort of has nothing to do with the issue of rape. :/ I got invited to Side Connection Ltd’s offices for when I go to Tokyo this year and a lot of their staff used to work for Hobibox and I’m curious to see what they think about this whole deal.

  5. I have one thought running inside my brain: “ban those fetish and there would be more molester, not to mention more pedophilia case.”

    I’m a female and I’ve played few titles of eroge before, from the normal love-sims type (Snow Drop, anyone?) to the abit-hardcore inverse-rape type (Discipline). The hardcore one did make me disgusted, though. However, some fetish like lolicon/shotacon is just fine.

  6. Oh, I think you can still browse Erogmap but you have to type the kanji for “kakunin” (confirmation) in the box and press the OK button in order to gain access to the site.

    • Thanks, but Denpa no Sekai beat ya to it a few comments up

  7. anyway

    This problem is definitely getting worst…

    • Um, you failed to notice one important thing about that article, so let me spell it out in a link:
      For us, that’s catastrophic. We can still see their product pages (like the ones in the sidebar) but their flagship site at just displays “I’m sorry. This access is not admitted.”, a toned-down reprise of their original message.
      I usually try to forget what kinds of games I’ve sings for, so I don’t have any interest in the eroge sites that are being blocked. The way groups completely detached and unaffected by the offending material try to police their way into the industry pisses me off, though. The eroge industry has every right to say “fuck off and mind your own business.”

      Zepy’s site has been doing a fantastic job following this ever since it started, I encourage people to follow it.

      Aibu edit – I don’t usually edit comments, but the hyperlink in the original was broken so I figured there was no harm in changing it

      • Erogmap wasn’t anything but a news site either, still the guys blocked off foreign IPs anyways. Here’s hoping this idiocy subsides soon, as the more eroge companies act like overgrown babies, the less I even feel sympathetic for their plight. The Minori page’s plea for help is at least kind of a step in the right direction, but Visual Art’s et al. are just serving to make sure negative cultural stereotypes are never put to rest.

        Hell, maybe if the eroge industry wasn’t so dead fucking set on shutting the otuside world out, some of these developers might even find sympathy in fellow victims of censorship – maybe even ones with good lawyers, who knows.

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