One of the more refreshing aspects of Japan is the laissez faire attitude companies take to certain aspects of Japanese copyright, specifically “doujin” or fan-produced works such as ecchi doujinshi comics that explore improbable relationships between characters, or other kinds of non-official creative works like music remixes and soundtracks and, er, anime onaholes. In the decades since the first Comiket in 1975, an odd tradition of allowing free use of copyrighted works has grown up, due to the fact that virtually every industry artist got his or her start making doujinshi, and the reality that every modern anime needs a healthy “ecosystem” of doujin artists in order to make a mark with fandom. When studios went to remake the venerable 1974 Space Battleship Yamato franchise, they understood the need to engage fans from several angles, including adding in fan-service and encouraging creators to make fanart using the characters. But now an animation studio is trying to stop these creative works: the owners of Love Live are asking doujin circles and shops to completely stop distributing products featuring their characters, citing Japanese copyright rules. Since Bandai also tried (and failed) to use Japanese copyright to ban Pokemon doujin works back in the day, I’m sure this new development won’t affect things much, but it is kind of a disappointment.
It’s fun to delve into the visual memes that add so much emotion to the action and dialogue of anime, manga and games. Like a character who wears glasses which conveniently fog up whenever they think of something ecchi or contemplate world domination, or the cute single fang visible in the mouths of female characters, or the famous “anime sweat drop” popularized during the Sailor Moon era. Together, these strange anime/manga facial memes are known as 漫符 manpu, or “whimsical symbols” which communicate emotions directly to our eyes and brains. Though they’ve been around since the days of “God of Manga” Tezuka Osamu, they were formally codified in a how to draw book called “The Manga Textbook So Easy a Monkey Could Draw It.” Some other famous manga face gags are:
- “Anger Mark” (ikari mark), which makes Japanese people think that German fighter planes from WWII are upset
- Bumps on the head after an accident or being smacked comically
- Kira kira, the shiny stars that appear around a character when they’re extremely happy, or in love
- Soul coming out through a character’s mouth
- Steam coming out of a character’s head when they’re overwhelmed
- One of my favorites, 揺れ線 yure-sen, the “blue lines of shock” that appear over a characters face or forehead when depressed or surprised.
We’ve got great news! The long-awaited Nympho Sensei Ryoko’s physical package is finally in stock and shipping, after an unfortunate last-minute. This is a great game about a teacher who’s eager to impart knowledge to her students! Really good knowledge! See my overview of the game here, or buy it now in physical package form or instant download!