2016 is finally winding down, with everyone in Japan rushing to get everything they need done before the new year arrives, when the country shuts down for 3-4 days. On Saturday they’ll watch NHK’s long-running Kohaku Red-and-White Song Battle in which the red team (female singers) battle the white team (male singers, sans boy-band SMAP, which disbanded this year) to see who can put on the best show. Then the new year will start, always a quiet and solemn event in Japan.
One of the ongoing themes in Japan is its low birthrate of just around 1.45 children per female, which, when coupled with the country’s famous longevity and lack of outside immigration, creates some unprecedented social and economic challenges. Now the Japanese government has announced that the number of births this year will be just 981,000, under 1 million for the first time since statistics started being kept in 1899. There are many reasons for Japan’s low birthrate, including economic concerns about the future, changes in society and the general trend for super-developed countries to have low birthrates. (Japan’s is actually higher than Germany, Singapore, and South Korea.) The government bends over backwards to encourage parents to have more children, including paying $3000 “congratulations bonuses” to parents that covers all medical costs, and giving monthly stipends to familiar with three or more kids. Of course, another population time bomb is ticking: the next “Hinoeuma” (Fire Horse) year, a superstition that caused Japan’s birthrate to tank in 1906 and 1966, is coming around in 2026.
One aspect I like a lot about Japan is the general lack of “uptightness” people and companies have about the ecchi side of society. Many of Japan’s top artists, from Code Geass character designer Takehiro Kimura to Sgt. Frog creator Mine Yoshizaki to Shiny Hearts creator Tony Taka, have extensive careers on the hentai industry as well, yet no one rends their garments shouting “think of the children!” Actually most of the top Japanese game and anime companies have made eroge in their past, including the mighty Gainax. The general response to questions about adult material would likely be 仕方がない shikata ga nai, meaning “[people like that sort of thing so] it can’t be helped.” Animation director Makoto Shinkai is famous for his smash hit film Your Name — which has earned more money than any film except for Spirited Away — but where did he get his start? If you guessed that it was making opening animations for hentai visual novels, you’re right!
Great news! We got the new anime magazines for the new month in already and posted them for you to browse now. From the gorgeous free posters of Megami Magazine to the steamy Dengeki Moeoh, there’s plenty of great magazines for fans!