Think outside the box

夏眠中|I shall return.



It's a description which supporters of manga strongly reject. But as the Olympics approach, outside eyes will turn to Japan, exerting a powerful pressure for manga and anime to be part of what people see as "cool Japan" rather than "weird Japan".


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But the line between freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate, on the one hand, and hate speech and xenophobia, on the other, has become blurred.

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They said it was important to recognise that manga cartoons are deeply rooted in Japanese culture.

The judges had heard evidence from Mr Stroemberg, called by the defence as an expert witness. He argued it would be a mistake to consider the characters as representations of children based on European standards.

"For a start, Asian people are just smaller," he told the BBC, "but also the Japanese have a concept of kawaii, which means cuteness.

"Kawaii is not just for kids; men and women are supposed to be small and cute too. It's a desirable characteristic that encompasses the whole of Japanese society, not just comics.

If you design houses, if you design household products, they're meant to be kawaii," he said.

"Making manga characters look smaller, cuter, younger, reflects a state of mind, and is not a statement of age."

Mr Stroemberg continued: "A character can be twice the height of another character being both of the same age, and that says that one of the characters is a villain and the other is a hero, because heroes are supposed to be small and cute, villains are tall and sharp.

"Saying that one character is big and one is small doesn't say that one is older than the other."