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The Double Standard With Japanese RPGs

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I rarely play anything but Japanese RPGs. Occasionally I find something else that catches my attention and curiosity, but the majority of what I play comes out of Japan, is always translated into English, and is full of beautiful anime scenes. Another thing quite common in these games are the excessive sexual innuendos and scantily clad girls. In my opinion we are very lucky to get half of these JRPGs, simply translated or fully localized, because way back in the day that wasn’t always the case. In fact, within the last several years, I’ve managed to get my hands on some of the most random games ever, and I have to partially thank NIS America for striving to bring even the more obscure titles over for their fans.

Despite all the progress in bringing games over, though, there is still a very large double standard with Japanese RPGs, particularly when it comes to their sexual content. In fact it’s quite common to see some very anti-sexual comments on blogs articles, particularly pertaining to pedophilia and/or just how obscene a game seems. But honestly, are they really all that different from what we see in Western style games? I don’t think so.

Recently, NIS America released a title called Criminal Girls: Invite Only. Okay, it sort of sounds like a porno. I admit that. The content may even be a bit overtly sexual in ways, but I don’t think it deserved the negativity many people were dishing out. Mainly a dungeon crawler, Criminal Girls: Invite Only has a very odd way to “motivate” the girls on your team in order for them to learn new attacks and spells. By motivate I mean using a crop to whip them, among a few other BDSM sort of things. Okay, once again, it sounds off-color, but honestly, the game as a whole is a joy to play. The battle system is fun, and I’ve been enjoying making my way through each floor of Hell in hopes that these girls will be rehabilitated and have a chance at a new life.

Here’s the problem though. People apparently freaked out a bit when it was being ported for the US and decided to throw in some censorship. When you enter motivation mode the girls are now shrouded pretty hardcore with pink mist that ebbs away as you get through the whipping, etc. The girls also no longer make any noise and take the “motivation” pretty silently. To me, this comes out even more pornographic. But really, I was just pissed that this was deemed inappropriate while plenty of other games include sex, massive amounts of violence, and more. How can it be wrong in Japanese games but not in Western games?

criminal girlsHow can Grand Theft Auto V get away with having topless women and lurid sex scenes but a little spanking of scantily clad cartoons get covered as if it’s down right crude? What is the difference? Both games are rated M for Mature, therefore we should be assuming you are of age to deal with these types of situations. And even though we know plenty of parents are going to buy their kid an M-rated game, I’m almost positive you’re more likely to find a 12 year old playing GTA V instead of Criminal Girls: Invite Only. So why does the JRPG get censorsed while the other does not?

Many would say because the girls look young, therefore perpetuating pedophilia. Listen, I’m sure there are those weirdos out there doing some obscene things revolving around these images of cartoons, but really? I look young, and often get mistaken for a high school student. Does that mean my boyfriend is a pedophile for dating someone who looks young? Statistically speaking, more women prefer RPGS, which includes the JRPGs, than men. So unless the woman who is playing this is a lesbian pedophile, I’m not seeing the argument here. There are weirdos everywhere in life. Does that mean we should censor everything for those few that might take this game a bit too seriously?

Truthfully, I find this game far less creepy than Conception II where you make babies (portrayed as a strangely innocent looking hand-holding ceremony despite it sounding incredibly sexual in the game) and then use them to fight. I also found Ar Tonelico Quga far more uncomfortable to play. In that game the female protagonists get stronger by stripping when you shake the controller. Just how in the world these are less appropriate than the images in Grand Theft Auto V completely bewilders me. Both contain nudity, scantily clad women, and girls caressing their own boobage. The thing is that all of these games were fantastic games despite blatantly sexual content.

And yet, both Conception II and Ar Tonelico Quga also received a lot of negativity about the sexual content. So why all the hate towards sexuality in Japanese games? Is it because it’s anime? Is it because it’s a bit different compared to more “realistic” games that involve sexual content? My theory is this: If it’s a good game, who cares? I’ve played plenty of JRPGs that aren’t blatantly sexual, and I’ve played plenty that are. In fact, I might have laughed more at the blatant games because they are so over the top that you can’t even take the game seriously. And usually, the sexual content is just scratching the surface of the gamplay. There’s so much more to them! When it comes down to it, I always care more about the battle system and story over some nudity or raunchy humor.

The point is you’re either against sexual content or not, and having this fake line in the sand between Western style games and Japanese style games is ludicrous. Japan’s games shouldn’t get censored while others slip through with the stamp of approval.

About Emily Horton

Emily is just your average twenty something girl who discovered her love for gaming at the age of three or four, all thanks to her older brothers. Mario, The Lion King, Aladdin, Zelda were her first loves, but Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Tales, and pretty much all Japanese games eventually fell into that category. She has an unhealthy obsession with Pikachu, hoodies, her 3DS, t-shirts, plushies, and purses. She may also fancy herself as an excellent lawyer due to number of times she has played through the Ace Attorney series. Outside of videogames, she is a Disney, Harry Potter, and Tolkien fanatic, while also recently discovering that she is now a hardcore fan of Supernatural thanks to Netflix allowing her to watch eight seasons rapid fire. She has elvish writing, the Deathly Hallows, a rather large Tinkerbelle and a large Yuna from Final Fantasy X all tattooed on her body, with only more geeky stuff to be added. Currently working on her own fantasy novel, she hopes to publish it eventually once all the kinks are worked out.

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