In recent weeks, one of the most controversial debates in the history of the western anime community has been taking place across YouTube, Twitter and Reddit, asking whether anime has a sexual harassment problem.
Anime YouTuber ThePedanticRomantic made a video explaining why she thinks it does, the impact it can have on society and why things need to change, and as you can probably imagine, not everybody agreed. The Reddit comments were so lacking in civility that /r/anime moderators decided to lock the thread after a few hours.
My personal view is that anime does have a sexual harassment problem. I didn’t notice it in my younger years, but as I’ve grown older and thought about the societal problems affecting both men and women, I’ve started to realise that a lot of anime portrays sexual harassment, and in some cases outright assault, in a comedic manner rather than harmful, and this is definitely problematic.
A common misconception among anime fans in the west is that merchandise for their favourite shows is difficult to come across on the average high street. That would have been true about five years ago, but otaku culture has recently reached new heights and its now easier than ever to find DVDs, Blu-Rays, manga, figures, plushies and other anime merch on the streets of Britain. I’ve travelled the UK extensively and have managed to find some kind of anime-related merch everywhere from Penzance to Inverness!
Nearly all Waterstones locations now have a selection of manga, the quality of which often depends on the size of the store. Larger cities such as Sheffield and Glasgow tend to stock plenty whereas smaller towns like Barrow-in-Furness and Middlesbrough will have smaller collections, usually only offering the most popular manga, which at the moment tends to be shounen series like Naruto, Bleach and My Hero Academia. If you’re looking for manga and haven’t yet checked your nearest Waterstones branch, give them a look!