A Presidential Debate About the State of Anime in 2012
With the second of three presidential debates already in books, Americans everywhere are one step closer towards the end of a wild campaign leading up to the upcoming election. Tuesday’s event was a riveting back and forth between two candidates, and not a single punch was held back.
What wasn’t televised afterwards, however, was an equally-important debate regarding the state of anime in the 2012 season between the same two presidential candidates. Here is a transcript of the dialogue that ensued.
Crowley: Good evening from HofstraUniversity in Hempstead, New York. I’m Candy Crowley from CNN’s “State of the Union.” We are here for a special presidential debate, dealing with issues regarding anime in 2012. The aniblogosphere chose a number of characters from this year’s shows, and their questions will drive the night.
Each candidate will have an opportunity to respond to a common question, as well as to follow-up. Governor Romney won the coin toss, so this first question qill go to you. I’m passing the spot to a first-time voter, Rikka Takanashi.
Rikka: Governor Romney, as a 14-year-old high school student, all I hear from principals, teachers, and other students, is that I suffer from a disease called 7th-grade syndrome. What can you say to reassure me that I will be able to sufficiently function as a part of society before I graduate?
Romney: Thank you, Rikka, I appreciate your ass- your question, and thank you for coming tonight. Your question is one that’s being asked by Dark Flame Masters in middle schools all over the country.
I was in Pennsylvania with someone who had just graduated middle school – Yuuta was his name, I believe – and he said, “I’m finally in high school. I want to abandon my past of delusion, but I met this girl with an eyepatch. She fucking irritates me. She has a special eye, but it’s just a colored contact lens. I can’t eat food or live in my apartment without her rappelling down and leaving chimaera cats on my balcony.”
*Romney looks at Rikka, who is clearly wearing an eyepatch and holding a cat with wings attached to it*
Um, so what we have to do is two things. We have to make sure that we make it easier for teenagers in anime to have an ordinary high school student life. Also, we want to make sure that when they get into high school, there’s a club. When I was the governor of Massachusetts, to get a high school degree, you had to be part of an extracurricular club. If your club made it to the national tournament, we gave you a scholarship and free tuition to a college that specialized in that extracurricular activity. I’m going to make sure that when you graduate – when do you graduate?
Romney: 2014. When you graduate in 2014, I presume I’m going to be president. I’m going to make sure that you will no longer be delusional.
Crowley: Mr. President?
Obama: Rikka-chan, first of all, I’m immensely glad you’ve identified yourself as a chuunibyou. And the fact that you’re trying to make steps towards a normal school life is critical. Not just you, but to the entirety of Kyoto animation. Now, the most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating high school clubs in this country. But not just clubs, competitive clubs. Ones that have a fair shot to make it to nationals.
And what I want to do, is build on the millions of school clubs that have been depicted in anime over the last 30 months in the slice of life sector alone. And there are a bunch of things we can do to make sure your future is bright.
Number one, I want to reinforce non-athletic clubs in this medium again. Now when Governor Romney said we should let the SOS brigade go bankrupt after Endless Eight, I said we’re going to bet on the Kyon x Yuki ship and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and it’s come surging back.
Number two, we’ve got to make sure that we have the most competitive shipping in the world. And the fact that you’re already in a contract with Yuuta is great, but I want every character that exists in an anime to have a partner to be shipped with, and we’ve worked hard to make sure that ships are available to folks like you, but I want to make sure that fandom are properly fighting for their ships right now and in the future.
We do these things, not only is your ship going to sail, but you will become a romantically functioning member of society on top of a contributive one.
Crowley: Mr. President, the next question is going to be for you here-
Romney: That – that SOS brigade – that SOS answer
Crowley: Governor Romney, there’ll be plenty of chances here to go on, but –
Romney: … and the rest of that, way off the mark.
Crowley: Okay, you will – will have lots of time here coming up. But I want to get a question from Shizuku Mizutani.
Shizuku: In what ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in anime, specifically regarding females in the shoujo romance genre?
Obama: Well, Shizuku, that’s a great question. And, you know, I was raised by a single mom who in high school, worked hard every day and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure she was on the top of all her classes. She worked her way up to a high standing, but she hit a glass ceiling. She tutored people who would end up not only becoming her love interest, but also getting better grades than her during the course of her high school career.
She didn’t complain. That’s not what you did in that generation. And this is one of the reasons why one of the first – the first bill I signed was something called the Ayase Chihaya bill. And it’s named after this amazing girl who had been the romantic interest of two childhood friends, but instead of getting caught in a potentially degrading triangle of romantic ownership, she pursued her dream to become the best Karuta player in Japan. And that’s an example of the kind of advocacy that we need, because girls in shojo anime need to be increasingly self-assure and feel like they don’t need a man to be complete. This is not just a women’s issue, this is a fandom issue, this is a culture issue, and that’s why we’ve got to fight for it.
Crowley: Governor Romney, equity for females in anime?
Romney: Thank you. And an important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was consulting for the hit anime series, Polar Bear Café, because I had the chance to pull together a cast, and all the animals seemed to be male.
And I – and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all of the animals for these roles are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the animals that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well gosh, can’t we find some female animals who are also qualified?” And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become part of the cast of Polar Bear Café.
I went to a penguin’s group and said, “Can you help us find some female animals,” and they brought us whole binders full of Pinko-sans.
I was proud of the fact that after I staffed the cast, the University of New York did a survey of 2012 anime, and concluded that mine had more females in penguin positions than any other anime of this year.
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good pinko-sans to be part of the team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you’re going to have women in the show, you need to be a bit more flexible. My bakery assistant, for instance, had two little penguins that were still in school.
She said, “I can’t be here on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays, since I have to be with them while they were at school.” So we said fine. Let’s have you work on Sunday, while Penmi, Penno, Penna, Penka, Penuelle, and Penjolina work on the other six days of the week.
Crowley: Ok. Thanks. I want to ask Shougo Mikadono to stand up, because he gets to ask a question that both these men have been passionate about. It’s for Governor Romney.
Shougo: The outsourcing of moe overseas has taken a toll on our industry. What plans do you have to put back and keep moe anime here in the United States?
Romney: Boy, great question, and important question, because you’re absolutely right. The place we’ve seen moe go has been Saki. Saki is now the largest manufacturer of moe girls in the world. It used to be Strike witches. A lot of good moeblobs have lost Saimoe matches. Over half a million Saimoe matches have been lost to Saki since 2010. That’s two years worth of moe.
One of the reasons for that is that people think it’s more attractive for girls to be in relationships with other girls than to stay pure. We have made it less attractive to simply be cute than to go to nationals with your captain by playing mahjong. What I will do as president is make sure that it’s more attractive to do other things than play mahjong.
This is the way we’re going to create moe in this country. It’s not by fun-things government, saying we’re going to make more moe and do more fun things because they’re fun. Fun-things moe has never worked here, never worked anywhere.
I want to make America the most attractive place in the world for imoutos, for little sisters, for big sisters, to invest and grow in incest.
Crowley: Mr. President?
Obama: Okay. We need to create moe. And both Governor Romney and I agree actually that we should lower the amount of wasteful fun these girls are having. It’s too high. But there’s a difference in terms of how we would do it. I want to close loopholes that allow only 1% of girls to have fun because they made it to nationals, which allows them to compete with other girls in the 1% and get votes in saimoe, so that they have advantages over other series.
Now, Governor Romney actually wants to expand those fun-things-breaks for larger slice of life clubs. One of his big ideas when it comes to coporate-level moe would be to say, if you vote for a large club in another anime, you get more votes in return for those anime. But of course, if you’re a small club that hasn’t been formed because you either don’t have enough members, or have an actual male-to-female ratio, you’re already at a disadvantage.
Take Girls und Panzer as an example of a corporate-level club. It’s the largest club in anime this season, and it’s comprised entirely of German-speaking moeblobs who are sure to monopolize the polls in next year’s Saimoe when Saki is no longer eligible. That is not wunderbar. We need more moe from girls who are heterosexual, and belong to smaller clubs so that they can get the funding to do more fun things.
Crowley: This is the last question, which I will ask. What do you believe is the biggest misperception that the American people have about you as a man and an Otaku?
Romney: In the nature of a campaign, it seems that some campaigns are focused on attacking a person directly rather than their tastes in anime. In the course of that, I think the president’s campaign has tried to characterize me as – as someone who’s very different than who I am.
I care about 100 percent of all anime. I want 100 percent of all anime to be aired and have prosperous MAL ratings. I care about our kids, especially the little girls. I understand what it takes to make a bright future for anime again. I spent my life on Crunchyroll, not BakaBT. I’m a guy who wants to help with the streaming experience I have, the American anime fans.
I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have to settle for illegal downloads. We don’t have to settle for yuri-moe at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for Sword Art Online. We don’t have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good seeder.
If I become president, I’ll get America watching anime again. I will get us on track to a balanced Saimoe. The president hasn’t. I will. I’ll make sure we can reform club formation to preserve them for future classes. The president said he would. He wouldn’t.
Crowley: Mr. President…
Obama: I think a lot of this campaign, maybe over the last four years, has been devoted to this notion that I think government creates clubs, that that is somehow the answer.
That’s not what I believe. I believe that the shonen ideal is the greatest engine of storylines the world’s ever known.
I believe in those who believe in me who believe in you who believes in yourselves. But I also believe that everybody should kick reason to the curb and fight the power. Everybody should do the impossible, see the invisible, touch the untouchable, break the unbreakable. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle schools.
And that is part of what’s at stake in this election. There’s a fundamentally different vision about how we save the anime industry.
I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his imouto, cares about moe. But I also believe what he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of anime characters themselves victims who refuse to take responsibility for not being moe. Think about who he was talking about.
Single teachers who’ve worked all their lives but are now christmas cakes. Tsunderes who’ve sacrificed for their baka boyfriends. Students who are trying to hopefully to shake off delusions of grandeur. Girls on carriers overseas training to become Panzerfahren. People who are working hard every day, trying to get that fifth member of their club so that they get official school recognition and a decent budget.
When my waifu, Azusa Nakano, joined the light music club as their fifth member, that wasn’t a handout. That was something that advanced the entire industry. And I want to make sure that the next generation of anime characters has those same opportunities. That’s why I’m asking for your vote and that’s why I’m asking for another four years.
Crowley: President Obama, Governor Romney, thank you for being here tonight. The next and final debate takes place Monday night at LynnUniversity in Florida, where we’ll be discussing the deconstruction of the magical girl genre. Good night.