This Should Be a Thing: Idol Gear

This Should Be a Thing: A series of story ideas. Feel free to use them yourself.

This is a story outside the story, following an obsessed fan of the anime “Idol Gear.” It’s a show where the world is threatened by trans-dimensional aliens, impervious to conventional weapons, called “Higher Realm.” Higher Realm can only be defeated by “Idol Gears,” young girls in mecha suits who combine their flying formations with colorful pop songs.

The protagonist is a NEET who’s devoted his whole life to the show. One day, he reads an obscure doujinshi about his waifu, Nagisa. Nagia learns why their attacks are so effective against Higher Realm…also known as “3D.” The people of Nagisa’s world can’t bring any physical force against the Higher Realm, so they wage a cultural war of propaganda. Her and the other Idol Gears are that war’s vanguards, weakening the enemy’s will. Only through controlling Higher Realm can her people assure their world’s expansion, along with new territory and resources.

But now Nagisa sees the Higher Realm as actual people, not just the shapeless shadows they fought before. For the first time, she feels the emotional pain she’s wrought as an “Idol Gear.” The protagonist is one such victim. He’s a man estranged from his family, and any friend he might have once had. Now, he lives in dark squalor off a dwindling bank account, trying to find solace in the glow of a TV screen. She’s struck with pity, and also guilt. She never imagined being an Idol Gear was about sucking away people’s lives.

Surely, she thinks, there must be some way for the two realms to coexist in peace. The battle lines are crossed. She appears as a vision in the protagonist’s head, even when he closes his eyes. Their story together begins. His love pains her. They’re from two different worlds, never meant to be together. Every day,she struggles over whether she’s helping or hurting him even more. Can she open his eyes to the light beyond the blinds, or will he slide even further into isolated depression?

I envision a visual novel as the story’s ideal medium. From here, the story branches in many directions. Each branch finds a different answer to the question of whether this inter-dimensional cold war can end in peace.

Research Fail: Moe Images and Virtual Child Pornography

I found this eyebrow-raising passage while hopping through Google Books lately:

“In a poll conducted in 2005 by the Anime News Network, an online portal for anime information, 29 percent of American anime fans felt that moe images should be banned completely.” Japanamerica, by Roland Kelts, p. 162

What? Seriously?! Looking up the actual poll, of course, showed that it actually referred to “virtual child porn,” not “moe images.”

Should “virtual child porn” (IE: pictures and animation depicting minors involved in pornographic situations, but not involving real minors in its creation) be illegal?

No     684 (39.4%)
Yes     506 (29.1%)
It should be banned in certain situations, but not others.    340 (19.6%)
I’m Undecided     208 (12.0%)

I won’t claim there isn’t a healthy undercurrent of sensuality in moe imagery, but using it as an equivalent term to “child pornography” is absurd. I image he’s not willfully misrepresenting his research, but is instead just really confused. It makes one worry about the understanding of otaku culture, though, when a widely read book makes such a jarring mistake. In the US, unfortunately, the sexual innocence of children is the one debate topic where all standards of reason are jettisoned. And in this murky pool, moe is wading knee-deep.

Moe Propaganda

Otaku culture is often interpreted as a postwar reponse, but moe’s roots definitely predate General MacArthur. Just look at this Imperial officer’s oddly otaku-ish comments:

   “The Government of Japan attempted many times to alienate the allied forces protecting Australia. The Japanese aimed their ‘Divide and conquer’ tactics at the Aussie Troops fighting in New Guinea and Papua. Their attitude toward this subject is mentioned by Lieutenant Colonel Mahmood Kan Durrani in The Sixth Column, Cassell and Company, 1955. The LTC was a prisoner of the Japanese and quotes a lecture given by a Japanese officer on how leaflets should be prepared. One of his six recommendations was:
    ‘The leaflet should have, if possible, the picture of a beautiful woman, after the method used by the Germans in the First World War. This device would insure that the soldier would be attracted and would be unable to resist looking at the picture over and over again. This would rouse his passion, and his heart would be inclined for love and to hate fighting.’

The text and image are from the fascinating page, “Sex and Psychological Operations,” composed by Herbert A. Friedman, about sexual propaganda in WWII. His conclusion, ultimately, is that sexual propaganda doesn’t work. At least, it didn’t work in WWII. I reckon in modern times, outside a military context, it could be much more effective. Back to otaku culture, 55 years later, we find that officer’s sentiment in a much nobler vision:

From 『サルでもわかる都条例都条例対策 ~Monkey Business~』, or An Idiot’s Guide to Tokyo’s Harmful Books Regulation, by Nogami Takeshi

Now that’s the sort of propaganda I can get behind (despite all the grad school critiques to be made about its feasibility). Speaking of propagation, this doujinshi’s author actually gave permission for it to be freely scanned/reproduced online, with a unique “copyleft” notice:

“The book has received the copyright protection under the Japanese Copyright Act and international treaties such as the Verne Treaty. However, taking into consideration the contents and purpose of this book, the authors of this publication provides expressed permission for others to reproduce, share, redistribute the contents of this publication so long [sic] such activity does not result in financial or material compensation for the agent conducting the activity.

You are free to spread the word, but please don’t rip us off.
If you would like to reward our efforts, please attempt to buy this book in its physical form at doujinshi consignment shops or Nogami’s online doujinshi mail order service, and find out more about the other books we publish.”

So download a copy without guilt if you’d like; it’s pretty interesting.