Hey, Aren't They Related?
Madeline Ashby · From fps #9 · November 13, 2006 | Japanese animation has long been famous—or infamous—for its depictions of sexuality. Such depictions run the gamut from blushing romance to outright pornography. Even the tamest North American releases found on Cartoon Network or YTV feature romantic or sexual storylines—Usagi Tsukino's shameless adoration of her Mamoru in Sailor Moon, or the flagrant objectification of pleasure-model androids in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Sex sells, and fans like romance. Like any other entertainment industry, Japanese animation studios seek to profit by the time-honoured tradition of offering skin and sweetness in variable amounts.

Anime also manages to present taboo sexuality with breadth, depth, and subtlety. The focus of this article is on a taboo shared on both sides of the Pacific—incest. At first it may seem odd to focus on this rather uncomfortable facet of the anime sexual spectrum. After all, how common can incest be in a medium which finds its way onto television sets and merchandising counters all across Japan and North America? Short of an anime equivalent to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where might the viewer find stories of consanguinity?

The short answer is that incest is both everywhere and nowhere in anime. The long answer is that "incest" is too simple a term. Can Ayame and Shigure Sohma of Fruits Basket be called incestuous simply because they flirt audaciously, despite being cousins? Is it incestuous for a brother to desire his sister sexually, when both are possessed by the spirits of past lovers, as happens in Ceres: Celestial Legend? Does Shinji Ikari have an "incestuous" affection for Rei Ayanami, given that she is a clone of his mother—with a few special modifications—in Neon Genesis Evangelion?

Want to read the rest of this feature?

You'll find it and many other articles in the October 2006 issue of fps, available for only $1.49 US.
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