And kanji with manga
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

lolicon ロリコン

NSFW: this article may contain words or images you'd rather not have your boss see.
The term lolicon is one that's rarely seen in manga and anime, and that's mostly used by the English-speaking anime community instead. In this post I'll explain what lolicon means in the fandom, and what lolicon means in Japanese.


In the fandom, lolicon is a term used mostly to refer to hentai featuring loli characters, or, translated to English, in layman's terms: drawn pornography featuring underage girls.


Yep. You heard it right. Lolicon is drawn child porn. Which means someone who likes lolicon is a fucking pedo someone with an extremely sick, disturbing fetish.

Most people into lolicon actively deny being pedophiles. They'll use excuses arguments like:
  • It's just a drawing
  • It's not a real child.
  • She's actually hundreds of years old.
  • Something about violent video-games and guns.

These arguments, however, completely miss the point that, whether it's real or not, it's still pretty fucked up.

As an analogy, it's apparently legal to literally eat human flesh. Like, cannibalism, it's legal. So long as the person you're eating doesn't die (murder), and wasn't dead before you start eating their flesh (desecrating remains), and wasn't against it (assault), then it's not a crime to make a BBQ of someone's fingers so long as they consent to it.


Is Lolicon Even Legal?

IANAL, but as far as Japan is concerned, possession of child porn was (finally) outlawed in June, 2014. At the time, one side, supported by parents, said it was a good idea to outlaw drawn child porn too, however, the other side, supported by manga artists, claimed it'd restrict their artistic freedoms, also noting that:
  1. It was a victim-less crime.
  2. There was no scientific proof linking drawn child porn to real-life child-rapists.

After much outrage and debate, possession of drawn child porn remained legal in Japan. Which led to more outrage and debate.

Whether lolicon is legal where you live depends on where you live. The best way to find out about its legal status is to consult with a lawyer. Ask the lawyer: "hey, man, can I browse some drawn child porn on your laptop?" And if he says "no, what the fuck?! I'm calling the police." Then that might hint something.

In Defense of 2D

I'd like a moment to say that it's wrong to conflate drawn child porn with real child porn. Someone who enjoys lolicon isn't equivalent to someone who goes around raping children.

Is the guy enjoying lolicon doing something immoral, obscene, disgusting, and disturbing? Definitely. Can you blame him for it? Of course, you can blame people for placing their toilet paper the wrong way if you want. Is he a child rapist? Not necessarily.

In particular, there are accounts of lolicon fans who have said that, even if their lolicon fantasies translated to real life, they would not attack real children, not because of morals or self-control, but purely because the kind of lolis they like do not exist in real life, so they would never find a suitable target.

Ecchi Lolicon

There are some ecchi series featuring little girls which aren't hardcore pornography but may considered "lolicon" due to the fact it's basically softcore pornography. Where this usage is correct or not, I'm not sure.

Written in Japanese

The word lolicon in Japanese is rorikon ロリコン, a katakanization, so it doesn't have kanji and is normally written with katakana. The L's were replaced by R's, by the way, because Japanese people can't pronounce L syllables.

Note that, the usage of the rorikon in Japanese by Japanese-speaking people is different from the usage of lolicon in English by English-speaking fans.

Rorikon ロリコン

In English, lolicon generally refers to drawn pornography featuring lolis. It's a term used by manga and anime fans only, so it's no wonder it refers only to manga and anime stuff.

In Japanese, rorikon is used in Real Life™ too. The word is synonymous with "pedophilia," or "love for (little) girls," which would be shoujo-ai 少女愛 in Japanese.

Note, however, that the term "shoujo-ai" in English is an anime slang that doesn't mean the same thing as shoujo-ai in Japanese, instead referring to non-pornographic yuri (lesbian stories).

Furthermore, the word rorikon can also be used to refer to a "pedophile," or "girl lover," shoujo-ai-sha 少女愛者. This usage is sometimes seen in English to: a lolicon.

So lolicon means both "pedophilia" and "pedophile" in Japanese. If a character is called "lolicon" he's being called a "pedo" in Japanese.

Lolicons are not humans... they are animals, rorikon wa ningen janai, kedamono da, quote from the manga Welcome to The N.H.K. / NHK ni Youkoso!

Except that, sometimes, a person may get jokingly called a rorikon for saying they "like children." This isn't the accurate way of using the word, but it's used like this anyway. Teachers, etc. are naturally people who do like children, but that doesn't make (all of) them lolicons.

Rorikon da... it's a lolicon - quote from the manga Azumanga Daiou あずまんが大王

Also, technically, a "pedophile" isn't literally the same thing as a "child-abuser." When a character in manga gets called a lolicon, it doesn't mean they go around raping children, it just means they look like they are attracted to children. (whether they go around raping children is a separate issue).

Male Lolicon

The term lolicon applies strictly to girls. This is different from how the English word "pedophile" works. For example, a Catholic priest who abuses boys is called a "pedophile," but he couldn't be called a lolicon because boys aren't girls.

Instead the male counterpart of lolicon would be used: "shotacon," or shotakon ショタコン. The native Japanese word would also be different: shounen-ai-sha 少年愛者, literally "boy lover."

Lolicon Characters in Anime

Sometimes in anime you'll see a character that's a lolicon.

A lolicon character is not a little girl, that'd be a loli character. A lolicon character is a character that goes after little girls. A lolicon character is a pedo.

Regarding Incidence

The chance of a lolicon character to come up in an anime is unusually high. This is justified, too, because the chance of a loli character to show up in anime is also unusually high. Just like with fire and smoke, where there are lolis, there are lolicons.

As for why this happens: it's because most anime are set in school or feature students of a high-school, middle-school, magic school, or other sort of school. Since the common anime character is young, the common anime girl is also young, and so there are many more "lolI" characters in anime than there'd be if anime wasn't normally set in school.

Child Predators Found in Anime Schools

It's a recurring theme in anime that there's a teacher somewhere that goes after high-school girls. Or that became a teacher for the sole purpose of going after high-school girls. In this pedo-teacher trope, there are essentially two paths to be followed:
  1. Creepy pedo teacher furtively stalks girls.
    There are bad rumors about him circulating school.
    He eventually attacks one, molesting, raping or blackmailing her.
    A hero rises, students get him fired or jailed. Justice is served!
    Usually found in drama and action anime.
  2. Hot-looking teacher openly declares his perversions.
    Not called a pedo, because he's in his early 20's, not in his mid 30's.
    Gropes every girl and flips every skirt without reservation.
    Despite everything, allowed on the school for some reason.

The first type is usually found in shounen action anime, dramas, and pretentious shit anime that thinks it's smart because it has a so-called genius main character with a dark past but is actually just a literally the most garbage thing ever. The second type is usually found in comedies and harem anime.

Well, shit, turns out most anime with a lolicon character are garbage! Who knew?! There's just something inherently sickening in having a 19 year old main character, a teacher, somehow, constantly going around groping school girls in school uniforms of a magic school that looks like a hooker school because seriously what the fuck Akashic Records?

I mean, this isn't even about the age difference. A 19 year old with a 15 year old? Uh... well, I can't really say it's right or wrong. In 3 years it would be a 18 year old with a 22 year old. Not that much of a difference, maybe? The problem is there's this guy, a teacher, in a position of authority, respect and prestige. And his conduct doesn't befit his title.

Maybe you could argue that a teacher ending up having sexual relations with a student is "alright" because they fell in love or something, but that's not the case here. These are teachers that fell in love with panties. They're characters designed to harass every girl under their wing. It's not as funny as anime tries to make it be, it's disturbing.

Not All Lolicons Are Bad Hombres

To add to the argument that most lolicon characters in anime are fucked up. I present thee a lolicon character I approve of: Kimura-sensei. Not because his behavior is acceptable, but because I believe his antics were written as a subversive joke and not as a fart joke the way other lolicon teachers seem to have been created.

2D Pocket Universe Conundrum

Now here comes a mental problem: are lolicons in manga and anime lolicons or rorirkon's? I mean, remember how the word lolicon in Japanese, rorikon, may also be used to refer to someone attracted to real, 3D children?

To avoid confusion, I'll call these "real" pedophiles 3D lolicons, and the "drawn" pedophiles 2D lolicons.

Anyway, if you, a 3D person, predate on 3D children you're a 3D lolicon, if you predate on 2D children, you're a 2D lolicon. Basic stuff.

But what happens if you're a 2D character instead? When a 2D character, who's a lolicon, goes after 2D little girls, is he a 2D lolicon or a 3D lolicon?!

Because the children in his manga or anime are as 3D as him. So is he a 3D lolicon? And then the 2D character would only be a 2D lolicon if he looked at 2D lolicon drawings inside his 2D universe? Are 2D 2D lolicons 1D lolicons and 2D 3D lolicons 4D lolicons or something?

An analogy: in that scene in the anime Devilman: Crybaby, where the main character goes watch porn inside school. Did he watch "real" porn or is that hentai anime porn playing on the screen? Is it even possible to tell the fiction-fiction and fiction-reality apart?!

Origin of The Word

The word lolicon, or rorikon ロリコン, is an abbreviation of roriita konpurekkusu ロリータコンプレックス, literally "Lolita complex," which is the Japanese title of a book published in 1965, "The Lolita Complex," by Russel Trainer, who was inspired by the famous 1955 classic, "Lolita," by Vladimir Nabokov.

In this book, Nabokov's Lolita, the main character, a pedophile in his thirties, had an obsession with a 12 year old girl, whose name was Lolita. It's from this book, and from this character's name, that the term "lolita" began to mean: "a sexually precocious young girl" in English. (Oxford Dictionary)

Note, however, that in the book "The Lolita Complex," as written by Russel Trainer, this "complex" was about "young girls having feelings toward middle-aged men," that is, it'd be the lolita who had the complex, then, according to the book, and not the pedophile going after the lolita.

In 1972, novelist Shibusawa Tatsuhiko 澁澤龍彦 noted that the term would make more sense if it was the man who had the complex, not the girl. And that's how the modern meaning of lolicon was born.

By the way, the "complex" here is the same kind of complex as "Oedipus complex, " "mother complex," "sister complex," etc.

It's also worth noting that "loli," or rori ロリ, would be the abbreviation of "lolita," the girl.

First Usage of Lolicon in Manga

The term "lolita complex" appears to have appeared for the first time in manga in 1974, in the June edition of the monthly shoujo 少女 magazine Bessatsu Maagaretto 別冊マーガレット, in the manga Kyabetsu-batake de Tsumazuite キャベツ畑でつまずいて, "Stumbling on a Cabbage Field," by Wada Shinji 和田 慎二.

In this manga, a character claims Lewis Carrol (author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) liking the character Alice (from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) is an "archetypal lolita complex," tenkei-teki na roriita konpurekkusu 典型的なロリータ・コンプレックス. In other words: Lewis Carroll was the first lolicon character, and Alice the first loli, in-universe. (yes, I'm serious, this actually happened, folks, someone drew this).

The first use of the term lolicon in manga

(I'd like to thank for the manga page which they used to write about how How Japanese Subculture has misunderstood Lewis Caroll as a Paedophile, because there's literally no way I'd ever be able to get this 40 years old manga otherwise, the book The End of Cool Japan for noting where it was first published, and the millions of unknown Wikipedia contributors without which I'd lose my way.)

Lolicon vs. Moe

A common mistake people make, specially those who know nothing about anime, but also those who do, is mistaking lolicon with moe.

The term lolicon isn't the same thing as moe. The term lolicon, as it's used currently, strictly refers to an attraction toward underage girls, or characters that look underage (even if they're technically hundreds of years old).

Meanwhile, moe is a feeling toward the cuteness of characters. Not only older, adult-looking characters can be moe, but male characters can be moe, too. So one term isn't the same as the other. Although it's fair to say there's a big overlap between lolicon and moe.

Lolicon was Moe

Also note that term lolicon used to mean moe.

I say this because before the term moe existed, the otaku who liked the drawings of cutesy children identified themselves as lolicons. Arguing, over three decades ago, that they weren't at all interested in real children, only in 2D children, just like some people claim they'd never abandon their 2D waifu for a 3D girl.

I'd like to remind you that this time (around 1980), was before the moe boom. So manga authors didn't strive to draw cute girls doing cute things the way they do today. This means that the only thing that was even remotely close to modern day moe at the time were drawings of little girls. It made sense, then, that lolicon and moe were near-equivalent.

These self-proclaimed lolicons would gather around to discuss their favorite girl characters from the few series and movies that existed at the time. And they'd, I assume, have heated fist-fights over who was the cutest, best girl or something, probably. And then draw and publish doujinshi featuring their favorites.

What The Actual Fuck, Japan?!

Except that, as I've mentioned before, lolicon also means actual pedophile in Japanese. With actual pedophilia involved. With actual underage girls.

And if you're thinking "haha, those bunch of criminasl, amiright?" then be prepared to be disappointed, disgusted, and a bit of enraged.

During what was called the "lolicon boom," there were actual magazines and movies featuring little girls nude. Legitimate business. You open a company, hire some child actors, take photos, print, sell, and then pay salaries, and taxes, too. And regardless of what the public may or may not have thought about it at the time, they were, actually, on the right side of the law. It wasn't illegal to do any of that.

In fact, until very recently, like June of 2014 recently, Japan still had not banned the possession of child pornography. That means the people who had bought that stuff in 1970 could have just stuffed all of it in a box or something and left it beside their late father's ashes, and it'd still be totally legal.

The Lolicon Apocalypse

Now, if you're wondering why this bit of history is important, it's because of the end of this "lolicon boom."

Just before 1990, Miyazaki, no, not the "retired" director Miyazaki, another guy whose name was Miyazaki, murdered four girls aged 4 to 7, real girls, children of parents, because of his "sexual fantasies." which were, of course, lolicon fantasies.

This made Japan a tad bit mad. Madder than America after countless school shootings, apparently. So they decided to do a crackdown on lolicon, closed a number of publishers, arrested doujinshi authors, etc. etc. etc. It was basically the lolicon apocalypse.

Because of this, it's not wonder the 2D folk figured it was a good idea to distance themselves from the term lolicon by using another word instead. And that word was moe. Which, was said to be a mix of lolicon and bishoujo at the time.

By using the term moe instead of lolicon, the otaku were able to avoid a direct association of one thing with the other. So people could say they liked cute anime characters without simultaneously saying they're attracted to real children.

I'd also like to note that the term moe has recently left the confines of the 2D world is being used by normies to talk about 3D girls' cuteness. Which means history will probably repeat itself. Hopefully without dead children this time.

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