Archive: That Shotakon Article

THIS ARTICLE FROM GGY-META IS DATED FROM NOVEMBER 2006 and does not reflect the current state of the shotakon market in Japan.

2LShotakon flirted with popularity about six years ago in Japan, but it quickly went south as content diversified. Shotakon, relegated to the hardcore fringe, got its start within the BL/yaoi demographic. I want to clarify that shotakon fans in Japan (or anywhere) have no interest in ‘real’ children – much like most female BL fans in Japan have no interest in ‘real’ gay men.

I’ve seen this notion thrown around that the Japanese are tolerant of shotakon, and their laws reflect this because “they have low cases of child sexual abuse in their country.” THIS IS CRAP.

Where ever humans get hobbled by a moderate-to-radical morality set down by ‘civilized’ society, there are always clear lines in the sand about sex with children. Look at any BL manga where the adult male protagonist has sexual issues. Japanese BL mangaka create angst-ridden characters who’ve suffered sexual abuse as kids; these memories of abuse are never pretty and always depicted as traumatic; you’re supposed to have sympathy for the character. By portraying such abuse as abuse, it’s clear that Japanese people have a rational understanding of the sexual victimization of a child. This is why shotakon is micro-niche, and those in that tiny cadre of readers aren’t going around thinking child abuse isn’t a crime.

Shotakon’s appeal is that it’s not real.


Perfect example: Last year’s Shotakon Ronsou at y!Gallery [I fucking love the word RONSOU!]. Shotakon is a Japanese aesthetic that has no equal in Western Culture. There’s a reason for that; many creators and fans who like Japanese Shotakon [I include myself in these ranks] have an issue with erotic art featuring underage males drawn in a pointedly western style. Why? Because ‘Western shota’ [to me, this identifier is invalid] is just too real.

Over at y!Gallery, some artists uploaded 3D renders of underage males and illustrated ‘western’ looking boys, in sexual situations. Those posts struck a raw nerve even in those who religiously purchase Dr. Ten. Why? There’s a big difference between the purely fantastical moe-boy from Japan with his big eyes, a tiny mouth, a chunky head, and boy boobs – and something illustrated to resemble my son, his friends, or the kid who delivers my newspaper. 0_o.

I’ve yet to see any boy in real life looking anything like something drawn in X-Kids. 0_0. There’s a vast divide in the western fandom concerning shotakon. I think this stems from the fact that we, as westerners, celebrate victimization.

Yes, that sounds salacious, but let me explain what I mean before you start linking Crat in your LJ’s to burn me in effigy. 

In the West, we talk about abuse. We bring it into the light and create social awareness to fix the problem; naturally, when something like shotakon comes along, there’s an overly dramatic outcry from those victimized or those who know child victims.

There’s also a large contingent that enjoys shotakon because they’re victims – I digress; this post is not about them. 

Japanese do not talk about child abuse, yet abuse gets dealt with privately. So private that the concept of anyone admitting victimization is ludicrous and equated with shame, not just on you but on everyone involved. What makes the family [Japan] look bad is the ultimate shame.

Former victims and advocates in the West will not tolerate any depiction of what they perceive as a child in a sexual situation. Because our culture defines verbal acknowledgment of such issues, foes of Shotakon are VERY VOCAL about their dislikes.

Is their reaction wrong? No.
Can it cross the line? Sometimes.


In 2000 [or 2001?], a penned piece for the Aestheticism fanzine appeared called Overcoming Shotaphobia: Sensei Strangelove, or How I Learned to Like Shotacon. In it, the author dared to address how she overcame her discomfort with shotakon and learned to like it once she realized it was not child pornography. Acceptance came after understanding that the young boys in shotakon were allegorical instead of based on real-life children. The reaction to the article was nothing short of ‘hysterical,’ and I don’t mean the funny sort. Some played the defensive card early, stating that the author was telling them to lighten up; it’s fantasy. If you think otherwise, you’re twisted. But that wasn’t what the author said; they merely pointed out that the need to place real-life connotations on something that’s pure fantasy is flawed.

“Here is where the Japanese mindset seems to deviate most from the Western. Shotacon isn’t real, isn’t meant to be real, and shouldn’t be interpreted as real. Even when an unpleasantly realistic situation is depicted, the medium itself reminds the reader that it isn’t real. The suffering or sexualized child in shotacon is mere ink and paper. And only an already-unbalanced person would think otherwise.”

Now her use of the word unbalanced set some on the defensive. Would I have used this word? Probably. The fact that some Aesthe members took this so personally didn’t shock me. Some were too close to the subject and perceived all of the author’s words in a negative light.

The topic of child abuse kept coming up in comments over and over, and that’s when I asked myself, this is an article about Shotokon not being real, right?

Discussion at the Aestheticism Mailing List Forum stayed within the confines of civil debate. Yet, over at the Doujinshi ML, where the article got shared, things got out of hand, with someone suggesting the author herself might be a child molester. The PC-ness felt more like a defense mechanism for those unable to separate shotakon from child porn.

Sorry, that’s completely ‘unbalanced’ behavior.

In closing, the author stated:

“My feelings on those who are linking reading shota to committing acts of child abuse: you didn’t read my article. The whole point of it was that people can like shota, and not like child porn, because they are two completely different, unrelated, things. To assume that shota fan = potential child molester is to assume that yaoi fans (females, anyway) are all planning to get sex changes, so they can act out their fantasies.”

There will never be a form of rationality in Western society that logically separates what disturbs them in fiction, art, or moving media, from real life. It’s just not possible.

  • So is there such a thing as Western Shota? No, in my eyes, there never will be – though I may change if convinced.
  • Are those who create what they consider ‘shotakon’ with clearly western boys – child molesters? No. It’s just art.
  • Do I have to accept that art? No, but I refuse to resent those who do.


Wow. Reading this article now really hammers home my belief that fandom isn’t activism. I never foresaw the current purity culture, but its here to stay as is shotakon – which has a sizable numbers over at Pixiv – and yeah, I know some creators and they know me.  –Tina, 2022

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