BPO Watchdog Group Publishes Complaint About Toxic Subset of Oshi no Ko Fandom
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Warning: This article describes suicide and cyberbullying. If you or anyone you know is suicidal or having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a suicide prevention organization in your country. In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255. In Japan, the TELL LifeLine service is available at 03-5774-0992, and an English counseling service is available at 03-4550-1146. In Canada, Crisis Services Canada is available at 1-833-456-4566.The Broadcasting Ethics & Program Improvement Organization (BPO) normally publishes viewer complaints about the content shown on Japanese TV, but this time the watchdog group fielded a different kind of criticism. At least one viewer wrote in to complain last month about a toxic subset of a certain anime's fandom.
In its May summary, the BPO published the following under the "Drama/Anime" section: "In an anime, there was an episode in which a female character in a dating reality show receives harassment and contemplates suicide. Because the portrayal evokes a real-life incident, the relatives of the woman who suicided expressed their discomfort online, and they have been receiving excessive harassment from a subset of the show's fans. The production company and broadcaster created the impetus behind these attacks on individuals—should there not be an announcement of some sort to address this?"
The comment references the controversy around the Oshi no Ko anime's sixth episode. The mother of professional wrestler Hana Kimura, who died by suicide in May 2020 after being relentlessly cyberbullied for her actions on the Japanese reality TV show Terrace House, criticized the anime for capitalizing on the specifics of her daughter's death. "The words that the character was exposed to are exactly the words that Hana was exposed to," she commented. "We have talked about these things publicly through interviews and the like. How could those exact same words be used? I can't overlook the fact that Hana's death is being used like free source material."
Last week's recap episode of Oshi no Ko featured some cast commentary on the events of episode six, although there was no mention of Hana Kimura or the real-life backlash around the portrayal. Ruby Hoshino voice actress Yurie Igoma remarked generally: "I was able to observe her portrayal of the bit that depicted the gut-punch feeling humans experience. Watching that really made me think some things over again. I think it was really meaningful for me at this point in my life to have been able to learn about that world."
For his part, manga author Aka Akasaka has not issued any statements about the controversy, although prior to the episode's debut he has alluded to the Hana Kimura incident as one of the inspirations behind his portrayal of Japanese showbiz. In his recent interview with ANN, he stated: "Talents [entertainers who frequently appear on TV in Japan] can no longer ignore the internet, YouTube has become super popular, movies are watched with subtitles, plays are increasingly based on anime and manga, and there has been an instance of a suicide stemming from a reality show. Considering all those facts, I then decided to take a contemporary subject, something that is happening in the real world of Japanese entertainment today. That was the first concept."