No sex, please, we're Japanese manga fans

No sex, please, we're Japanese manga fans

Battles over "lolicon" have their roots in the early days of the otaku era

LoliconLolicon-style imagery even made it overseas, into the Takashi Murakami exhibit in Paris last year.

Love it or hate it -- and believe us, there are plenty of folk in either camp -- "Lolicon," or "lolita complex," is a now-ubiquitous aspect of Japan's manga and anime culture.

Also known as "moé," lolicon typically involves illustrated portrayals of young girls in all sorts of compromising situations.

Detractors have dubbed fans of lolicon as suffering from "2D Complex," as the most die-hard devotees seem to prefer illustrations of women to the real thing.

Keeping it clean

This hard-to-define fetishization of girlish naïveté and innocence has no shortage of detractors -- chief among them Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, whose controversial Bill 156 aims to keep the capital’s shelves clean of anime and manga featuring "harmful fictional sex."

More on CNNGo: Ishihara’s manga censorship campaign

Proponents claim nobody's being hurt by stories and drawings; critics say it's just plain gross and can inspire real-life copycats. And those in between fret that a clamp-down on lolicon is a dangerous step down the road of censorship.

Same old story

With all the ink this phenomenon has received over the last year, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was something new.

But, as Neojaponisme reveals, this debate over how far the creative envelope should be pushed dates back to the very beginning of the otaku era, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It’s only reached a head in the last few years.

Whatever side you take in the debate, one question is clear. Could a 2D Complex be responsible for Japan’s very real declining birthrate of 3D babies?

More on CNNGo: Japanese teens not into sex