Animal welfare groups in the US are warning that anime, popularly known as anime, are increasingly making a mockery of the lives of animals and have contributed to a decline in animal welfare standards in Japan.
While anime has been hailed as a new, exciting way to engage with anime fans, the animals featured in anime are often used as a tool to promote the entertainment.
This is especially true when it comes to animals, where animal cruelty is often promoted in a humorous manner.
However, many anime fans see the cruelty of animal treatment in anime as a fun way to share a laugh, rather than a serious critique of the industry, according to animal rights group Animal Defenders International (ADI).
In an online poll on the ADI website, animal rights groups across the world were asked how they feel about animal cruelty in anime.
While many voted anime as the most disturbing series, only three countries voted against animal cruelty: Denmark, the United Kingdom and Finland.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, ADI’s executive director, Peter Singer, explained why anime is becoming such a polarizing topic.
“A lot of people are watching anime for entertainment and not thinking about the way they’re using animals, but it’s just as important to see them for their animal welfare impact,” he said.
“Animals in anime have become so commonplace that we have to be careful that we don’t get in the way of the message.”
Singer also said that while anime is being used to create new forms of entertainment, there is a real danger that the content itself will become a catalyst for animal abuse.
“We see animal cruelty being used as an easy way to promote products that are really bad for animals, and as a way to create a culture of cruelty that doesn’t take into account the needs of animals,” he told the WSJ.
Animal rights groups have been calling for more animal-focused entertainment in Japan for some time.
In 2016, the ADIs Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) launched an online petition urging anime companies to create more animal stories in their work.
“In recent years, anime has taken a more active role in raising awareness of animal cruelty, particularly animal abuse,” said ADI executive director Peter Singer.
“It’s important that we all continue to speak up against this in the entertainment industry.”
According to Singer, animal cruelty and the entertainment industries in general have a negative impact on animals.
“The most disturbing aspect of the Japanese industry is the use of animals for the purposes of entertainment and for the profit of the companies that manufacture them,” he explained.
“Animals are treated with cruelty in Japan and in other parts of the world because we’re not protecting them properly.”
Sigfried Seidl, president of the animal rights advocacy group International Association for the Protection of Animals, agreed.
“It is appalling that Japanese companies are using animals to create profit and create a negative image of animal welfare,” he added.
“The industry should be held to a higher standard than it is right now.”
Animals and animal rights’ push to increase animal welfare is being challenged in Japan, where some industries are starting to be criticised for their cruel treatment of animals.
In April, a young boy named Shiro was beaten to death by his father for allegedly stealing his mother’s cat.
Shiro was aged only 10 when he died, and his mother, Shiho, was charged with murder.
The boy’s mother later said she would be willing to testify against her son’s killer in court.
The boy’s family claimed that the police did not have the right to use the child as evidence in the case.
However in December, the city of Nagoya passed an ordinance banning the use as evidence of the abuse of animals in animal-related crimes.
The ban was passed despite an outcry from animal rights activists.
A few months later, Shiro’s mother filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that the ordinance had not been properly implemented and that the city was trying to “protect” the animal industry.
The lawsuit was dismissed on the grounds that the child’s death was an accident, and the city had not done enough to enforce its ban.