What is Shotacon? A controversial subject in this edition of the Otaku Encyclopedia.
Shotacon (ショタコン), also written Shotakon, is the shortened form of Shotaro Complex. This refers to those who enjoy sexualized depictions of prepubescent or pubescent boys in anime and manga. The term derives from the character Shotaro of the series Tetsujin 28-go, which was later translated to Gigantor in the USA.
The term Shotacon is used for the complex itself (e.g. “Mary has a Shotacon”) or the individual who has the complex (e.g. “Are you a Shotacon?”). It is also used as a genre or categorical term of anime and manga.
Shotacon anime and manga vary quite a bit, with male on male sexual or love fantasies being the most prominent. Since male on male is the most common form, a younger male character paired with a female character is sometimes known as “straight shotacon.” It is believed that Shotacon started as an offshoot of Yaoi, but was then influenced by the Lolicon-style. Some authors create stories similar to Yaoi in style, but with underage male characters. Others make their characters cuter and more innocent, similar to Lolis. A younger male character might also be paired with an older male or female character in power fantasies, such as a teacher and a student, but it’s not completely uncommon for two underage characters to be together.
Make note, Shotacon is different from the term Moe. Moe has a number of definitions, but it usually stays within the same boundaries of a cute, young character that you would want to protect or love in a completely non-sexual way.
In 2010, Japan passed a law that forced publishers to regulate sexual or pseudo-sexual content featuring underage characters in media such as DVDs and books. In 2013, another law was passed that made it illegal to possess child pornography.
When it comes to underage characters depicted in anime and manga, the issue is still being fiercely debated. The side that is for it claims freedom of expression, and say the 2D world doesn’t translate into the real world. The side against it says Shotacon is still child pornography and encourages child predators.
A lot of people speculate as to why people like Shotacon but don’t consider themselves pedophiles. There are some who say they were underage when they viewed Shotacon material, which makes sense. Younger people aren’t often attracted to older people, so they may search for characters similar to their age. Additionally, up until the mid-1990s, Japan’s obscenity laws banned the depiction of pubic hair in anime and manga. Some believe this helped steer people to the Shotacon and Loli-style. Others have merely said they prefer the cuter, innocent looking boys compared to the stronger, adult male roles in many anime and manga series.
What do you guys think? Leave a comment below with your thoughts on this controversial topic. If you’re interested in the female counter-part, see the entry on Lolicon. And If someone else is unsure about the term, make sure you direct them here! You can find more information on Japanese subculture terms just like this in my growing Otaku Encyclopedia.