Japanese manga artists forced to reveal their identities following new law

Fans and creators alike are in shock over the next big change to sweep the manga industry (Image via Toei Animation)
Fans and creators alike are in shock over the next big change to sweep the manga industry (Image via Toei Animation)

Following the growth of the manga and anime industries in recent years, creators in these fields and related sectors have begun leaning toward hiding their true identities. VTubers and creators of Japanese comics are two popular entities that often hide their true identities due to the nature of their lines of work.

While some fans find it frustrating to not know what their favorite VTuber star or the author of their favorite manga looks like, many fans pay such choices no mind. After all, it is up to the creator of a piece of content to decide exactly how they want to be known for their work, whether it be by a pen name or otherwise.

However, a new Japanese law set to take effect in October 2023 could greatly change how these creators are able to hide their identities from the general public. Likewise, this could completely shift the VTuber industry into a new direction while also having a significant impact on creators in the manga industry as well.

New “qualified invoice system” set to expose VTuber, manga artists' identities with public access to them

While details are sparse on the new invoice system, its impact on the manga and VTuber industries is already clear and apparent from the little information currently available. Essentially, the invoices that are used in Japan for contractor work (which manga artists and VTubers fall under) will now require a worker’s real name to verify their work and identity.

Unfortunately, these creators have no choice but to go along with the new rule since the invoices can only be verified by using their real names. Likewise, the Japanese Ministry of Finance doesn’t consider using someone’s real name as "highly risky personal information" and therefore will not improve or make countermeasures for public access to this data.

While the database is intended to be used for commercial purposes in order to make filing bulk invoices with several clients more efficient, the public will have access to this database as well. As of late 2022, the Ministry had finalized the system and showed no plans or interest in reviewing its finer points, especially those relative to keeping creators’ identities hidden.

Where the hands of creators and companies alike are being forced is by the fact that companies must submit a qualifying invoice of payment to contractors to get a tax credit. However, to get these qualifying invoices, their contractors must submit them with their real names due to the new system. In other words, for either party to be able to come out on top financially, compliance with the new system is necessary.

Especially intriguing is that, in the VTuber industry, these performers are prohibited from sharing personally-identifying information. However, in this new system, these agencies will have to completely change their approach to the matter in order to remain financially viable. The final effects will be interesting to see once the new system is enacted in October 2023.

Be sure to keep up with all anime, manga, film, and live-action news as 2023 progresses.

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Edited by Babylona Bora
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