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Warning: This article deals with persons involved with or topics featuring the sexualizing of children.

This may be triggering.


Shotacon (ショタコン), often shortened to shota (ショタ), is a Japanese slang portmanteau of the phrase Shōtarō complex (正太郎コンプレックス ,Shōtarō konpurekkusu). The term is used to describe attraction to young boys, or an individual with such an attraction.

In fandom, the term most often refers to a genre of manga and anime wherein pre-pubescent or pubescent male characters are depicted in a suggestive or erotic manner, sometimes engaging in sexual acts with older characters. It can also apply to postpubescent adults with features that would make them appear to be younger than they are. The phrase is a reference to the young male character Shōtarō (正太郎) from Tetsujin 28-go.

The equivalent term for attraction to or art/fiction pertaining to erotic portrayal of young girls is lolicon.

Shotacon is a controversial subject within fandom with many detractors as well as supporters. Many critics believe it glorifies sexual abuse of young children and paedophilia, possibly even encouraging it. They also believe that tolerating it within fandom communities creates a poor image of fandom to the mainstream, and many archives and websites do not allow it to be posted to their sites. Supporters stress that fictional characters and drawn art, no matter how offense to some, cannot cause actual harm to a living individual. They also claim it can sometimes be theraputic to those who have actually suffered sexual abuse in the past, or may be struggling with urges they do not want to express or act upon in real life.


ANIME-MAX defines shotacon as:

SHOTACON: Lo mismo que lolicon pero referido a niños o personajes masculinos de aspecto aniñado. [1]

Animeph defines shotacon as:

Erotica anime, anime pictures and manga that feature young boys. While erotica involving minors is illegal of course, shotacon is still legal in almost every country because of the artistic freedom. This genre even has a surprisingly large fandom among Japanese women. [2] defines shotacon as:

Shotakon is a Type of Anime of manga which contains,or centres around, sexual young BoyxBoy romance. Non sexual variant is normally called Shounen-ai [3]

Dicionário de Mangá/Animê defines shotacon as:

Vem de Shotaro (nome comum para personagens masculinas crianças) Complex e significa atração por garotinhos. Pode ser usado para categorizar estórias onde este tipo de sentimento exista. [4]

Futeishi Anime Dictionary defines shotacon as:

(abbr.) (n.) Japanese; Short for ‘Shotaro complex.’ A sexual fascination with young boys, typically between ages 9 and 12. Sometimes shortened even further to “shota.” [5]

Martha Whittington's Bottled Anime defines shotacon as:

Manga that feature young boys. While erotica involving minors is illegal, of course, shotacon is still legal in almost every country because of the artistic freedom. This genre even has a surprisingly large fandom among Japanese women.
Example: Jack in the Box. [6] - Diccionario (FF's) defines shotacon as:

Shotacon: (Ver Chan) [7]
Chan: Es un sufijo japonés el cual se usa al final del nombre de una persona para indicar su estatus de menor de edad, niño o simplmente alguien pequeño. En los fics el término es usado para indicar la existencia de una pareja en donde uno de los individuos es menor de edad, y el otro es muchos años mayor que él. Los Chan pueden ser de parejas heterosexuales como homosexuales (Véase Slash) y pueden incluir relaciones sexuales explícitas o implícitas, como no incluirlas. La palabra Shotacon sirve como sinónimo del Chan. [8] defines shotacon as:

(Objectionable Content) ("↗shotacon" (ショタコン) = "Shoutarou complex") This is the Japanese term for an attraction to underage boys, the reverse of "Lolicon". Usually, the attraction is between an adult woman and an underage boy, but also includes the attraction between an adult male and and underage boy as well. See also: ↗Wikipedia:Shotacon. [9]

Television Tropes & Idioms wiki defines shotacon as:

Fetish regarding young boys. Originally popularized in BL fandom as the bishonen aesthetic taken to its natural extreme, but more generally refers to an attraction to a male character around 13 years old or less.
Shotacon tends to be less controversial than Lolicon because it's typically played for humor (and because boys are more obsessed with sex, generally speaking). Also, some boys find the idea of physical encounters with older women enticing while others like the aggressive female characters usually involved. So, ironically, it pops up in shonen a lot, even if those boys are on the technical borderline.
If a show has an aggressive, sex-hungry Ojou with an annoying laugh, she's the most likely candidate, although that usually happens if the only potential male targets are very limited. [10]

The Yaoi Review defines shotacon as:

Shotacon: Is a genre which deals with a fascination with prepuscent boys. The term comes a common name for boys, such as Shotaru. [11]

Historical Definitions

The following term dates to February 2000 in anime fandom:

Shotakon is a relationship in which one is underage, usually 9 to about 12 years old.[12]

The following definition dates to September 2006 in anime fandom:

Shota - sex between an adult and a child or someone not of legal age [13]


  • In the anime (February 1, 1960 – March 25, 1960) and manga (July 1956 – May 1966) series Tetsujin 28-go, the character Shōtarō is a detective noted for his bishounen appearance and cuteness. The term "shotacon" was derived from his name, to encompass an attraction for and material dedicated to young male characters, including very young boys.
  • The modern shotacon doujinshi community formed in the early 1980s. The community, according to Tamaki Saitō, was at the time roughly split between males and females.
  • lolicon became popular in the early 1980s. [14]
  • "Shounen Jump had a bunch of young/young-looking characters in its serials around the mid-90s." [15] This helped to briefly popularize shotacon for a female audience in Japan. [16]
  • On September 3, 2002, an article about shotacon was created on Wikipedia. [17]

On LiveJournal

Legalities and controversy

The legality of shotacon, and its female equivalent lolicon, is a subject of much debate and complexities depending on the medium involved (visual images vs. written word) and varies from one country to the next.

Legal status in specific countries

Current laws make it illegal to possess, create or distribute sexual images of fictional characters who are described as or appear to be under eighteen years old in the following countries: Canada, South Africa, and Sweden. Similar legislation is in process in the United Kingdom.

Most of this legislation deals specifically with visual material. The situation, therefore, for written fiction about underage characters and children is often much hazier, except in those countries such as Australia which specifically outlaw any and all sexual material related to children.


In Australia, all sexualized depictions of children under the age of 16--or who appear to be under that age--are illegal. A 'zero-tolerance' policy is in place, which covers purely fictional children as well as real children. This was held up in a 2008 legal case involving cartoons showing children modeled after The Simpsons engaged in sex acts.[35] The NSW Supreme Court upheld a child pornography conviction in the case, the judge ruling "In my view, the magistrate was correct in determining that, in respect of both the Commonwealth and the NSW offences, the word 'person' included fictional or imaginary characters ... the mere fact that the figure depicted departed from a realistic representation in some respects of a human being did not mean that such a figure was not a 'person'."


"Shotacon is illegal in Canada, Sweden, Norway, and South Africa, but prosecutors do not typically press charges unless other crimes are present." [36]

The Walrus Magazine discussed the legality of shotacon in Canada. They said:

Although Japanese animation depicting sex between youths is legal in Japan, Shotacon such as Boku no Pico will likely never cross the Pacific and see distribution in Canada. R. v. Sharpe was a landmark 2001 case in which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the provisions in the Criminal Code that outlaw the possession of child pornography, ruling that child pornography law represented a demonstrably justifiable limitation of section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. For his part, the accused mounted a defence arguing that: child porn and child sex abuse are separate sociological entities; child porn can inhibit sexual abuse by providing potential abusers with a form of catharsis; and written child porn (in this case, Sharpe’s own) contains artistic merit along the same lines as the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom. Only on the last count did the scc allow Sharpe an exception, permitting him to retain victimless (or fictional) written and visual materials of his own creation for his own personal use. [37]


Shotacon and lolicon is not illegal in Japan, although the country's unique pornography laws make the showing of (even drawn) genitals and pubic hair illegal.


In the Netherlands, "virtual child pornography" is outlawed, although the law only appears to cover "realistic images", thereby not covering most of what would fall under the description of shotacon or lolicon.


"Shotacon is illegal in Canada, Sweden, Norway, and South Africa, but prosecutors do not typically press charges unless other crimes are present." [38]

South Africa

"Shotacon is illegal in Canada, Sweden, Norway, and South Africa, but prosecutors do not typically press charges unless other crimes are present." [39]


"Shotacon is illegal in Canada, Sweden, Norway, and South Africa, but prosecutors do not typically press charges unless other crimes are present." [40]

United States

In the United States, cartoon pornography involving fictional minors is protected speech under the First Amendment, unless offered as if real children were involved, or the material is deemed to be "obscene".

That has not stopped people from trying to legislate against it. According to,

The United States PROTECT act of 2003 prohibited obscene or sexual drawings of children, while the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition ruled that such legislation is unconstitutional.[41]

The Amber Alert Act may have made this material illegal, where it says:

Federal law (18 U.S.C. §1466A) also criminalizes knowingly producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture or painting

This is further supported by:

The law enacted 18 U.S.C. § 1466A, which criminalizes material that has "a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture or painting", that "depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene" or "depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in ... sexual intercourse ... and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value". By its own terms, the law does not make all simulated child pornography illegal, only that found to be obscene or lacking in serious value.
In Richmond, Virginia, on December 2005, Dwight Whorley was convicted under 18 U.S.C. 1466A for using a Virginia Employment Commission computer to receive "...obscene Japanese anime cartoons that graphically depicted prepubescent female children being forced to engage in genital-genital and oral-genital intercourse with adult males."[4][5][6] He was also convicted of possessing child pornography involving real children. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.[7]
On December 19, 2008 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.[8] The court stated that "it is not a required element of any offense under this section that the minor depicted actually exists." Attorneys for Mr. Whorley have said that they will appeal to the Supreme Court. [42][9][10]

Fandom controversy

There has been repeated controversy over the issue of shotacon and lolicon in fandom, especially as it has moved out of traditional anime and manga fandoms and into more western fandom communities including Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Merlin. Sometimes referred to as chan within these communities, it is often banned from certain archives and boards, or only tolerated under strict lock. Archives and communities may set age limit restrictions on how young characters may be represented in sexual situations in their stories, particularly when involved in sexual situations with an older/of-age character. These guidelines are often arbitrary, however, as legal age of consent varies from country to country, even state to state within countries such as the United States.

  • In May 2008, there was an outbreak of criticism of shota in LiveJournal communities over a My Chemical Romance story, "Ice Cream & Daisy Chains". The story featured brothers Gerard and Mikey Way in a sexual situation, with an exaggerated age gap between them which suggested that Mikey was no older than about 10 when the story was set. "Non-con", "child abuse", and "one-sided incest" are all warned for in the headers of the story.[43] redambuca reacted violently against the story, explaining:
The author does warn for "abuse", "one-sided incest", and "age gap". But the fic is NOT framed in any delicate or sensitive context. There is no recourse for Mikey the victim. He is repeatedly abused by his older brother, confused about what exactly is happening to him, and embarrassed by his own ignorance and discomfort. It is NOT framed as an exploration of victimhood, and there are no consequences for Gerard, nor condemnation of his actions. It is written in the same manner as any other porn ficlet in our fandom: a face-value description of events with little commentary behind it.
I am immensely disturbed and angered by the existence of this fic, but even more than that, I am disturbed by the utter lack of outcry or rebuttal, or even discussion. When we ignore fics like this, when we "let them slide" because they are "just fiction", we imply that they are NO DIFFERENT from of-age, consensual, non-abuse fics.
We CANNOT maintain to livejournal and to the public at large that fandom as a whole is AGAINST child abuse if we let fics like this slide.[44]
Comments ranged from agreement over the disgust that such material is tolerated -- and even praised -- within fandom, whereas others disagree and argue the difference between reality and fiction, and that people should not be condemned for reading or writing such material because it does not reflect on what they may do or like in their real life. Hector Rashbaum responded with a LiveJournal post,[45] making the argument that one person's "kink" should not be valued as okay whereas others aren't:
I don't ever, ever consider it okay to tell someone their fantasies are Unacceptable, to make the claim "reasonable people" wouldn't disagree with my decision regarding which fantasies are Okay and Not Okay, to imply that someone is unable to distinguish reality from fantasy based solely on exposure to the fantasy. Have your squicks, your strong aversions, your absolute disgust; have your kinks and your favorites and your things that make you uncontrollably YAY out loud.
But do not presume your kinks and aversions make you better than anyone, more moral than anyone, more qualified to be the arbiter of Reason and Morals and Thoughts Which Are Okay and Thoughts Which Are Not Okay.


Many places have discussions about the controversy involving shotacon with out getting into a full scale wank fest.

  • In April 2006, shotacon was discussed on Anime Online. Several people commented to say how disgusting the material was. This led to the conversation being shut down on the first page for being inappropriate. [52]
I, personally think that the distribution of lolicon and shotacon works may actually lower sex crimes. People attracted to real children —and I don't think pedophilia is normal, and may need some psychological treatment, though I think it's possible a pedophile's brains is hardwired differently, seeing as studies have found brains of homosexuals are different from those of a heterosexual person's— would be able to... "let off some steam" into and with something harmless. I'm the kind of person who thinks that a guy reading graphic lolicon manga has done less harm than a guy who's actually gone out there and molested an underage girl who isn't made out of ink and printed on paper. And for those of you who say that the influence of lolicon and shotacon will definitely lead to more sex crimes, I have to say that sexual child abuse is one thing that most sane and responsible people don't plan to do. [53]
This set off a number of people to say that shotacon should be illegal and a number of people such as tsurara, Aleister Sithis and zyta. [54] zyta posted in defense of shotacon saying:
Both don't really bother me, at all. It happens. Hell, I have a Lolicon thing, it is more then half the reason why I watch what I watch. As for reducing the amount of sexual crimes out there, all I can say is that is a double-sided sword. In one case the older individual may get just what they desire from Anime, Dating Sims, Hentai, H-Games, anything of the sort and be happy with those alone. Another person may be fed on those for years and then suddenly find that he/she has a sudden urge for real flesh and find that they are unable to supress such urges. Sometimes they are caught, thrown in jail and restricted living after prison, other times they get away with it time and time again. I'll be honest, I see MOST highschool girls differently these days. There's nothing wrong with that, I'm more then other in control of myself to attempt anything; I wouldn't even know what to do even if i did.
The discussion ended in February 2008. [55]
Jason: Of course, the ironic thing is that if the manga he was convicted for was really BL (or shota-BL), then that's a genre that's "technically" intended for female readers. Although, of course, it obviously has gay male fans as well. Although I think shota has to be viewed in the wider context of lolicon—"what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander"—there are pseudo-pedophilic depictions in imagery in Japanese pornography for men, and thus there are pseudo-pedophilic depictions in Japanese pornography for women. Frankly, I find the world of BL very weird and fascinating for reasons such as these... weird, fascinating and potentially extremely offensive...[57]
Casey: Actually, in relation to shotacon for women, I believe the reason why it was briefly popular was because Shounen Jump had a bunch of young/young-looking characters in its serials around the mid-90s. Thus, yaoi pairings of those characters—thus, shotacon.[58]
Bamboo: I agree with you, Sara. But I think that's part of the reason why people freak out, because in their minds, "Well, if he's looking at cartoons—what's to stop him from looking for real examples?" No, there's no proof that that's the exact path someone would take, but like I said, public opinion is a powerful force, and their fears are understandable.[59]

Casey: Of course. But I don't see as many shotacon-ish characters in BL manga anymore, so it seems to be fading. Most of the new shotacon out there is being published for men. Incidentally, some of the earliest unequivocal shotacon doujinshi I've ever seen were produced by and for men. That was early 1990s. [60]
  • In September 2009, Fur Affinity dot net had a discussion about the legality of shotacon on betawolf's journal. The consensus was that the material was legal in the United States and illegal in Australia. [61] The discussion also wandered over to discuss the legality of child porn and if the laws should be changed. Most people participating did not want it to because child porn harms actual children, where shotacon does not. [62]

Fan fiction archives

Many fan fiction archives have policies regarding shotacon where they do not allow it. The following list gives an idea as to some policies:

  • Archive of Our Own: Does allow shotacon. Content is only disallowed if it "contains or links to child pornography (images of real children)".
  • FanDomination.Net: Does not allow shotacon.
  • FanFiction.Net: Does not allow shotacon. They do not allow any explicit adult content.
  • FicWad: Does not allow shotacon.
  • MediaMiner.Org: Does not allow shotacon in fan fiction.
  • RockFic: Explicit sex between a minor and a character more than 5 years older than the minor is not allowed. Explicit sex involving anyone under 14 is not allowed.
  • SkyHawke: Does not allow shotacon. They are based out of Australia and this material is illegal there. Maintainers strictly enforce this as a result.

Fan art archives

Many fan art archives have policies regarding shotacon where they do not allow it. The following list gives an idea as to some policies:

  • DeviantART: Does not allow sexual imagery of any kind. Sexual imagery with children is strictly forbidden - virtual (ie, drawings or 3d) or real - is strictly forbidden. Enforcement of this policy is not always consistent. Googling shotacon brings up many pages but most of the art tends to be non-sexual pictures of children.
  • MediaMiner.Org: Does not allow shotacon in fan art.
  • Fur Affinity dot net: Does allow shotacon in fan art. [63]

Publications and canon

Shotacon publications

  • Koushoku Shounen no Susume (好色少年のススメ) [64]
  • Shounen Ai no Bigaku (少年愛の美学) [65]
  • Shounen Shikou (少年嗜好) [66]

Shotacon anime

Shotacon video games

External Links


See also


Saitō Tamaki (2007) "Otaku Sexuality" in Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi ed., page 236 Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams University of Minnesota Press ISBN 978-0-8166-4974-7

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