What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?


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    @bloodygaikotsu said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    Well, slavery ain't the only thing that negates other characters' personhood in manga and LN, like we got shikigami concept or even in some cases, parent-child relationship.
    You never read a manga, where the parents are treating their child like tool or possession?
    'I gave birth to him so, I decide his fate or whatever'
    I think people usually talk about how they cheer on the child than about how it's bad to write about these stuff.

    Because more often than not, the story presents the situation as how the over-controlling parents are in the wrong, or at least going way too far.

    Whereas in a lot of the light novel slave relationships, the slavery is excused with "well, it's not that bad, if we just look at the protagonist, and ignore the institution of slavery in general".

    And obviously slavery isn't the only topic that is problematic. As mentioned, Outbreak Company deals with the issue of cultural invasion, which a lot of "isekai-ed into a fantasy world" stories treat as a given with Modern Japanese Cultural Values being somehow superior to the Backwards Fantasy World, and asks if this is really better for the fantasy world.

    Slavery is just pointed out here because it's so ubiquitous. The point I'm making isn't about whether this specific story or that specific story deals with slavery properly or not. The point is that so many of them just insert slavery into the story for no apparent reason other than "it's a fantasy setting, must include female slaves for the male protagonist to obtain". Take it as a commentary on the frequency, not on the individual instances.


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    For the record, I don't want any books banned or cleaned up. But I also think readers have the right to express opinions on the works if there's ideologies in them they find harmful to them or people they care about.

    @bloodygaikotsu said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    @terrence
    It just boils down to what I said

    but the reader just should apply some logic to what he absorbs and think twice about any belief.

    (More like that's our duty as thinking species lol, to contemplate our convictions and doubt our beliefs first—but that's just me going off on a tangent)

    You see, "the wrong ideology" thing is quite the subjective thing.

    Yeah, I liked that the article gets into that. Ideologies can be politically leaning too, not just good or evil. Though, there's some groups that are almost purely evil and I would acknowledge their ideology as something that cannot be interpreted as good to anyone but them (certain supremacist groups). Anything that pushes harmful fabrications or prejudices that will harm a group of people is pretty disgusting.

    And someone pushing even an agenda I agree with too hard can come off as somewhat irritating too depending on the work (sometimes Inio Asano gets this way for me, though he may be doing it on purpose; by the end of his manga, there's like hundreds of philosophies his characters spat at me, and it's too much).

    I just think acknowledging what you're reading is important. Even works that are colorful and whimsical can have "harmful" ideologies. I mean, one of the first anime was a propaganda film featuring anthropomorphic animals (Momotaro).



  • @unsynchedcheese said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    Slavery is just pointed out here because it's so ubiquitous. The point I'm making isn't about whether this specific story or that specific story deals with slavery properly or not. The point is that so many of them just insert slavery into the story for no apparent reason other than "it's a fantasy setting, must include female slaves for the male protagonist to obtain". Take it as a commentary on the frequency, not on the individual instances.

    There are 2 points I said on this thread.

    • If it's there just for wish-fulfillment or some kind of writer's masturbation (pardon my language lol) or whatever, it puts me off (which is the answer of the OP question)
    • It's not detrimental to people's ideology as Terrence made it to sound.

    Most of my talk is a bit generic too (without using any kind of example)
    So, I am not sure where this is going...


    @Terrence

    For the record, I don't want any books banned or cleaned up. But I also think readers have the right to express opinions on the works if there's ideologies in them they find harmful to them or people they care about.

    So we agree here~
    But my stance is a bit different.
    Basically, everyone is free to say whatever, including the reader.
    As long as you, and only, are entailed and affected by your own set of beliefs—as long as they are not forced on someone else, or turned into a direct insult, or generated an action that harmed someone else, people are free to believe or say or do whatever they want.
    E.g.
    I won't fault someone saying—let's see... something like "kill the ****" till someone got shot for real!


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    I must admit I'm a little tired of how overused the "there's slavery in this world, but the protag is nice to his slaves so it's okay" thing is. Each story has some in universe excuse that makes it individually not so bad (I mean, this isn't high literature so I let all sorts of other things go, too) but overall it's getting pretty old - much like fantasy based isekai itself I guess.

    Still pretty squicked about the meaning of Niku's name from LDM, very glad events were changed from WN to LN there but geez, we could have had these dungeon battles and Niku could have been an orphan old mate saved from those goons & adopted, he could have just hired Ichika, and it'd be the same damn story without child sex slavery being involved. I mean, is that detail really a selling point, in Japan or elsewhere?


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    I think slavery in fiction there is a few different factors that we need to keep in mind.

    Slave in relationship to the world, how does slavery contibute the world the story takes place in? Are slaves treated well or poorly, are there certain types of slaves that are treated better or have a better experience than other Slaves? What sort of slavery is it?

    Slavery in relationship to the story. What is the significance of slavery in the story? What themes does the story explore during Slavery?

    Slavery in relationship to the protagonist. How does the protagonist react to the Slavery? This can also relate to he story too.

    I think Magi is a great example as we have 3 different perspectives one who frees via breaking the chains, one who ignores or does nothing, and one that is chained both physically and mentally. I also think shield hero is a great example too but I used that one earlier


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    Another one that handles it pretty well / interestingly iirc, at least in volume 1, was Battle Divas. They present the conflict of naivety when it comes to freeing slaves without any plans but good intentions and what happens after.

    In the story, they present it as: If you don't provide for former slaves with some social system, just free them and leave them on their own in a built up society, they may have little choice but to resort to desperate measures to survive, and they won't necessarily see you as a hero for freeing them into poverty.


  • Staff

    @drone205 said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    I think slavery in fiction there is a few different factors that we need to keep in mind.

    You keep saying this, but you also keep ignoring that slavery could be taken out or replaced, per smashman's post, and it would be the exact same story. Seriously, these authors have the imagination to think up fantastical stories and complex systems of politics and magic, but still have to fall back on "humans are evil because they like to own other humans"? Or worse, "my protagonist is such a shining star because he frowns at other people owning people."


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    I'm personally not a fan. Most of the time I don't think it's absolutely necessary to the story, and as others have said could probably be rewritten or taken out. I'm also with the people who are over "the protagonist is nice to his slaves, so he's a good guy and it's okay!" It honestly just feels tired and cheap to me.

    With all that said, if the story is good, I'm willing to read or watch it anyway. I'm watching How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord, and I've been surprised with how good it's been.

    @smashman42 said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    Still pretty squicked about the meaning of Niku's name from LDM, very glad events were changed from WN to LN there but geez, we could have had these dungeon battles and Niku could have been an orphan old mate saved from those goons & adopted, he could have just hired Ichika, and it'd be the same damn story without child sex slavery being involved. I mean, is that detail really a selling point, in Japan or elsewhere?

    This was my biggest problem with LDM. The stuff with Niku was gross to me, and I never felt it was cute or funny. It felt like that was pandering to a certain crowd.

    I haven't read the second volume, but it doesn't sound like that aspect of the story gets any better, so I'll probably drop it.


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    @lazyproblems said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    I haven't read the second volume, but it doesn't sound like that aspect of the story gets any better, so I'll probably drop it.

    I mean, it doesn't get any worse. If you enjoyed the first volume enough, you'll enjoy the second volume. There aren't any abuse scenes (sexual or otherwise), and in a later book they will address Niku's name.


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    @myskaros said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    @drone205 said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    I think slavery in fiction there is a few different factors that we need to keep in mind.

    You keep saying this, but you also keep ignoring that slavery could be taken out or replaced, per smashman's post, and it would be the exact same story. Seriously, these authors have the imagination to think up fantastical stories and complex systems of politics and magic, but still have to fall back on "humans are evil because they like to own other humans"? Or worse, "my protagonist is such a shining star because he frowns at other people owning people."

    Well actually it would not be the same story and for some series it would be a drastic change though most would be minor. Shield Hero would be very different without the slavery. How would the MC get his first true companion? The only people he could truly trust at the time was a slave because they can not betray you. How would NGNL without the aspect of slavery or giving yourself up as part of the bet? Also why do you think there is slavery in books in the first place? Slavery was a very real thing that happened in human history. It is just that slavery is associated with racial slavery now where the slave is treated less then a human Being mostly for the colour of their skin and not the fact that they were slaves. It is very important that there are stories out there that features Slavery, witch-hunts, racism, and much more. There will no doubt be creators that use such thing lazily but there will be some that use them masterfully. Just compare how witch-hunts were used in Berserk and grimoir zero. Berserk showed how they really were like (think the red scare) and the other just took it literally.


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    @myskaros I think that the idea of slavery as a whole being a bad thing is silly. You have plenty of stories where slavery isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    As a few types of slavery that aren't as bad:

    Slaves that are slaves as punishment for crimes (especially in worlds where you can magically force a criminal to obey) as an alternative to death. Usually this is only one set of slaves, but it does show that slavery isn't just used arbitrarily. Often, the story would change here as a character would have otherwise been executed and out of the story.

    Slaves where the slaves are treated well and provided for and basically slaves are just a low caste (though often not the lowest (lowest usually are the unmentionables)). Here, slaves are basically the same thing as a low income worker. In some stories, they might even have their own set of rights. In a sense, the story wouldn't change much except that a paid worker might be less trustworthy than a slave. Slaves, in most web/light novels, can't betray you or can't betray you without dying.

    Slaves where the slaves are voluntary. (More like servants than actual slaves in the voluntary sense, but still slavery). Here, slavery is more of something you do as a sign of devotion. It is both a way to display loyalty and a way of saying that you trust the other person (not necessarily the same thing as loyalty). Here, slavery doesn't really change much outside of being an absolute proof of loyalty, but sometimes is used to prevent a person from giving out information that they might otherwise give or even used as a way for a person to 'end their misery'/'remove the hostage situation' if captured.

    Slaves where the slaves are slaves for their own protection. This is actually rare as far as being the reason for slavery to exist, but quite common in smaller amounts where a few select individuals are slaves for such a reason. Here, slaves are basically made slaves for the sake of protecting a group. Again, this isn't really common as a whole, but used in smaller amounts. This is usually fairly important to the story. For an example of this on an individual scale in a series under JNC:

    Just like how there are bad humans and horrible humans, not everything is the same even when talking about the same thing. You have bad slavery and not nearly as bad slavery.


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    @drone205 said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    Shield Hero would be very different without the slavery. How would the MC get his first true companion? The only people he could truly trust at the time was a slave because they can not betray you.

    The only reason this is a thing is because the author decided to make it a thing. From the perspective of the protagonist, there's no actual guarantee that he couldn't be betrayed, things just happened to work out. He's new to the world, for all he knew the slave really could betray him, for example at the orders of the slave trader, and he just never considered it.

    The point was merely "this person has trust issues, and there should be an excuse for how he begins to trust someone." "Slave magic" is just that excuse. He could just as easily have picked up a starved orphan and held food or money ransom for them to obey him. Establishing a supporting character as caring so much about material goods would let the denouement be that they reject riches to stay with the MC. Hey look, it all would have worked out without slavery!

    How would NGNL without the aspect of slavery or giving yourself up as part of the bet?

    You're reaching with this one. NGNL does not have slavery in it. It doesn't have a society of intelligent beings owning other intelligent beings, in fact it's laid out very, very early that pretty much no person ever bets themselves. That in itself is a rejection of slavery.

    Also why do you think there is slavery in books in the first place? Slavery was a very real thing that happened in human history.

    As I've explained, because authors want a cheap hook to say "look, this person treats slaves well, he's so virtuous!" or "that person abuses slaves, he's an asshole!"

    No LN tries to say "slavery was an aspect of human history that should be analyzed objectively via fiction," it's always used as a narrative tool to make a basic point that could easily be made in other ways.

    @sinnoaria You really, really like slaves in your stories, I see. In any case, your examples of "not-so-bad slavery" is case-in-point of you don't need goddamn slavery, just make them the other thing you literally said they are.

    Slavery is literally one person owning another person, slaves being treated as objects or possessions without their will or consent. If that is not the case in the story, then you don't call it slavery.


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    @myskaros said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    case, your examples of "not-so-bad slavery" is case-in-point of you don't need goddamn slavery, just make them the other thing you literally said they are.

    I feel you mixed my post up with someone else's. I explained where it would change the story and where it wouldn't. Basically I made four points:

    • "The ones that were slaves would have been executed otherwise"
    • "Slaves can't betray you (in many LNs)"
    • "It can be used as a way to prevent giving out information" (Used in LDM to prevent a certain person from giving away information that could be harmful. NGNL uses it to win a battle by removing the person's 'heart' so that they couldn't be read (preventing cheating by reading the heart)).
    • "Slavery is used for protection" (because of the absoluteness of slavery in some series, being a slave actually affords you some protection, such as when used to guarantee that someone won't cause trouble because they are your slave now).

    In the case of slavery as punishment where the alternative is death... You'd have characters that would stop appearing or wouldn't appear at all. In some cases, the slave is falsely accused so part of the story is proving that they were innocent in the first place. Instead, they'd be dead and there would be no investigation because there wouldn't be anyone that knew about them AND cared.

    In the case of the low caste, do realize that in the history of human life, some cultures flat out referred to that caste as the slave caste for a reason. There isn't really an alternative here. They are slaves, just often treated a bit better than the real life counterparts.

    Willing Slavery is SIMILAR to Servants, but not necessarily the same thing. Take F/SN as an example.

    A willing slave (magical) is basically someone that CAN'T go against you even if they want to. A servant is basically someone that COULD go against you even if they DIDN'T want to (such as a truth spell). It might not be a big difference, but it does change the story somewhat, such as when you tell a willing slave to "GET DOWN!", they immediately obey without thinking when a moment of thought could be the difference between life and death. (I actually have a game story about how heroes give up control to an outside power in order to accomplish things that they normally couldn't do, like ignore their fear of heights to save someone or choose life by running through a nest of spiders instead of dying because they were trapped. Basically a willing slave. Gave up their freedom in order to accomplish a goal.).

    Slaves for protection don't really have an alternative.

    Also, did you read NGNL or are you just basing it off of what you know from the anime (Even then, there were a few cases)?

    In the case of Shield Hero, the key is that he believed it was the only people he could trust. There were others that he could trust, but he personally couldn't trust them. That is the key there.

    If he were to use say a starved orphan and used food or money to force obedience, then he'd be seen as a villain character. Him using a slave and treating them well puts him in a completely different light. Also, I do believe that the slave issue goes a bit deeper later in the series, but I'm not going to jump into a bunch more spoilers right now since I don't feel like re-reading the series right now.

    Plenty of LN do analyze slavery, even if not the focus of the story.

    Personally, I see Slavery as something that exists, even in the current age. It is just that not everyone realizes it. 'A rose by any other name smells just as sweet.' Slavery by any other name is still slavery. That is why I don't have an issue with a story flat out stating what it is. If a story tried to disguise it by using a different term, I'd still see it as slavery.

    Again, there are many forms of slavery and not all of them are flat out bad.

    In the case of your definition, slavery barely exists in stories in the first place. I mean, even in the case where these slaves are bought and owned, they are being treated as objects or possessions WITH their will or consent.

    LDM: As soon as Niku accepts the MC, Niku is willing and thus not a slave.
    LDM: Second slave WANTS the MC to buy her, thus it is willing.

    On the other hand, that means you have a lot of American series where you have slaves.

    People who are under 'protection' and thus are being treated as owned objects/possessions (personal ATMs) against their will as an example.


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    @myskaros said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    @lazyproblems said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    I haven't read the second volume, but it doesn't sound like that aspect of the story gets any better, so I'll probably drop it.

    I mean, it doesn't get any worse. If you enjoyed the first volume enough, you'll enjoy the second volume. There aren't any abuse scenes (sexual or otherwise), and in a later book they will address Niku's name.

    LDM was a mixed bag for me. The final dungeon battle was really good, but I was mixed on Keima and the aforementioned Niku stuff. Although, somewhat related to the theme of this topic, I did like how Keima handled his control of Rokuko by the end.

    I've got enough LNs and pre-pubs to read that I'm not sure if I want to stick it out with that particular series.

    Actually, would you please spoil me about the name thing? Either pm or post it here, I'm actually kinda surprised they address it. I figured that would be an ongoing joke for the series.


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    @lazyproblems said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    I mean, it doesn't get any worse. If you enjoyed the first volume enough, you'll enjoy the second volume. There aren't any abuse scenes (sexual or otherwise), and in a later book they will address Niku's name.

    Not related to the spoiler, but as a fun fact about Niku's name...


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    @sinnoaria said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    @lazyproblems said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    I mean, it doesn't get any worse. If you enjoyed the first volume enough, you'll enjoy the second volume. There aren't any abuse scenes (sexual or otherwise), and in a later book they will address Niku's name.

    Not related to the spoiler, but as a fun fact about Niku's name...

    Yeah, the meat thing is another slang term for that, but I knew about that "fun" fact.


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    @lazyproblems It is kind of sad that the MC legitimately thinks that Niku is her name right now since Niku thought that he was asking her what she was called in a rather literal sense. But we've already been told that it is possible to change your name on the registration, just expensive. We've also been basically told that the whole Niku name is a misunderstanding.


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    @lazyproblems vol 2 has another amusing dungeon battle, the new slave is totally willing (well, basically paying for debts rather than jail or death, so "willing" I suppose - but waaaay more agency than Niku ever had) and nothing bad happens with Niku - name related bit in spoiler tags...


  • Premium Member

    @smashman42 said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    @lazyproblems vol 2 has another amusing dungeon battle, the new slave is totally willing (well, basically paying for debts rather than jail or death, so "willing" I suppose - but waaaay more agency than Niku ever had) and nothing bad happens with Niku - name related bit in spoiler tags...

    Oh, I think she is much more than willing.


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    @myskaros said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    @drone205 said in What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?:

    Shield Hero would be very different without the slavery. How would the MC get his first true companion? The only people he could truly trust at the time was a slave because they can not betray you.

    The only reason this is a thing is because the author decided to make it a thing. From the perspective of the protagonist, there's no actual guarantee that he couldn't be betrayed, things just happened to work out. He's new to the world, for all he knew the slave really could betray him, for example at the orders of the slave trader, and he just never considered it.

    The point was merely "this person has trust issues, and there should be an excuse for how he begins to trust someone." "Slave magic" is just that excuse. He could just as easily have picked up a starved orphan and held food or money ransom for them to obey him. Establishing a supporting character as caring so much about material goods would let the denouement be that they reject riches to stay with the MC. Hey look, it all would have worked out without slavery!

    I want to confirm something. Are you against slavery I fiction in general or are you against slavery in fiction that does not contribute to the story? Because I think I misunderstood your point of view at this point.


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