PR wars

A few days ago, Christopher Butcher at posted a thoughtful reaction on manga-ka Mimei Sakamoto’s condemnation of otaku culture as (I’m oversimplifying here) pedophiliac and perverted. Sakamoto was particularly critical of fans of moe, which is the feeling of love and protectiveness, not necessarily sexual, that some fans get when looking at a picture of a cute little girl. (Here is an interesting discussion of moe, and as always Wikipedia has plenty to say.)

Back to the point. Chris illustrated his post with covers of two DMP books, Robot and Almost Crying. Yesterday, Rachel Livingston of DMP wrote to Chris, asking him to take down the covers and threatening to have the lawyers send a “cease and decease” (one hopes this is just a typo on someone’s part!) if he doesn’t comply.

Obviously you have never read Almost Crying. It is not shota and there are no sexual undertones expressed in the book. Almost Crying was actually reviewed in Publishers Weekly and touted for its cuteness! It would be nice if you would research your facts a little better before posting something so slanderous on the internet. Obviously you have never read any of DMP’s yaoi releases. All the characters in DMP’s yaoi manga are the age of consent or older. And all of our titles come with very conservative age ratings. I would also ask that you delete your explicit reference to DMP as the “only” publisher releasing hardcore titles that boarder on the objectionable. Obviously you know nothing about yaoi, it’s intended audience and any of the works that DMP publishes.

A couple of comments here. First of all, it’s libel, not slander. Secondly, while I understand Rachel’s concern that the books are being misrepresented (but wait!), it’s not necessary to insult the blogger. Anyone who reads Chris’s blog knows that he knows a lot about yaoi and about manga in general. Third, he wasn’t really dissing DMP, just saying that they were more daring than other manga publishers. And finally, here is what Chris said about DMP:

I’ve been waiting for publishers to try and sneak this stuff under the radar, and with many of DMP’s yaoi artists having MUCH more hardcore material available online just by typing their name into google, it looks like DMP are going to be the ones on the bleeding edge here.

Do you see the word “only” in there? Me either. So why is it in quotes in Rachel’s letter?

Oh, one more thing. The first lesson in PR school should be don’t send bloggers a nasty letter, because they will post it.

Chris responded this morning. Up till then, I had thought Rachel had a legitimate point—no one wants their book falsely depicted as shota (man-boy manga). But here is Chris’s response:

I did read Almost Crying before posting; It does have shota-con overtones; there are no undercurrents of sexuality because the sex is right there on the page, particularly the last story during which one character swallows another character’s semen and it reminds him of an incident in their past

OK, then! I haven’t read the book, and I don’t plan to in the near future, but it seems like Chris at least has a plausible argument here. (For the record, DMP claims all its characters are above the age of consent.)

Chris ends on a positive note, pointing out that his comics store sells, and he reads and highly recommends, a lot of DMP titles. I myself like DMP books, and I’m happy that they’re taking a bit of a risk in bringing over some yaoi titles. (Shota I’m not so sure about, but I’m completely unfamiliar with the genre so I won’t comment on that.) Anyway, DMP is bound to face some backlash, but they were too quick off the mark on this one, and may have alienated a potential supporter. Which would be a shame.

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