Conversations and controversies

With the demise of One Manga and the rise of legit digital manga sites, there has been plenty of action in the online manga space over the past week. At Robot 6, I took the online version of Yen Plus for a test drive, while at Anime Sentinel, James Fleenor takes a look at the new Square Enix manga site.

Shaenon Garrity interviewed Moto Hagio at San Diego Comic-Con, and Hagio goes beyond the usual bland manga-ka cha and really talks about her influences and the issues in her life.

Deb Aoki reports on the manga scene at San Diego Comic-Con, which included some interesting new licenses from indie graphic novel publishers as well as traditional manga publishers and a flurry of news about online manga.

ANN reports that Kinokuniya bookstores in the U.S. have stopped carrying five anime pin-up magazines: Megami Magazine, Megami Magazine Deluxe, Nyantype, Dengeki Hime, and Dengeki Moeoh. Sankaku Complex (NSFW) has more, including a scan of a letter to a customer from Kinokuniya, stating

We are writing this letter to inform you that we no longer handle subscriptions to Megami magazine since it has recently come to our attention that the magazine may contain inappropriate contents which may not comply with applicable state, local, and/or federal regulations. It is our policy to take a cautious approach in conducting our business in full compliance with any applicable state, local, and/or federal regulations.

Caveat: I have never read these magazines, so I’m taking the reporters’ word for it, but according to Sankaku Complex, “None of these titles carry explicit nudity or sexual content – only doe-eyed anime maidens in great profusion.” The magazines are not classified as “harmful publications” in Japan (although that classification can be somewhat erratic, IIRC), and as far as anyone can tell, U.S. Customs allowed the magazines to be imported with no problems. Sankaku Complex spoke to someone at Kinokuniya who mentioned “customer complaints,” while ANN spoke to someone who said the magazines “could carry some pictures that could be understood as child porn.”

Sean Gaffney, David Welsh, and Kate Dacey look over this week’s new releases.

The Manga Moveable Feast continues with reviews and views on Paradise Kiss from Sean Gaffney, Ed Sizemore, and Lori Henderson.

In the latest Manhwa Monday, Melinda Beasi welcomes a new contributor, Hana Lee, and rounds up the week’s manhwa news. Hana jumps right in with an introduction to Korean webcomics.

Caddy comments on the character Ren in Skip Beat! at A Feminist Otaku.

News from Japan: Canned Dogs reports that Urotan is taking a break from the Strike Witches manga after getting off to a rocky start and suffering from “psychological exhaustion.” Kagami Yoshimuzu (Lucky Star) and Kanao Araki (Futakoi Alternative) have launched a new series in Monthly Comp Ace magazine. A manga based on the Gundam W: Endless Waltz anime is also in the works. And ANN has the latest Japanese comics rankings.

Reviews

David Welsh on Alice the 101st (The Manga Curmudgeon)
Erica Friedman on Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime (novel) (The Manga Curmudgeon)
Kristin on vol. 3 of Children of the Sea (Comic Attack)
Amy Grockl on The Clique (Comics Village)
Dave Ferraro on vol. 1 of ES (Comics-and-More)
Snow Wildsmith on vol. 1 of Library Wars: Love and War (Fujoshi Librarian)
Kate Dacey on vol. 2 of Flower in a Storm and vol. 2 of Moyasimon (The Manga Critic)
Justin Colussy-Estes on vol. 1 of My Girlfriend’s A Geek (Comics Village)
Clive Owen on vol. 2 of Ninja Girls (Animanga Nation)
Sean Gaffney on vol. 1 of Ugly Duckling Love Revolution (A Case Suitable for Treatment)
Carl Kimlinger on vol. 8 of Yotsuba&! (ANN)

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Comments

  1. As someone who did purchase a copy of one of the magazines being removed, I can say they made a good decision. I was pretty grossed out by what was in the magazine and can certainly see why someone would see it as child porn. I wasn’t even comfortable having the copy in my house, and the thought of a parent or child purchasing it under the assumption it was just shiny anime pictures really worried me. I immediately went back to the store I bought it from and spoke to the owner about it and the other copies were taken off the shelves right then and there since they weren’t aware of the content (the magazines come wrapped).

  2. That’s interesting, Lissa. Thanks for the feedback. One of the problems with bringing something over from a different culture, in a different language, is that the signifiers of adult content may not be obvious to the buyer—especially if the magazine is shrink-wrapped. It looks like that is what happened here.

    Of course, Kinokuniya could mark them as adult—put on a sticker, or put them in a different part of the store.

  3. actually, I have to agree. I recently looked at some of these magazines – the dengeki one for sure – and was pretty shocked at all those little girls (with clearly child anatomy) in very explicit outfits and poses. I wouldn’t call it pornographic, but it clearly portrays child characters as sexual objects.

  4. I have also bought Megami a few times; it’s largely pin-ups and most of them are pretty innocuous. But every once in a while you get something like…

    http://gallery.minitokyo.net/view/430760

    (Which, as you may have guessed, is probably not safe for most work situations!)

    Pretty much all of the magazines (and books, and anything else they can put plastic on) is shrinkwrapped. But definitely it looks like a little girl in a sexy situation– which, frankly, it is. Dengeki Hime is a magazine that’s mostly about visual novels, and you can see from the cover shown on Wikipedia why it might be seen as questionable:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengeki_Hime

    I think the biggest loss is Dengeki Moeou, though, which carries manga like Gunslinger Girl, Library Wars Spitfire!, and Yotsuba&! (it also carried Azumanga Daioh back in the day). If someone campaigned for its restoration I would probably even join them.

  5. Wait, aren’t those titles Gia listed in Dengeki Daioh, not Moeoh (which seems to be a spinoff magazine)? Wikipedia tells me so, but I don’t actually follow what gets released in any of those magazines.

  6. lys: I was going from memory, so you could certainly be right.

  7. The art is not sexually explicit, but it has sexual intent. These magazines have pinups of animated characters in bikini, bathing, underwear, suggestive situations and positions. I don’t like these much myself and I respect Kino’s right to chose their stock. I do think these magazines have the right to exist, however.