New Manga Crushed by Tokyo Ordinance

Manga-is-not-a-crime-300x300A new manga series was cancelled last week just days before it was to debut online, apparently because the publisher was concerned it might clash with Tokyo’s Youth Healthy Development Ordinance. Creator Arisa Yamamoto said on her blog that editors of Comic Zenon, the website that was to run the manga, contacted her two days before the planned July 1 debut and said that the publishing company had balked because “there was a chance it might be designated harmful literature.”

Not much is publicly known about the new manga from Yamamoto, who currently works as an assistant on the popular Shingeki no Kyojin by Hajime Isayama. Under the Tokyo ordinance, some manga designated as “unhealthy publications” cannot be sold to individuals under the age of 18 and must be placed in an adults-only section of a store. Theoretically of course, the restrictions should only affect sales and distribution in Tokyo, but that has not been the case; when city authorities decided that Imōto Paradise! 2 was unhealthy back in May, Amazon removed the digital edition from the Kindle store the same day. Likewise, Yamamoto’s new series was to be serialized online, but Comic Zenon editors explained that it seemed fruitless to do so if they could not also release the tankōbon (collected print edition) in Japan’s largest population center and the epicenter of manga culture.

Isayama spoke up on Yamamoto’s behalf, calling the treatment she’s received “unbelievable.” Ken Akamatsu, the creator of Love Hina and Negima! Magister Negi Magi who has vocally opposed efforts to add manga and anime to the country’s new child porn ban, observed on Twitter that “we would have seen this on a massive scale had we not got manga exempted” from the law that went into effect last month. We will keep you updated if any further information on this case comes out!

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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.