What a shitstorm! I love shitstorms, so let's walk right into the eye of the thing: Kaoru Watashiya's Kodomo no Jikan (translates to KIDS TIME, which I believe is what a man calls the time he parks his Econoline over at the local elementary school, pulls out a pair of binoculars, and watches) is a manga about a third-grader who tries to seduce her teacher. It's a comedy! Despite being in a pedophile's dream scenario, our hero is at least honorable enough to avoid her sledgehammer-subtle advances. Example jokes include "oh geez my panties fell off could you maybe climb under my skirt and get those for me?" and the classically creepy /a/ repost "I hope for you to ejaculate inside of me". Having walked the underbelly so many times before, we experienced otaku aren't terribly surprised that such a thing should run in an otaku-centric manga serial and gain enough success there to get itself a TV series. None of this is weird. You laugh it off, you say "oh, Japan, you sick fucks." You move on.
The really crazy part of this story is that Kodomo no Jikan was actually picked up for an English-language release by Seven Seas Entertainment. Here is the Google cache-- all that remains-- of Seven Seas' site for Kodomo no Jikan, renamed Nymphet, a term that instantly conjures images of Nabokov's Lolita. Way to fan that fire, you guys! The sales pitch, too, is pretty straight-up about the story:
"23-year old school teacher Aoki Daisuke has a huge problem. One of his precocious students, Kokonoe Rin, has the hots for him?! Yes, mischievous Rin has proclaimed herself to be Daisuke-sensei's girlfriend and is now on a warpath to win him over or cause him to lose his job...whichever comes first!"
You can imagine that this got people all over the manga and comics communities a little shook up. Pedophilia--get this!-- is a really uncomfortable theme to address so explicitly in a section of the bookstore inhabited predominantly by, well... minors. Honestly, the moral watchdogs of the world could hit the manga section now and find any number of comics, Japanese in origin or not, that they'd be absolutely horrified to know their child probably reads. Borderline gay sex-- your daughter is probably really into that stuff nowadays-- is one thing, though, and borderline kid sex is quite, quite another. There was much concern and much debate, but in the end, the loudest voice just read the ad copy and, being a professional, screamed KID PORN KID PORN KID PORN over and over again.
This knee jerk treatment prompted Seven Seas' president, Jason D'Angelis, to actually write ANN in self-defense. I think he's being a little naive here, but I'm a raging cynic (it keeps me safe) so I'll let you make that call. D'Angelis pushes the fact that the protagonist is disgusted by the girl's advances and going so far as to call Kodomo no Jikan a quite mainstream property (citing the upcoming TV series, which I'll bet anything is airing past 1 or 2 AM). His point is simple: this isn't kid porn. He's right, but he neglects to realize how overtly present the theme of pedophilia is, how explicitly sexualized this character is, and, let's be honest, who's probably reading this thing. Kodomo no Jikan skirts the same line as, for example, the already US-released Strawberry Marshmallow, a comedy whose script is strictly non-sexual, but whose cameraman is an old, dirty bastard. Just because your comic isn't about a pedo doesn't mean it isn't for pedos.
As an aside, do you know what the key to determining whether or not something has a pedophile market is? Merchandise.
The other thing D'Angelis announces here is that he's put the title on hiatus so that he can have an "open dialogue" with the retailers who are going to be buying this book. This is what I meant by naive. Can you imagine what that meeting must have been like?
"Hi Mr. Wal-Mart Representative, I just wanted to make sure you knew that the title Nymphet you've ordered three thousand copies of from us is about an eight-year-old girl who attempts to seduce--"
(edit 5/31/07- A little confirmation on this matter:
"4) What do the vendors think? My conclusion: As I mentioned above, they began dropping their orders left and right, so their opinion on this matter became pretty clear cut.")
Predictably, ICV2 reported Seven Seas' decision to cancel Nymphet's release the very next day. Lolicon fans are totally butthurt by an obvious case of pedopression: an example blog post is titled "Please die in a school shooting AMERIKKKA". I, for one, am shedding no tears. What this story comes down to is simple ignorance: the bookstores have absolutely no idea what they're selling, except that kids are flocking to this Japan-cartoon shit. Tell the stores a little bit about Nymphet, and they'll stay the hell away from it. Whether or not it's porn is irrelevant; it's just that Nymphet deals with something so taboo that a mainstream bookstore isn't going to take the risk, especially not in a genre where most of the customer base is so young. If you honestly think otherwise, I would advice you to get some damn sun, because our beloved otaku subculture has clearly warped your brain.
I have to update one more time: D'Angelis has written ANN again: having read some more Nymphet, get this now, the sexual content ramps up to the point where he can't possibly defend it. I, uh, don't really want to see what the comic has to do to top "I wish for you to ejaculate inside of me", but there you have it.
Also, starting at 21:40 on today's episode of Anime World Order, Daryl Surat rushes Nymphet's shit and loli fans' shit and moe fans' shit and basically everybody's shit down hard, with lolarious consequences.