Arrested for manga? On pornography versus art, cross-cultural ideals, and your first amendment rights.

“Iowa man, Christopher Handley, faces a possible 20 year prison sentence when he goes to trial this week over his possession of “obscene” manga. Handley had received a package of manga that he’d ordered from Japan in May 2006. The Postal Inspector intercepted the package and deemed its contents to be objectionable.”

I wasn’t aware of this specific case, but I have heard of similar happenings. This one is definitely the biggest case, however, and I do hope that logic prevails. As any purveyor of manga can easily inform you, the majority of the comics out there contain young characters. High school students are the frequent main characters in even seinen and josei storylines. And of course, as we all know, there is a lot of ecchi and hentai out there, some with the most bizarre storylines in the world. I have read some strange, strange mangas in my day. But you know what it isn’t? Actual pornography. There’s a big difference between a drawing of an act and an actual act. And I know that I’m going to hear a chorus of “if they’re looking at it in a drawing they’re going to act on it someday” but that’s just such a crock! You can’t generalize that way. What if this gentleman really loved the study of manga? Moreover, is the rate of offenses in Japan so high because of it’s publication? Not last time I checked.

To me, it is both scary and amusing. I’m currently reading Ouran High School Host Club, a shojo with more yaoi in one place than I’ve ever dealt with before (granted yaoi is not my thing and I don’t actively seek it out). It is in my YA section as well as every other one in the system. Amongst other things, it features a pair of male twins who most definitely flirt and act like they’re in love with each other- it’s a wonderful double taboo that makes you feel awkward all over (moreso because it feels so natural- it’s done so well! *shudder*). Oh, and they’re underage, natch. Guess all of us fans should be arrested for daring to lay our eyes on such filth!

Seriously though, I’m against all forms of censorship, and this is over the top. I’ve read some pretty graphic and horrible books with rape, murder, and all sorts of other illegal and ilicit stuff in it- why are graphic novels being treated any differently?


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    LG said,

    Your post reminded me of this case, so I went looking for more information. So far, all I’ve been able to come up with on Anime News Network is some articles from December of last year and earlier. I haven’t seen anything that’s mentioned what it was he actually purchased, although the articles make me think it was probably shota-con or loli-con. Regardless of what it was he purchased, as you said, these are drawings – correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never come across anything that says that actual minors are involved in the making of such anime and manga. As for the argument that reading this kind of anime and manga might lead to real-life acts – well then, I guess we should put people who play violent video games in prison, too, because obviously it’s only a short step before all of them turn into violent killers.

    I do hope that people come to their senses. As it is, Mr. Handley’s life is certainly never going to be the same.

  2. 2

    LG said,

    And this case just keeps me thinking…

    I’m reminded of all the news snippets I read on Anime News Network and Seven Seas and the Nymphet fiasco.

    Even before I found out about this case, I wondered about some of the titles that are available in the US. One example would be Loveless – every time a new volume comes out, I find myself wondering if the next volume will cross the line of what is considered acceptable in the US (keeping in mind that this line can move around). I enjoy the series, although it’s one that it’s difficult to talk about with non-anime/manga fans.

  3. 3

    LG said,

    Not sure if you’ve heard of this already, but Handley has pleaded guilty:

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