A History of Shojo, Loli, and Harmful Books

topNaisho no Tsubomi Volume 3 was released on the 29th. Yu Yabuuchi's Naisho no Tsubomi is a sex-ed manga aimed at elementary school students, with a fifth-grade girl as its protagonist. The manga became extremely popular and received many praises.

However, despite Naisho no Tsubomi's success, not all manga involving sex are met with welcoming arms by the Japanese society. In fact, obscene shojo manga (smut) and lolicon manga have always been the target of various child protection groups. Recent news reports of actions taken against harmful shojo and loli manga involving excessive sexual content seem to suggest that a potential new movement is on the horizon. Below is a brief overview of current events, past "wars" and some case studies involving a breed of manga seen by many as "harmful books."

The Harmful Books Act - Where It All Begin

img2In March 2006, "Harmful Books Act" was put into effect by Osaka prefecture for shojo manga. The Act stated that if a manga or magazine is specified as a "harmful book," it must not be accessible by children under 18.

Shogakukan's Shojo Comic was one of the magazine mentioned in the news. Incidentally, a few months later the former executive editor of Sho-Comi was disciplinarily dismissed for embezzlement, but was accused of being a "Class A Criminal" for issues "involving pornographic shojo manga." The publisher defended itself by mentioning the "Freedom of Press" and the "Freedom of Expression," but the incident proved that people publishing comic magazines occasionally lack adequate moral principles.

In late 2006, a proposal was submitted that pushed for the banning of lolicon. About a month later in December, the same group that pushed for the loli-banning proposal published a report showing that "30% of seijin manga (adult manga) contain depiction of sexual intercourse involving children, and juveniles are able to purchase such manga via the internet."

In November 2006, Yu Yu Journal published several articles in response to a column that appeared in Asahi Shimbun. The article tackles the issue of explicit sexual material appearing in shojo manga and magazines. According to the editor-in-chief of a major shojo manga magazine, "Love affair is a big theme in today's shojo manga. It's impossible to completely take out descriptions of sexual activity - that's just the result of love and affection."

Yama Ryokichi, the president of the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association (JMPA), was quoted saying:

Contents such as kissing and sexual intercourse are acceptable, but things like rape and explanation of sexual techniques are not. [...] Even the kids can understand that things like rape or molestation exist in the real world.

Leading up to the Main Events

img3Fast forward to March 29th, 2007. Seiko Noda, a Japanese politician infamous among otaku and a popular target for attack on 2ch (the most popular Japanese bulletin board), said during a Japan-Sweden Child Pornography Prevention symposium that "Child pornography in manga and anime must be eradicated!" The event caused a great stir in the online community, and of course Noda was attacked again on 2ch.

On May 16th 2007, the Japanese National PTA Conference released its "2006 Inspection into Children and Consciousness of the Media" report. Since then things have been moving downhill for "harmful books" at an alarming speed.

In the report, the Japanese National PTA Conference named Shogakukan's Sho-Comi (Shojo Comic) the number one manga magazine that should not be read by children. The decision was based on the result of a questionnaire taken in November 2006 from parents of 5th and 8th grade students. Sho-comi was followed by Ciao, Nakayoshi and Betsufure (Bessatsu Friend). 60% of the response from the questionnaire put their reason as "excessive depiction of sexual content, which would stir up unnecessary interest."

A week after the news, the news magazine Weekly Bunshun ran an article titled "Beware of Incest, Bondage and Outdoor Sex in Manga Read by Elementary Schoolers! Terrible Descriptions of Sex in Shojo Comic." On June 8th, even Nihon TV's "Sukkiri! (Refreshing!)" explored the topic.

A List of 13 Loli Manga

img5On June 7th, an article titled "Kyoto Prefecture Designates 13 Manga as Harmful Books Due to Sexual Acts Directed at Young Girls" was published in Kyoto Shimbun. The article stated that the Kyoto Prefecture's local government investigated and labeled 13 loli manga as "harmful books." Up till then only around 4 manga were officially labeled as harmful books. A government official commented:

Sexual content involving elementally and junior high school girls are becoming increasingly common in manga magazines. Sexual contents in live-action videos are restricted by the law, but there are no restrictions for manga. Such manga can be hard to spot by their covers, and they are sold at common bookstores.

On June 8th, Jiji Press ran an article titled "On Entering 70 Bookstores and Convenience Stores: Manga Directed at Young Girls, Extreme Sexual Descriptions - A Warning from Osaka Prefecture."

The article reports that the Osaka Prefecture Police Department (OPPD) conducted a comprehensive investigation of 70 bookstores and convenience stores in order to check the availability of shojo manga that were labeled as "harmful books," with special interest paid on shojo manga that contain excessive sexual contents that can't be seen on their covers.

Upon looking at the notice of the designated harmful books, which has been posted on Osaka Prefecture's website since May of 2006 (Heisei 18), it's easy to see that a majority of the items are teen love magazines, that the focus is on magazines from minor publishers, and that the situation is mostly one of sniping.

On June 15th, a list of the 13 "harmful" lolicon titles designated by the Kyoto Prefecture was released:

As one can tell from the titles, they're not teen love stories, but full-fledged lolicon manga (some have questioned that the series were chosen because of their suggestive titles).

Later, even the Osaka edition of Asahi Shimbun ran an article titled "An Inspection into the Actual Sales Figures of 'Sexual Depictions' in Shojo Comic Magazine."

A few days later, with timing suitable for conspiracy theorist's view on history, the Supreme Court's decision to dismiss the "Matsubunkan Trial," and to hand down a 1.50 million yen fine, was finalized.

Regarding the "Matsubunkan Trial," In April 2002, Motonori Kishi and the adult mangaka Beauty Hair were arrested for distributing 20,000 copies of the overly obscene manga Misshitsu to 16 stores. In January 2004, Motonori Kishi was found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison. However, the sentence was reduced to a 1.5 million yen fine in June 2005.

Case Studies

Nowadays shojo magazines are full of smut, below are some examples (mostly from Sho-comi):

In case it's not blindingly obvious yet, the following images are NSFW

Harmful1 Harmful2 Harmful3
Harmful4 Harmful5 Harmful6

According to this 2ch Archive Blog, this image (NSFW) appeared in Shogakukan's Ciao in September 2006. Since the source is 2ch, the info may not be completely accurate, but considering some of the other manga serialized in shojo magazines like Ciao and Margaret, it just maybe true. While the origin of the image has not been confirmed, it did become a popular point of debate on Japanese bulletin boards when it first appeared on the internet.

According to the blog Notakura, Shojo Comic didn't contain as much questionable material 10 years ago. The blog went on to research the current state of Sho-Comi.

Browsing through Sho-Comi's back catalogue, some covers are concealed, which could be a part of Shogakukan's self-restraining after Sho-Comi was mentioned in the press as a "harmful" magazine.

So Sho-Comi is very close to being a porno mag, but do elementary school girls actually read such magazines? According to the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, in 2005, the circulation of Sho-Comi was 300,000 and 26% of its readers were under 13 years old. This would mean around 80,000 elementary school students read Sho-Comi. Junior high school girls (13-15) make up 40.2%, or 120,000. In reality there are probably more readers.

Sho-Comi's publisher, Shogakukan, is one of the leaders in Japan's publishing business, and publishes many educational magazines. Sho-Comi is not a X-rated magazine, and Shogakukan knows that elementary and junior high school girls read Sho-comi. However, Shogakukan put priority into making profits and escalated sexual contents in Sho-comi.

Looking Back - The Harmful Comics Movement

img4The current regional movement in Japan is reminiscent of the "Harmful (or Hazardous) Comics" problem of the 90s. Both movements takes advantage of beginning in a region unnoticed by the mass media and opposing factions, then widely publicizing the issue.

The "Harmful Comics movement" (有害コミック騒動), a conflict between manga and parents, is a series of incidents that became one of the largest post-war movement along with the hazardous books expulsion campaign.

In 1989, the Tsutomu Miyazaki case shocked Japan. The incident involves Tsutomu Miyazaki, also known as the Otaku Murderer, who mutilated and killed 4 girls between the ages of four to seven. The sentiment that manga and anime are harmful materials has since built up because Tsutomu Miyazaki was a fan of them. This was the beginning of the movement.

Note that 16 years after the incident, a certain reporter revealed that some facts during the incident was intentional faked for the press coverage. For example the reporter intentionally placed a obscene magazine on the top of a stack of magazines and took a photographs of Miyazaki's room.

In 1990, Asahi Shimbun said in an editorial that manga exerts a harmful influence. As a result the "Protect Children from Comic Books Association" was organized in Wakayama, and a signature campaign was underway. Many PTAs agreed with this campaign, and denounced Weekly Shonen Jump, a magazine whose intended audience was elementary school students. In particular, Fist of the North Star and Dragon Ball were deemed too violent. As a result of the criticism against obscene manga, publishers began self-regulate obscene manga.

In 1991, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government adopted the "Harmful Books Restricting Resolution," and started to enforce juvenile protection regulation. In the Japanese Diet, with Taro Aso from LDP as chairman, the "Council to Take Measures Agasint Harmful Comics" was formed. The council summoned industry participants and asked them to describe their self-regulation. In the private sector, the "Harmful Comics Awareness Society" was formed. The society consisted of not only of publishers, but also a wide range of other people. Later the name of the society was changed to "Manga Defense Association." Also, the "Society of Free Expression in Manga" was formed with Shotaro Ishinomori as chairman.

After this movement, publishers started to put "Zoning Mark" over sexual contents as self-regulation. As a result, some manga and magazines began doing less adjustment to their work due to zoning.

The Good, the Bad and the Loli

img1Naisho no Tsubomi (Secret Bud) Volume 3 was released on the 29th. In April of 2005, when the first volume of the collected manga went on sale, the manga sold explosively well through online retailers such as Amazon and 7andy, to the otaku demographic in particular, and became a topic of discussion even in normal weekly magazines." Hatena Diary's Naitsubo Refugees, writes:

While, really, its reader demographic should be elementary school students of a similar age to its protagonist who are currently going through sex ed, and the parents of those students, but it looks as though it's gone and tapped an completely unexpected reader demographic.

The blog LilyDays-san comments:

Every time there's information on first periods, information on bras, information on hair-growth, all sorts of sex-ed information aimed at young girls entering puberty. As you’d expect, it seems to be getting lots of odd looks, but even if you just read it to read it, it's a wonderful book.

What's the future for shojo manga? And what about lolicon? One thing is certain, as time passes, more manga will join the ranks of "harmful books."

Translations by Michiko, Sarah Neufeld, T. Ohara and readilbert

Additional Information:
- A translation of the list of designated harmful books from Osaka Prefecture's website can be found here.
- New Law Banning Lolicon?
- On Modern Shoujo Manga and Sex: Excessive Sexual Material in Shoujo Manga and Magazine
- Seiko Noda Push for Stricter Child Pornography Law
- Kyoto Police Tightens Grip on Loli Manga
- Kyoto Police Identifies 13 Loli Manga as "Harmful Books"
- Seven Seas Cancels Nymphet (Kodomo no Jikan)

References:
- Obscenity and Article 175 of the Japanese Penal Code: A Short Introduction to Japanese Censorship
- Norakura
- Maboroshii Productions
- Mootoko
- Daily Thread Guide

Kodomo no Jikan

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lawl

This reminds me of jack thomspon, for the most part MOST lolicon fans are too busy being lolicon fans to do any harm...and im sure MOST people who do any real harm to anyone dont even look at lolicon or read manga at all. keywords in my post being "most". the only thing in this article thats worth agreeing with is that they should check manga before selling it to minor. then again bookstores all around the world sell distubing books to anyone of any age..books on murder, hardcore sex, act..."oh but pictures makes it sooo much worse" ..yeah okay

wow, comparing the pictures

wow, comparing the pictures to the lack of pictures carrying the same content is a very good point that never crossed my mind, but it reality and under the average circumstances, it is worse. I recently came back from a trip to Japan, and a friend invited me into his favorite comic book shop. The sexual manga was RIGHT in front, right in my face, while BLEACH was in the back. The make it extremly accessable, AND easy to spot at that. And really, how many young children do you know who check out the smut novel section at Barnes&Noble? That part of your argumnt is unrealistic. The content may be the same, with or without pictures, but in reality, the children WILL GO to the manga, not the books, really, lol.

Yeah, just pitching in to

Yeah, just pitching in to say: I read Ciao and Sho-Comi every month, plus most of the other mainstream shoujo magazines as well. That image "from" Ciao is a total fake. Total, total fake. And I can't recall that image of the girl at the beauty parlor ever appearing in any of the main shoujo magazines (Ciao, Nakayoshi, Ribon, Margaret, Friend, Sho-Comi, Asuka, LaLa, Hana to Yume, or any of their offshoots). I think I would definitely remember that if I saw it! As for the other stuff, yeah, unfortunately, it's real. Most of the graphic stuff seems to be concentrated specifically in Sho-Comi, though. Other magazines like Friend and Margaret rarely portray anything past the hot kiss phase. Sometimes you will see characters in bed and in various states of undress, but never engaging in explicit intercourse - and never displayed in such a way to titillate readers.

Generally, I'd say that the sexual content of most shoujo magazines (excluding Sho-Comi) falls well within the bounds of harmless romantic fantasies for curious girls and teens. But in the past couple years, Sho-Comi has been crossing the line... A LOT. It almost seems like the content *is* aimed at male readers instead of female readers. They ran the disgusting Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru, and regularly run other stories that glorify abusive relationships, display young girls in such a way to titillate male readers, etc.

I'm glad that *some* of the "harmful books" movement is drawing a distinction between lolicon and, say, your usual shoujo romantic fantasies, or educational manga like Naisho no Tsubomi. (I'm sure that there are lonely otaku who wank over copies of Naisho no Tsubomi, just as I'm sure that there are people who wank over copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Not the fault of the books themselves, per se.) I'm also glad that *some* of the "harmful books" movement is focused on age-restricting lolicon manga (just making it available to the 18+ set only) rather than completely banning these titles. That seems like a reasonable response to me. I wish that there weren't so much anti-everything-sexual hysteria mixed into the movement, though.

Thanks for the input. I have

Thanks for the input. I have added a note to the article regarding the images in question, so hopefully people don't think CP is advocating them as 100% real...

Yes, it's never going to be in Ciao

I do find the image too disturbing to be in Ciao, provided that I have read Ciao for some time in 2004. It is much possible for the said image to be in Cheese, another Shogakukan targeted for josei and more and more smuttier these days.

Thank you for this comment,

Thank you for this comment, and pointing out that most other mainstream shoujo manga magazines are nowhere near Sho-Comi levels. I also posted in a comment in an earlier entry that the picture that is claimed to be from Ciao is definitely not from Ciao at all, in fact it's actually claimed to be from Renai Tengoku, one of the obscure magazines that the Osaka police went after.

Generalizing all shoujo manga magazines as being 'full of smut' based on Sho-Comi (or Cheese! for that matter) is generally not a good thing to do. It gives a wrong impression to the reader. For that matter, I stopped reading Sho-Comi when it basically became the equivalent of a really, really trashy, doinky romance novel, or the equivalent of a really nasty lemon fanfic. I still read other magazines though.

On the Japanese magazine

On the Japanese magazine association website you can see data about magazines, the age and gender of readership for each magazine etc. Here's the page for magazines for female teens: data for Shocomi says there is 0.1% of male readers.
-The Margaret 2%.
-ShoujoComic Cheese! (which is more graphic than Shocomi) 0.4%
-Ciao! 0.5%
-Princess 1%
-Bessatsu Marget 1%
-Margaret 0.1%
-Lala 3%

One can see from these numbers that male readers prefer to read average shoujo manga magazines with not a lot of sexual content. I think many of them read shoujo manga because they find something they don't find in manga for men/boys. The emphasis on relationships. The female touch that makes shoujo manga what it is. Adult manga for men is mush more graphic than anything Shocomi runs. I don't think thus they are very attractive to male readers. However there might be adult women who read Shocomi because they want to read manga with sex but are ashamed to go buy Ladies comics magazines which have the reputation of being porno for women. When KAIKAN Phrase was popular there were OL who said they bought it because it was a shoujo manga and that they could buy a manga with sex not feeling ashamed.

I think there is often 'rape' and 'abuse' in Shocomi not because they want to attract male readers but because lately there have been mangas especially from Shogakukan first starting with SHINJYO Maju, which had success so the editor is trying to replicate the sucess by putting more and more sex because they found that girls will buy shoujo manga with heavy sexual content which was rare before.

There are also people who say there is more sex in Shocomi because the readership has aged. That before it was for primary and middle school readers but now that Shogakukan is aiming it at middle, high school and up and that it is why it is getting more graphic.

I think the publisher emphasizes sex not the story because so far they think it sells to their reader, and the quickest way to make the heroine and hero have sex is to have him force her. Otherwise it would take many chapters until they have sex. No psychology.

So they neglect plot for sex. That doesn't mean they put rape to attract male readers. There are also apparently quite a lot of romance novels in the US who have similar plot (rape). Yet the author are women and I don't think they want to attract male readers. And there are underage girls in the US who read romance novels which can contain sex scenes very explicit, more explicit than Shocomi. I simply think there is rape because there still are girls and women who feel ashamed of thinking of being active participants in sex.

Or maybe it is because the editors have sexist ideas that say that girls cannot be participant in sex. Or they force the Shocomi authors lately to put sex into their manga because previous ero shoujo manga manga were popular like SHINJYO Mayu's, so they try to replicate the formula and escalate and neglect the story which is just a vehicle to introduce sex scenes in many cases because it is easier than to think up a realistic story. Or it simply is just because the previous H ShoComi manga had 'rape' and were succesfull so they think readers don't want non rape?

Sorry for the long message, I do not know if I explain myself clearly.

Didn't seem like Sho-Comi

Didn't seem like Sho-Comi improved much after being labeled as harmful...

I wonder what the reaction would be if Naisho no Tsubomi came to the U.S....*thinks about Nymphet*

It wasn't considered harmful

It wasn't considered harmful by the government.

I couldn't help thinking...

I personally don't care what people read. If you're thirteen and want to read a sexy manga, go right ahead. Hell, I was doing it at eleven and I'm just fine, thank you. But that's not what I was thinking about.

Parents and officials getting their panties in a twist over something young people are doing? Hmm. Replace manga with video games and, gee, this whole stint seems quite familiar.

Osaka prefecture didn't

Osaka prefecture didn't consider any title from Sho-comi harmful. Actually, any title from the three biggest manga publishers (Kodansha, Shogakukan, Shueisha) were considered harmful. That was expected since the Japanese government is very coward and they wouldn't mess with huge companies. Plus, most of the titles on the list were much more explicit than Sho-comi titles.

The remarkable thing is, most of the titles are not even shoujo targeted at teen girls, they're JOSEI a.k.a. LADIES comics, targeted at woman over 18 anyway.

If you're talking about the

If you're talking about the list of 13 manga, they're supposed to be loli manga, not shojo.

No, I'm talking about the

No, I'm talking about the shoujo manga list, they were published on Anime News Network. There was no Sho-comi or Sho-comi title on the list.

You mean this

You mean this list?
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/...

Despite the title of the article, that manga listed are mostly a mix of josei, seinen, and lolicon. Nothing that really would be classified as "shoujo."

That's the problem with this whole debate. There are three or four different issues involved (lolicon manga, explicit josei/seinen manga, the trashiness of Sho-Comi, and parents panicking over harmless material in other shoujo mags) and it all gets muddled together in the end.

Yeah, but previously this

Yeah, but previously this article stated Sho-comi was on the list, but it wasn't.

And what's the problem of explicit josei? I mean, it's for people over 18... porn is not ilegal if you're not a minor anyway. The problem of lolicon is obvious, but josei? ...

It was stated that Sho-comi

It was stated that Sho-comi was mentioned when the whole Harmful Book deal was announced in the news, it didn't say the magazine actually went on the list.

Hey, I'm not the one who has

Hey, I'm not the one who has a problem with josei, I'm just repeating what the "harmful books" people say. The position of the Osaka police is that josei shouldn't be available to the under-18 set; and most josei manga magazines are sold in regular bookshops with no age restrictions, often displayed right next to the kiddie and teen magazines, too.

Don't remember reading

Don't remember reading anywhere that Sho-comi was classified as harmfully books...though it was classified by the National PTA as one of the magazines not safe for children, which pretty make Sho-comi one of the more "harmful" magazines (outside of adult magazines, that is).

Looking at the history, the Japanese government does seem to be a little cynical about the whole deal. Yes the stuff are bad, but not THAT bad, there are more pressing issues for these organizations to be worried about in Japan.

"Browsing through Sho-Comi's

"Browsing through Sho-Comi's back catalogue, some covers are concealed, which could be a part of Shogakukan's self-restraining after Sho-Comi was mentioned by the Osaka prefecture as a "harmful book". It wasn't mentioned by the Osaka prefecture at all.

As stated before it

As stated before it never appeared on Osaka prefecture's harmful booklist, but was mentioned in the news of harmful books...thanks for pointing out the error, I have corrected the sentence so people won't be confused.

As mentioned, if you have any complaints or feel something is not right, feel free to contact us, and corrections will be made.

Okay this is good enough

The questionable Sho-comi image has been removed, sorry for the confusion it has caused. Other edits have been made as well based on some of the comments. The Ciao image appeared in discussions in Japan relating to harmful books, it's mentioned since this article is about the history of the harmful books movement. Other facts have been checked and are accurate (those that are questionable are marked as rumors). Also inflammatory comments have been (and will be) removed. If there are anymore questions regarding the writing itself (apology to the "anonymous poster" who was offended by it M(__)M), feel free to contact the editorial department so they can fix it. Thanks.

Here is a website that

Here is a website that collects "questionable" contents from Sho-Comi, a great reference, also great for people looking for quality smut...errr *runs*

http://girlchildcomics.her.jp/index.html

yah mon

You know, porn is prevalent in tons of entertainment arenas; it's been that way, it's going to stay that way. But I think the Harmful Books endeavor is right-- there's a reason that purchase of standard porno mags are restricted against minors, and if anime and manga feature the same kind of content, the rules shouldn't be any different.

Of course, by common logic, if Sho-comi and other... gratuitous-content magazines were restricted to 18+, they would probably go out of business or at least lose very large sales volumes.

And then the explicit shoujo mags would focus their aim on adults women more, and Sho-comi and co would have to tone down their content.

...

And then all would be well!

BOHHH es gibt immer ieder

BOHHH es gibt immer ieder porno mangas und immer ieder neue is doch klaar xD und daran geilt man sich doch auf um danach zu ornarnieren !!!! (und das ornarnieren ist das beste daran ;)

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