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Is Manga "Porn Lite" for Tweens?

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A 12-year-old boy was suspended for drawing a manga-style cartoon, raising the question: is manga inappropriate for tweens?

These aren't your mama's Archie Comics! Manga is the Japanese word for comics—and Japanese manga translated into English is wildly popular among teens and tweens.

Because the art form is so popular, there are scads of books on the market that teach kids how to draw in the classic manga- or anime-style. One such book, Manga Mania: How to Draw Japanese Comics, got 12-year-old Hatcher Johnson into big trouble.

He took several of his own drawings of anime-style figures to school a few weeks ago and ended up in the principal's office with his artwork confiscated and three days of in-school suspension (his drawing is below). Do you think the school overreacted? Check out the Manga Cartoon Gallery and tell us.

Click on an image to view the Manga Cartoon Gallery

next: Should Pregnant Moms Heel?
28 comments so far | Post a comment now
DB April 9, 2008, 1:08 PM

I think these comics are very inappropriate!!! If these were real people instead of cartoons, they would be considered pronographic. I think the school was totally justified in their punishment of this boy. And I want to know where the parents of this kid are, and why they allowed him to turn in an assignment like this!!!

April April 9, 2008, 4:23 PM

Manga is not porn. My teen is addicted to it. Manga has ratings just like movies A for all ages, Y for Youth, T for Teen, and M for 18+. So just check your teen or tween’s manga ratings to see if it is appropriate or not. (A cute one for little kids is called Sea Princess Azuri. My 8-year-old loves it.)

yoda2nd April 9, 2008, 10:30 PM

Manga is not porn. I always find it amazing how individuals who have no idea what manga or anime, see a provacative image and immediately stereo type an entire genre. Just as with movies, there many different levels of anime and manga, all conveniently rated.
Secondly, all the pictures posted, with the exception of the first one are all credited and grabbed from other website. Just shows how easily it is to manipulate information to “show” others how some is what it is not.

elezend April 10, 2008, 12:14 AM

Reminds me of a news article in the local newspaper where they say “Anime is Porn” because they did not know of the term hentai -.-

Starz April 10, 2008, 2:21 AM

Some manga and anime are provacative and inappropriate, but as an avid manga reader in my late teens, I know of, and have read MANY mangas that are perfectly suitable for children of all ages.
It’s true that the boy’s assignment and that single picture was inappropriate for school, but he’s going to learn about sex and puberty anyways. In fact, in my elementry school, they started sex ed in grade 5. This boy should been in grade 6, if I’m not mistaken.
Besides the first picture, all of the other pictures provided were credited to a website on the internet, and information has been manipulated, as Yoda2nd had said in their post. I think that anyone reading this article should really do some research for themselves, if they are convinced by what was said in the article. Manga and anime are just cartoons or comics, like Archie, Batman, and whatever else there is.

Robin April 10, 2008, 9:14 AM

While there is manga that is aimed at adults and teenagers (and the examples you have selected to show are almost entirely of the type aimed at older teenage and adult men), there is also a lot of manga that is intended for kids and younger teens. I’d even say the bulk of manga published in the U.S. is aimed at teens. As April said, manga is generally rated for appropriateness, and often include content indicators so parents can judge for themselves what’s appropriate for their children.

I’m particularly annoyed at your gallery of images — almost all of those images are intended for adults, not children, and they are deliberately provocative. If you want to see what mange for kids look like, look elsewhere — this article has no actual examples. If you want to actually talk about this, post actual examples, from titles intended for kids, not just what justifies your slanted point of view.

Barry April 10, 2008, 9:58 AM

I am sick and tired of other peoples morals being forced on all of society. If this child’s mother find that these comics are not offensive or lewd then who are we to tell them they are wrong?

On the other hand this could just be another parent in a long list that could care less what their children are watching, reading or doing, Just as long as they stay out of the parents hair.

L. Rozner April 10, 2008, 10:58 PM

I’m a college-aged amatuer cartoonist, and I have read these particular how-to-draw books at around age 15 or 16. While I do think it would be innapropriate for kids under 13 to be reading these instruction books, I don’t believe manga, in general, is pornographic. I read a lot of manga, and I always notice in the bookstores or libraries that most titles follow a ratings system, which is usually the following: All ages (A or Y); recommended for 13 or older (T); recommended for 16 or older (OT or T ); or Mature audiences (M).
Now I’m no prude, but I do think the student should have waited until he was at least 14 or 15 to read these instructional books or asked for his parents’ permission to do so. In conclusion, though, I don’t believe manga in general is pornographic.

cerebaton April 11, 2008, 5:09 AM

If you’re going to ask ‘is manga porn?’ you might as well also ask ‘is photography porn?’ This whole thing is stupid.

Lori Henderson April 11, 2008, 12:36 PM

Blanket statements like this “Is manga porn” are just silly and irresponsible. All they do is perpetuate an incorrect stereotype. As several people have already mentioned, manga covers all ages and genres, and in the US is geared toward a tween/teen market. It’s because of this inaccurate stereotyping that I created a blog to help parents understand what manga is and why it isn’t going to destroy their teens or the world. Manga actually has a lot to offer in positive themes and storytelling, if you are willing to give it a chance.

unigon April 11, 2008, 4:56 PM

This is like asking, “Are movies porn?” There are pornographic movies and manga sold along with all-ages kinds.

Shelly April 14, 2008, 9:40 AM

Manga is a medium, like film, photography, and prose. There are stories written for all ages. What you did was take images meant for older teens and adults, which are clearly marked as such and use them to condemn a medium by incorrectly saying they’re aimed at children.

The ratings on manga are there for a reason. The sensible and responsible thing to be asking is, “Do you as a parent bother to look at the ratings on what your child is reading?”

Bill April 14, 2008, 3:54 PM

I’d just like to remind people that even if the girl portrayed in the drawing was completely naked, which it doesn’t appear that she is, it still would not be pornographic. Period. Nudity is not pornography. Period.
Besides, if the young lad is actually serious about learning to draw, eventually he’ll have to attend life drawing classes and draw real people. Real live naked people. And it still wont be pornographic or pornography.

hannah September 11, 2008, 2:14 PM

It is completely inappropriate for a 12 year old boy to be taking provocative drawings of girls in only their bra and underwear with him to school. If his parents think it’s ok to get him hopped up on sex and viewing women as bodies and not as whole people, that is there perogative. KEEP THIS JR PORN OUT OF THE SCHOOL.

michelle September 20, 2008, 2:32 PM

They have rateing you know, I read manga and the M+ and 18+ have naked people, not the ones our kids read. My daughter loves drawing manga/anime, she just dosnt want to buy the drawing books with the half naked people, she says. It is always sterotyped. She said she had her book on her desk and a kid picked it up and asked if there were naked people in it.

Jonathan December 7, 2008, 12:27 AM

Implying that anything drawn in an art style of Asian origin is equivalent to pornography is racism.

Nathan March 10, 2009, 4:50 PM

manga is not porn, hentai is porn
age ratings are simple to understand but most bookshops won’t check it, which is right people need to get over it and grow up generally even in the high aged manga there is no full frontal.
People are to sensitive

ariel April 4, 2009, 12:16 AM

manga is so not porn! i read manga and so do a lot of my friends. just because some of the pictures have girls who arnt flat chested doesnt mean its porn. thats like saying angelina jolie is a porn star because she shoes a little cleavege when she wears a dress or if she wears a tight shirt. seriously if you think manga is porn you need to get out more

Aurastar October 21, 2009, 6:45 PM

OMG. How stupid!
People, it’s just JAPANESE CARTOONS. It’s NOT BAD.

Enlabampuxump February 26, 2010, 4:55 PM

But its more than that. Will you wait for me? She said only, Francisco, why? The same element was missing. So that I may give it to the press. Thats a perfectly unwarranted assumption. Yet we have to deal with them. He walked slowly away from her.

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