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Sometimes this isn't fun (re: Kodomo no Jikan)
by Christopher Macdonald on Wed May 30, 2007 5:36 pm
Two weeks ago, Zac Bertschy made a comment in Answerman that he felt that it was possible that Seven Seas publishing Kodomo no Jikan (Nymphet) might possibly have a negative effect on the public image of manga, and that he wished Seven Seas would consider not releasing the title.

About a week later, Seven Seas announced that they were putting the title on Hiatus, and then four days later they announced that the title was canceled.

Obviously Zac's comment's, and the resulting Internet dialog, contributed to Seven Seas' decision to re-evaluate the title. But, it's also just as obvious that no publisher would cancel a product they believed in just because of the comments of one columnist.

I know for a fact that the buyers at Borders and all the other retailers don't have the time to look into most of the products they carry. They just order a couple hundred or thousand copies of each sku. This is pure speculation here, but I suspect that when Seven Seas brought the title to the buyers' attention, several of the buyers said, "I can't carry that." In fact, knowing what I know about these buyers, I'm pretty sure that as soon as they saw the contents of Kodomo no Jikan, they canceled their orders.

So clearly Answerman, and therefore ANN, played some sort of role in the events that lead to the cancellation, but that's obviously not all there is to it. Unfortunately a lot of people don't see it that way, because most of them don't know the full story, and don't have the information available to them to even speculate accurately. So a few fans of Kodomo no Jikan call for ANN's head, send us threatening e-mails, and so on.

What's worse, is that they assume that ANN set out to have this title canceled. That's not true at all. One of our columnists, who also happens to be the site's executive editor, expressed his opinion that he wished the title wouldn't be released. It's an op/ed column, and columnists are expected to express opinions, that's all it was, one man's opinion. ANN's staffers disagree on many things, which is why ANN has no set opinion on anything. Hell, among ourselves we don't even agree on fansubs, yet people think we have a unanimous hatred of a single echi-loli title.

There's a reason most publications put a statement "the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent...." (note to self, get that statement put back on our columns, it was accidentally left out after our recent redesign).

The irony of the whole thing, is that if any one person's opinion could be considered ANN's, it would be mine. And while I agree with Zac about the possible effect of the publishing of Kodomo no Jikan, I disagree about the title itself. I've read it (first volume only), I actually liked it somewhat (it makes me go "ewwww" but I find the situation the teacher is placed in funny), the problem is that it is presents Rin is a very sexually blatant manner, and regardless of the plot, I agree with Zac, if the wrong bible-thumping-activist-soccer-mom got a-hold of it, it could be quite damaging and Seven Seas would regret having ever heard of Kodomo no Jikan (particularly given that they're about to launch a children's line that they've invested quite significantly in). Other staff hold differing opinions, or chose not to express an opinion because they aren't familiar with the title. A dozen or so editors and writers, and assuredly just as many opinions. None of them represent ANN's position, because ANN's only position is to present information to our readers and be a forum for dialog.

As long as ANN's editors and writers can express themselves coherently and logically, I'd never censor their opinions because I disagreed with them, regardless of how much I disagreed (for example, our reviewers have panned some of my favorite shows, and given accolades to shows I sincerely hate).

Anyways, we've been through this countless times before, and we'll have to deal with it again in the future. It always blows over, we learn from it and we get better at doing what we do. But honestly, dealing with death threats, even if we don't take them seriously, just isn't fun. It's not alarming or anything, just depressing.

-t
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