Banned Books Week: Banned and Challenged Manga of 2009-2010

posted on by Gia Manry
Dragon Ball, Death Note among the manga challenged in libraries, schools, stores

The American Library Association and other organizations sponsor an event called Banned Books Week to draw attention to the challenging and banning of books from public access due to sexuality, language, violence, or other objectionable content. Banned Books Week 2010 will take place from tomorrow, September 25, to Saturday, October 2. According to the official website for the event, 460 titles were challenged — meaning that someone campaigned for their removal from at least one public library or school — in the United States throughout 2009.

Since last year's Banned Books Week (September 26 to October 3, 2009), several attempts have been made to challenge manga in the United States and in other countries:

October 2009: Maryland's Wicomico County Public Schools announced their intent to remove Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball manga from its elementary school, middle school, and high school libraries, which it did later that month. The ban came as the result of a complaint from a nine-year-old's parent that the manga "depicts nudity, sexual contact between children, and sexual innuendo among adults and children."

April 2010: Manga creator Manabu Miyazaki, who specializes in manga about the Japanese crime organizations known as the yakuza, sued Japanese police for removing 73 manga volumes and three magazines featuring his work from convenience store shelves, arguing that the action suppressed his freedom of speech.

May 2010: The mother of an Albuquerque high school student campaigned for the banning of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's manga Death Note, saying that "killing is just not something we should put out there for our kids to read in this way." The city's public schools committee met to discuss the possibility of a ban, but voted unanimously against it.

In addition to these challenges against specific manga volumes, American branches of Japan's Kinokuniya bookstore chain removed five bishōjo magazines this past July due to "inappropriate content." In March, legislation was proposed in Tokyo to ban materials featuring sexually provocative images of fictional minors; the legislation was rejected. A ban on virtual child pornography went into effect in the United Kingdom in April. Two 20-year-old Canadian twin brothers from New Glasgow were jailed for possessing pornographic images of children, including anime and manga images, in October of 2009. A judge specifically distinguished cartoon child porn from real child porn in a conviction against a man from Ipswich, Australia, but still held "cartoon anime child porn" to be illegal.

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