Maryland School Library to Remove Dragon Ball Manga (Updated)
posted on by Egan Loo
Maryland's Wicomico County Public Schools plan to remove the first volume of the Dragon Ball manga from Pittsville Elementary and Middle School's library this week after a county council member showed what he described as "sexual" content in the volume. According to council member Joe Holloway, a mother told him that her nine-year-old fourth-grader borrowed the book from the Pittsville Elementary and Middle School's library. During Tuesday's council meeting, Halloway said, "In cartoon format, [the manga volume] depicts nudity, sexual contact between children and sexual innuendo among adults and children."
Wicomico Schools Superintendent John Fredericksen added, "I'd say it's coming off the shelves as soon as I can get a phone call back to the office." He said that graphic novels appeal to children who are not reading traditional books, and that the manga volume was probably purchased with grant funding. A committee will make the final decision on the book.
A similar incident occurred in 1999 when a Dallas parent complained about "borderline soft porn" images of "naked boys and girls" in Dragon Ball Z comics that he bought for his four-year-old son at a Toys R Us store. According to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Toys R Us removed the manga from all stores nationwide in the middle of November of 1999. The Dragon Ball manga volumes that Viz printed in North America after this earlier incident contain edited images and dialogue.
At the time, Daniel Cocanougher of the North American anime distributor Funimation noted that the anime based on the manga contains "innocent behavior that hints at sexuality. This poses no problem for Japanese audiences, whereas in the United States we seem to not want to discuss it at all."
Dr. Susan Napier added, "There is just a wider tolerance for sexuality in Japan. It usually is played out humorously and perhaps titillating in a mild way. It's just a difference in cultural sensibilities." In 1999, Napier was an associate professor of Asian Studies at the University of Texas in Austin, and she is now a professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Thank you to Michael LaBrie for the news tip.
Update: Susan Napier's quote on the 1999 incident added.
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