Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Bianca Bosker looks at efforts by the Japanese government to capitalize on the growing international popularity of manga and anime. There apparently are a few hurdles, though:
Perhaps the biggest problem is the highly sexualized nature of the form, which can be exceptionally seedy, if not illegal. Earlier this year, 13 manga comics, including “Rape Me in My School Uniform” and “Pedophile’s Banquet II,” were labeled “harmful books” by the Kyoto Prefecture for featuring excessive sexual acts involving girls under the age of 13.
And there’s a certain weirdness factor. The nearest American counterpart to anime-inspired costume play may be Star Trek and Star Wars conventions, whose participants also dress up as their favorite characters. Those gatherings have entered the broader cultural consciousness more as a source of late-night television humor than as a viable goodwill export.
The winners of the first International Manga Award — the “Nobel Prize of Manga” were announced in June. Last week, Becky Cloonan (East Coast Rising, American Virgin) revealed she was one of 18 finalists.