Whilst I was doing a few checks on this site, namely around the older articles I happened to come across my old reviews of the Kodomo no Jikan anime series, which I did due to (from memory) no one else being willing to pick the title up to review. However, this also reminded me about the events in 2007 where Seven Seas Entertainment was intending to release the manga series under the title Nymphet. Whilst it is fair to say that after the backlash, namely from non-fans of anime and manga – no company would be willing to pick this title up lightly (Especially with the later volumes)… lets say that the series only had one or two volumes out in Japan (Before it became a psychologists field trip) and was slated to be released…. would there be such a backlash? Would it become a viable series to see released over in English?
First, lets go back a step. Kodomo no Jikan is a Romantic Comedy series written and illustrated by female manga author Kaworu Watashiya (That is right, no stereotypical creepy male behind this title). This is the old description of the series I pulled from the Seven Seas Entertainment website:
It’s the cute ones you’ve gotta watch out for…
23-year old school teacher Aoki Daisuke has a huge problem. One of his precocious 3rd Grade students, Kokonoe Rin, has the hots for him?! Yes, mischievous Rin has proclaimed herself to be Daisuke-sensei’s girlfriend and is now on a warpath to win him over or cause him to lose his job…whichever comes first!
So generally, it is a series that whilst not delving into anything close to nudity for the first few volumes, does feature some sexual themes surrounding an elementary school attempting to seduce her teacher, alongside her friend who has her own feelings for her and another friend who despite being the intellectual type, generally has some form of hormonal imbalance that brings on puberty much earlier then others in her class. Despite that, whilst you could look at it as a creepy manga series attempting to target the lolicon demographic, you can also look at the series in another perspective.
I have occasionally caught a glimpse at the future volumes of the manga, and whilst there are scenes that really do make you raise an eyebrow, the storyline elements can at times (as I have said above) be a psychologists field trip. Here you have a young girl, who tragically lost her mother at a young age having conflicting emotions surrounding her lifestyle being looked after cousin who conflicted by the loss of the same mother hoping that she will grow up to look exactly like her within his delusions. You also have teachers who are burdening their own stresses, other students who are conflicted one way or another through appearances or their own relationship problems and so forth (Remember, I have only read bits and pieces),
This series was originally supposed to be released in April 2007 in North America, however a backlash due to concerns between the relationship of Rin and her teacher (Which isn’t followed through with by her teacher). The following was posted on AnimeNewsNetwork by Jason DeAngelis, President of Seven Seas Entertainment about the recent claims about it:
I wanted to address the controversy related to our upcoming release of Nymphet.
There have been several heated online debates about this title, mainly about whether or not it is suitable to be released in the US. Many fans are eagerly awaiting its release and we have received a large number of emails to attest to this fact, while others on various forums find the content highly objectionable and are opposed to its release.
Specifically, those who are speaking out against Nymphet seem to be disturbed by the relationship between two characters in the story, namely an elementary school student and her adult teacher. Most people have not yet read Nymphet, since we haven’t even published it yet, so I would like to clarify an important point: Nymphet is a story about a mischievous young girl who tries to sexually entrap her teacher. The important context here is that the girl’s advances on her teacher are never reciprocated by him; her teacher is horrified by her actions, and his romantic interest is in fact another adult teacher. The comedy arises out of this young girl saying and doing improper things (much like Crayon Shin-chan, which is currently being aired on Cartoon Network) and seeing her teacher squirm with discomfort and shock while he struggles to keep his composure, at the same time trying not to make a fool of himself in front of the woman he loves.
In Japan, Nymphet is a highly popular and successful manga written and drawn by a female creator for an older teen male audience. It is published in Futubasha’s weekly seinen magazine COMIC HIGH. It is not considered pornographic by any means, and Japanese would be shocked to hear this sort of accusation about what they consider to be a mainstream property. In fact, it is so mainstream that it has been turned into an anime program which will be broadcast on Japanese TV starting this July. My personal stance on this title is, if it’s good enough for the Japanese, then it’s good enough for us. I had the opportunity to live in Japan for six years, and so I understand and appreciate their cultural nuances and wacky and often bizarre sense of humor. Based on the angry debates that I have seen online, however, there are people who do not appreciate this sort of material, and while it may be appropriate in Japan, they feel that it is inappropriate for our culture.
Although I do not agree with that point of view, I realize that this issue must be addressed, instead of ignored. As a policy, we at Seven Seas do not believe in altering or “censoring” manga artwork or content, so that approach, which has been taken in the past by others, is out of the question. Instead, despite the fact that we have already received thousands of orders on this title, I have decided to delay its release and to have an open dialogue with the large book chains and other vendors. My intention is to make them fully aware of this debate, familiarize them more fully with the content, and let each of them make the final decision as to whether or not it is appropriate for their stores and their customers — and then give them the chance to cancel their orders if they wish. In the meantime, I would like to continue the dialogue with fans or others who are seriously concerned about this issue, and will be keeping my eyes and ears open to the discussion.
As always, our intention at Seven Seas is only to publish high quality manga that appeal to our readers and fans. After all, we’re manga fans ourselves.
Of course, it was eventually cancelled after certain bookstores seemingly backlashed and left them claiming that it was not culturally appropriate or something along those lines. Now, I sort of disagree with that as hey, sure there are some elements that could cause concerns but in terms of many fanservice series even at that time which honestly were based on nothing but fanservices, this series in my opinion was actually quite tame and at points seemed to include extra storyline to justify what was happening.
The year is now 2011… about four years since the series was initially supposed to be released. Since these events we have seen DVD releases of Girls Bravo, Popotan and Strike Witches which whilst not having the same storyline elements, have similarities in terms of fanservice. Hell, Seven Seas Entertainment have been distributing an uncensored manga release of Dance in the Vampire Bund without any hassle. Getting away from the issue but still relevant to the topic, I will quote the example of the PS1 release of Persona 2: Innocent Sin. If you believe what is mainstream belief, the PS1 release was not released outside of Japan due to “no-no” references for homosexuality and Hitler. However, we now just a few days back at the first release of Persona 2: Innocent Sin on the Playstation Portable console.
The title of this article was not a rhetorical question but a legitimate question. As I stated above, if Seven Seas or any other manga company were in the exact same position now as they were in 2007, do you think this title would actually have a hope in hell of being released? To further the question – even knowing what the series has in store now, do you think it would have a justifiable release – censored, edited or uncensored. To me, the little trivial things don’t bother me, so as long as the storyline is good, I am pretty much happy to enjoy my storylines regardless of what some pockets of readers think.
Just for the record, I do like the folks down at Seven Seas Entertainment. Over the years they have provided me with a number of stellar titles such as Hollow Fields, authored by Australian Madeleine Rosca, the Pita Ten visual novels, the Dance in the Vampire Bund manga and going through my collection – several other titles. However, with the way times are changing, it is definately something to think about. More information on Seven Seas Entertainment releases can be found HERE.