The Okayama prefectural government has been drastically tightening restrictions on the sale of manga it has designated “harmful”, with a great many such titles being “ladies’ comics”, essentially erotic shoujo manga, usually targeting a slightly older demographic.
The prefectural department responsible for young people’s welfare gives the reason for their harsh restrictions as the inclusion of sexually oriented storylines and explicit scenes of intercourse.
They claim that in many bookshops and convenience stores, the magazines are displayed without distinction amongst shoujo manga: “It’s not appropriate for these to be displayed where even minors can buy them”.
It looks as if this year alone the prefecture has designated in the region of 40 volumes as “harmful”, ensuring they face onerous restrictions in how they can be sold; you can see their list here.
Recently the number of ladies’ comics so targeted has drastically increased, it seems.
Whilst local government may have difficulty implementing an outright ban (as they are merely able to regulate how they can be sold in stores), interfering with the retail distribution of such titles reduces their profitability, and so ultimately their availability.
Some examples of the ladies’ comics being targeted:
In case you’re not familiar with the demographic/marketing distinctions being used here, shoujo refers to the female equivalent of shonen manga, though at times vastly more explicit as we saw, whilst josei and ladies’ comics are essentially the female equivalent of seinen manga.
Josei manga are usually held out as being straightforward mature manga, as with seinen, whilst ladies’ comics are essentially more borderline ero-shoujo manga (in fact there is some overlap in the target audiences). The ero-shoujo manga gallery actually includes some of both.
2channers are quick to point out that this may only be the start of their efforts to stop harmful manga poisoning the minds of youths…