Hi again. So here’s the dealio: I just got a brand new blog over at http://itsubun.dasaku.net/, courtesy of digiwombat. For those who are interested, plz update your blogroll. Future anime/manga editorials will be posted both here and over at itsubun. Although I will update itsubun more often with my own thoughts and opinions on a variety of Japanese media in which my entries will be a lot more free with the crazies and the personal because the mentality is –> my blog, my comfort, my freedom of expression. Now let’s start.
Before I actually picked up the nominally controversial Kodomo no Jikan and read it, I had heard so many interesting things about the series. And most of what I picked up through the grapevines go something like this: child porn, fan service gone too far, immoral justification of pedophilia, cannot be licensed due to being inappropriate for US audiences [because apparently we’re just so fucking moral-minded and too pure to be tainted by such appalling narratives from Asian countries with their exoticized sexuality and their kama sutra].
After hearing all of that I was like, “OMG! No way! That’s disgusting! [I wanna see!] How can something like that even be allowed to be published? [Me see! Me see!]”
So eventually [inevitably] I got the manga, read it, and found that I have much to say about it.
Kodomo no Jikan [A Child’s Time] is about an elementary school teacher who gets assigned to his first class of 3rd graders. In the class is Rin, problem child extraordinaire, who develops strong feelings towards him and goes to great lengths to seduce him. Lengths that include (but are not limited to): sexual extortion, nude cell phone pictures, spermy haikus, exhibition of various loli parts, and… you get the gist that series is a step up from your standard ecchi. That’s the synopsis in a nutshell.
Step through the curtains for more awesome
So lemme clarify some things before I dive head first into this: Yes, the manga is explicit in that it depicts young children in sexually charged situations. Yes, it is chock full of sexual innuendos and explicit jokes. And there are enough panty shots and tit teases to put a HxC lolicon in a coma from his non-stop nosebleeds and painful blue balls in response to the incredible amount of fan service this series provides.
But wouldn’t all of those things add up to justifying the injurious rumors about the series?
NO. Because if you took the time to read the fucking series, and I mean REALLY read the series [not just ogle at the no-no pictures, although those are really nice to look at too <3], then you will realize that Kodomo no Jikan is so much more than just fan service or fetishization. They’re so fucking stupid, the people who trivialize and condemn it based on the mystique and the rumors. Because they’re so scared of what it could teach them, of what it could mean to them. There is a rhyme & reason to the sexual content.
Take exhibit A:
This is Rin taking a picture of her principal with his fingers in her underwear. See how she’s smiling? It must mean that she likes it.
In a situation like that, when you’re young and stupid and afraid, with an old man breathing down your neck, it’s so easy to get scared and give up the struggle. So why the pretty smile? Instead of being resigned to her role as the passive victim, she uses her age and all that it signifies in order to manipulate societal norms to empower and protect herself from the advances of sexual predators. She knows that she is capable of owning her sexuality and does so by using it to bring down THE LAW on THE MAN. Now tell me how this is a negative message to send out to the masses? Tell me how this will corrupt the youth of the world and lead us all into darkness. Preach to me about your laws and teach me a lesson in propriety, make me understand how a world where children can and should defend themselves against the fallible hierarchies and institutions that adults set up is bad.
But wait, aren’t the children too young to own up to the responsibilities of their own actions? What would happen if they were to abuse their power because they’re too young to know any better?
Well, let’s look at Exhibit B:
What? What’s that you say? We as adults have to monitor and regulate ourselves because unlike the children, we have no excuses for our naivety and ignorance when it comes to pedophilia and child abuse? In-fucking-deed. Therefore the responsibility does fall with a heavy weight upon us to ask ourselves the really hard questions and not run away from our own desires, but to evaluate them and figure out what’s worth it. Because shit like, “She was asking for it!” or “She acted like an adult” don’t fly in court. That’s what the rapists and child molesters say. And you can’t just censor out that part of yourself that twitches and twists when you look at the sexual images in Kodomo no Jikan. You have to work within that taboo, to invert it and examine it, and then admit that: Yes, the underage girls are really, really fucking hot and they make me think of all kinds of wrong. But I’m not going to touch that thing with a 10 foot pole because I know that I’ll end up fucking up a human life. And ultimately I can’t bear the burden of that on my conscience. And THAT would be epic owning up.
This is a manga that far from commodifying children as sexual objects, it takes them seriously and gives them the consideration that they almost never get in normative society. The notion of children’s sexuality brings great shock and disgust to people because they cannot reconcile that with their idealization of the purity and innocence of youth. People need a frame of reference in order to fantasize about “happier days” and “carefree times”. But what comes with those kind of ideals is a horrible oppression that completely subjugates and invalidates a child’s feelings and desires.
I have such profound awe and respect for Kaworu Watashiya’s prodigious achievement of finding that precious balance between producing kiddie porn and an incredibly intelligent and enlightening discussion about the rights of children to their own bodies and emotions. The “monstrosity” that she has created is beautiful in its versatile capacity to be a mechanism that both appeals to mass demands for lolicon fan service as well as facilitates a complex discourse on the sexuality of children.
Kaworu Watashiya’s Kodomo no Jikan is not just a product of decadent society nor is it an attack on standard moral discourses, but rather a more sincere representation of the sublimated and tyrannically policed world of children.
did i ever tell you, you’re my hero?
Highly recommended for all of the reasons stated above.
Also, US – please to be getting off your racist high horse and stop pulling rank on Asia with your own repressed and codified sexual discourses and superiority complex about what’s “moral” and “acceptable” pertaining to anything related to sex. It’s not so much about Seven Seas Entertainment canceling the licensing because I understand that each nation has its own diverse values and standards, and yeah, fine, reject alien medias to protect the national symbolic as you please. But when those ideals infringe upon other nations’ [and oh they do, they do], you get shit like Memoirs of a Geisha becoming sensationalized and contributing to the already detrimental stereotypes about Asians and now proliferating them on a massive scale. Oh US, your hypocrisy comes through loud and clear when you objectify the same characters that you seek to sublimate from your society. You need to move on from the Asian mystique and leave the Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, and Lotus Blossoms alone. And Santa Clause doesn’t exist either. So sorry QQ!
Oh, and yes, I do live in the US and I am Asian American. And I do love my ironic, topsy-turvy country. So no deportment plz. =D