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Oh yeah, hardcore loli-rape here.

Well, it’s official now. Seven Seas has cancelled its planned release of Kodomo no Jikan, also known as Nymphet. I am sorely dissapointed in Seven Seas for doing this and basically bowing down to the uneducated horde. Whatever unintended consequences this will have are unknown at the moment, whether it be a general sensitivity on licensor’s part to controversial material or greater feedback from a more mainstream fanbase. One factor that this has highlighted, though, is very disturbing to me: otaku, here referring to all manga and anime fans in general, are deathly scared of the more undesireable parts of the fandom being found out by the mainstream. Like “fear of being accused as a witch and burned at the stake” scared. I’ll talk about that a bit later after I talk about the issue of KnJ being cancelled.

I blame two people mostly for this cancellation: Jason Deangelis, president of Seven Seas, and Zac Bertschy, Mr. Answerman for ANN. Jason Deangelis showed several mishandlings in his license of KnJ. While I firmly believe its licensing was not a mistake, I’ll admit it is a niche title that needs special handling. Titling it Nymphet, essentially conjuring up images of a Humbert Humbert-esque American pedophile, is not the kind of handling I was thinking about. Then trying to market this to a bookstore mainstream was pretty bad. My local stores don’t even carry Strawberry Marshmallow, and he expects them to carry something called Nymphet? Obviously this would of been bettered handled as more of an internet-only item. While its range would be limited, it would most likely become a moderate success among the hardcore market and niche groups. This is the route KnJ probably would of taken, if it wasn’t for Zac Bertschy’s wonderful “insight.”

Zac Bertschy decided, of his own accord based on various summaries and not the original material, that KnJ was clearly the work of the devil and not fit for publication, viewing anyone who would have bought it as instant pedophiles. This would of been fine, since every man is entitled to his own opinions, except Zac runs a highly popular and read column on a popular site, which, journalistic integrity usually says, means he would check the facts before deriding any work. Except, he didn’t, so secure in his own beliefs that any work that featured a little girl in slightly sexual situations must be lolicon at its greatest. And because he has a well known column, many people followed his beliefs, leading to the situation we have now. The almighty “fanbase” has spoken, even though the true audience for KnJ who would have bought the book and wished to read it were silenced. Blame Deangelis for not having the balls to stand up and defend his own company. So Deangelis gathered the wood and Bertschy set the fire, but what about the fans in all of this?

If anything, this shows in my eyes that the majority of the fanbase is scared; scared of the darker genres (lolicon, shota, yaoi, yuri, etc.) from coming to light, mainly mainstream light. “Far be it from being tortured for liking Naruto, what will happen if all manga becomes associated with pedophilia?” is probably the general idea most people who hated the book are thinking of. The thing is, there’s already plenty of stuff the mainstream could incriminate the fanbase with. Just think of all those yaoi titles. Where was the fan outcry then? Perhaps we should all be thankful the day hasn’t come yet when otaku are held under critical mainstream light, but that doesn’t mean we should live in fear of it. Anime was mostly seen at porn, but that viewpoint has changed. I fear the day when only “safe” titles are licensed, decided by a complacent majority who like things uncontroversial, meanwhile stifling a niche of more creative and darker interests.

What is all comes down to is, what happens when a niche group has interests the majority disapproves of? Here, the majority has spoken in harsh tones. Otakudom has grown to the point where there is no longer a collective one, but instead a myriad of interests fighting against each other for publisher attention. All we, who lie in that niche, can hope for is a braver publisher to stand up and support niches with new titles, something Seven Seas doesn’t seem to be able to do. Vertical and Dark Horse seem more deserving of support in this, I think, though they’ve hardly published anything as controversial as KnJ. This is probably just the first in a series of battles between the mainstream and niche anime worlds, between marketability and intellectual and creative freedom. Let’s hope people are more open for the next one.

Oh, and Seven Seas, WHERE’S THAT NOVEL LINE YOU’VE BEEN PROMISING FOR ALMOST TWO DAMN YEARS?! Just had to get my Seven Seas hate out.