Saturday, September 3, 2016

Speaking of Art in Manga . . .

and censorship . . .

A common complaint on Amazon reviews--specifically regarding Yaoi--is American publishers who "white out" certain parts of the anatomy (eh hem).

On the one hand, I can understand the eye-rolling. It is rather like pasting a fig leaf on Michelangelo's David. Ken dolls are, in their way, far more disturbing than Adam on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

On the other hand, the criticisms are often made with no follow-up or deliberation on whether the so-called censorship increased the aesthetics of a particular volume. The consistent interpretation (by the complainers) seems to be that explicitness = eroticism.

Oh no, no, it doesn't.

A manga volume can have little to no explicitness yet be entirely erotic. Tateno comes to mind since her work often shows less than the reader thinks it does.

In comparison--my apologies to Gravitation fans--I find Gravitation thoroughly skanky (to be fair: that's kind of the point of Gravitation), yet it is possibly the "cleanest" of the manga I've read. (PG-13 movies come to mind here; I've seen PG-13 movies that left me wanting to wipe off the "yuck," yet they are supposedly more appropriate for teens than "R" movies. Of course, there are also those weird parents who take their 6-year-olds to see Nolan's excellent Batman series because "Batman is a superhero." How about using commonsense discernment, people? Okay, end of tangent.)

Maiden Rose falls into its own unusual
category since its explicitness is used
with deliberate intent and means exactly
what a scene's context requires
that it means.
Black Sun, which is entirely frank about its characters' anatomy, is so full of affection (the characters' personalities believably mesh), it is easy to forget that it is explicit.

And I've read several manga that I could only classify as porn yet were utterly boring. (Bad art never helps.) I'm reminded of the Monty-Python skit at the beginning of The Meaning of Life where the sex education teacher plans to have sex in front of a class of wearily disinterested students. If it quacks like a textbook . . .

At some later point, I'll address romance, sex, and plot, but for now, let it be said, good art (by which I mean erotic, affectionate, amusing, striking, meaningful, or plausible) is not automatically the same as explicit or titillating. There is no equals sign.