Wall Street Journal (almost) totally gets it wrong.

Manga Mania – WSJ.com

The article actually does have a point in that perhaps Anime and Manga are not a good idea for PR for Japans tourist industry.
But they get the reason completely bass ackwards.

The issue is one of perception of the content and not the content itself, and the prejudice of most western individuals towards the Manga and Anime media.
The article itself highlights this prejudiced perception in the following except;

Perhaps the biggest problem is the highly sexualized nature of the form

I would hardly call Yotsuba&! highly sexualized.

Manga and Anime are just forms of media.
It is like saying that all western movies are highly sexualized because some movies are pornography.
It doesn’t make any sense.

The reason we in the west focus so much on the minority of Manga and Anime that is highly sexualized is due to the history of comics and animation in the west.

Originally Comics and Animation in the west was just the same as in Japan today. They were edgy, dark and sometimes had adult themes. But then the censorship efforts of the 1950s took their affect and effectively neutered comics and animation until the 1980s. [Even though some underground comic artists and writers continued to write small distribution publications in spite of the restrictions. Some were even fined or jailed for their attempt at creative expression.]

Due to decades of censorship, most people in the west associate comics and animation with fluffy childhood innocence and not with any adult themes.
Thus the breadth of content shown in Manga and Anime, ranging from fluffy childhood stuff to hard core pronography and grotesque horror, passing through sitcoms, dramas and action thrillers, just flies over the heads of most westerners who have put comics and animation into a very small narrow box.

I think that if the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the JNTO, push the breadth and variety of Anime and Manga, and not just the familiar suspects popular in the west, they might be able to turn the prejudice around, and generate a more diverse interest in Japan.

I hope this happens.

But until that time we will have to put up with articles that get it (almost) completely wrong.

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