Air quality

It’s always fun to compare reactions to an event in the comics realm. Take the imminent arrival of Oh! Great’s Air Gear (Del Rey).

Brigid at MangaBlog makes an interesting distinction:

“As much as I deplore censoring a book like Tenjho Tenge, which is a mature story to begin with, I don’t think I’d have a problem with removing some of the gratuitous fanservice in books for younger kids, like Narue and Et Cetera.

“I’m not even talking about nudity. A bare breast or a guy climbing out of the swimming pool naked (The Walking Man) is natural and inoffensive. Looking up women’s skirts is icky.”

I tend to agree that it’s a matter of how the eye is being led. From what I remember of Tenjho Tenge and other fan-service books I’ve sampled, the pervasive visual implication is that the reader is seeing something they shouldn’t, getting away with voyeurism. The artist is drilling a hole in the shower wall. I do find that extremely icky, but I’m not the target audience.

David Taylor at Love Manga has a different perspective:

“As more and more titles get licensed I think the chances of us hitting this problem again and again is only going to occur with greater frequency, is it not time that you know, just maybe we could let a little thong get through? … [I]s a thong really going to destroy the moral fabric of society as we see it?”

I always find it hard to enter into these debates, because I’m always stopped short by the fact that I’ve found the little Oh! Great manga I’ve read to be terrible, censored or not. I mean, I find the cover in question just hideously unsexy, and while I think dealing with issues of content and censorship is important, I wish these conversations would center around works that are really complex and mature and interesting instead of… well… this stuff.

Chris Butcher at seems cautiously optimistic. Okay, he actually seems deeply cynical:

“Finally, a book for everyone! If by everyone, I meant underage porn fans. You see, Air Gear is the newest series by manga creator Oh! Great. O!G has done lots and lots of porn, which is readily available here in North America from the fine folks at Eros, but you’ve gotta be 18 to buy those. Two years ago there WAS a ray of hope for those who appreciated O!Gs remarkable ability to draw voluptuous camel toe when his series Tenjo Tenge was released by DC’s CMX imprint. We all know how well THAT worked out.”

Hee. “Camel toe.” That phrase always makes me laugh.

Anyway, Air Gear isn’t the only book coming out this week, and there are some great alternatives if you’re too conflicted over the thong issue.

For instance, were you one of the people who decided to wait for the trade of Ted Naifeh’s splendid Polly and the Pirates (Oni)? Now’s your chance! (Please feel free to insert your own “Avast, matey!” or “Raise the mainsail!” amendments if that wasn’t sufficiently nautical for you.)

Dark Horse rolls out Junji Ito’s Tomie in its Museum of Terror series. It’s great, creepy stuff. I bought it cheap during one of ComicsOne’s big on-line sales of old.

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