Saturday, May 14, 2005


I read Viz's release of vol. 1 of the Dr. Slump manga last night, and I think I know why this manga, which is very popular in Japan and which Frederick Schodt memorably lauded in Manga! Manga!, has taken so long to come to the U.S. There's no natural audience for it here, not because the humor is "too Japanese," but because of different societal attitudes as to what is appropriate for children to read. The humor is aimed squarely at eight to ten-year-old children. But though Viz has "modified" the book's sexual humor (along with references to underage smoking and drinking), there's still enough sexual humor -- of the sort that eight to ten-year-old boys are likely to find uproarious -- that American parents are unlikely to want children of those ages reading it. Hence Viz has slapped a "Teen" label on it; but most teens are likely to reject it as too childish. Which is a shame, as it really is pretty funny. Viz might as well have left the manga unaltered: that way they'd at least have pleased the otakus, who I suspect will wind up being the main readership of the title.

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