Is Hentai Child Pornography?

by Irma Arkus

The latest news on Japanese manga are all about getting arrested.

A US manga collector, Christopher Handley, has been found guilty of possessing drawings depicting child pornography, after US Custom Service authorities examined the materials sent to Hendley’s home from Japan, and determined that it depicts sexual acts with minors.

For anyone familiar with manga and hentai…sexual acts constitute a great deal of content. And despite the fact that the experts brought into the case agreed, Henley has been convicted of owning child pornography, and is looking at sentence that may land him up to 15 years in prison.

The unprecedented action against Henley who according to his lawyer has collected *everything manga* rather than just comics with sexual content is causing waves of panic amongst collectors and fans of Japanese manga in US, and justifiably so.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is outraged, as this conviction means that many of comic book collectors and afficionados are in danger of being arrested and incarcerated. [CLBDF]

  • jenney

    I hate this shit! I know so many peeps that could get arrested and sit in jail for decades because some overzelaous pieces of shit decided that oh yea, this is the case that they will vigorously pursue.

    When they enacted these shitty laws to “protect kiddies” it would have been simpler to lock up all priests and throw away the key. WTF? This is just another excuse by assholes in various government branches and lawyers who are trying to advance their crappy careers over a future of a man who is confirmed to be NOT a pedophile, NOT a distributor, BUT a COLLECTOR of MANGA! Shit! MANGA!!! The kind of stuff that usually depicts blushing schoolgirls and their romantic engagements. Godddamn it I hate this ountry.

  • generalcastro

    It seems that fantasy is illegal by law if it involves little drawings of little kids. DRawings are illegal too. Now they have to make it illegal to fantasize about anything except for reeactment of stuff made by Disney.

  • Takashi Kanade

    WTF is this shit!?
    it’s just rediculous to throw someone in jail for this. much more so 15 freakin years. I would understand if he was previously convicted of pedo shit, but even then, jail time for manga, even if it was loli hentai, is completely rediculous. What happened to freedom of expression and art?…

    The only Bullshit logic that might make an ounce of sense here would be to prevent him from going pedo… but that as well, it’s putting someone in jail before they commit a crime, and before they even make a move towards commiting it. Plus in this case he was a full on manga collector.

    The United States of Bullshit. can’t wait till i have the money to move to another country.

  • Anonymous

    First off, I, by no means, would endorse any sort of child hentai in any way. I think it’s kind of messed up, but to each their own, right?

    Anyway, the real deciding factor for me, at least, is whether or not actual children are involved. The reason that Child pornography is illegal (or at least my interpretation) is because of the circumstances of the real children involved – they’re constantly abused, sexually, physically, and in any other imaginable way, as well as often having been kidnapped, not to mention what they’re made to do in front of a camera.

    The big problem is not the person who gets off to that kind of stuff (although, as I said earlier, it’s messed up; I mean, there are plenty of messed up people in the world with other messed up desires who aren’t in jail, and who don’t need to be). In fact, if a 30 year old man sitting at home can satisfy his sexual urges with some Japanese adult cartoons containing those 5 year old girls he loves so much, power to him. It’s another 30 year old pedophile who doesn’t need to kidnap that 5 year old who lives a block down – it keeps him of the street searching for little kids.

    Think about it like this: If you’ve got someone who has this insatiable thirst for human blood, why not make them a surgeon? They can release that urge of theirs every time they pick up a scalpel, and it keeps them from turning into a serial killer. Not that I’d want a serial killer cutting me open, no matter how sterile his instruments were.

    The point is, the law is to protect the would be victims, the children or the murder targets, not dictate whether someone can be turned on by something that’s socially unacceptable. As long as no children are being harmed, give the guy his comics.

  • BruceJK

    ugh. not sure what this means. children are children, but Hentai happens to exist in an entirely different universe than US-based comics and anime. There is a massive cultural difference that happens to shock a lot of north americans – there isn’t too much tentacle action at my local video store – and that seems to be the core of this lawsuit. The man in question is described as a collector of hentai and japanese animation, not a pedophile. If this was somehow found along a stash of actual child porn I wouldn’t have a problem participating with this. since it wasn’t though I have to question what prompted this ridiculous lawsuit and the terms of conviction – cultural differences.

  • Anonymous

    Ok. The arresting police in this case didn’t know what they were doing, nor the judge, nor the jury.

    The illegal “drawing” clause of the CP law, (while it doesn’t say this specifically) is MEANT for ONE purpose only (and yes the MEANING of the law is just important as the words of the law). That ONE meaning is that it was meant to close the photography loophole in the CP law, which would have previously allowed some perv with good pencil skill to draw naked provocatively posed pictures of real children they’d abducted.

    While the law doesn’t say this, the law was NEVER meant to ban lolicon hentai. That has been a common MISINTERPRETATION of the law by many police, judges, and jurors. Remember EVERY law ever made is to protect “people” NOT “characters”. NOR are laws meant to block fictional entertainment which MAY lead people to commit real crimes. If there were such laws, Grand Theft Auto would have banned a LONG time ago.

    By the way if you are ever under arrest for loli hentai, let me tell you to NOT get a lawyer. They would have no clue what anime even is, and are trained to look at the “letter of the law”, and NOT the “meaning of the law” (an would not even make reference to the fact that it was anime, and that no person was harmed in the making of it). Represent yourself in court instead. Jurors tend to be influenced by logic. If you can convince one juror that you are innocent of any crime, then when they deliberate they may convince others that you are innocent too. But even if only one is convinced, you’ll be in a good situation, because it takes a unanimous jury to convict.

  • dagingers

    dunno where you’re from, but this happens a lot in US that there’s a lot of misunderstanding and fear of the ‘other.’

    hentai is a completely foreign concept of entertainment for north americans and many of them view it with a great deal of suspicion and ignorance.

    the jurors in this case were probably just suffering from culture shock overload but even I find it hard to believe that this guy will end up in jail over this.

    but this is a problem with every new law – child porn was always illegal – as soon as you add a vague law against materials that can be interpreted every which way, you end up with not only pedophiles going to jail, but those who are viewed as the “other”

    you are mostly right. not sure how to interpret the legal defense thing but the jury panel has certainly been swayed in a potentially wrong direction.

  • Shane McCausland

    You lose your rights when children and porno is involved, they dont give a shit if its a cartoon or not.

    Truth is pedo has been going on since beginning of history. In some cultures today its actually acceptable, as long as the girl has had period, so around 13. Before then its shunned.

    Anyways its a dark side to human nature. A lot of people consider it pure evil but some folks just have those desires in them. Its kind of like how some have the gay desire. Does not mean the actions shouldnt go unpunished, as it can be pretty evil to act upon it. But punishing them for a cartoon? Might as well start a witch hunt and hang them / get it over with.

  • Anonymous

    people who know nothing about such things should be allowed to enforce laws about it.
    sometimes hentai does contain disturbing things…but thats why its a cartoon and not real porn.

    just the simple idea that someone can go to jail for drawings of something seems utterly crazy to me :s

    im not a big fan of what u could call child pornography hentai stuff,but to claim that it is actual child pornography…those people just dont understand anything about those things :(

  • irma

    Thank you Anonymous! In this particular case, I would say that there is a great cultural divide – Manga has always contained a great deal of sexual content, and it serves a particular cultural purpose in Japan.

    Popularity of manga has noticeably grown across North America and Europe, so much so that Japanese studio releases often garner entire stadiums of audience, and Sakura-Con is getting larger every day.

    But, like anything new, it too tends to be misinterpreted, feared and rejected by public. In this case, unfortunately, a man may sit in prison for up to 15 years, which is unthinkable.

    Current laws against child pornography in US entail ANY interpretation of sexual acts with a minor, including drawings.

  • Anonymous

    what u say:Current laws against child pornography in US entail ANY interpretation of sexual acts with a minor, including drawings.

    i recently watched an anime called kodomo no jikan.
    its about a young girl that has alot of problems and falls in love with her teacher and at times even tries to seduce him into sexual acts.the anime is has a fairly good story lots of good laughs and is at times very disturbing because u see the young messed up girl acting out sexualy.

    but what shocked me was that this anime and the manga were banned from the us because of claims of pedofelia…this is found very weird because the teacher in this anime is not a pedofile and never actualy engages in sexual acts with the young girl,he constantly tries to uphold bounderies,but ofcourse fails to do so several times else there wouldnt be a story.

    ofcourse i have no idea what this person bought…but if u cant have anything with children in sexual context how can a story about this ever be told?pedofelia is real and therefor stories about it would and should be told.theres many movies in usa about sexual child abuse(cant think of any but im sure they are out there)so why cant there be comics/mangas or cartoons/animes about it.

    these things are not for children to be seen because they are disturbing in a way,therefor they get rated 18+.
    a normal adult knows the difference between a fantasy story told about something and reality.
    i say this cause i figure people opposed to this would claim that the drawings lead to actual child abuse,and this of course we know to be false because this is the same argument as violence on tv or videogames leads to real violence.someone who does see things like that and thinks hey this is a good idea was already sick before seeing this.

    it will be a sad they if this person goes to jail for having some drawings

  • johnjohn2

    I watch a lot of anime and read a lot of manga and it disturbs me greatly that it would be associated with kiddie porn. There is a line – Nabokov’s Lolita could technically be interpreted as child porn, but that does not mean that we should throw people in prison who read the damn thing.

    I think Irma nailed it though – there was great deal of cultural miscommunication happening between Henley, authorities, and his jury of peers.

    While this stuff is selling millions of copies worldwide, collectors can be (arnd are) prosecuted under this law. I just fail to see how throwing this guy into jail is going to halt actual pedophiles from viewing actual kiddie porn.

    I would also like to point out that this is US policy of freedom to a tee – while they are selling “freedom” and “democracy” through carpet bombing in Afghanistan and Iraq, US citizens are losing their own rights and freedoms.

    That’s the saddest part – we will now have to wait for US citizens to protest and complain and reject these less than surmisable laws. I can barely understand why this guy went to jail, and I bet neither can he.

  • squirrely

    Hmm. Anonymous – may you enlighten us – why are drawings different than photos?

    Just because comic books are inoccuous entertainment in US doesn’t mean that they are not equally valid forms of depiction, as in the case of Japan. From what I gather Japanese don’t have a lot of pornography on film, but they do have a lot of pornography in “drawings.”

  • squirrely

    Hmm. Anonymous – may you enlighten us – why are drawings different than photos?

    Just because comic books are inoccuous entertainment in US doesn’t mean that they are not equally valid forms of depiction, as in the case of Japan. From what I gather Japanese don’t have a lot of pornography on film, but they do have a lot of pornography in “drawings.”

  • tovertrut

    hehe anonymous…i forgot to log in or to put a username :p

    but yes i can enlighten u and have already in my previous posts:the difference in drawings and fotos is that 1 is child abuse and the other is fantasy.

    if u fail to see the difference between these…do u find any difference in killing someone for real or killing someone in a computer game?

    1 is drawn and the other is real…

    drawing a child in a sexual way is not child abuse(unless an actual child posed for it ofcourse,but this is not the case with mangas and hentais)just like drawing a murder is not murder and drawing a rape is not rape.

    and with the japan drawn porn i once heard that there used to be(or still are)very strong laws in japan against showing reproductive organs in sexual context(thats why most asian porn is sencored)and because of this they started drawing their porn.

    as stated in my first post im not a big lolicon fan,but sending someone to jail for having some lolicon stuff is crazy.then again in us they send people to jail for having a gram of weed…gues u shouldnt be suprorised about anything there these days :'(

    the land of the free lololololololol

  • squirrely

    you guys have some messed up laws, and quite frankly, as much as I love this country, it is impossible to avoid admitting that it’s the crazy place. freedom is something we export, not something we actually practice at home. lololol.

    good point on the fantasy vs reality, but then the law is designed against fantasy – i think for the reasons that they are trying to put a stop to pedos from simply enjoying any materials online. this may be very hard to do. Lolita, as pointed out eralier, is one of those books that technically could be viewed as illegal. but when the laws were passing, they suggested that noone is going to take any illogical interpretations of the law and start arresting Nabokov readers and fans. I guess they were lying about that too, because lolicon is literally that – a Lolita related art.

  • gargantuamirabilis

    This is all very strange, as the whole point of this severe and unusual law was to prevent child abuse. That, and legislators have assured everyone to not just arrest people willy nilly for such crap. This guy was obviously trapped between overzelous customs agents and lawyers who decided to prosecute. By all means, this guy was proven as a mere comic book collector, and not anything else. He wasn’t a purveyor of kiddie porn, because he wasn’t proven to be one in court. He was ONLY a comic book collector.

    This is the kind of unjust treatment that I haven’t seen in decades. We all must do something about this. Tovetrut, you are so right. This is pure BS. The guy did NOTHING wrong. And he should not be punished or for that matter take time in prison or court system.

    I cannot believe that he’s looking at 15 years in prison!!!