TOP

The lasting effects of banning books

by  in Comic News Comment

A lot of us have been observing Banned Books Week with lists of banned and challenged graphic novels and notes about recent challenges in libraries and schools, but this video of manga creator Akira Maruyama speaks to a larger issue: When books are suppressed, they may simply disappear.

Maruyama is talking here about shoujo manga (manga written for young girls). Most histories of manga start with the Year 24 Group, a cohort of female manga creators born in or around 1949 that includes Moto Hagio (A Drunken Dream, The Heart of Thomas), Ryoko Ikeda (The Rose of Versailles) and Keiko Takemiya (To Terra). Maruyama, who edited a shoujo manga magazine in the 1950s and 1960s, says that we have lost the body of shoujo manga that was published during that time, because it was not only disparaged but actively suppressed. Parents looked down on manga, regarding it as cheap slapstick, and, Maruyama says, “Left-wing thinkers thought manga was bad for the intellectual development of children.” Children, on the other hand, preferred it to the “boring” storybooks of the day. The writers and leftists actually organized book-burnings in the summer of 1955, bringing manga its own Fredric Wertham moment. Manga was later rehabilitated, but the male critics (who didn’t read shoujo manga) and the Year 24 creators (who were busy reinventing it) simply ignored first-generation shoujo manga. Maruyama defends this early manga, which the Year 24 creators grew up reading, and calls for researchers to search for this manga, preserve it, and bring it back into the public eye, restoring a lost chapter in the history of the medium.