Young Magazine is a weekly manga that features serialized comics, like Initial D. Aimed at young males, the publication also features pin-up bikini photos.
This week, the magazine features a questionable image of Tomomi Kasai, a former member of Japan's biggest girl group AKB48. In the photo, Kasai is topless, and a young boy covers her nipples with his hands. The image is actually the cover of Kasai's debut photo book, Tomo no Koto, Suki? (とものこと、好き? or "Do You Like Tomo?"), and it appears in Young Magazine as part of the photo book's PR push.
Late last week, the magazine's publisher, Kodansha, decided to delay the magazine for "inappropriate" content. In Japan, there have been outcries over the image, with some saying it's child pornography. As Anime News Network points out, under the Japanese legal definition, the picture could definitely be considered that.
Japanese manga artist Yoshinori Kobayashi, however, thought the image used religious painting iconography, namely the Virgin Mary and an angel, and that it was odd the photo was being dubbed child abuse in Japan.
The boy in the image looks Caucasian, and in Japanese visual culture, Caucasian children are often used to represent angels. However, the decision to use a non-Japanese child "others" the child in the photo, which could be why the photographer, Kasai, her manager, and the publisher thought the photo was okay. You have to wonder if such a photo would have been taken with a Japanese child.
The book's cover, however, is being reworked, and Tomo no Koto, Suki? will go on sale, Nikkan Sports reports. The Young Magazine issue with the controversial image in it, however, is appearing on store shelves (via Japanese site RocketNews), even after Kodansha said it was pulling the issue, which is somewhat surprising. According to Get News, the issue is also popping up on internet auction sites, too. No surprise there.
AKB48河西智美の手ブラ写真 幻のヤンマガ7号がヤフオクに大量出品される！ [GetNews]