The US subsidiary of top Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya has stopped all sales of popular anime pin-up magazines, saying it thinks the innocent pictures of anime girls they are famous for may contain “illegal and inappropriate content” – or in other words, that it thinks they might be considered child porn in the US.
The store has cancelled the subscriptions of all customers subscribed to the magazines, which includes fan favourites Megami and Nyan-Type.
Earlier this month subscribers of Megami Magazine through Kinokuniya Bookstores of America received this rather distressing letter from the popular Japanese book retailer:
July 7th, 2010
(subscriber name/address redacted)
Thank you very much for using the Kinokuniya magazine subscription services.
We are writing this letter to inform you that we no longer handle subscriptions to Megami magazine since it has recently come to our attention that the magazine may contain inappropriate contents which may not comply with applicable local, state, and/or federal regulations.
It is our policy to take a cautious approach in conducting our business in full compliance with any applicable local, state, and/or federal regulations. In keeping with this policy, we will cancel your subscription to this publication.
Please accept the enclosed refund check for the portion of the subscription remaining.
Thanks again for your continuous patronage to our business.
Should you have any questions or concern regarding this matter, please contact me below.
Kinokuniya Bookstores of America Co., LTD.
A follow-up call to the store revealed that five moe-style magazines were currently affected by the ban: Megami, Megami Deluxe, Nyan Type, Dengeki Hime, and Dengeki Moeoh.
None of these titles carry explicit nudity or sexual content – only doe-eyed anime maidens in great profusion.
The store contact avoided giving any precise reasons or specific content which led to the sudden ban, and was quick to offer reassurances that magazines already previously sold by their store and available for subscription over the last decade were not ever “illegal” in any respect.
When it was pointed out that other anime and manga sellers in the US still offer these magazines for sale or subscription, the contact apologized and explained that this was a “precautionary measure… due to certain recent events and changes” – a possible allusion to the Handley case.
A search of the web reveals that non-subscribing direct buyers will also find that the store no longer carried their monthly dose of moe pin-up goodness on their shelves.
Whether US Customs was an issue or not was not clarified (although other retailers have long shipped them without issue), but the contact admitted there had been customer complaints regarding the content of the magazines.
Meanwhile, Megami, Nyan-Type and other anime pin-up magazine subscriptions still remain available through less spineless retailers, both in the US and beyond.
Anime fans opposed to rampant censorship with no basis in law are advised not to support so craven a company as Kinokuniya in future.