Popular Japanese shonen manga magazine Shonen Jump was recently the target of criticism by a number of critics who took issue with a display of ecchi (provocative depictions of sexual content, such as large breasts) as age inappropriate content in the magazine’s latest edition, despite the magazine’s long history of young adult themed material.

The weekly magazine recently published its 48th issue of the year, featuring within its cover the 181st chapter of Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs by Tadahiro Miura.

Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs is a harem comedy series that follows the life of Kogarashi Fuyuzora as he meets the ghost of Yuuna Yunohana and explores the supernatural elements and occurrences of the Yugari Inn, a boarding house and former hot spring location.

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This volume featured a cover illustration for Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs which depicted the titular Yuuna lying naked in a hot spring, her nipples obscured by the steam rising from the hot springs.

Shonen Jump and Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs Criticized for Not Abiding by Puritanical Western Values by Vocal Critics

A short comic depicts the girls enjoying bubble tea on the opposite side of the cover illustration. However, if a reader were to provide a backlight to the cover illustration, a panel in the middle of the comic showing the tapioca pearls from the girls’ bubble tea would provide the reader with a glimpse of the tapioca pearls as Yuuna’s nipples [the uncensored image of which can be viewed here]:

Shonen Jump and Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs Criticized for Not Abiding by Puritanical Western Values by Vocal Critics

This panel, when backlit against the cover illustration, turns the tapioca balls into Yuuna’s nipples.

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On Twitter, self-professed “Writer. Translator. [and] Intersectional Feminist” took major offense to this image, spoke out against the  image in a lengthy Twitter thread primarily focused on her concern that the content was “NOT. F—-ING . APPROPRIATE. FOR. MINORS.”:

I am disgusted. Every time, this country disappoints me. Shōnen Jump is a weekly manga magazine that published the most famous series of all times: Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto. It’s aimed at young boys and teenagers. Now they’re “showing” pornographic content. A thread.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

The cover of the magazine features the main character of a manga called “Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs” (ゆらぎ荘の幽奈さん) posing naked in an overtly sexual pose and with a sexualized expression. Reminder: this magazine is for *children*

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

The magazine has been cleverly designed so that the blurred out nipples (with a cloud-like white-out) don’t show, except if you use a backlight you can *see* her nipples. Which on the other side of the page are tapioca pearls. “Genius,” according to the fans.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

If you show that drawing, with that lascivious expression, cheeks flushed and breasts heaving, this is porn. This is hentai. THIS. IS. NOT. FUCKING. APPROPRIATE. FOR. MINORS.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

You’re telling your readers: I’ll bend the rules so that you can fap to our magazine cover. I’ll bend the rules so that you’ll buy a copy. I’ll bend the rules by portraying a female character as an overly sexualized object because we don’t care about women.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

Do you know how exhausting this is? Every time I enter a convenience store there are adult magazines right *next* to the entrance with men unashamedly standing and reading. Women watch themselves be objectified. Children learn how to objectify.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

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After taking a moment to take a xenophobic and racist jab at the current birth rate crisis in Japan, Ishikawa began to put forth social justice rhetoric and target male fans specifically in order to boost her argument, accusing ecchi of reinforcing the idea that “women mean so little we don’t even cross these men’s mind” and equating drawings of fictional characters to real world victims of sexism and abuse:

Shōnen Jump has always been problematic. But this is fucking unacceptable. Reminder: It’s a magazine for *children* This is what this country is teaching their youth. I’m kinda glad the populating is declining.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

When you check the OP’s comments all you hear are cis men and teenagers laugh gleefully and comment on the genius of this design. All I see is a society in which women mean so little we don’t even cross these men’s mind. No. They are not a minority. Yes, I know what I’m saying.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

Japan sexualizes children and women to the point of sickness. If this is appropriate for a *children’s magazine,* what do you think you’ll find in an adult one? No wonder men fantasize with rape and murder.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

I’m so tired. Tired of seeing example after example of women meaning nothing. Young girls meaning nothing. Their worth is based on how much men will masturbate to their picture.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

“But these are cartoons! These are not real women, you bitch!” —definitely someone. Yes. But they represent women. They carry the weight and expectation of real women like idols and singers and actresses. Don’t lie to me—to you they’re all the same.

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

You can’t say “this is fiction—this isn’t real” because where do you think fiction comes from? As a writer, this is so obvious to me (but what can I expect of someone who only reads comic books, amirite?).

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

This won’t end here. Shōnen Jump might issue an apology and pathetic excuses while the board of executives snigger behind closed doors. This is an epidemic. /end

Sachiko Ishikawa (@Ishikawa_Sachi) October 28th, 2019

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Ishikawa’s opinions were soon echoed by various Twitter users who similarly believed that teenage readers could not handle seeing the content and that fictional depictions of sexualized characters leads to real world child abuse:

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One user in particular, a German citizen currently living in Japan, criticized a Japanese man for reading the popular manga magazine in public, in an ironic moment of cultural insensitivity and ignorance:

However, despite the protestations of these users, Japan and Shonen Jump in particular have had a long history of depicting subject matter that seems inappropriate to Western sensibilities, such as excessive violence and sexual depictions of characters.

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In Dragon Ball, Bulma was seen topless multiple times, such as when Oolong impersonated her to convince Master Roshi to put out the flames on Ox-King’s Fire Mountain or when Krillin pulled down her shirt to elicit a nosebleed from Master Roshi to reveal the location of See-Through the Invisible Man (which is to say nothing of the multiple times Kid Goku was comedically depicted with his extremities exposed).

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, which was serialized up to Part 7 in Shonen Jump, regularly features graphic and brutal deaths, such as Danny the dog burning alive (Part 1), Illuso being punched as his skin melts into a pool liquid due to an airborne disease (Part 5), or Sorbet being sliced into pieces by Diavolo (Part 5).

In the very first issue of the publication, Shonen Jump published Harenchi Gakuen, an adult comedy manga by legendary Devilman and Mazinger Z creator Go Nagai, which has gone on to be considered the world’s first erotic or hentai manga despite the lack of explicitly hardcore material.

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This is not the first time that Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs specifically has come under fire for the sexual depictions of its characters. In 2017, a Japanese lawyer and a gender studies professor argued that parents should restrict their sons from reading Shonen Jump as, according to Anime News Network, “people are learning from a young age that seeing females as sexual objects, ignoring a partner’s protests, and then engaging in naked sexual acts is normal.”

Opponents, such as manga creator Tatsuya Egawa, argued that “it’s a mistake to not let [children] read [a series] just because it’s bad manga. People become adults by reading various things.” And that “The important thing is letting children think for themselves.”

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  • About The Author

    Spencer is a contributing reporter for Bounding Into Comics. Unabashed anime fan, life-long comic book reader, avid video game player, and in need of a separate house for all of his figures. Trying to sift through the noise to bring the readers the facts.

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