While Toyota's top brass are getting grilled by Congress on how they could let us drive around in cars with "sudden unanticipated acceleration," we have another product from that island nation that carries its own unanticipated hazard.
Comic books. They're called manga, which is comics or cartoons in Japanese. And while some analysts point to ancient, illustrated scrolls for manga's origins, the most obvious birth of these cartoons followed the U.S. occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952. The Japanese saw the GI's comic books and decided to made them their own.
The first ones were innocuous enough, largely aimed at children. In the fifties and sixties, they branched off into darker styles. In the 1990s, as Japan relaxed their censorship laws, they got wilder, with several lines of manga offering harshly violent story lines and explicit sexuality, especially in the class of manga aimed at adults.
Okay, but that's in Japan. And people can buy manga here if they want, but they can buy lots of other p*rn too. But here's where the unanticipated part comes in.
As I searched my local library's collection of books on CD yesterday, I wandered a few aisles over to see if they had more there. To my surprise, I found a shelf of manga books. Having heard from my college-age daughter that manga could be pretty rough, I pulled one out and started thumbing through. The innocent, wide-eyed girls in the illustrations were being led through sexual paces that made me lean against a book rack in shock. There was language to match.
So I took this piece of literature to the assistant branch manager and asked why it was on the shelf. "Well, it's in the adult section," she countered. But manga has a huge youth following, I protested. And my tax money is paying for this thing? She gave me a form to submit, detailing my objections, which I filled out and gave back. We'll see what happens.
So moms, beware: The childish look of manga can belie its chilling contents. And understand that your public library has these (and other) disturbing materials in easy reach of your adolescent and teen, with no restrictions on viewing or borrowing.
And they wonder why our teens are in such trouble . . .
UPDATE from my last column: I am doing fine without my Clean House friends and have let them go with surprising ease. Same goes for the viewing of DVDs. Reading is up.
Image from http://www.picsearch.com. Manga history from Wikipedia.