Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump came under fire for running a busty spread (seen below) on Yuragi-sō no Yūna-san (Yūna of Yuragi Manor). The illustration sparked conversations about ecchi works in a magazine that is largely seen as reading material for kids under 14 years of age.
There were people supporting and condemning the illustration, but there was one common thread among commentators: Weekly Shonen Jump was never this sexual before. Taro Kawashima, a Japanese writer for After Career Connection News, decided to explore these claims. The conclusion? Weekly Shonen Jump has gotten tamer as time goes on.
Weekly Shonen Jump began publication in 1968, with its flagship series in the very first issue that went on to sell over a million copies being Go Nagai’s Harenchi Gakuen. The manga’s title translates as Shameless School and it featured active fanservice, a lot of skirt flipping, and full-frontal nudity.
In fact, many manga and anime had full-frontal nudity until the late 1990s. Some Dragon Ball fans might remember the body comedy that came from Goku being very open about his balls. Ranma ½ was one of the most popular daytime anime series and it’s notorious for its frequent bathing scenes.
Kawashima notes that fanservice, in general, has been moving towards passive depictions as opposed to the active scenes of the past. The 1960s to 1990s featured characters performing “skirt mekuri” (skirt flipping), which involves suddenly flipping a girl’s skirt or dress. Other fanservice tropes included actively fondling a girl from behind, tearing clothes, and sneaking into dressing rooms. This has changed greatly in recent times.
Kawashima says that modern fanservice revolves around “lucky sukebe” (lucky pervert). These scenarios involve a character accidentally walking into a dressing room or they unintentionally see a pair of panties under a girl’s skirt due to a strong wind.
Kawashima argues that parents complaining about Yuragi-sō no Yūna-san may not understand the lucky sukebe trope. He notes that parents worrying about kids mimicking ecchi scenarios found in modern manga have little to worry about. Unlike skirt mekuri and other past scenarios (which involves sexual assault), lucky sukebe is based on chance.
However, the controversy over ecchi manga and anime won’t disappear anytime soon. The Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths was amended in 2010 to “regulate manga, anime, and other images from unjustifiable glorifying sexual innuendo being sold to people under the age of 18.”
The vague wording of the amendment has cast a shadow of paranoia among the industry since shonen and shoujo manga have a wide reader base. However, publishers can face legal trouble if a review board deems that a scandalous work was illegally sold to a minor.
Midori no Kisetsu (Blue-Green Season) is the only shoujo manga to have been regulated due to the new ordinance. For comparison, Shounen Jump star One Piece is a good example of what is deemed sexy but not too scandalous for its readers.
Despite the outcry from parents of ecchi being found in the mainstream, Weekly Shonen Jump and manga in general have been getting tamer with each new series.