Can the Dirty Wash Their Hands?

Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the most popular female characters ever. With such popularity, it’s very easy to look at Sakura and assume that she’s just a manufactured collection of moe features, or that she’s purposely designed to appeal to pedophiles, to which she is no doubt a popular character. Here is where I tend to argue that people who claim this to be the case are seeing the fruit and not the root. Sakura was not forged in the fires of Moedor but is rather an innocent character so well-conceived by her creators that people could not help but like her. This is what i believe.

But then consider the creators of Cardcaptor Sakura, the all-female manga duo CLAMP. CLAMP is no stranger to the world of otaku. They love manga and anime themselves. They miss deadlines because they played too many video games. Most importantly, prior to their big break they were doujinshi artists drawing things like Saint Seiya.

Kamichu! is the story of a junior high school girl who finds out that she is a god. It’s a sweet kind of slice-of-life story. The creator of Kamichu! is Naruco Hanaharu, artist of many, many pornographic comics.

The question  I ask here is, can a character truly be innocent if their creator has publishing material under their belt that is anything but? Is extensive experience on the adult side of manga a detriment to one’s ability to produce works of innocence, and if so is the damage too much?

I personally believe that it is possible to wash your hands clean and have work that is separate enough that they do not hold sway over each other if the creator so chooses. However, I know that some would disagree with me, and I have little confidence that I’ll be able to just outright convince people otherwise, especially if it’s a strong belief. What I will say is that in comics in general, there’s a lot of proof of comic artists around the world who have done children’s comics and then some “extra” work on the side. Are they all condemned as well?

That said, I do draw the line at a certain point, which is when you draw smut of your own characters who are supposed to be innocent. So sorry, Gunslinger Girl, you have author-drawn doujinshi of the non-wholesome variety. You do not pass this test.

10 thoughts on “Can the Dirty Wash Their Hands?

  1. I think there’s a deeper question at work here, less “can they wash themselves of their past” but more of the perplexing dualities of human nature. Many people find themselves capable of both raw sexual lust and tender passionate (and celibate) love. The word “love” can be applied to someone in various ways, as well, depending on context: we “love” our children, but not the same way we might “love” our spouse or “love” that chocolate cake. People are capable of thinking in different ways in different circumstances (but still congruent with their own ethical system), and I think we all know this: the person we are inside is not necessarily the same person people, even close friends, might see from the outside, because only the self can see and understand its whole, whereas other people merely see facets of our personality as they are outwardly expressed. What might seem inconsistent to an outsider might make perfect sense internally.

    Many manga artists these days have gotten their start through the doujinshi publishing system–and, while most doujinshi is not explicit, some is, and some who have gone on to greater things started out in the same way. Kiyohiko Azuma has at least one eromanga under his belt (it’s very, very Kiyohiko Azuma, it just has bad sex), and some see publishing eromanga (or erodoujinshi) as part of a process that leads one to be able to create the less sexual and more tender stories one truly wants to share.

    If Anne Rice can suddenly go from Gothic Vampire Queen Extraordinaire to being a born-again Catholic and refuse to write any more vampire novels, then I think just about anyone can accomplish things less divergent than that.


  2. I’m sorry to kinda defeat the point of your post but Kamichu was NOT created by Naruco Hanaharu, “artist of many, many pornographic comics.” but by “Besame Mucho” A Pen Name which represents anime writer Hideyuki Kurata (Read or Die, Hellsing Ultimate and more), director Koji Masunori and producer Tomonori Ochikoshi.

    Naruco Hanaharu simply adapted the show into manga, he had nothing to do with the creation.


  3. Pros don’t let content taint their selves to the degree that they can’t create anything else but.

    That said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or rather, porn is the groin of the beholder. In our judgment we project our own inclinations often times more so than what it really appears.


  4. Sa: Mistake noted. Still, with Naruco Hanaharu as the artist, does his proficiency at drawing sexual characters cause the characters in the manga to be more sexual than they should be?

    For that matter, while Kurata did not create the manga of Read or Die, he did adapt it, and the Read or Die manga is much more sexual than the anime (it describes Yomiko’s reaction to books as “like an orgasm”). From what I’ve seen, the Read or Die anime is treated as almost a completely different entity from the manga, but it’s interesting that they could share a name and still be held at arms’ length.


  5. Your last condition seems to apply to a lot of the characters in that “clean artists dirty drawings” book you link to – does that mean “Brenda Starr” is no longer a “wholesome” comic?


  6. “In our judgment we project our own inclinations often times more so than what it really appears.”

    That’s how I see it. It’s basically all in how you look at it. But it is interesting to find out what creators have done on the “hush-hush” while they’ve hit it off with popular works. :3


  7. “…people who claim this to be the case are seeing the fruit and not the root.”

    I really like this quote for some reason!

    Getting on topic, I think this post can go beyond anime and manga and into the question of “can people do something different without their past bleeding into it?” like OGT said above. I think that it’s possible, although it takes some patience.

    Just look at comedians like Eddie Murphy and Denis Leary. Some people might remember them from their comedy specials like RAW and No Cure for Cancer respectively, while others will remember them from Shrek and Ice Age respectively.

    Overall, it’s much easier to win a new audience than try to convince your old audience to follow you when you do something different. Besides, your new audience might look into what you did before and either freak out or like you even more.


  8. I’m really undecided on this one. There are just so many examples of all possible answers to it, and then there’s this horrible, horrible grey zone. Just what the hell ARE you supposed to think of Strawberry Marshmallow, for instance? It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.


  9. I don’t think just because someone is soiled, or dirtied, then they can’t produce a clean, innocent work. The author affects the work, but that doesn’t mean the author IS the work. I believe there is a separation between author and work such that, while you can take an author’s whole body of work to judge their worth as a creator, you can also take a work as a standalone to judge its own worth.

    And why not? There are a million children’s authors out there, and each and every one of their works are filled with the innocence, playfulness and imagination that inspire each new generation of children. Maybe some of them draw smut on the side, but that doesn’t demean their other works.

    Let’s use another example. If someone has been once condemned for a criminal offence, does that mean that they can’t do, say, charity? We have a presumption of innocence, and rules against using character evidence to undermine a criminal defendants, for a reason.

    If your action stems from a pure desire to accomplish that good action, then the action itself is pure, even if it’s from the dirtiest, most condemned criminal on record. Similarly, if a creator creates an innocent character with the intent of exploring pure emotions, then their more base works should not condemn their purer efforts. We can be cynical and ask “Are their intents really pure? If you read it THAT way…”, but then we become the ones who are demeaning the work.


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