Is Manga Child Pornography ? U.K. Judge Says Yes

By Aja Romano on October 20, 2014

A U.K. judge has issued a nine-month suspended sentence for a manga fan who admitted to 10 counts of possession of illustrated pictures of fictional characters who looked underage. It’s the first such sentence in the country and is being viewed as a test case for prohibited images that fall outside of the traditional definition of child pornography.

The defendant, 39-year-old Robul Hoque, was also convicted in 2008 of a very similar charge of owning digital artwork of what appeared to be underage fictional characters. That case was also the first test case in the U.K. of digital art being held to represent child pornography. In that case as well, the images were deemed to represent underage children despite being illustrations of fictional characters whose ages could not be known.

In Japan, illustrated manga-style erotic art and anime is known as hentai. One subset of hentai features subjects styled to look like young girls or boys. Known as “loli” for illustrations of girls and “shota” for illustration of boys, this erotic art is hugely popular around the world and can be found regularly distributed across the Internet