A reformed sexual predator has been jailed for viewing, you guessed it, hentai.
A court in New Zealand has convicted rehabilitated sexual predator, Ronald Clark, of possessing "objectionable material," and has sentenced him to three months in jail. The objectionable material in this case? Cartoon pornography featuring what Clark's lawyer describes as "pixies and trolls."
The "elves and pixies" depicted in the pornography (or "hentai" if you prefer the Japanese term) apparently look young enough to draw the ire of the courts and anti-child pornography group ECPAT. Yep, it's the whole "lolis are people" argument all over again.
ECPAT Child Alert director, Alan Bell, conceded that no children were harmed in the production of the films and manga, but went on to argue that they encourage potential pedophiles to "to migrate from there to the real thing."
"The distribution of it is damaging," he continued. "You have to ask what impact does it have even if it's not harming [an individual child]."
Bell went on to describe hentai depicting underage characters as a "huge" problem in Japan.
Clark, who was previously convicted for indecently assaulting a teenage boy, argued that he viewed the content for its artistic merit and that he didn't find it sexually arousing. For those of you who don't know your yuri from your shonen ai, that statement isn't quite as ludicrous as it sounds. The line between pornography and art is a particularly fine one in the anime and manga industry. Numerous major artists began their careers with erotic doujinshi (self-published work) and some, like Ghost in the Shell and Dominion Tank Police creator, Masamune Shirow, are arguably known more for their T&A work than their ground-breaking fiction. Clark argues that the conviction is ludicrous, and that he could, in theory, be convicted of possessing objectionable pictures of stick figures.
New Zealand isn't the only country struggling with the idea of cartoon pornography. Last year, Swedish manga translator, Simon Lundström, had his 2010 conviction for possessing child pornography overturned when he successfully arguing that prosecuting him for possessing cartoon depictions of child abuse would violate his freedom of expression.
"The criminalization of possession of the drawings would otherwise exceed what is necessary with regard to the purpose which has led to the restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of information," read a statement from the court.