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Manga Pulled After Alleged Backlash From Japanese Cult

2022-04-19 Source:gamerant.com Author:BOREALIS CAPPS

A group that has pushed "spiritual vaccines" for COVID-19 may be behind the manga's removal.

Manga publisher Shueisha has removed A Home Life With God ~We Children Born Into Religion online in what may be a response to a fringe religious group in Japan. The manga by Mariko Kikuchi followed the stories of several children's religious upbringings by their already faithful parents. After the fifth chapter of the manga was pulled online for "offending a particular religion or group of believers" on Feb. 10, the company fully removed the rest of its pages on Mar. 17.

"There were some places where the fact-checking and examination that the editorial department should have done at the production stage were insufficient," Shueisha said in an official statement. "In response to that, as a result of repeated consultations with the author, we decided to end the serialization." While the statement does not mention any specific organization by name, one expert believes this may have been done to appease the notorious religious group, Happy Science.

"Looking back on the past 1-2 years, even when there have been scandals related to religious groups, their names are not reported," Yoshirō Fujikura, a researcher of fringe religious groups told Smart Flash. "Multiple outlets have reported on Kikuchi's case, but none have mentioned Happy Science by name."

Happy Science has become infamous in Japan due to its beliefs and the actions of its political arm, the Happiness Realization Party. As COVID-19 cases rise in the country, the group has taken to offering "spiritual vaccines" that they claim will protect against the virus. The group has denied Japanese atrocities such as the Nanking Massacre as well as the Imperial Japanese Army taking comfort women. The Happiness Realization Party has advocated for removing Article 9 of Japan's constitution which renounces war while fighting for nuclear deterrence as a primary military strategy.

Happy Science's public relations department denied their involvement in Shueisha's decision to pull the manga. "Kikuchi's manga contains numerous factual inaccuracies and an unfair, negative portrayal of the faith and its teachings," they told Smart Flash. "It also conflates the issue of children seeking independence from their parents with the issue of religious faith. Regarding the decision to remove it, we believe that Shueisha reached that conclusion through independent discussion."

The series' author is concerned that the situation may put the artistic integrity of many storytellers at risk. "It is becoming taboo to deal with religion," she told Smart Flash. "I am firmly against altering a story according to what a religious group dictates. If it has become so impermissible to depict religion as a theme, then freedom of expression has already eroded to such a degree that it only exists in name."

While Kikuchi is still upset that the manga was removed online, she stated on Twitter that she was grateful that the editorial department did its best to protect her in this matter. There is no word on if A Home Life With God ~We Children Born Into Religion will become legally available in any other formats at this time.

Original Website:https://gamerant.com/manga-censored-alleged-backlash-happy-science-cult/