Mariko Kikuchi’s manga “Kami-sama” no Iru Ie de Sodachimashita ~Shūkyō 2-Sei na Watashi-tachi~ (translated as A Home Life With God ~We Children Born Into Religion~) has been pulled from its Yomitai web media platform. Each chapter has to do with a child born into a different religion.
Her editors put out statements saying that they apologize for “offending a particular religion or group of believers” and that the manga had “insufficient fact-checking.”
Anime News Network reported that the Japanese group Kōfuku no Kagaku (translated as Happy Science) was allegedly behind the censorship. Happy Science has courted controversy before for denying the reality of the Rape of Nanking and claiming it has spiritual vaccines against COVID-19, among other things.
In a statement, Happy Science denied having the manga removed: “Kikuchi’s manga contains numerous factual inaccuracies and an unfair, negative portrayal of the faith and its teachings. 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.”
Kikuchi is arguing against her manga being edited and altered. She said that her manga is meant to tell personal stories, not be straight-up criticism of religions.
“In that light, I think it would be strange to show excessive consideration towards religious groups,” she said. “Even Shueisha understood that they were saying something unreasonable, but I suppose they had gone too far to back out now.”
She continued, “It is becoming taboo to deal with religion. I am firmly against altering a story according to what a religious group dictates. If it is 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.”
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin. She is also the author of its upcoming sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.