Ken Akamatsu

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Akamatsu, with art from his major stories around him

Ken Akamatsu (born July 5, 1968) is a multiple award-winning Japanese manga artist and politician who has served since 2022 as a member of the House of Councillors. He made his professional manga debut in 1993, and is best known as the author of Love Hina (1998–2001) and Negima! Magister Negi Magi (2003–2012), both serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine; a sequel to Negima!, UQ Holder!, was serialized from 2013 to 2022.

Akamatsu has been a managing director of the Japan Cartoonists Association since 2018, and is a vocal advocate for protecting freedom of expression in manga and anime from expansions in censorship and copyright law. In the 2022 Japanese House of Councillors election, he won a seat as a candidate for the Liberal Democratic Party in the national proportional representation block on a free expression platform, becoming the first manga creator in the National Diet. He is a key contemporary figure in debates around lolicon (loli)/shotacon (shota) and whether fictional works depicting minors or arguably "child-like" characters, should be treated as child pornography and/or criminalized as a form of harmless/victimless crime.

Relevance to loli/shota debates

Akamatsu was a personal friend to the deceased manga artist Kentaro Miura, who also defended artistic freedom and loli/shota. Participating in debates about artistic freedom,[1] responding to one controversy, Akamatsu wrote on April 16, 2022,

We creators cannot write or draw anything if there is a risk that the people who read it will reenact what happens in the story or creation. In reality, I have never heard of manga encouraging war or encouraging murder. Why is this irrational regulation so highly touted when it comes to manga depicting high school girls? I would like to see you provide rational reasons and scientific evidence[2]

In 2010, Akamatsu launched a beta test of J-Comi (now Manga Library Z), a free manga download site for out-of-print titles. Manga publishers Kodansha and Shueisha began collaborating with the site after the test, and the site formally launched in 2011. The site gained notoriety later that year when it posted Seiji Matsuyama's Oku-sama wa Shōgakusei [ja] ("My Wife Is an Elementary Student") manga, which Tokyo Vice Governor Naoki Inose had cited as an example of a work that should be restricted for physical sale under Tokyo's recently revised Healthy Development of Youths Ordinance.[3]

In July 2023, French, self-identified left-wing feminists tried to cancel Akamatsu. They disseminated incendiary leaflets about him, pressuring the organizers of Japan Expo to cancel his attendance at a scheduled event.[4][5] This appears unsuccessful, after the only protestor claimed to have been forcefully removed by security.[6]

Akamatsu's most popular manga feature young characters and intergenerational and / or implicitly intergenerational relationships. Negima!, for example, features the 10-year-old magician protagonist Negi Springfield, who is tasked with being a teacher of a Japanese middle school class of 31 girls at the fictional Mahora Academy. Apart from various love and affectionate teacher-student relationships, through the act of a kiss, Negi eventually forms magical bonds (pacts) with the female students in his class to unlock their magical potential / powers. Both Negima! and its sequel UQ Holder! have as a key character, a 600+ year-old vampire character Evangeline A.K. McDowell.[7] In Negima!, she switches between a child and adult body-type through magic, and falls in love with Negi after having previously loved his father, Nagi. And, in UQ Holder!, she finds herself in a complex parental, love and proto-sexual (limited to a kiss) relationship with the series' protagonist, 14-year-old Tōta Konoe.

As of 2022, Akamatsu's manga have a cumulative circulation of over 50 million worldwide.