This is all supposed to be about wish fulfillment, right? Isn’t that the whole point? We seem to lose sight of that, a lot of the time, and I have to think that a big part of Togashi’s success lies in him never losing sight.
I’ve been on a few panels about kids comics and, invariably, the question of age-appropriateness comes up. The usual answers say it’s better to write material for all ages, and not talk down to kids, and that it’s more creatively stimulating/mature to avoid anything needlessly explicit, et cetera. Certainly, there’s wisdom in all of that, but I can’t help but look at ONE PIECE’s position as highest selling comic in the world and wonder if the real answer lies in how Oda plainly doesn’t give a shit about any of those concerns.
Sometimes, ONE PIECE seems like an innocuous fairy tale. Other times, it’s two-fisted Grand Guignol that’s as violent, sexy, vulgar and grim as any other pulp series. And the same can be said for HUNTER X HUNTER. If these series are ever ‘appropriate’ for kids, it’s probably just because their editor reigned in the few part that pushed the envelope too far; or because whenever Oda and Togashi follow their respective blisses, what they find just arbitrarily doesn’t get these comic bumped up to ‘seinen.’
But there really is no filter.
We’d all be lying to ourselves if we said that most boys don’t love to roughhouse. Eventually, plenty of them grow out of that, but that interest is always fundamentally there. And if you’re going to explicitly label your series as ‘boy’s entertainment,’ then what are you doing if you’re not catering to that?
To wit, this ‘tower of fighting’ might as well be Pleasure Island from PINNOCHIO. The key differences, of course, are that nobody’s turning into a donkey, and Togashi isn’t waging any fingers about roughhousing needing to be discouraged... because he always recognizes that this is a boys’ fantasy. I feel like a big part of the reason that these series do well, and others don’t, is that those other series get too hung up on the questions I brought up above.
About the Author
|Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk|