Ask Manga Mom: The Taboo Edition

Static writes:

Is Taboo considered a genre that should be used as a general description for manga sites that contained taboo typed manga books?

Also, could you give me a perfect but brief (short) definition of the “TABOO” that I cold use to describe the genre if it were to be used as a general – common – genre type.

This isn’t  my area of expertise, but I thought I’d weigh in anyway.  A taboo is a strong social prohibition on activities or customs that are considered sacred or forbidden.  The term comes from Polynesia where it’s context was religious.  Most taboos have a religious connotations, they can affect dietary restrictions, sexual activities and/or relations, bodily functions, exposure of body parts or offensive language.  Taboos are not universal, but many cultures may share some, such as cannibalism and incest.  Taboos can change over time, as a society or culture changes.

Manga that contains topics that would be considered taboo tend to be on the explicit side and sexual in nature.  Incest is a common theme in a lot of hentai manga; mothers with sons, brothers and sisters, etc.  Underage sex is another, and has caused quite a stir both here and with the United Nations.  These taboos can appear in more accepted mainstream titles as well.  Kaori Yuki, a mangaka well known for writing horror shojo manga has used incest and child abuse (another topic that was considered taboo to speak of until the last 30 years or so) in her titles.  Angel Sanctuary, The Cain Saga/Godchild and Fairy Cube all use these taboos as strong motivators in the stories.

You can, of course, use taboo as a genre descriptor.  Listing a genre when describing a book can act as a type of short-hand to explain what it’s about.  Saying a title is a shonen, for example, tells people that it’s probably written for teen boys, has a lot of action and little romance.  If putting taboo as one of your genres will help your audience understand more about the contents of the book, then you should use it.

Even though I did define taboo at the beginning, if you want use a general or common definition of the word, you can try:

Taboo – A strong social prohibition on activities considered sacred or forbidden.  Taboos can affect any part of the human life and are dictated most often by the society or culture.  Taboos are not universal, and can change over time.

I would also suggest adding to your definition the most common form of the taboo the books your labeling contains.  For example, if it’s sexual content, add “Titles on this site deal with the taboos of incest and/or rape”.  Since taboos can differ not just between societies and cultures, but within a culture as well, it would be helpful to your audience to be more specific.

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