Tokyopop Revising Rating System: With “more than 40 content indicators divided among five age ranges”, perhaps a better verb is “complicating”. It’s due to debut this fall.
[A] general set of content indicators in addition to the ratings icon will be printed on the cover of each new series. The new system will provide prospective buyers with far more information about a book’s content than the previous system (that Tokyopop pioneered), which simply provided the age rating alone.
That’s a good idea, because each parent has different triggers. (Mine didn’t care if I saw naked body parts, figuring we all had them, but were strict on certain “bad words”.) Giving the responsible party more information on what might bother them makes it easier for them to approve purchases, especially when it comes to translated manga. Other countries’ ideas of what is acceptable for kids can differ greatly from ours. (Will “gender-switching/cross-dressing” be one of the content indicators, given its prevalence in certain genres?)
I wonder if Tokyopop has considered allowing others to use their rating system? That would benefit the medium as a whole, although I suspect that the publisher considers it a competitive advantage. Tokyopop’s always been better at innovating in packaging (as in their creation of “authentic” format that allowed for the entire manga bookstore boom, since it made books cheap enough to produce to keep the price point under $10) than in actual book content. Not really their fault, since their competitors have locked up most of the popular Japanese titles. As a result, Tokyopop is one of the most imaginative and forward-looking publishers out there.
Update: Here’s the list of content indicators. Some of the items that mark a book for Teens are Aggression, Crude Humor, Mild Fanservice (which means they think it’s a common enough term to be understood), Occultism, Tobacco Use, and “Moderate Language”. (Interesting phrasing. I’m tempted to say “I don’t think that means what they think it means”. Doesn’t it need a modifier like “bad” for “language”?)
Alcohol use, drug use, or “representation of pornography” marks a book for Older Teens (16+). They also call out Strong Language, Moderate Sexual Language, Moderate Violence, and Moderate Sexual Violence. Given the general US prudishness, I’m not surprised that sex-modified incidents are noted separately. There are four different categories of Nudity in this section.
Mature (18+) is about what you’d think, except that “Incest” is noted as its own category. These books will also be shrink-wrapped with a cover label.