Artists in Japan are fired up as the United Nations’ child protection advisors move to eliminate sexual and abusive images of kids in manga comics.

According to a report in The Guardian, artists claim the move threatens their freedom of expression.

Last year, Japan passed a landmark law banning the possession of abusive images of children following years of delay. However, there are a few loopholes; the law does not include manga or anime comics, animated films or video games.

“When it comes to particular, extreme child pornographic content, manga should be banned,” the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography Maud de Boer-Buquicchio tells The Guardian.

Anime fair in Japan

via The Guardian | Yuriko Nakao / Reuters

However, despite new laws and the UN’s push, artists say there is no such thing as anime child pornography. They claim the stylings of the characters just appear to be childish to those in the west.

Manga translator Dan Kanemitsu tells The Guardian the art form is far from illegal.

“Child pornography entails the involvement of children, and we must confront it for that reason. [De Boer-Buquicchio] meant sexualised depictions of childish looking characters in manga and anime. Many male and female artists in Japan draw characters in an art style that looks childish to western eyes. Therefore it is a rejection of an art style popular in Japan.”

Before the ruling, Japan was the only G7 country where it was legal to own photos and videos of sex crimes against kids, as long as you did not intend to sell it or post it online.

Still, real images of children in scandalous outfits with everything but genitalia covered are still allowed.