7 TV Anime Affected by Japanese Censorship
by Lynzee Loveridge,
What sort of pesky things get anime censored on Japanese television? There's the standard "this is too scandalous for the airwaves" that causes an episode to be marred by steamy bathroom fog or obscuring rays of light. That's not really what we're talking about here, though. Those examples are more along the lines of "buy the Blu-ray!" or "watch it on AT-X for nipples!" In these specific cases listed this week, censorship was less about abject nudity except for one case. These anime are examples of what happens when creators toe the line of parody versus copyright infringement or an episode's plot too closely mirrors a recent tragedy.
This list is an updated version of the same topic that ran in 2014, highlighting ones I missed the first time around or were affected after that date.
7. Mr. Osomatsu If you missed the first season of Mr. Osomatsu when it premiered, you're out of luck. The episode straight-up no longer officially exists after airing on TV and streaming on Crunchyroll thanks to it daring to poke fun at some of anime's greatest hits like Attack on Titan and Sailor Moon. These slights, even when done in jest, can be considered copyright infringement because Japan does not have an exemption for parodies. The series also had to alter its second and third episodes for similar reasons when its character "Dekapan-Man" was considered too close to children's character Anpanman.
6. PriPara Ending Japan has a watchdog agency called the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO) that takes viewer input and complaints about television content, including anime, and publishes it. No one is required to adhere to BPO's suggestions or complaints, and the organization has brought up issues like the masturbation scene in Mr. Osomatsu to eating sushi off of a nude woman in Detective Conan. One case that did end up in later censorship was the ending sequence to the girls' idol anime PriPara. The complaint took issue with the characters appearing in swimsuits and specifically character Sophie Hojo wearing a Marilyn Monroe-inspired negligee. The series' creators edited the ending sequence, but seemed to also be poking fun at the complaint in general. The swimsuit scene stayed, but Sophie was drawn on a boat in the least sexual outfit possible: rubber fisherman coveralls and a long-sleeved shirt.
5. Coppelion Tomonori Inoue's Coppelion manga launched in 2008 and told the story of a near-future Tokyo devastated by a nuclear power plant meltdown. Of course, Inoue had no way of knowing how close his story's premise would closely mirror the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns. This is the same disaster that delayed the final episode of Madoka Magica in Japan and the Coppelion anime adaptation met a similar fate. Originally scheduled to premiere in October 2011, the anime was pushed back two years and some of the story's disaster setting was skirted around for sensitivity.
4. Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai was affected by a series of murder incidents that took place in Japan in 2007, the same incidents that also got the finale of School Days pulled from the airwaves. Higurashi's story, namely its character Rena, bore some similarities to a female minor that murdered her father in Kyoto. In that specific case, the daughter killed her father with an ax while he slept. The character Rena, while not wielding an ax, did carry a large bladed weapon. Various TV stations pulled the show temporarily, but when a second ax attack, this time by a 15-year-old boy against his father occurred the same month, television stations went forward with airing the series' 12th episode.
3. Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu The comedy series' first episode was rearranged after a plot about kidnapping too closely mirrored similar real-world events in Tokyo. The episode in question was "A Hostage With No Compromises," where Sousuke manages to piss off a group of gang members and they decide to retaliate by kidnapping Kaname. Undeterred, Sousuke kidnaps the gang leader's little brother to orchestrate a trade. Despite being part of the series' premiere episode, this segment never aired on Japanese television during the series' initial run and was instead pushed off onto the home video release.
2. Psycho-Pass New Edit The re-edited version of Gen Urobuchi and Production I.G's dystopian crime procedural ran into hurdles when its fourth episode went to air in Japan. Like Higurashi, the episode was pulled for sensitivity reasons. The episode's plot follows Akane into an internet hang-out to find a murderer called "Tailsman" but it fails. Talisman's victim is a fellow internet celebrity who the team conclude was dismembered in his own apartment...and flushed down the toilet. Back in the non-Psycho-Pass world, a 16-year-old Japanese high school student from Sasebo in Nagasaki prefecture was arrested for murdering and decapitating her classmate. Japan pulled the episode and skipped ahead to episode five, but Funimation still streamed it as it would have aired here in the U.S.
1. Fight! Iczer-One First and foremost, Fight! Iczer-One was not maid for TV. Not even a little bit. It's a sexy, gory, tentacle mecha battle fest that includes nude ladies in cockpits fighting Cthulhu and its parasitic creatures targeting humanity. Also, yuri. That said, the sci-fi OVA celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016 with a TV screening in Kanagawa. The broadcaster did not have time for all the nipple nonsense and opted instead for giant black bars obscuring any and all questionable content. It's sort of hilarious in its own right, but why even bother?
The old poll: What is your favorite anime from 1998? I think you're going to find the consensus isn't that far off from the editorial we ran last week.
- Cowboy Bebop (TV)
- Card Captor Sakura (TV)
- Trigun (TV)
- Serial Experiments Lain (TV)
- Outlaw Star (TV)
- Pokemon: The First Movie
- Yu-Gi-Oh! (TV 1/1998)
- His and Her Circumstances (TV)
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz Special Edition (movie)
- Initial D (TV)
- Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040 (TV)
- Princess Nine (TV)
- Blue Submarine No. 6 (OAV)
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes: A Hundred Billion Stars, A Hundred Billion Lights (OAV)
- Kite (OAV)
- Case Closed: The Fourteenth Target (movie)
- Master Keaton (TV)
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, Miller's Report (movie)
- All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku (TV)
- Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture - Prince of Darkness
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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