When Idolmaster Shiny Festa got released in the United States, it’s apparent that they have removed swimsuits scenes from the game. When I heard about this, I got the idea to write about censorship in Anime since I knew about some pointless changes in the Pokémon anime. Besides the awkwardness, there are some reasons why they do this such as the differences in cultural values. However, some of the reasons why changing or censor some things is not acceptable in my opinion.
Cultural Issues and Reasons for Censorship
While I am against censorship, there are obvious reasons why localization companies change things around, especially in the 90s. There is a big cultural difference between the West and the East. For example, in America and Europe, most people view nudity as something taboo compared to Asian countries where it’s accepted or tolerated. This continues to be the case, which is why these scenes like the magical girl transformations in Sailor Moon have their nudity censored. This is done so people don’t get offended and/or protect the child’s innocence from nasty things like violence.
On the other hand, this alienates adults because Anime is something that people of all ages enjoys. Not only that, its proven in history that censorship doesn’t work. Comic books are a good example of this as a Comics Magazine Association of America tried to pass a set of guidelines that all comic book makers have to follow by such as limiting certain immoral things like crime, violence and sexual activities during the 1950s. However, it created an underground market of comics free from censorship, which basically defeats the purpose for having a set of guidelines. Eventually, Comic book makers backed out away the set of guidelines, thus making the effort to censor comic books a complete failure.
Since we are talking about Sailor Moon, there is one thing that surprised me. DIC also censored the homosexual relationship between Haruka and Michiru. I haven’t realized that she was actually a girl until several years later. It just doesn’t make any sense to depict her a boy in a magical girl anime. However, this was the case since in the 90s because homosexuality wasn’t accepted in American society compared to today with Gay marriage and rights becoming accepted in the main stream. I feel that this difference has to do with religion because Japan doesn’t have any laws against homosexuals compared to the West. This is probably why there are still homosexual relations in Anime such as Yaoi and Yuri, which aren’t censored at all in localized releases.
Drugs and Weapons
Clearly, parents don’t want to have their children see cartoons that show drugs and weapons as they feel that they can have a bad influence. However, it’s hypocritical since media doesn’t necessarily make a person become violent. Because of this, some studios completely removed guns, swords, etc. with something else or remove it completely. 4Kids have done this with some episodes of Yugioh. Also, in the Pokémon Anime, they completely banned the 35th episode because a person used handguns. I can understand these changes as parents didn’t want to have their child to see guns besides FCC regulations, but they could have released it as a DVD special or something as we never knew how Ash caught all those Tauros. At least with some shows like Naruto, they release an uncut version with all the blood and stuff so a person can make an informed decision.
On the other hand, censoring drugs are an understandable issue as the FCC doesn’t allow characters using alcohol and tobacco in shows rated for children. However, a person should already know that smoking and/or drinking is bad.
Unnecessary Changes (Americanization)
While censoring out drugs, weapons and culturally sensitive is understandable, some changes are just not acceptable. Most of this has to deal with the now bankrupted 4Kids Entertainment butchering every show they get a hold on in the name of Americanization. One of these instances is the infamous jelly filled doughnut scene in Pokémon where Brock said, “nothing beats a jelly filled doughnut” even though he refers them to rice balls (御握り) a few episodes later! In later episodes, 4Kids started replacing rice balls with a sandwich, which gave awkward and hilarious results for 4Kids critics. Of course, this is the least of our worries as other localization companies in the 90s made cultural changes that enraged fans of Anime. Thankfully, these changes don’t exist in current releases, except for dubs as they can change some stuff around. Also, Nintendo has taken away the localization rights of Pokémon from 4Kids to do it in-house without any edits.
During my childhood, I wasn’t aware that localization companies were censoring Anime until I gotten older. However, I’m glad that all the releases we get in the United States are free from censorship. Even so, we still get some instances of censorship such as censor steam when a character is taking a bath or is naked to persuade people to buy the Blu-ray! On the other hand, the only recent instance of censorship is FUNimation censoring Dance in the Vampire Bund because of its sexual content regarding children, which is banned under the current US law. However, there are studies that media doesn’t necessarily influence people to do bad things. Furthermore, almost anyone can download or import the Japanese release, which is free from censorship, although processing some sexual content involving children is prohibited by law.
So, what are your views on censorship in Anime? Do you think it’s acceptable or not? Feel free to share additional examples that I haven’t mentioned.
MarzGurl on Censoring in Anime