Anime Banned in Countries For Ridiculous Reasons:
The world may be considered free but freedom of expression is more of a myth. What we see and what we hear is what the guys at the top want us to. The anime industry, which is a billion dollar enterprise, is not exempt to that rule. While they churn out thousands of productions every year, some of them never make it to certain countries for sometimes obvious and sometimes ridiculous reasons.
1. Transformers: Robots in Disguise – North America – 9/11
The 9/11 event was a horrific day for many. Several hundreds of people died when terrorists hijacked aircrafts and rammed it straight into the World Trade Centre building. Any depiction of the 9/11 show by any studio, anime or otherwise, must be done with careful precautions since it has a lot of nationally affiliated emotions attached to it. Transformers: Robots in Disguise’s first ever episode showed Optimus Prime crashing into a skyscraper that looked eerily similar to the World Trade Centre. While the episode was made a while ago and the creators of the episode had no idea of the 9/11 event back then, the timing was not right and that is why the Studio decided to pull the episode from airing and remake it into something nicer.
2. A Kite – Norway – Over the top graphic sequence
A Kite tells the story of a Norwegian assassin that uses bullets which makes its target explode on contact. The reason this seemingly harmless anime was banned was not because of the people exploding part. The anime had a very inhumane rape scene involving an under-age girl. That under-age girl was the protagonist and the reason she chose to become an assassin was because she did not want to be victimized anymore. When the Norwegian Censor Board objected the scene, claiming it was child pornography, the Studio claimed that it was a vital part of the protagonist’s character development arc. The anime is still banned in Norway.
3. Muscle Man – France – Portraying Nazis as good guys
The Kinnikuman anime, otherwise known as Muscle Man, was banned in several countries, the first of which was France, because it featured a recurring supporting character wearing a Nazi Uniform. While that was not the issue, the actual problem was how this character – Brocken Junior, was portrayed. There was no such thing as a “Good Hearted Nazi”, which is how Brocken Junior was portrayed. The guy carried the Nazi Cross and Swastika all over his uniform. France’s ban of the anime led to several other copy-cat movies by other countries and the studio had to remove the character entirely in further anime iterations of the manga.
4. Attack on Titan – China – Challenging Authority
Attack on Titan is one of the most popular anime shows to have ever been created. But there are certain problems with the show that we would like to reveal before hand – it is too violent. Huge mindless giants eating people alive and ripping their bodies apart may be too much for some. But that is not why the anime was banned in China. China banned the anime from being broadcasted in the country because the lead character challenged the authorities a lot. That’s right – China banned the anime because they thought it foments dissent. There’s also the fact that the anime has an amazing similarity to the present Japanese-Chinese relations. The Chinese believed that the Japanese tried to subtly portray them as mindless cannibals trying to get into the civilized Japanese society.
5. Pokemon – Saudi Arabia – Hurting Religious Sentiments
Now here’s an anime that was banned because the Censor Board did not feel like doing the extra leg work to certify it so they did the sensible thing – cook up a stupid reason to not get off of their chairs. Saudi Arabia banned Pokemon because they believed the anime goes against their religion. The anime showed Pokemon evolving and since their religion does not believe in it and the fact that the anime showed Japanese Kanjis and Christian Symbols was enough for Saudi Arabians to ban it out of their country.
6. Death note – China and America – Popularizing vigilante justice
Death Note is a very popular anime that tells the story of a brilliant student who gets his hands on the Death Note – the Shinigami aka Japanese Death Gods’ personal handbook. Whoever’s name is written on the Death Note will die, and the time and reason of death can also be specified and manipulated. The Student starts using the Death Note to unleash a one man war on crime. The story rotates around vigilante justice and violence. That is enough for countries like China to ban it. While the Chinese ban is understandable, the American ban is not. Some schools in Albuquerque, USA have already banned the Death Note anime after losing the initial campaign and it is on track to be banned everywhere in the States now.
7. Axis Powers Hetalia – South Korea – Stereotyping an entire Nation
This is where things get a little bit more interesting. The anime itself may not be entirely banned but a major chunk of it is. Axis Powers Hetalia is an anime that portrays each character as a humanoid representation of an entire country. Germany, China, Japan, Italy, England, America, France, and the rest of the lot have one character each. But the issue with South Korea began when the character representing South Korea, was turned into a pervert who had a hanbok that was drawn completely wrong. Axis Powers Hetalia went one step further by making the South Korean character sing praises of Japan all day long. Given the fact that South Korea and Japan do not enjoy the best of relations, that was an animated act of war.
8. Fate Kaleid/liner Prisma Ilya – Russia – Sexualizing Minors
The Fate series is a long and cumbersome saga. We never know where to start and where to finish. The amount of spin-offs it has is staggering to say the least. Fate Kaleid/linear Prisma Ilya was one such spin-off. But what turned it into a scapegoat for censorship was due to its tendency to show obscene and graphic images of under-age characters. Russia has very strict censorship laws and even the hentai genre is banned there and whoever possesses it will be persecuted. Fate Kaleid has never gone past the Russian Censorship board. But the interesting thing is – it did pass in several other, even more conservative countries.
9. Barefoot Gen – Japan – Romanticising Nuclear War
Barefoot Gen is set in the backdrop of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings of World War Two. The story follows a group of adventurers as they experience life after surviving the mushroom cloud. The reason the ban was supposedly established in Japan was because the manga and the anime were accused of romanticising the effects of nuclear radiation. The Japanese are very sensitive when it comes to nuclear radiation since they were the prime victims of it. But there is one more viable reason why this was banned. The anime unflinchingly shows the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces on foreign soil. Since Japanese nationalists would never admit to their war crimes, banning this anime that depicts the same makes sense for them.
10. Excel Saga – Worldwide – Too much Violence and Nudity
The creators of the Excel Saga wanted to have a family friendly anime with only tinges of obscenity in it since a little amount of it is allowed in every known anime now. But the last episode of the Excel Saga, aptly titled “Going Too Far”, went too far. The creator of the last episode wanted the season finale to be very memorable and that is why the violence and sexual content quotient was given a major boost. The anime studio even had the finale episode’s run time extended by more than three minutes since they wanted to break the norms of traditional animation culture. Excel Saga’s final episode is so cringe-worthily graphic that no country allowed it to be aired. The episode is still available for sale as a bonus addition in the Director’s cut in the DVD release version.