There is perhaps no topic that receives as much hate as censorship. Censorship in anime is an interesting topic considering how it is censored within Japan as well as outside Japan when it is dubbed. Why exactly are some things censored while others are not? When an anime is dubbed, how much of it is changed before it is released for the masses? Is all of it really even necessary? To answer that, we have to look into what elements are censored and the reasons behind censorship. Only then we can conclude if censorship is really necessary.
Ecchi and Hentai
There probably isn't something as prominent as the odd-color haired characters as there is fan service in anime. No doubt you have had experience with ecchi content in at least one anime. It seems that as anime fandom has grown, so too has ecchi anime evolved with the times. Ecchi has advanced forward a lot in the recent years to the point where there are massive amounts of ecchi and censors! Oh, censors...they're everyone's best friend.
There are a handful of ecchi anime out now that are very close to hentai so of course the amount of censors in this type of contents are increasing. Although this may not be new for viewers who are familiar with hentai anime.
Article 175 of the Criminal Code of Japan is a very popular code to cite when it comes down to censorship laws in anime because of the way it is currently interpreted, which essentially bans the depiction of genitalia. Due to this particular article, genitalia is pixelated in hentai anime and scenes deemed particularly ecchi are censored when aired. Even in video games, in particular eroges, genitalia will not be shown or will be pixelated. Though the strictness of the interpretation of Article 175 has vastly changed over the years, there is still a lot of content that is censored. When eroges are released overseas, however, the pixelation may be taken out.
Still, with the way Article 175 of the Criminal Code is interpreted, it has spawned a new era in hentai because it gave birth to things like tentacle porn that Japan is notorious for even in individuals who are not as knowledgeable of Japan.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 - September 2015
Once an all girls school, Hachimitsu Private Academy has opened its doors to male students. Kiyoshi is amongst the only 5 male students who have joined the ranks of Hachimitsu Private Academy, but unbeknownst to them, the academy is run by an underground student council which is enforcing strict rules about interacting with the opposite gender. After an incident where Kiyoshi and the other boys were caught peeping on the girls in the bath, the boys have been sentenced to 1 month at Prison School where they have to pay for their crimes with their sweat and blood, or be expelled. Running away is not an option.
While Prison School has probably been one of the top anime of summer 2015, alongside its hilarity and gruesome violence, viewers are subject to obscene amounts of ecchi, which is also then countered with even more obscene amounts of censoring. Like those boobs? Censored! Is that a panty shot? Censored! You won't get very far into this anime without seeing a handful of censors.
Prison School Trailer with English Subtitles
In Japan, the legal age in which people are deemed as "adults" is at the age of 20. This is the age when individuals can either drink alcohol or smoke. Most anime seem to revolve around high school or middle school students who are not yet adults. While in reality, there are people who defy that law no matter what country they're in, in anime, students are not depicted doing anything that they should not be doing because they're minors.
Usually, to bypass these restrictions, you will often see characters in anime getting "drunk" off of common things like carbonated drinks or water (non human) to add the comedic effect of drunk characters without promoting drinking alcohol because that would be inappropriate and irresponsible!
Often times, though not usually noticeable, content like gore or excessive amounts of blood are censored when making the switch from manga to anime. Your favorite shounen series may seem awesome and you wonder how some of them survive the brutal beatings they get in the fight scenes, but do not be fooled, they're not bleeding because it's been censored out of the anime! In the manga versions, you will be surprised by the vast amounts of blood that didn't show in the anime. You just cannot show that much blood on TV!
Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2014 - September 2014
Around the world, evil spirits have awakened invisible monsters with great powers called "Stands". Stands grant their mediums their powers. Kuujo Jotaro is just a delinquent, but he's also been possessed! While trying to control this darkness inside him, he ventures around the world to save his mother's life. It's going to be a long journey and there are a lot of Stand Users who want to kill Jojo. Can he possibly be up to the challenge?
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is one anime so full of censors that you will not miss them. While most horror and shounen anime tends to censor out gore and blood, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure takes it to a whole new levels. Usually, you will not notice if the blood is censored out of an anime, but most of the censors in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure are seen as black shadows that seem unnatural. Even when nothing else is shadowed, there will be a streak of black over the most gruesome scenes that hides the horror from the eyes of the public, unfortunately, it doesn't end there.
Jojo's a 17 year old boy who also smokes, so often, you will see a black shadow that hides the lower part of his face to block out the fact that he's smoking. Of course, a TV network doesn't want to show something as impressionable as a minor smoking, but they did such a terrible job at censoring Jojo's smoking that usually you can still see the cherry at the end of his cigarette, the smoke from the cigarette, or even just the shape of the cigarette in his mouth. Now, that's just lazy. If you do not want to be bombarded by the ridiculousness of these censors, the content is uncensored on the DVD release. Of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
Jojo Stardust Crusaders OP
Censorship in the West
If you have ever watched dubbed anime, censorship is not something new to you. While western broadcasting is generally more liberal than it is in Japan, there is still a good amount of censorship.
When it comes down to sexual content, oversexualization of students is not really condoned in the West. While the age of consent in Japan is 13, it is a little if not more so, higher in the West. What is deemed as fan service in anime, may be excessive sexualization in western societies so often, the anime will be altered so you cannot see cleavage or the shape of a bathing woman. This is quite evident in anime such as Sailor Moon, which experienced so much censoring when it was brought over to the West. The magical girl transformations were changed to hide the feminine lines of the bodies of the Sailor Scouts.
Sailor Moon is also notable for censoring out homosexuality when it was dubbed. The relationship between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune was changed into a familial one that often left viewers confused due to the romantic nature of the scenes in contrast to what was being said. Even the last season of Sailor Moon was omitted from the American release due to the transexual nature of the Sailor Starlights.
The censoring of anime in the west is not limited to sexual content, however. There are many cultural differences and in the west, when anime are dubbed, content may be changed so that they are not viewed in a negative light. If content may seem to be related to black magic, it will be edited or renamed to detract from the negativity of black magic. The Black Magician in Yu-Gi-Oh! was renamed as the Dark Magician so that he would not seem to be related to black magic.
In the west, even under aged smoking, drinking, and doing drugs can be changed as well to abstain from promoting these acts much the way Japan does. However, sometimes Japanese culture may be edited out of anime that is shown in the west to be more relatable to western audiences. Pokemon is a good example; foods have been renamed or even changed completely in the anime. Even something as small as an onigiri has been given different names like "donut" or taken out completely so that western audiences will recognize the food, though how hard is it to recognize a ball of rice.
There is so much censorship when it comes to anime, much like other media. Is it really necessary? While some censorship seems completely half assed and excessive, censorship does seem necessary once in a while, especially when it comes down to under aged activities, but sometimes it does take away from the reality of the situation. What do you think? Do you think it is necessary to censor anime?