So, the summer 2020 anime season is looking a little... barren. We’ve got less than 20 new full-length anime, and even though some of them are fantastic so far (like The God of High School and Deca-Dence), it’s hard not to feel the crushing impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on both the release schedule and sometimes the content of the shows themselves. While we wallow in frustration at the state of our favorite entertainment medium, let’s check out five anime that have been delayed, censored, or rewritten because of real-world disasters like the one we’re living in right now.
5. Japan Sinks 2020
Masaaki Yuasa’s latest outing is an updated reimagining of a ‘70s classic (imagine that) which follows a young family as they try to escape Japan after earthquakes cause it to gradually sink into the ocean. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were supposed to play a much larger role in the plot – both as a symbol of Japanese unity and as a goal for track athlete Ayumu to aspire to – but they were delayed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Luckily, the story still works without a heavy focus on the Olympics, but it would’ve been interesting to see what Yuasa would’ve done in the original draft.
4. Suite Precure♪
The Precure franchise is known for pushing the boundaries of children’s entertainment and magical girl anime, but Suite goes the extra mile by briefly allowing the villains to win with the completion of the Melody of Sorrow. The devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake had just happened, so the writers wanted young audience members to have something to relate to on-screen. It’s a dark place to go for a kids’ series, but the Cures’ eventual victory is all the sweeter because of it!
3. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop just can’t catch a break. Less than half of its 26 episodes were aired in its initial run on TV Tokyo because the 6:00 pm timeslot wouldn’t allow for graphic violence, but at least the show was aired in its entirety a year later on a different network. American audiences would’ve gotten the full experience on Adult Swim were it not for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which caused three episodes to be skipped due to their similarities to the disaster. Another episode that featured the space shuttle Columbia was cut during a rebroadcast in 2003, after the real Columbia couldn’t survive the re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Thank goodness we don’t have to rely on TV broadcasts anymore, or else recent events might’ve wiped out even more episodes!
2. School Days
In September 2007, a high-profile murder case was circulating around the world about a Japanese teenager who killed her father with an axe for no apparent reason other than that she “didn’t like him”. Unfortunately, two violent anime that prominently featured teenage girls killing people with axes/saws/billhooks were airing at the time – Higurashi: When They Cry and School Days. Both shows were delayed by a week, but while Higurashi was in the middle of an arc, School Days had its series finale ripped from the schedule so haphazardly that the timeslot was filled with stock footage of mountains and boats instead. Very nice boats, we might add.
1. Violet Evergarden Movie
The July 2019 arson attack on Kyoto Animation’s Studio 1 building killed 36 people, many of whom were prominent animators and storyboard artists at the company. It also destroyed much of their work on current projects, such as the upcoming Violet Evergarden movie. The original release date of January 2020 had to be postponed to April 2020, but then that got delayed again because of COVID-19. Now it has a release date of September 2020, which may not even be achievable given the circumstances. At this point, we just hope that nothing else happens to further kick KyoAni while they’re down...
In addition to these shows, the 2001 Transformers: Robots in Disguise anime was absolutely butchered with censorship in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (removing all scenes of urban destruction), and the second half of Neon Genesis Evangelion had to be rewritten on the fly to avoid a resemblance to the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway.
Can you think of any other anime that were affected by real-world disasters? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!