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Anime is a medium, and as such, it covers a wide variety of genres and themes aimed at different audiences. And sometimes it can get quite surreal. From bizarre monsters to dark storylines to unconventional ways of addressing adult themes, it can become very uncomfortable. So it comes as no surprise that religious groups, governments, or school administrators would like to censor or even ban these types of anime. So, let’s check out some of these anime and see why they are banned.
'Attack on Titan'
Attack on Titan is known for its extreme violence and bloodshed—it’s what made the series famous in the first place. However, as a result, the Chinese government banned the bloody series from ever airing on Chinese airwaves. But, the level of violence wasn’t the only reason the show was banned in the country. The government also disapproved of the way the anime featured themes about opposing authority.
This isn’t the first time China has banned Japanese animation. Anime favorites like Parasyte -the Maxim-, Tokyo Ghoul and Psycho-Pass are also on the Chinese banned list. Their reasoning for such strict regulations is that the government believes the content may damage their society.
Who would think a show about pocket monsters could overthrow an entire nation? Unfortunately, religious authorities in Saudi Arabia believe just that. Premiering in 1997, Pokémon follows a young boy named Ash Ketchum who dreams of becoming a pokémon master.
Although many believe that this innocent anime couldn’t cause significant harm, especially to an entire nation, the Saudi Arabian authorities believed otherwise. They thought the franchise had Zionist themes and promoted gambling. Saudi Arabia’s mufti, or high priest, also thought the symbols on Pokémon cards conveyed a Zionist message as well as other anti-Islamic messages.
'Hetalia: Axis Powers'
Parody shows are meant to make fun of people and sometimes it can lead to hilarious situations. But, for one country, the anime show Hetalia: Axis Powers went too far and was banned from ever airing.
The series personifies nations as cute characters that embody stereotypes associated with each country. It follows the alliance between the Axis Powers of World War II (Italy, Germany, and Japan), representing the nations in question as cute and funny characters despite their military history at the beginning of the 19th century.
But South Korea didn’t take the matter so lightly. The South Koreans found their character to be mocking and in poor taste, and they also considered it a national crime. Reasons for the controversy ranged from the characters bluffing and perversion to his hanbok (traditional Korean outfit) being drawn incorrectly. As a result, Studio DEEN had to remove any references to South Korea from the anime.
Death Note is another anime that China recently banned. Death Note, like Attack on Titan, is worth mentioning on this list due to the immense popularity that both have obtained. Regardless, the reason behind the ban of Death Note is understandable. The dark premise of the series has inspired real-life murders and incidents, involving children making their own death notes.
Because of this, the government declared that the anime series corrupts children and therefore, should not air in China. Similarly, schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico tried to ban the supernatural manga but failed to get the necessary votes for a district-wide ban.
'Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA Illya'
In recent years, Japan has strengthened its law on pornography, especially works depicting children. However, the country has a lot of work to do to catch up with today’s entertainment. And that is the case with child nudity in Japanese animation. Although, that doesn’t stop other countries from banning these sorts of anime. And unfortunately for Russian anime fans, they are unable to watch Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA Illya.
The Roskomnadzor, the agency in charge of supervising Russia’s communications, information technology, and mass media, finds every anime that falls under the hentai genre as sexually exploiting children and is illegal. So, Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA Illya, a series that over sexualizes its young characters, definitely had no chance of making it onto Russian TV.
'Excel Saga and Puni Puni Poemy'
Excel Saga went too far with its series finale. Accurately titled “Going Too Far” it’s the only episode in the Excel Saga that is still unaired in Japan. The final installment is way over the top, due to its episode length, extreme violence, and obscenity.
From the team behind Excel Saga, that got its final episode banned in their home country, comes an even more over-the-top anime that’s meant to be just that, Puni Puni Poemy.
The series like its predecessor features sexual scenes often including minors, needless violence, and cruelty. The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) in New Zealand found these reasons sufficient enough not to allow Puni Puni Poemy to air in New Zealand.
Getting banned for extreme violence or risque scenes is one thing. But parodying could also land you on the banned list, even in your home country. And unfortunately, that is the case with the first episode of Mr. Osomatsu, “Osomatsu-Kun Returns”.
While in the West the laws of parody and fair use are still under some debate, but in Japan, it’s much different. The government heavily favors the artwork of the original creator, so using someone else’s work in any shape or form may violate the copyright and land your show on the banned list.
'Transformers: Robots in Disguise'
The attacks on 9/11 were one of the worst terrorist events in recent memory. During that dark time in American history, themes of patriotism, hope, and strength ruled the airwaves. And shows or movies remotely reminding viewers of the horrific events were quickly yanked from the lineup. This included Transformers: Robots in Disguise‘s pilot episode, “Battle Protocol!”
Airing a few days before the 9/11 attacks, the episode sees Optimus Prime smashing through a skyscraper, an eerie reminder of that day’s horrific events on the World Trade Center. After that, the episode never made it on the air again.
Nazis are bad, and when you try to show them in a good light, it’s bound to ruffle a few feathers. The anime series, Kinnikuman showcases the heroic character, Brocken Jr., wearing a Nazi uniform, complete with Nazi symbols. France has stringent laws against hate speech, so portraying a “good Nazi” got a few of the anime’s episodes banned and the manga stopped its circulation.
Luckily, the Kinnikuman creators paid attention to the uproar and in the new Kinnikuman manga, they have changed Brocken Jr. so that he doesn’t show any Nazi symbols.