Censoring, Seduction and Blu-Rays: The use of censorship in anime
May 31, 2011 Leave a comment
So, I was recently catching up on some anime titles such as Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne, MM!! and Ladies vs Butlers and a friend pointed out to me the silly and crude censoring in these and other anime titles. This got me thinking about the role of censoring, and in fact the substantial amount that is done on a variety of anime titles.
Now first off I don’t per se have anything against censoring, rather I do see the point in it, and in fact agree with censoring of certain content in the past. I also fully understand many of the reasons for censoring, for example in order to get a more universal release of a film or anime providing that you do not remove large sections and therefore destroy them. However there are elements of censoring in anime that seem ridiculous and as far as I can tell seem to be entirely to do with the sales of Blu-Ray discs.
A lot of anime is censored, usually it is to do with the fanservice, those numerous ‘panty-shots’ that I am sure many are used to seeing. This can often take the shape of some form of shading or darkening in that general area and rarely imposes all that much on the show as a whole. There are more intrusive forms of anime censoring however, ranging from massive white fuzzy marks on the screen.
Often used for full nudity in bath or beach scenes and the use of characters to cover up the area, used in Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne and Rosario + Vampire quite extensively. One major problem with these forms of censoring, especially the character floating on the screen often totally get in the way of the anime, worse they just seem to be pretty messily done and often are simply plastered across the entire character and sometimes others in the process.
What makes the use of censoring worse though is that we then see Blu-Rays that are released as the show is airing, or after the show has finished that are then marketed as ‘uncensored’, sometimes this happens after the initial release with a separate Blu-Ray release of a ‘special uncensored edition’, or perhaps the Blu-Ray is simply marketed as uncensored. Now while there are perfectly reasonable arguments to do with show airing times and the need to censor anime in order to comply with certain broadcast regulations which would mean an uncensored version of the show is released later.
There are examples in both Rosario + Vampire and Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne, along with other anime where there is no consistency in the censoring, in fact it is completely inconsistent to the point where it makes no sense. What appears to be happening with many series is that the producer or studio are building in the deliberate censoring of the anime into their economic model.
Now as I said earlier, I have nothing wrong with censorship in anime in general, sometimes it makes absolute sense. Seikon no Qwazer and Queens Blade are two excellent examples, both have so much gratuitous nudity in them that unless there was some form of censorship I doubt they would have been aired before 3 in the morning (more worrying I suppose is that they would have likely had a substantial audience even at that time), so in this case censorship makes sense, and is indeed useful. Although it is often horribly done and makes the whole show look relatively cheap and quite bad in places.
However it is the idea that building censorship into the release knowing that the anime and manga scene in Japan is dedicated, or more accurately obsessive enough that the Blu-Rays will sell on the single fact that they are uncensored. This apparent use of the obsession that often surrounds certain anime releases is more than a little disturbing, and is almost akin to social engineering on the part of the companies.
This wont put me off anime and manga though, I truly love these art forms for a variety of reasons, and will continue to watch anime and read manga (no figures as yet, wrong area of the world to be buying them unfortunately, the shipping would ruin me, plus extreme sports take up enough money as is). But I do think that as a consumer of these products it is necessary to occasionally step back a bit and have a long hard look at what is going on. A critical eye is important in all walks of life.
I must thank Sankaku Complex since I did get a few of the censored images off of their website.