Censorship or Enough with the Bullsh*t
June 1, 2011 3 Comments
Censorship has been around for ages since the dawn of anime. Even as far back as Astro Boy, there were censors for graphic images or content that was too much for the public audience, much like the early cartoons of Donald Duck, that held racial undertones against the Axis powers during WW2. But throughout the years of censorship, it’s changed little by little, sometimes making clever use of its censors., other times just plain obnoxious and interfere with seeing whatever is being shown on screen. There would be clever censors every now and then, with examples such as using steamy fog to cover up a naked woman exiting a bathhouse or using an object appropriately placed in the right area, right in front of a pair of breasts, or a penis. However, as of recently, it has reached a point where the times it is used, it censors a rather significant amount of content, and watching that heavily censored scene can feel pointless.
Looking at this spring season, there are some shows ongoing with heavy censorship weighing them down. More specifically, in one of the recent episodes of Softenni, a full scene was taken out. Now, as far as I am in that series, I dislike, maybe even hate it, but this one censored scene annoyed me the most as of yet. The scene consisted of one of the tennis members swimming (or drowning?) in an ocean. Then the show cuts to a nearly full minute long of censorship screen where they showed pictures of cuddly animals bounce around the screen for awhile. It then returns to the same green-haired girl now flying through the air in the nude, riding on top of a large fish. As I was watching this scene, I was going, “Huh? What the hell just happened?!?” This would’ve been fine for a comedic effect to throw in some randomness into the show, if the censorship wasn’t so damn long. Now a show like Softenni, especially, if its made by Xebec, probably airs late at night, or channels mainly directed towards the older audience. I understand there will always be children about, flipping through channels and may occasionally stumble upon the mature channels. Well, this is what parents are for. Parents have a duty to, well… parent. Guiding kids into what to watch, and what not to watch. It doesn’t exactly take censorship or family friendly tv lock to do it either.
Or let’s take last year’s show, filled with heavy amounts of gore, bloodshed, and plenty of panty shots, High School of the Dead. When the show was airing, it was so censored so far up the ass, sometimes it would be impossible to tell what in the world was going on. Allow me to dig up some images from an old post from the blog, and bump up these old screenshots:
The broadcasted version is at the bottom right corner, done by Horrible Subs, while the GG subbed version is the uncensored. In the first screenshot, you can just barely make out Saeko swinging her wooden katana, not to mention the blur is painfully hard on the eyes. In the second screenshot… by god. You can’t even make out what in the world is going on in the bottom right corner. That’s like 90% of the content censored right there! Who would enjoy watching a nearly whitened out screen? I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest fan of High School of the Dead, but this is just awful. Yes, that’s a giant breast being grabbed, but then again, we’ve all just seen zombies rip up flesh on human beings, spewing out blood from their wounds. Look, we’re all adults here, and we shouldn’t have to be the ones offended by this. There’s clearly worse things in the world to worry about, god forbid we see an animated titty being grabbed on screen.
Sex and violence are always part of our lives, and will continue to be for as long as we live. There is only so much content that can be censored, before a kid learns the truth. Even for myself, when I was just a small kid. I was well aware that the violence on television wasn’t real, and that sex on tv was just two people wrestling in bed. But on a more serious note, I didn’t commit those same dirty acts because it was merely acting on television and nothing more than that. The same can apply to anime, and its use of graphic images. A breast fully exposed or gratuitous violence upon a human being, shown in a series? It’s just a pile of drawings in the end. Sexual acts I can understand being censored heavily. But a drawn titty on screen, is just a drawn titty. Anyone can draw a breast easily. A simple circle with a dot in the middle is all it takes. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that whenever a pair of breasts pop up on screen, it’s instantly “pornographic”. It may be true for some shows, if it were to be the only focus, but for others, it can have real meaning behind it.
There is a scene in Paprika where a pair of breasts are freely exposed to the audience. It occurs while the female protagonist, Paprika, has been caught and strapped down to a table, held down by her enemy. As she’s tied down, the “villain” rips through her skin, revealing the person in reality hiding behind her persona. The fact that her body is naked in this particular scene, reveals that the person in reality is quite weak and vulnerable on the inside. In a way, the persona, Paprika, is her own little shell, sealing away her true personality and personal feelings. It is only at the end of the film, does she open up and come to a self-realization of her true emotions. While I was watching this movie, my reaction wasn’t, “Oh mah gawd, tittays! Fapfapfapfap.” I’d only expect such a reaction from the mindset of a child 12 years or younger, or someone who clearly hasn’t seen a pair of breasts before. Just as Paprika demonstrated, sometimes there’s a meaning or reason for this kind of exposure. For the people who cannot handle viewing a breast, or a penis, simply shouldn’t watch it. This by no means, should the piece of animation be toned down for those people. It’s simply not meant for everyone. This exposure may even be artistic, to a different sort of perspective. Should we start censoring the painting, The Birth of Venus, because of the breast exposure, or the Statue of David, because an artistic depiction of a nude man? Surely not. These are both held as some of the most famous and valued works of art.
Similar reason may stand for such a show as Elfen Lied. There is so much gore and nudity in the first five minutes of the series, it’s simply astounding. To try and censor it with copious amounts of whatever shenanigans they could come up with, steamy fog, shadows, it would be nearly unwatchable. There’s a sure reason for Lucy’s full fledged nudity. Her true nature is ferocious creature, hellbent on destroying anyone who gets in her way. She slaughters anyone as she pleases, almost as a complete sociopath. It’s just what you’d expect if you released a hungry lion in a room with bulky deers. Her nakedness may also symbolize her indifference to society, how clothes may mean nothing to her. It’s a similar case with the nakedness of Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen. He’s not nude for the sake of fanservice or whatnot. He’s apathetic to human beings, and clothes mean nothing to him.
The censorship of violence bothers me even more than a pair of covered breasts, for many reasons. Violence is everywhere. You can’t escape it. It’s all over newspapers, the television, even as you step out onto the sidewalk, you can expect to find different scales of violence, from a pair of children getting caught in a rumble, or a couple of adults getting physical over a car accident. In anime, the censorship even goes as far as changing the color of blood spilt. Again, we’ve all seen blood, even kids know the color of blood. Changing the color, doesn’t do very much as for toning the graphic nature of violence. Blood has taken on a new kind of form, where it’s supposedly now black or white or whatever different color they can come with besides red, for the sake of not scarring kids for life, and avoiding complaints from parents. The violence is still clearly there. The main character is still getting devastating hurt, and death is clearly depicted on screen, whenever a villain is downed. Surely an audience can just fill in the blanks, if a head is shown screen with its eyes widened, or detached from the body, but it loses a larger effect if so much of it is covered up by a shadow. In a recent episode of Deadman Wonderland, a certain character goes absolutely ballistic, massacring a bunch of soldiers who were about to arrest the character. The next scene shows the character in the midst of the violence, holding the head of soldier in one hand. However, the scene is so darkened by the shadows, it’s difficult on the eyes to clearly make out the head. First up, Deadman Wonderland is not meant for children by any means necessary. There are some seriously down right disturbing images from the first episode on, gradually becoming worse as the series progresses. Censor it all they can, but the mental images that can be made out from the scenes are just as worse.
There is a fine line between appropriate and extreme censorship, such as that it can throw off a viewer while watching a series. The worst kind of censorship has to be 4kids censorship. Their licensed shows become so boiled down into such a travesty version of the original work. The censorship simply sucks out so much of the enjoyment of watching the series. Take one of their licensed shows, One Piece. Not only did they replace pirate guns with…. water guns, they make some of the most irrational changes to the show. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Just look at the video below. Taking out japanese text, replacing riceballs with cookies. Really. That’s just awful.
Now we didn’t have this problem with other children shows like Pokemon or Digimon for that matter. I can’t recall the number of times Ash has been shocked to a burnt crisp by his Pikachu, or the times a Team Rocket vehicle exploded, or the times I’ve seen the monsters in the show abused to near death. As far as Digimon goes, the show glorified tacking on giant weaponry to the monsters. Guns, swords, cannons, the works. Even those without weaponry, in their evolved forms, they looked deadly and vicious with sharp claws, or beady eyes. It’s these kinds of things that made these shows so interesting, and popularized the series. Did you watch Blue’s Clues, or did you decide to watch motherfucking Digimon beat the shit out of each other? It was damn fine entertainment, and boy was I thankful they weren’t heavily censored. They didn’t pamper their viewers with cuddly animals, trying desperately to appeal to the masses, but rather took a risk and did something rather new that fortunately worked in their favor.
Nowadays whenever an anime series is released on DVD or Blu-ray, the censorship is gone. It’s great for those who are willing and capable of buying it, but for those of us who must resort to watching it on broadcast, you can’t help but feel a little cheated. True, it is a smart business move for encouraging the sale of the boxsets, but surely it will still upset the fans. There are people who want to see a studio give it their all, rather than seeing a toned down version of their work.