Collaborator Taimoor Hussain lists 10 of the most controversial anime in history and in recent times.
Hetalia Axis Powers anime takes different countries and personifies them into wacky characters. These characters interact and take on important political decisions during the time of World War I and II. Apart from being politically incorrect, it also reminds some a little too much of the very sort of nationalistic stereotyping going on during the war.
The anime was deemed offensive by the South Korean government and a petition to get the series banned got more than 16,000 signatures. The South Korean station that was going air the show received death threats. Likely because of this, the show was pulled from the channel’s lineup and never aired.
Japan and the USA have been at war for three years now. Gen, the protagonist, who lives in Hiroshima city with relative peace as the city has not had to deal with wartime tragedy, except for scarcity in supplies. Gen and his family are coping with malnutrition due to supplies shortage, putting Gen’s pregnant mother in danger. Gen and his family are just trying to work to survive the wartime.
Barefoot Gen is a movie based on the manga written by Nakazawa Keiji, a man who actually survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. This anime tackles the atomic bomb subject and depicts it graphically. The real effects of the atomic bomb are shown as people’s eyes melt out of their sockets, skin and muscle fall over the bone, and people are literally burned. While the movie does depict the real suffering of victims of Hiroshima, it does not display Japan as a victim. The manga was briefly banned in school libraries in Japan for its one-sided portrayal and violence. The anime movie was restricted in schools in Japan and the U.S. for its graphic imagery.
Shinigami are capable of killing people with the use of a Death Note, as long as they have seen the face and know the victim’s name. Ryuk decides it might be interesting to watch what happens when a human is given a Death Note, so he drops one into the world of humans. Yagami Light comes across the Death Note and tests it on a criminal. Upon seeing the Death Note’s power, Light decides to use it. Unfortunately, the police realize that a serial killer is on the loose, but cannot fathom how or who the culprit could be, so they recruit the help of an intelligent man known as L.
Most people recognize Death Note as a wildly successful anime across the globe, but not an ipso facto controversial one. Children all around the world made Death Notes out of notebooks and wrote the names of people they wish death on. Children in the US were reported and punished for owning Death Notes. In Russia, attempts are being made to ban the series for its influence on children. In China, Death Note is completely banned due to its influence on children, although it is available in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
This anime shows a darker side of circuses that is not privy to outsiders. Midori was a carefree elementary student until she is forced to give up her livelihood to sell flowers to make ends meet after her mother falls ill. Midori’s world completely shatters when her mother dies and a stranger takes her to the circus. Midori continues to fall deeper into the depths of darkness, but is there a light at the end?
This anime movie has been banned in several countries for imagery at the time it was released. There’s rape, enslavement, animal cruelty, and so much more that make it the ero-guro that it is known for. Shoujo Tsubaki has been cut so many times that the original version cannot be found.
Pokémon may seem like any kids’ anime, but it is one of the most controversial children’s anime. It is completely banned in Saudi Arabia for its perceived Zionist ideals due to its depictions of imagery that promoted other religions. Jewish civil rights group believed Pokémon to promote Nazism due to the depictions of swastikas on Pokémon trading cards and some Nazi-like scenes in the anime. Pokemon has even angered some of the Christian community where some believed Pokémon to be demons. It has also been in hot water for being racist with Jynx’s design and promoting animal cruelty for depicting fights similar to cock fights. Another reason for its controversy is due to some episodes where guns are pointed at kids and are threatened by it, also for genderbending, and of course, there was that one infamous episode with Porygon that gave children all over Japan seizures.
This satirical comedy series is known for making fun of anything and everything! It’s been reported countless times, but a recent example of Gintama going perhaps a little too far is in episode 269. This particular episode received complaints about the “overly accurate and detailed depiction of BDSM equipment.” Other scenes include moments in 231 (too many jokes at a funeral), and 229 (male nudity).
It wasn’t banned but caused controversy.
A rather severe complaint was filed saying, “In this anime, there are scenes where underage kids go to clubs and love hotels while they are on a school trip. Is this okay to show even if it’s late night programming? If you think about it, underage kids are not allowed in these places in real life. This reflects the lack of morals of both the producers of the show and the broadcasters.”
It has generated some controversy.
Attack on Titan is another of the 38 anime China recently banned. It bears mentioning among the horde only because it’s very popular and because Chinese authorities’ explanation for the banning is really stupid. They believe that children would internalize Attack on Titan’s violent imagery and become delinquents. This is an argument video games are accustom to as well, that fantasy violence can cause real violence.
How does Japan’s Mickey Mouse get banned anywhere? Well, according to the French Board of Education, the show is bad for the emotional growth of children because Doraemon could solve every problem with his never-ending pocket of gadgets. If this sounds ridiculous to you, that’s because it is.
Technically, Doraemon isn’t banned per se, but because the Board of Education has classified it as inappropriate, it is not shown to children and almost all of them have never even heard of the character.
I have excluded Boku no Pico (which is well known and must be avoided at all costs) and Kite (It has become a cult classic despite its graphic nature) from this list. From one hemisphere to the other, there are plenty of anime that have been banned around the world for a plethora of different reasons.