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12 Feb 2009 - 12:5410647
Cultural Censorship
Hey guys, okay, got a request for all of you. Basically for uni we have to have a big debate soon on the idea of Censorship. Half of us is For it and the other half is Against. I've been put in the Against half and have been requested to research the idea of Cultural Censorship. Basically why one thing in one culture is perfectly acceptable to be shown, and why when the same thing placed in another culture is heavily censored because it is not acceptable.

Obviously anime is under this all the time between the English cut versions and the Japanese originals. So yeah, basically guys do you have any theories, ideas on why this occurs, who makes the decisions, does it affect the original in any way etc.etc. If any of you manage to somehow come across suitable links and examples and stuff too, that would be awesome. Thanks!

I'm going to slash your pillow and tear out all the stuffing with a motorbike made of jelly.
12 Feb 2009 - 13:5110653
Sailor Moon implied lesbians being switched to cousins?

The naruto/sasuke accidental kiss being removed from the TV english version?

I see a lot of "must not offend religious people who hate gays" in English TV. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Japan isn't a predominately christian society, so they don't have the same set of morals when it comes to homosexuality.

Sorry if not very cohearent, and that the only thing I know about is gay censorship. But hey I'm a gay author, I pick up on that stuff more than other people.


12 Feb 2009 - 14:0510654
I think it's because the English always complain about stuff being too rude because their scared that their kids are gonna turn out like bad eggs.

Where as in Japan parenting is alot stricter I find so they feel alot mroe comftable about it that their children are going to more mature about it?

I know in alot of animes sometimes they make the blood green like wtf? lol

Did that help? lol

Last edited by vampiresan (12 Feb 2009 - 14:07)
12 Feb 2009 - 15:0110659
It very simply happens because the cultural and societal norms encoded into any product from one country can, and often do, clash with the cultural and societal norms of another country. That's just the way it is.

Once you get into the nitty-gritty of specific things you can pull out more specific reasons (for example, it's only comparatively recently that people in general have started to realise that homosexuality isn't actually a horribly deviant lifestyle choice or a mental illness, and even then there's plenty of resistance to its normalisation; Japan, on the other hand, has a long cultural history of homosexual love being not just normal but actually more valid than heterosexual love in some cases, so it's not terribly surprising that a romantic relationship between two girls in Sailor Moon is fine and commonplace to the Japanese but completely unacceptable to Americans), but the reason for why it happens really does just boil down to "because that's how it is" each time.

I don't think it's entirely true to say that Japanese parents are stricter with their kids, although certainly Japanese children's lives are much more bound to routine and regimented than Western children's lives are. I'm not sure that would make such a difference though. I do get the impression that there's far more of a "Somebody please think of the chiiiiildren!!!" culture in the West, which would explain why the Japanese appear to be a lot more permissive.

Something else that I think is very important (specifically regarding showing anime series on kids' TV) is that I think Westerners tend to mismatch products and their target audience. Titles like One Piece and Naruto, for example, are shonen titles, which tend to be aimed at teenagers. Western distributors, though, see that they're animated, think "oh, it's for little kids" and try to make them work for 6-11 year olds, so inevitably some stuff needs to be cut.

Then you've got things where you wonder if they really count as censorship at all, like Brock's "donuts" in Pokemon (where the changes are made purely to keep things culturally familiar for Western children).

Anyway, I'm rambling...

Cara bell', cara mia bella, mia bambina, o ciel!

Sillabub Cosplay on Facebook
12 Feb 2009 - 15:2510660
Thanks for the posts guys, every little bit helps! I've written them down in notes and stuff so we'll see if they're brought up in the debate! ^^

I'm going to slash your pillow and tear out all the stuffing with a motorbike made of jelly.
12 Feb 2009 - 15:2610661
In the case of changing the colour of blood, this is generally done to keep within the age ratings. 'If it's fantasy, it's not so scary'.
This happened in Stardust where they made a slit throat bleed blue to maintain a PG rating.
I don't think this is so much a culture difference due to the many western examples. As mentioned above, in the case of anime I think this comes about where animation aimed at older ages is rehashed for a younger audience. The culture clash is more in the way animation as an entertainment form has been perceived as childish in the west.

12 Feb 2009 - 15:4310663
I think the comments about mismatched age group are spot on.

Japan is by NO means a more permissive society in terms of what is shown on TV. They have very strict censorship laws with regards to what is shown on TV.

Not only that if you've ever come across Japanese pornography you'll have seen the wonderful mosaic effect. So even their adult only material has strong censorship.

Also you need to bear in mind for a lot of the anime stuff you're not really comparing Japanese with English culture because the censorship is usually done in the US. So you're really comparing Japanese with American culture which a whole bigger can of worms. ^_^

12 Feb 2009 - 21:3010679
First I must say I agree with the point of mismatching the target groups for most animes. But that doesn't explain all the censorship made to animes (sorry for focusing on anime, but that's where I know more examples from >_<.

Animes like Pokemon, targeted to kids in Japan, have been subject to censorship in the USA (i.e.: youtube link).

The video above shows a Pokemon episode censored in the USA, where we can see James(?) with somehow big mammary glands and wearing a bikini.

That censhorship IMO could be explained by what Sillabub and Uber-Nerd have mentioned before about homosexuality acceptance and religions difference between cultures.

I cannot speak for the USA culture, if there is one, but I come from a very conservative country, almost 100% catholic, where anime has to deal with ultra conservative people. Most of them don't really understand or accept the other countries' culture. For example in the USA alot of the 6-points star within a circle that are shown in many animes, are replaced for another figure. Cause for them that image represents dark magic(a christian thingy as well, it was not like this a long time ago, though). But I'm not sure if that start represents the same thing for the japanese.

Here there are some
examples of censorship in animes like one piece and Yu-gi-oh.

Sorry for the rant =/. It was longer that I intented. And sorry again i'm only focusing in anime >_<. I hope I have been of a little help.

My english sucks because hablo espanol :O
12 Feb 2009 - 21:5010680
I am curious, I confess I've not read the whole of this thread but I've been itching to say this somewhere...

Why is it such things as implied homosexuality, swears, gun use etc. are cut out of japanese cartoons and shows but are perfectly fine in british/american/other shows?

For example, T4 shows episodes of the Simpsons earlier on in the day at weekends, and though I can think of one clip of Marge holding a gun at the end of one episode being censored, the other questionable scenes are not?

Sorry if this comes across as poorly thought out, this is a passing wonder.

13 Feb 2009 - 03:5410689
I know exactly why this happens!!!!

The UK especially is the home of a small number of people (normally retired and have to watch all that the idiot box shows them) who have a lot of time with the old fountain pen and paper. They have to complain about everything then demand someone resigns because it's their right!

Ok, it may not be like that that is kinda my point. There is the whole thing about respecting people and their views, which surely we can say is fair enough, unfortunately the views of say a Christian must be tolerated but those of an atheist must be challenged. From what I have seen so far on this thread we are people speaking from the point of view of young people who love things that are different. We blame cultural views and religion because we are obviously far more accepting... afterall half of us crossplay and watch that weird japanese cartoon stuff!

I'm trying to take a "bigger picture" stance. People are easily offended. Only until the last few decades have people accepted the unorthodox, the different and the diverse. And this only encompasses a small number of people. It's all down to personal exploration and upbringing. For a lot of us our parents generation are still quite unaccepting of many "different" things. So I personally believe most people have a traditional view of what is acceptable depending on their culture and upbringing. This is where we have our differences but they also make us diverse. But those who censor are afraid of the potential backlash. They are too high up to gamble, so to protect the sensitive they don't give them a reason to think twice (for examples in anime, they do not fear what the children will be exposed, it doesn't matter, what does matter is what their parent could complain about). Afterall, we who are annoyed at censorship of this kind just moan about it to a handful of people and that's that. But those that are offended by violence, sexual scenes, homosexualtiy or just the bizarre can be much more different. Again most just moan about it, it only takes one person who feels strongly enough about it to cause a shit storm. It's easier to argue for censorship, there will always be a newspaper who will write the story and a court that will listen because those with power have an obligation to protect. You can't seem to argue the case against it, at least not to the same extent.

Also do you mean censorship in Anime or were you using it as an example and therefore mean Censorship in general? In the case of anime, I think a lot of it is to do with how if it is drawn by people it is perceived that they are deliberating and therefore added things aren't necessary.

Sorry after this massive essay I've only just realised that you have to be against it and need an argument. Therefore I'm going to be more general. Did you ever see that programme on BBC3 "Unseen Gaza"? It might still be on iplayer. It wasn't actually that interesting but one topic they did bring up was the amount of censorship in the news reports of what is going on over there. Sky news and BBC cut out all the grim bits of the conflict whereas Al Jazeera keeps it raw. The example they used was of a wailing man who ran into a hospital holding his dead baby. The baby was mostly charred and had missing legs because some stray dogs were eating him. It is a really shocking video and there is further footage where he lays the baby on a hospital bed, whilst crying he is speaking to the baby and probably apologising for his ordeal and sending him on his way then he delicately wraps the baby up in a bit of cloth and takes him away for burial. The SKY News and BBC version started at the point where the baby was already wrapped up so it was just his slightly charred head showing. My censorship trained mind just thought "hmmm... another dead baby to add to the list. Ok that's sad. Now what DVD was I about to put on?" Whereas the original Al Jazeera version was so shocking and so moving, I realised that I had not actually acknowledged the gravity of the situation. I think we are so accustomed to being so protected that we risk living in a different world. I'm not saying that no one understands the situation over there. There are enough people to start protests, but I can be very ignorant and go through phases where I only pay attention to news that interests me. Dare I say that I'm not the only one? We run the risk of diluting reality to suit the lack of tolerance. Not only in war and conflict but also in almost every aspect of life. Surely if this carries on generations to come (the example I use is in the UK) will still be immune to the effects of war and conflict, which according to our terrestrial news there isn't any but a few coffins and broken buildings. They will still continue to ostracize those who are different because they will not be exposed to these differences. They will continue to be ignorant and inherit the belief of that which is not spoken of must be wrong.

The result is ignorance that can lead to millions of unhappy people in every generation. People who are made to feel bad simply because of a mass ignorance. Ignorance is one thing but when it can subconsciously hurt another person it can be quite sad (or worse very psychological)! I remember when I was 5 or 6 I only had one proper friend in my class because she would let me be Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I remember very clearly that when I tried to play games with some of the other kids I could never any of the main characters of a Disney film because none of them were Chinese! That's why I'm the homicidal maniac I am today! Hahaha Sorry that was somewhat unrelated!

Phew! I've forgot what my point was! Watch this space cos I'm gonna publish this book and sell it to the masses!

I'm not anti-social, I just appreciate silence
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