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Top 10 Controversial Anime Banned Around the World

By Evanshi Mavani / August 20, 2021

Anime as a medium has recently started growing popular internationally. This is especially so in the last two years, considering that everyone is desperately searching for entertainment while quarantined at home. However, while anime has finally received its deserving recognition, with international success comes international scrutiny.

Despite being an animation, like any other form of media, anime caters to a wide range of audiences. It has its own genres and niches that, well, might be extremely questionable. From depicting casual violence to problematic scenes portraying pedophilia and incest, some anime contain content that warrants a ban from multiple countries across the world.

After all, media bannings aren't restricted to books, movies, and video games. Once you look beyond the mainstream anime, a plethora of unusual series that are definitely not meant for younger audiences can be found. In fact, anime fans would be the first to say that just because a show is animated does not mean it is child-friendly.

So with that said, let’s take a look at 10 controversial anime banned somewhere in the world.

10. Kite (Banned in Norway)

Kite

Despite being an OVA that barely exceeds 50 minutes, Kite has managed to get itself banned in Norway.

The anime centers on Sawa, a high school girl who is taken into custody by a pair of detectives after the brutal murder of her parents. Due to their corrupt and immoral nature, the duo train Sawa to become an assassin, dangling the promise of vengeance in front of the orphan. From then on, the girl executes every mission without failing, killing from celebrities and politicians to influential business people.

However, tired of being physically abused by Akai, Sawa begins to desire a life unhindered by the shadow of her so-called guardians. The girl’s fateful encounter with Oburi, a fellow orphan and vigilante, pulls her down a path of bloodshed and violence in hopes of attaining a peaceful future.

Despite being notably violent, the real reason Kite is banned in Norway is because of a highly graphic sexual assault scene on a minor. Due to Norway’s strict laws on child pornography, the entire anime has been banned, unlike in the United States, where the version has been censored instead.

9. Osomatsu-san (Banned in Japan)

Osomatsu-san

Osomatsu-san might look like a family-friendly show but do not be misled. It is packed with dirty humor and cursing that is aimed primarily at a more mature audience.

The story centers on the Matsuno household comprising six identical siblings. Despite being over the age of 20, they have absolutely no motivation to get a job and choose to live as NEETs instead. The daily activities of the Matsuno brothers as they go on all sorts of downright bizarre adventures thoroughly entertain the audience.

While the anime is extremely crude, that’s not the reason why it is on this list. Osomatsu-san is banned in Japan due to copyright issues. The first episode of the series parodies famous anime such as Dragon Ball Z, Attack on Titan, Naruto, and many more. While there are DVD versions of the show, not even those have the anime's first episode. 

8. Paranoia Agent (Banned in the United States)

Paranoia Agent

Paranoia Agent starts with the infamous Lil' Slugger terrorizing the people living in the city of Musashino. He runs around beating people with his golden baseball bat and is impossible to catch. The assailant's first prey, a timid and well-known character designer named Tsukiko Sagi, is suspected of orchestrating the attacks. With only her anthropomorphic pink stuffed animal believing Tsukiko, she's only one of Lil' Slugger's many victims.

As the crimes continue, detectives Keiichi Ikari and Mitsuhiro Maniwa are tasked with investigating the attacker's identity. However, as more people fall victim to the golden bat, paranoia is spread among the residents.

Directed by Satoshi Kon, infamous for his previous three films (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers), it’s no wonder that Paranoia Agent has disturbing yet fascinating themes. Unfortunately, despite being an award-winning anime, the show was considered unfit for public television in Japan. In the United States, however, Paranoia Agent was banned briefly due to the country’s broadcasting rules regarding suicide. Later, the anime’s edited and censored version was aired and allowed to come back.

7. Excel Saga (Banned Everywhere)

Excel Saga

Excel Saga is a pure slapstick anime that satirizes a different genre in each episode via parodies.

The story, or whatever is left of it, is centered on the enigmatic Il Palazzo, head of the ACROSS organization, who wants to rule the world. In order to do so, he aims to start small by conquering the city of Fukuoka. Two officers, Excel and her partner Hyatt are tasked with executing this plan, but the City Security workers stand in their way.

Now, one might wonder what would warrant a parody and humorous series like Excel Saga to occupy a place on this list! In truth, the entire series is available to stream, except for the last episode titled Going Too Far.” Just like the name suggests, the episode really does go too far. It is banned in every country, including Japan, due to its violent and pornographic content.

Funnily enough, the director of the show, Shinichi Watanabe, admitted that he made the last episode with the intention of getting it banned. Well, in the end, he achieved his goal as Excel Saga’s last episode can only be seen in DVD releases.

6. Death Note (Banned in China)

Death Note

The premise of Death Note is unique. A notebook capable of killing anyone who writes a name in it drops from the sky. Of course, this book ends up in the hands of Light Yagami, a high school student who is bored and sick of this world. After obtaining the power to kill, he decides to use Death Note to create a utopia without criminals. With a genius and secretive detective trying to detain him, Light is forced to play a gripping game of cat and mouse.

Death Note has received international acclaim and is considered one of the best anime of all time. However, China has banned the anime due to its dark themes of justice and murder that may corrupt the children. This decision’s backed by real-life incidents of school kids writing the names of people in their “death note.”

5. Attack on Titan (Banned in China)

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is often used as an example of why anime is not only for kids, and understandably so.

The anime has an interesting premise. One hundred years before the start of the anime, humanity has been on the bridge of extinction due to monstrous humanoids called Titans that devour humans. What makes these giants truly terrifying is that their taste for human flesh is not born out of hunger but pleasure.

Now, in the present, the remaining small population of humanity lives confined within three "heavenly" walls, resulting in 100 years without a single titan encounter. However, a titan manages to breach the outer wall and initiates a massacre.

During this tragedy, our main character, Eren Yeager, witnesses his mother's horrific death and vows to exterminate all titans one day. To do so, he enlists into the Survey Corps, an elite military unit that combats the titans outside the protection of the walls. Along with his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and his childhood friend Armin Arlert, they join the brutal war against the titans and race to discover a way of defeating them before the last walls are breached.

The show has become immensely popular and is loved by the entire community. However, it is not difficult to see why Attack on Titan is on this list. In addition to containing man-eating monsters, with blood and gore everywhere, the story and the characters themselves are dark and intense enough to warrant a ban.

Attack on Titan is one of the 36 anime banned in China due to its disturbing visuals and violent nature deemed unhealthy for the younger audience. Additionally, the anime’s strong themes of opposing authority are less than agreeable to the government.

4. Tokyo Ghoul (Banned in China)

Tokyo Ghoul

Despite its horrible adaptation, Tokyo Ghoul remains one of the best-selling manga series worldwide, which is precisely why it is difficult to imagine a place where the series has been banned.

Tokyo Ghoul is a dark fantasy anime by Studio Pierrot, adapted based on the Japanese manga series by Sui Ishida. As the name suggests, the series takes place in Tokyo — a cruel and merciless city where vicious creatures called "ghouls" exist alongside humans. The citizens live in constant fear of these “monsters” and their thirst for human flesh. However, the greatest threat these ghouls pose is their ability to masquerade as humans and blend in with society.

The story follows Ken Kaneki, a shy, bookish college student, who is instantly drawn to Rize Kamishiro, an avid reader like himself. However, Rize is not exactly who she seems. This unfortunate meeting introduces Kaneki to the dark depths of the ghouls' inhuman world. In a twist of fate, he is saved by the enigmatic waitress Touka Kirishima and thus begins his new life as a half-ghoul/half-human hybrid who must find a way to integrate into both societies.

In addition to the extensive violence shown in the anime, Tokyo Ghoul has been banned in China because it is believed to have spurred a dangerous trend among the teens of sewing threads and embroidery into their skin.

3. Wicked City (Banned in the United States)

Wicked City

Wicked City's story is simple enough. There are two settings — Earth and a parallel dimension called the Black World. For centuries, a pact has been maintained between the two worlds to ensure peace. However, terms must be negotiated for its renewal. With a militant faction that will stop at nothing to prevent inter-dimensional peace, two agents of the elite organization are charged with ensuring the treaty's success.

The anime is nonsensical in its premise and story as a whole. It follows the black guards as they get into a series of violent confrontations involving creatures disguised as rapists and seductive temptresses. The movie is basically Maki being defiled and our hero coming to save her.

The grotesqueness of the explicit sexual violence that the female lead goes through had led Wicked City (the uncensored version) to be banned in the United States. However, various censored versions of the anime are freely available for purchase and streaming.

2. Puni Puni Poemy (Banned in New Zealand)

Puni Puni Poemy

Puni Puni Poemy is a simply ridiculous OVA and has quite a lot of the usual insanity that you can expect from a spin-off of the infamous Excel Saga.

The anime follows the story of a 10-year-old girl named Poemi Watanabe, who aspires to become a famous voice actress. Unfortunately, to her dismay, her horrible grades and worse voice acting make it difficult to achieve that goal. However, when a mysterious alien kills her parents and turns the city of Tokyo upside down, Poemi grabs a talking fish, fashions it into a wand, and transforms herself into the magical girl Puni Puni Poemy to save the day.

Puni Puni Poemy is meant to serve as a parody of the magical girl genre, and it does so by combining a truly atrocious story, shallow characters, random fan service, and an overdose of slapstick humor. The end product is a questionable anime that exceeds Excel Saga in its crudeness with explicit nude scenes of underage characters.

Deemed overly vulgar and a bad influence on young viewers, Puni Puni Poemy has been banned in New Zealand.

1. Chika Gentou Gekiga: Shoujo Tsubaki (Banned Everywhere)

Shoujo Tsubaki

Shoujo Tsubaki is the most horrifying and brutal anime of all time. In fact, it is one of the few anime disturbing enough to be banned almost everywhere in the world.

The story revolves around Midori, an innocent young girl living her life to the fullest as an elementary student. Unfortunately, her mother falls ill. With this, the girl is forced to stop going to school and sell flowers in the city. When her mother ultimately dies, Midori meets a stranger who invites her to his circus.

However, behind the colorful circus and smiles and praises of the audience, something dark brews.

Due to its dark, depressing, and intense storyline, Shoujo Tsubaki is considered one of the most controversial anime movies ever. The scenes portraying child sexual abuse and unbearable gore scenes have traumatized many viewers. In fact, many of them have gone as far as destroying the tapes of the film itself. After all this, it’s no wonder that Shoujo Tsubaki is banned almost everywhere globally, including Japan itself.



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