'Sword Art Online' Censors Controversial Sexual Assault Scene For Streaming Services

This weekend, Sword Art Online found itself in the middle of a controversy, and its most recent episode is to blame. The anime is well into its third season, but fans weren’t expecting to see how graphic its new episode would get with a scene depicting sexual assault. However, it seems plenty of fans were shown a toned-down version of the scene.

Over on Twitter, netizens were quick to point out the difference between Sword Art Online: Alicization’s raw scene versus the one streamed in the U.S. While both scenes are plenty uncomfortable to watch, it is impossible to miss the censorship present in the streamed footage.

As it turns out, sites such as Crunchyroll and Hulu have the censored material. Parts of the controversial scene are simply blacked out while other shots are missing entirely. Both of the cuts clearly imply the sexual assault occurring, but fans were quick to ask why places like Funimation got censored footage to begin with.

Taking to Twitter, a staff member at Crunchyroll tried to clear up the confusion. User @MilesExpress999 let fans know the site itself did not alter the footage as it was given to sites like that ahead of time.

“Just a head’s up, CR doesn’t change or alter anime releases - the episode looks the same on Funimation, Hulu, /and/ CR,” Miles wrote. “There are frequently slightly different versions of anime on different channels, even within Japan and often to different overseas publishers. It’s hard to say that it’s always “the same” but those differences are generally small.”

So far, there is no word from A-1 Pictures or Aniplex about the censorship controversy. Traditionally, censoring such as this are imported just for streaming services and do not carry over to home video purchases. However, if netizens have anything to say, it might be that the scene's censoring was all for the best.

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Sword Art Online was originally created by Reki Kawahara with illustrations provided by abec. The series follows a boy named Kirito after he and thousands of gamers get trapped in a virtual reality video game known as Sword Art Online. The gamers must band together to defeat the game’s final level to escape, but Kirito and his guild learn there is more behind their prison than they were originally told.