The Dragon Ball franchise is no stranger to censorship as various elements over the years have been tweaked either when the series was brought over to the United States, but that's been changing in recent years now that the series as it is produced in Japan is readily available to those in outside territories.
That's what makes this latest bit of censorship in the Japanese Blu-ray release of the Dragon Ball Z film Bio-Broly all the weirder.
今月5日に東映ビデオより発売されたドラゴンボールZのBlu-rayソフトにおいて、中指を立てて挑発する表現がデジタル修正されていました。公式側による告知や但し書きなどは何も無く、過去の映像作品における表現の問題に関する重大な背信行為であると憤っています。 pic.twitter.com/dLhuW1JeHi— ナッパ教信徒 (@nappasan) December 15, 2018
As spotted by Twitter user @nappasan, the recent home video release of Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly in Japan came with an altered version of Trunks. During the film, Trunks and Goten fight off against Bio-Broly and in this particular scene Trunks taunts him. In the original, he does so by sticking his middle finger up (which is a notably rude gesture), but it's been edited in the re-release. Instead, the middle finger has been erased and Trunks simply raises his fist toward Broly.
@nappasan notes that this change has been made without any notice or provisionary message for fans of the original work, and this has certainly gotten a lot of attention from fans in Japan. @nappasan also shared a different example of this censorship with a side-by-side video comparing the Blu-ray release with the recent digital re-releases of the film on Amazon Video. The Dragon Ball Z films recently came back in a major way with high definition versions available for streaming in Japan, and it appears those were not altered in the same way as the home video release.
映像による比較をしてみました。2カットに渡ってトランクスの中指が修正されているのが判ります。なお画面右側で使用している「オリジナル版」の映像はAmazonプライムビデオにおける配信映像であり、今回発売されたBlu-rayはこれと同じHDマスターを使用しています。 pic.twitter.com/fe5nNfaGgJ— ナッパ教信徒 (@nappasan) December 15, 2018
Like many fans, @nappasan believes Toei Video owes the fans an explanation for such a change to the home video release. It's hard not to agree when usual censorship comes in the form of free releases of certain properties. As mentioned, the series has been plenty altered in the past for television broadcasts but this is certainly a strange situation. With fans paying for the home video release, they expect the film to be presented in the same way as the original film so the ire is understandable.
As of this writing, there have been no updates as to why this change has been made to the original film though fans in Japan will certainly be looking twice before buying the next home video release. The most recent film in the Dragon Ball franchise is currently out in Japan, and Funimation will soon be bringing Dragon Ball Super: Broly to theaters in the United States on January 16.