Anime Censorship Can Be Really Weird Sometimes

Oh, anime. The medium has been around for a century now, but it still manages to take fans by surprise. Over the years, the anime fandom has documented just some of the ways their favorite shows have been censored, and weird doesn’t even begin to cover it all.

If you are not familiar with the ins-and-outs of anime, you should know the industry has some bizarre censorship rules. When shows are aired in Japan, shows can be barred from showing cigarettes but partially nude characters are fair game. Those mixed signals are often crossed even further when anime titles are imported abroad, and no show is safe from the cruel fate.

So, if you are curious about the industry’s weirdest censors, you do not need to look any further. ComicBook has done some digging, and we’ve found some rather bizarre examples:

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(Photo: Liden Films)

Terra Formars

When it comes to sci-fi, Terra Formars is known less for its story and more for its rather distracting censorship. Fans of the series tried to enjoy the series as it pitted mankind against giant alien cockroaches, but they were impeded by huge black bars. The anime didn’t even bother to blur offending content and decided to throw sloppy blackouts on questionable images. So, yeah - that is a thing.

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(Photo: David Production)

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Anime fans are aware of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but they may not be privy to its censorship woes. Jotaro Kujo acts as the anime’s primary character, but the show will not give the beefy teenager any slack when it comes to smoking. The protagonist is known for his smoking habits, but Japan censored the hobby on cable because Jotaro is underage. That would have been totally fine if the censorship hadn’t cheaply blacked out the guy’s cigarettes. Fans could clearly see the cigarette’s outline and lit butt, so what was the point?

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(Photo: Pierrot)

Tokyo Ghoul

There is no secret to Tokyo Ghoul and its bloody aesthetic. The horrifying series is not afraid to show off some gore, but that doesn’t mean networks have to let it go to air. If you have read the manga, you know Tokyo Ghoul uses blood liberally, and the anime does as well. However, when the anime was first aired many of its scenes had their colors inverted to make blood less shocking. Any bloodshed lost its red coloring and was made way more noticeable when it turned blue.

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(Photo: Xebec)

To Love Ru


When things get too sexy for general audiences, the anime industry knows just what to do. Series like To Love Ru are skin-friendly, but their TV screenings are marred with some interesting lighting. Whenever its female characters are meant to bare their bare breasts, a convenient streak of white light will cover the skin right up. The war over anime nudity is one that continues to baffle fans and even censors, but animation studios have to love it. After all, it lets the studios charge how much money for a uncensored Blu-ray box set?

So, what is the strangest case of anime censorship you have seen? Hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB to let me know and talk all things comics, k-pop, and anime!