Square Enix's Manga Service Prompts Debate Over Censorship

It is pretty much impossible to ignore manga these days given how popular it has become. Whether you are in Japan or overseas, the medium is booming, and the publishing industry is reaping the rewards. Of course, the landscape has changed in the last few years thanks to online reading services, and Square Enix just launched its very own. But right now, it seems Manga Up is stirring up backlash all because of its censorship guidelines. 

As you can see below, Manga Up is now live, and it hosts a slew of Square Enix's best titles. Fans outside of Japan can now access series like My Dress-Up Darling, Fullmetal Alchemist, and more courtesy of this app. Of course, that means fans around the world are checking out its catalog, but fans were quick to notice how Manga Up censors certain content.

Titles like My Dress-Up Darling are heavily censored on the service, and it is not alone. A slew of black boxes can be found in chapters uploaded to Manga Up, and they block out parts of characters' bodies. For instance, cleavage shots are blocked out as well as close-ups on thighs and more. However, these boxes are also present on bodies even if they're totally covered, and some even cover unexpected areas like elbows and knees.

Over on Twitter, the official page for Manga Up did address the issues in a note. The team at Square Enix said robust censorship was needed to make its titles available to countries around the world rather than just English-speaking countries. Censorship guidelines are still being hammered out behind the scenes, so Manga Up may alter what fans are seeing in its catalog before long.

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"In consideration of each mobile platform's policies, some modifications were unavoidable to release the app to the world world outside of Japan," the note reads. "This is no limited to only English-speaking countries. We are still in the early exploratory stages and will strive to improve while listening to your feedback."

For now, readers can either overlook the censorship or find other services to read up on Square Enix's manga. As for manga in general, you can find hot picks online through Viz Media's Shonen Jump app and Manga Plus to start as well as Comixology via Amazon.