Posted by: Jusuchin (Military Otaku) | 03/02/2010

Blog Post #6

Censorship and the Differences a  Few Thousand Kilometers Make.

-more after jump, warning, content may offend-

Our past few classes have been remarkably filled with cartoons that featured a crass sense of humour that some may not think of being acceptable, somewhat, in today’s society. This crass sense of humour has been pointed as something not acceptable to the middle class. This could be that, as stated in class, its primary audience was meant for immigrants. The working class people who sought to belong in America. Animation today may seem to be heading down that road, as seen in shows like Family Guy, The Simpsons, American Dad, and such. But when I was growing up, I’ve already been exposed to these rather uncouth styles of humour, or at least had an inkling thought of what it meant. Looking back, and with more resources in my hands, I can definitely say that we are still either regaining or rediscovering our old 1920s-30s cultural heritage of unwanted behavior in Animation, Japanese Animation by contrast is seemingly way ahead of us in pushing and blurring the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

Now, people nowadays can say that Family Guy or The Simpsons are way too dirty for young minds, or such things. People can also point out it would be animation like The Simpsons that either pushed the limits of what was considered the norms back in the 1980s-1990s. But it was not without controversy. Particularly, Homer Simpson was seen as a bad role model while Bart seen as a bad influence for children. Nowadays, they seem tame. We have Family Guy with a talking baby who has homicidal tendancies towards his mother and dreams of world conquest. Crude racial jokes and the rather famous chicken fights. All part of the now common teen/young adult animation.

To me, this seems tame in comparison to anime that is being aired for the same age group. As the image below would show, well, how much animation in Japan is different.

-Image from the Anime Higurashi no Naku Koro ni

Yes. There is a difference between American and Japanese Animation. Take for example, when the anime Sailor Moon was brought over from Japan to the United States, there was material present in the original Japanese version that was heavily edited out. Deaths, social interactions deemed inappropriate to American viewers (back in 1990), plot points or characters that was inappropriate, as well as aspects of Japanese life that viewers would not get. This over time changes as the American audience matured, and calls for less editing eventually became louder, but Anime still had to conform to FCC codes as well as the standard show airing, allowing enough commercial breaks and what not.

If it doesn’t seem all that clear, I shall post two clips. One is from Family Guy, which needs no introductions. Particularly the scene where Stewie Griffin beats up Brian for money. Let it load to watch interrupted.

Now, that was pretty intense, right? Blood and cartoon violence. Set on fire with a flamethrower and shot in the kneecaps. Stuff we know that he’ll survive because he’s a recurring character. Now for a change of pace, this is from the Anime adaptation of the Japanese manga called Claymore, it is the third part of a rather plot-important battle:

Now this, well. In comparison to the cartoon violence, this is an anime of a similar age group (teen/young adult) and it is necessarily darker. Dark, well, I kind of skipped to the end. This wasn’t my cup of coffee if you catch my saying. The same could be said for sexual references. In American animation, or is the term ‘cartoon’ more appropriate after viewing the difference between the animations. In American animation, sexual acts tended to be implying the act. A blacked out screen with eyeballs and noises. In Anime, there are shows built for fanservice, one of which is Strike Witches, a historical fiction show set in the second world war dealing with the concept of mecha musume drawings. Having watched the show in its entierty, there are times where I laughed due to the sheer effort by the producers and animators to add as much panty shots and similar into the show, even airing a censored and uncensored version. A current show, Seikon no Qwaser, takes this to the extreme, with…well, I’d rather you just read the wiki entry . (You’ve been warned. The author will defend himself from pitchforks and torches outside his home with appropriate responses ranging from running around in panic or opening fire with an airsoft gun.)

Now, before I deviate any further. My point. Well, I’ve illustrated the differences between American and Japanese animation, at least select few shows. Animation is a diverse medium, and seems rather…bad if I grouped Japanese Anime into one category or stereotype and American animation into its own group. But the more I think about it, I just come up with more questions. Are we really pushing the envelope in what seems proper, with shows like Family Guy in the United States and Seikon no Qwaser in Japan,? Are we ‘returning to our roots, something to like Mickey’s Follies and Steamboat Willie? Are we growing more insensitive to these kinds of behavior?

I’m not sure, I’m no philosopher.

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Responses

  1. You certainly make some intriguing points in your comparison of Japanese and American animation. I think part of the divide between these two countries lies simply in the audiences they are aimed at: in America, animation was seen as a medium for children for a very long time, and only a few, such as Heavy Metal, The Simpsons, or Felix the Cat, really attempted to step outside those bounds. And even then, there success seemed limited to themselves, if even that. Meanwhile, in Japan, there were many animated films and television shows aimed at older audiences; movies like Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Vampire Hunter D were commercially successful and fueled the market for animation aimed at older audiences. I don’t know why the successes of cartoons aimed at adults never spawned wider acceptance, but my best guess would be that since cartoons were seen as children’s entertainment for so long, it is difficult for the American psyche to let that notion go.

  2. […] here, here, and […]


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