13 Controversial Anime and Manga Banned Around the World

Author Thumbnail Caitlin Donovan September 01, 2016 18:21 PM

1Death Note- Banned in China and Almost in New Mexico

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Death Note is an anime that’s caused a surprising amount of real life trouble. The anime is centered around a notebook with mysterious powers- when a person writes the name of someone in it, the chosen target drops dead. There have been real-life murders based off Death Note and a lot of children have gotten in trouble for making Death Notes in their own in school. Because of that issue, Death Note was banned outright in China (along with several other anime). Schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico also tried to ban it, but it didn’t go through.

2Attack on Titan- Banned in China

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Attack on Titan is another of the 38 anime China recently banned. It bears mentioning among the horde only because it’s very popular and because Chinese authorities’ explanation for the banning has been passed around a lot. It was that they believe of the authorities that children would internalize Attack on Titan's violent imagery and become delinquents. It’s an argument video games have seen a lot too, that fantasy violence can cause real violence. Think of the children! 

3Pokemon- Banned in Saudi Arabia

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Pokemon is a hot topic right now, experiencing a boost in popularity and visibility thanks to Pokemon GO. For 20 years it’s been a beloved children’s franchise full to the brim with cute critters. It seems hard to find anything objectionable about it, but several episodes were cut even when airing in America for including sexual themes and whatnot. But nothing is more severe than the full-on ban of Pokemon in Saudi Arabia and the reason for the ban is pretty eyebrow-raising.

Pokemon was banned for having “Zionist themes” and for “promoting gambling.” Saudi Arabia’s mufti (high priest) pointed out the various symbols on the Pokemon cards as the source of the “Zionist” claim. “"Most of the cards figure six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel," he said. Other symbols were also pointed out as being anti-Islamic, like “crosses, sacred for Christians, triangles significant for Freemasons and symbols of Japan's Shintoism, which is based on the belief in more than one god."

There was an earlier ban in 2001 when many people in Saudi Arabia were convinced Pokemon was Japanese for “I am a Jew” instead of being short for Pocket Monster. "It has been proven that this toy is part of a Jewish plan to corrupt the mind of our young generation because it alludes to blasphemous thinking, it mocks our God and our moral values and is therefore extremely dangerous for our youth," a Shiek was quoted as saying in a Los Angeles Times article. Which is a bit of a baffling claim when you consider Pokemon comes from Japan, which does not have all that many Jewish citizens.

4Axis Powers Hetalia- Axed on South Korea

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Axis Powers Hetalia is an anime that basically personifies countries as cutesy dudes (there are a couple girls too). These people tend to embody the stereotypes associated with their countries (Japan is silent and serious but likes porn, Italy is a slacker with a pasta addiction, etc). It mainly focuses on the alliance between the Axis Powers of World War II, presenting the countries in question as cute and funny dudes despite all the carnage those countries were responsible for during that time. You can see why that would make a lot of people uncomfortable.

It’s definitely unsurprising that some citizens of South Korea might take issue with the show, considering how Japan colonized their country during the aforementioned war. A personification of Korea is present in the Hetalia manga (and it doesn’t help matters that his hanbok is drawn incorrectly), but was taken out of the anime due to South Korean protests.

The anime was deemed offensive by the South Korean government and a petition to get the series banned got more than 16,000 signatures. The South Korean station that was going air the show, Kids Channel, apparently received death threats. Likely because of this, the show was pulled from the channel’s lineup and never aired. 

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Caitlin Donovan is a long-time nerd with a passion for superheroes and epic fantasy. She lives in North Carolina with her cat and wrestles with writing novels and doing editorial work when she's not ranting about pop culture online. She runs a blog at ladyloveandjustice.tumblr.com
@Caitlin Donovan | caitlin@epicstream.com