A Dumb Rant About Censorship

Jan. 25, 2022

Censorship comes in many forms and from different directions. There’s oppression of speech and expression on the state level, and there’s censorship further down the line. Whichever level in comes in at, it’s still an inhibition of the populace’s expression. One happens to be illegal by way of the constitution, while the other is not considered so. Whether borderline monopolistic companies should be held to a similar level as the state, that’s a question for another day.

Publishers in the west of Japanese otaku media such as anime, manga, and light novels in America keep outing themselves as being a untrustworthy source of translation. By editorializing and outright removing content, bending over backwards to appeal the whiny minority in the name of morals, they accomplish nothing but keep the seed of doubt strong towards the English market as a whole that has existed since the very start of western commercialization of anime and manga.

Now, before anyone asks: Yes, this whole thing spawned from my annoyance with Viz.

There’s been more than a few examples of publishers engaging in this kind of activities in the past few years, with Seven Seas’s censoring of Mushoku Tensei being one of the bigger cases (headline wise). More recently, there’s the case of Ayakashi Triangle’s western release being outright denied the publication of two chapters.

Cropped samples of Ayakashi Triangle Chapter 14 & 15 | Credit: /a/nonymous

While the making of and broadcasting of movies such as Cuties has “critics” crying tears of joy, the mere idea of fully fictional content doing the same has those very same people throwing tamper tantrums, screaming their lungs out. Virtue signaling western games showcasing and borderline glorifying underage characters having intercourse is acceptable, and it’s not uncommon for major releases to be applauded as “striking and emotionally strong” storytelling; but when an anime character is shown having even a modicum of cleavage or sexual appeal, young looking or not, the paper presses are spinning red hot.

Cropped & Censored Screenshot | Credit: Cuties (2020)

The issue I personally take with the Cuties movie is the fact it features actual children – real life, flesh and blood humans. Sure, one might argue the movie, while undoubtedly distasteful in its presentation at times, that there’s no overt sexual content; and while it’s…questionable dance performance, it is dance performance. However, I personally can’t quite bring myself to equate drawings, pure fantasy and fiction, to real life imagery. That might be considered weird, and if so, then yes, I must be a strange person indeed. Unable to conflate fiction with real life, what a weirdo.

Now, loath to have readers think of me as a hypocrite, I’ll make it clear that I do very much hold the publishing of non-Japanese media to the same level of freedom as I do them. I’m all for artistic freedom in the purest of senses. The examples mentioned prior should all, provided there’s been no harm to actual people in the making of – VAs, model for the 3D assets, etc – have a right to be published.

Creators should enjoy the same artistic freedom regardless of the style they express themselves, be it through song, music, written words, painting in the “traditional” style, or drawings in manga/anime form, or so called 3DCG – 3D (Modeled) Computer Graphics. All should feel free to express themselves to their hearts content, provided no real person is harmed in the process of making it.

Happy Halloween! | Credit: Rapetacular @Rapetacular/103057780668927421

Certain groups might, for example, find Nazi symbols, and by extension the swastika itself, to be “offensive.” That’s fine. It’s their constitutional right to express their displeasure with it. However, no matter one’s feelings towards the subject, it should still be the peoples’ right to use it. “Offense is taken, not given,” is an old argument, and that is generally true.

Banning one set of “controversial” symbols will inevitably end up with the rules affecting the very people who campaigned for it. Sure, the example of the swastika above might be offensive to various groups, including communists, but the same goes the other way. Symbols that, for example, represent the anarchist movement will no doubt be upsetting to a great many conservatives, etc. You will, no matter how hard you try, always have some that will be upset over what another does, says, or whatever else.

Having the freedom to express oneself means that someone will inevitably end up upset and throw a tantrum over their perceived hurt feelings. This very post will have at least some person out there be seething in rage, and that’s fine. That person will have the choice to not visit my site any more. They may even, provided they follow the commenting guidelines, post a strongly worded comment, telling me how incredibly wrong I am. Nudge, nudge~

Kawaii Adolf | Credit: sdshamshel

Within the gaming sphere of times past, due at least in part to the perpetually outraged, including parents who can’t be bothered to keep an eye on what they buy their own children, we saw the gaming market form a self-regulatory board rating officially published games. While acceptable as a form of compromise, offsetting bad parenting, these very ratings boards, including the ESRB and PEGI, has slowly been overstepping their bounds since their very conception, and in doing so hindered the artistic freedom of creators to publish games on all major video game consoles. Unlike back in the day, there’s been a complete lack of pushback from publishers, which is no doubt also a major factor in the rating boards’ powergrabs.

Now, one may of course argue that it’s not strictly necessary to publish on console, and that’s certainly true to an extent. Certainly, it’s hard to label it “censorship.” I’m not arguing that it is. However, it is still worrying that the ratings boards are given the amount of control they’ve got, to absolutely no use, seeing how the majority of parents still refuse to own up to their own mistakes and failures as guardians.

Armed with ratings on every game published, and modern technology allowing things like parental controls on your console of choice, imagine if the groups who complain could try using the features developed specially for their convenience, instead of running their yaps at every turn they get. Now that would be a truly alien world we’d have found ourselves in.

Bonus points if anyone gets which certain “online influencer” the header image references in this context.

Also, unfinished mess of a post is unfinished and simply bad.