Everyone’s heard the clichés about how anime is weird. Robots, magical girls, random fourth wall breaking events, ridiculous gore in the middle of stuff meant for kids, you get the idea. But very often, the creators of these shows and movies can be expected to do some really mad stuff. And if they’re not up to be crazy, hey, there’s always the fans.
10. Nice Boat
In 2007, a sixteen year-old woman in Tokyo murdered her father with an axe, stating as a reason “I didn’t like him.” This was considered disastrous to the producers of the television show “School Days.” While mostly just a generic teen soap opera, the last episode would include teens killing each other with knives. It was decided not to air the violence, but instead of doing the sensible thing and just not air the episode, they decided to cut the ending kill scene and replace it with Relax-O-Vision footage of a sea liner-type boat going down a large river. This started the internet meme of people posting screen shots, fan drawings, and such with subtitles of “Nice Boat.” Which has got to be the mildest “take that!” censorship ever experienced.
9. Hayao Miyazaki Goes Crazy
The film Princess Mononoke was released by future Academy Award winner Hayao Miyazaki in 1997. It became the highest grossing film in Japanese history until Miyazaki topped himself with Spirited Away (then again with Howl’s Moving Castle.) Monoke had been a very personal film for Miyazaki, since he had planned for it to be his last. So personal was it, in fact, that he personally redrew 80,000 of the frames for the movie. 80,000, for a movie that took less than two years. That’s over 12 finished drawings a day in addition to all the other stuff he had to do for his job as director! No wonder the guy couldn’t retire: he was probably still drawing in his sleep with a workload like that!
8. Perversion Through Laziness
Well, there had to be one about those creepy porn cartoons, so let’s just get it out of the way: L.A. Blue Girl was a high profile 1995 porno toon (as far as these things go) which was arranged to be released in America and the U.K. While Japanese law had required all genitalia to be put under tasteful mosaics, other countries did not. The animators, thinking no one would ever see them anyway, had not bothered to draw the reproductive organs properly. This lead to the impression that the characters were underage, and so the animated movie was banned in America and the U.K. after all.
7. I Will Marry A Character
While it’s been trendy for decades now to say that Jessica Rabbit is a sexy cartoon character even among non-creepy people, few people have ever publicly declared that they want to marry her. Not with her probable background. By contrast, Taichi Takashiti does want to take that next step and marry a character called Mikuru Asahina from a show called The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Right there you can see this is ridiculous: she’s not even the main character! If you’ve got the option, clearly you’d want to marry the star for the real money.
Not content with just telling a few buddies behind closed doors in between the pills, Takashiti petitioned the Japanese government for the purpose of changing the law. No recent developments on this, but last reported, he needed one million signatures before it would be discussed, and he barely had a thousand in 2008, and the fact this is not the most widely known story in Japan right now next to Fukushima indicates he probably hasn‘t made it.
You know what’s most nuts about this? If the guy REALLY wanted to go through with this, he could probably just move. A man in South Korea actually did marry a pillow with an anime face printed on it. But perhaps that wouldn’t be for the best: there’d already be enough stigma is you’re a child who is half human, half-cartoon, but being only a first generation immigrant might be too much.
6. The Infamous Pokemon Scare
You’ve probably heard about the famous episode of the old cartoon about fighting Pokemon animal things that allegedly induced seizures in a huge number of Japanese kids. Even those who didn’t hear the news story probably saw the parody on South Park or The Simpsons, unless they’re young enough to actually be part of the target audience.
What they don’t realize is that this entire story is a ridiculous hysteria: while it is often quoted that hundreds of kids were hospitalized or something, in fact, the extent of kids suffering from any real effects of seizure was actually less than a dozen, and of those, the effects were nausea, not life threatening seizures.
Pokemon the cartoon was launched in America the same year as the whole epilepsy incident. Given that it was quite possibly the first time in more than a decade a Japanese cartoon got mainstream western attention, being accused of almost killing kids very likely HELPED Pokemon penetrate the mainstream. But that’s not as weird as the next thing.
5. Pokemon Card Knife Pulls
In 1999, a nine year-old kid in New York stabbed another one for over a Pokemon card. Not to steal it, you understand, but because the stabbed kid wouldn’t show it. Even as that was being reported, another kid stabbed another over a Pokemon card in Canada. Then it happened again in Pennsylvania in 2004. Then AGAIN in Sweden in 2008. Fortunately, there have not been any fatalities. Why would kids use knives on each other over Pokemon cards? Because guns are too quick. You don’t have time to savor all those little emotions. All kidding aside, it is interesting to note that it’s been all white kids that will stab each other over these things. Japanese kids are probably kinda sick of all of it by now.
In 2007, two thighs and a torso of a (presumed) dead person were found in a park in Brussels, Belgium. Nearby were two death notes. For those who don’t know, these were death notes related to a popular anime series called “Death Note” where apparently some guy just has to write someone’s name in a notebook and that person will die. Because all the essential identifiers were gone, the victim was not identified. The case became known as “Manga (Japanese word for “Comic”) murder,” which is at least a little more tactful than “Animelee!” Three years later, the perpetrators were arrested and two of them confessed to their crimes, admitting that the death notes (the things that gave them away because of handwriting indentification) were indeed because they were fans of the comic.
3. Death Threats On the Big Screen
While Neon Genesis Evangelion was widely praised by even western audiences for it’s somber, deconstructionist and symbolist tone (despite being a show about giant aliens being destroyed by other giant monsters piloted by humans) towards the end the budget dropped so much that the last episodes weren’t really animated, just a bunch of stills with voice over. This pissed fans off so much that they not only vandalized the production studio, but they sent death threats to creator/executive producer Hideki Anno.
So it was decided to redo the series ending as a movie. Going through a deep depression as well as a bit pissed off at the fact fans of his show threatened his life, Anno stuck those death threats into the movie End of Evangelion, like some insane audience participation contest.
2. Those (Literally) Crazy Artists!
While we’re mentioning that End of Evangelion movie, Anno wasn’t content with just making sure there was a permanent record of his insane, hateful fans in the film. During a scene where the main character in the movie is having a mental breakdown, Anno decided to put in some crazy drawings done in the style of a kid’s drawing. Apparently wanting as much realism as possible in his cartoon about giant monsters fighting, Anno stuck in drawings by real institutionalized children showing doing scenes anger and violence. Must have been fun to be one of those kids years later and be reminded watching the movie of that traumatic event.
1. Prisoners of Voice Over
The first full-length anime movie, Divine Sea Warriors, had the rotten luck of being made in 1943, while Japan was dead in the Second World War, and so it was a propaganda film. A black and white propaganda film where everyone was represented as a bunch of anthropomorphic animals. The decision was made to put some English speakers in there. For the American animal, they decided to just plan rip the soundtrack off of a Popeye cartoon, which means there’s a weird bit where there’s a ship sailing in the ocean but you can hear someone calling “Taxi!” For the British speaker, apparently they had an actual Brit handy, but his performance was so strange that reviewers have come to suspect that the actor was actual a prisoner of war. Having him voice an anime cartoon must have violated something in the Geneva Convention about prisoner dignity.