12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Do the Censor! (Seikon no Qwasar 1)

This moment is more like a phenomenon, really. The example I’ll be using is taken from Seikon no Qwasar episode 1, but it now seems to happen across a number of anime series this past year. I mean, of course, an increasingly intrusive censorship in anime TV shows in order to sell DVDs that are either borderline or outright hentai.

Black bars ain't the half of it.

I watched the first episode of Seikon no Qwasar and it left me baffled. There was some very unclear storytelling going on, shots that didn’t make sense given the dialogue or the sounds. I had hunches about what was going on based on those sounds: orgasmic cries of pain seem to dominate quite a bit. They still managed to imply strongly just what was going on and how the main guy gets his powers (by becoming, as it were, a suckling). But it’s like the show was willfully, and obviously, turning away every time those things happened, usually in non-sensical ways. They didn’t even use black bars or steam much of the time; they just cut away.

So I was shocked and not-shocked simultaneously when I saw the first several minutes of the uncensored episode. Shocked because the degree of sexualized violence was a lot more intense than I thought, not shocked because I knew they were hiding something racy. Except I don’t find sexualized violence racy; I find it repulsive. Which is why I couldn’t watch much more of it.

Censorship is getting stranger. For one, it’s often applied inconsistently—some shows have all the nipples, others do steam even over regular panty shots. With Seikon no Qwasar it’s hard to even tell the story properly with censorship, which would in the past meant it wouldn’t have been shown on TV at all: it’d be an OVA like Daughters of Rin (Mnemosyne). Does it represent a new boundary-moving show, in that something whose content who would be considered out-of-bounds even just a few years ago can make it, albeit in mutilated form?

I don’t know. I once expressed fear that School Days was going to lead to a glut of shock “Nice Boat” animes, with yonderes slicing up protagonists on a regular basis. That did not come to pass, so the stark difference between the censored and uncensored versions of Seikon no Qwasar may end up being an outlier. Still, that difference—that difference was both telling and memorable.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

3 thoughts on “12 Days, 12 Moments 2010: Do the Censor! (Seikon no Qwasar 1)

  1. I agree. In a way, it’s a sign that anime sales have become increasingly desperate. It’s as if the publishers are saying, “Now that you’ve seen the TV release, buy the DVDs to get the REAL show. Please buy it….and commence fapping.”>_< I dunno.

    This whole industry is strange since SO many people say they love it, yet so few people actually *purchase* anime. It also could be the lack of "Can't Miss" shows in current seasons. I mean, really. What show has been so revolutionary that virtually every anime fan would want to have it in their collection? K-On? Maybe it doesn't have international appeal (I know it sells well in Japan). Star Driver? Not everyone is into 'Giant Robot' shows. (notice neither of these shows are 'fanservice' shows). There needs to be another Cowboy Bepop; a show that cuts through all variations of anime fandom to just be…*awesome*.

    Just like 'Avatar' was a 'Can't Miss' movie and every Call of Duty is a 'Can't Miss' game…I look forward to the next 'Can't Miss' anime. I think it's long overdue. 🙂

  2. Then there’s Yosuga no Sora, which seems to flip a coin to decide whether or not a nipple or a thrust will be censored or not. Really, the censoring there seems completely random.

  3. Mike C: indeed, the anime industry’s increasing insularity and its almost total reliance now on the hardcore otaku market means that broadcasts (late night shows especially) are really just teasers for merchandise—not just DVDs/Blu-Rays, but also collectible items, figures, etc. Anime has always been and will always be commercial entertainment, of course, but what we are seeing now is just increasingly, well, obvious and crass. You shouldn’t have to cripple a show aesthetically in order to get people to spend money. The truth is that the old business model is passing away, and we have no idea what exactly is going to replace it. I believe there will always be anime, but who knows whether there will be a lot of it, or what kind.

    Corti: I haven’t seen the show but I have heard reports to the same. Honestly, there appears to be little rhyme or reason to a lot of censorship; it almost certainly isn’t for standards & practices/moral/sensitivity reasons anymore. Perhaps the high point was the creative places where a certain producer’s face was put in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. It’s been downhill ever since!

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