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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.

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