China's influence on anime production has increased dramatically in recent years. In order for the series to be allowed to be shown in the world's most populous country, the studios have to fulfill more and more requirements, some of which also restrict freedom.
Banned Anime in China
In our latest Editor's Picks article, we present you some anime titles that enjoy great popularity in the Western world, but are among the banned works in the Chinese market, as they have been deemed too dangerous by the government.
For example, the worldwide hit series “Attack on Titan”, the second season of the game anime “Sword Art Online”, the anime classic “Death Note”, as well as various horror and gore titles such as “Elfen Lied”, “Tokyo Ghoul” and “Parasyte” are not allowed for release in China.
Below we have listed some series that are considered banned in China, along with a brief explanation. Click on the title to go directly to the anime.
Banned Anime Series in China
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero.
In 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Culture imposed a ban on 38 anime works. Among these titles is the ecchi series “Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero”, which never saw the light of day in the Chinese regions due to its story revolving around a group of rebels overthrowing a dystopian government system.
The unpredictable and inter-dimensional traveling hero Akatsuki Ousawa has returned to the real world from Alazzard, a realm of swords and magic. At his side is Miu, the daughter of the demon king he defeated, who has asked Akatsuki to protect her. Akatsuki takes her to the Babel Academy, which protects young survivors from other dimensions.
Attack on Titan
“Attack on Titan” is also on the list of banned anime in China. The title was officially banned for its excessive depiction of violence. However, fans suspect that the story of resistance to an authoritarian system might have played a big role as well, since the Chinese government doesn't want its citizens to harbor such ideas.
In 2000 years, humanity – or what's left of it – lives behind massive walls 50 meters high. This fortress promises safety, but those who venture outside rarely return unscathed. For the world is ruled by giant Titans, who seem to have only one goal: To eat people!
“Black Butler” was banned in China for various reasons. The anime has a dark theme, contains violent as well as gore elements and encourages crimes, while the manga contains disturbing images. Therefore, both the adaptation and the original work were deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government.
London, 19th century: Twelve-year-old Ciel Phantomhive, the last scion of an ancient English noble family, is a close confidant of Queen Victoria and serves as a sort of watchdog for the ruler against criminal elements. Always at his side is Ciel's butler, Sebastian Michaelis.
Outsiders may see Sebastian merely as an infallible servant who performs every task assigned to him with absolute perfection. However, the butler is actually a demon who helps Ciel in his quest for revenge against his parents' murderers in exchange for his soul.
Corpse Party: Tortured Souls.
The horror-mystery anime “Corpse Party: Tortured Souls” was also doomed by its excessive depiction of violence. Since the Chinese government found the content of the OVA series too frightening and violent, it was summarily banned.
Naomi wakes up in a dark place she doesn't know how she got there. She had just sat with friends in her classroom and exchanged scary stories. During the friendship ritual in which they tore a paper figurine, the earth shook and they fell into an abyss. Now Naomi must find her friends in an old haunted school, even if the blood on the walls makes all her hair stand on end …
With “Deadman Wonderland”, another anime made it to the list of banned works in China in 2015. Officially, no reason was given, but the series also contains a lot of violence, which could also have caused the ban.
The inmates of this crazy prison fight for survival every day to provide entertainment for the masses. Terrible secrets lurk in the shadows. Ganta is determined to survive Deadman Wonderland and clear his name, but the price could be his soul …
The anime classic “Death Note” has already been banned in several countries, including Russia. In China, the Ministry of Culture is the trigger for this, as they claim that the concept of Death Note could turn peaceful people into criminals.
However, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the ban was imposed after authorities noticed that many young people were making their own Death Notes and writing down the names of public officials.
The young model student Light Yagami was actually content with his normal life. Then one day an ominous notebook falls in front of his feet. According to this book, you can kill a person by just writing down their name …
High School Dxd
Most anime in China are rejected because of their excessive violence, pornographic depictions or promotion of terrorism. With “High School DxD” on the other hand, there is another reason: the sexualization of high school students, which is not supposed to be suitable for the target audience.
Demons, angels, humans and lots of erotic seduction. In his first life as a high school student, Issei cannot act out his erotic desires at all. His second life as a demon, on the other hand, offers him extremely lush opportunities for development in this regard.
High School of The Dead
The action ecchi series “Highschool of the Dead” also fell victim to the anime ban wave from 2015. Chinese authorities classified the content as too sexual and thus banned it in the world's most populous country.
A deadly virus has gripped the world, turning all infected into bloodthirsty zombies. Human civilization is on the brink of the abyss and there is still no explanation for the lightning-like outbreak of the supposed plague.
My Hero Academia
Just last year, China banned the popular superhero anime “My Hero Academia.” This was triggered by the name Maruta Shiga, as “Maruta” was used by Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II for a project that involved medical experiments on humans.
Since most of the victims in the process were Chinese, the name caused a major scandal in China. This led several Chinese platforms to remove works associated with the franchise, such as anime and manga, “in accordance with China's policy”.
Middle school student Izuku Midoriya desperately wants to be a hero, but he is a weak “normal”. With no chance of getting into the prestigious U.A. high school for aspiring heroes, his life looks more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might gives him a chance to change his fate …
“Parasyte” is also one of the series that fell under the knife of the authorities in 2015. Here, the visual representation of physical transformations is said to have been the cause.
In the silence of the night they descended from the sky with a hunger for human flesh: parasites that settle in a human host body for survival and take it over. No one knows their secret except high school student Shinichi, whose right hand has been taken over by a parasite.
“Psycho-Pass” is about enforcing the law with the help of a computerized system that is full of flaws and corruption. According to the authorities, this psychological thriller not only glorifies violence, but also encourages juvenile delinquency and rebellion.
In the Japan of the future, everything seems perfect: breakfast comes from a vending machine, outfits are put together at the push of a button, life is safer than ever. Only incidentally, a sophisticated system constantly analyzes the mental state of the population and thus also its potential for violence. People whose so-called “psycho-passport” shows an excessive value are arrested, treated or immediately eliminated.
Sword Art Online II
Many fantasy anime have a hard time with a release in China and Russia, because the idea of another world, in which the protagonist can do anything he wants, is “not accepted” there. This was also the case with “Sword Art Online”.
The second season in particular played a role in this: in Gun Gale Online, players use weapons to kill each other's avatars. In China, the use of weapons is not looked upon favorably, and other offensive material also attracted negative attention from the government. For this reason, they banned the 24 episodes from 2014. All other seasons are still available.
A year after the SAO incident, Kirito is contacted by Seijiro Kikuoka of the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, “VR” Division, with a rather strange request. It is an investigation into the “Death Gun” incident that occurred in the gun-filled VRMMO Gun Gale Online (GGO).
The Testament of Sister New Devil.
Another anime that was given the boot by the Chinese Ministry of Culture is the ecchi title “The Testament of Sister New Devil.” The decision was made due to the depiction of supernatural elements in the series. The existence of a devil, a demon lord and a hero who hunts down the bad guys was enough to issue a ban.
Basara could hardly believe that his stepsisters, sweet Maria and red-haired voluptuous beauty Mio, would live with him and his father Jin in the future. As it soon turned out, Mio was not only his new sister, but also a budding demon queen and this, of course, caused some problems in the new shared apartment.
Together with “Attack on Titan”, “Tokyo Ghoul” was also taken off the Chinese VoD platforms. The reason for this is said to be the theme of the story, which is too dark for a younger audience. The portrayal of the ghouls was also deemed to glorify violence.
Shy Ken Kaneki is excited to go on a date with the beautiful Rize. But it turns out she's only interested in his body – and eating it. When a morally questionable rescue mission turns him into the first half-human-half-ghoul hybrid, Ken is drawn into the dark and violent world of the ghouls.