We all love and accept the weird quirks we find in anime–but did you know that some of these quirks found in dubbed anime are actually due to censorship?
Before distribution in a country other than its country of production, media is often edited to make it more appropriate for its new demographic. Anime censors include translating, remastering, and, in many cases, censorship. Especially because of the perception in Western cultures that animated cartoons are for children, anime is often the subject of heavy censoring before it becomes distributed to mainstream media.
Here are some of the weirdest, most ridiculous, or otherwise wonky censors that we’ve found in American-adapted anime.
Jelly donuts in Pokemon
The “jelly donuts” that Ash and his friends ate look nothing like any jelly donuts I’ve seen before! What many people would recognize as rice balls (also known as onigiri) were called “jelly donuts” in the American Pokemon dub. Despite being a common snack and lunch food in Japan, the decision to culturally localize rice balls helps promote an element of familiarity with Ash and his friends for an American audience.
Sanji’s lollipop in One Piece
Sanji, a character from One Piece, is iconic for always having a cigarette in his mouth. For American audiences, however, editors decided that having a character who was constantly smoking would be a bad influence, and instead edited this cigarette to be a lollipop. Sanji thereby went from nicotine addict to sugar fiend– Well played, 4Kids. Well played.
Cousin love between Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune
Now, you look me in the eyes and tell me that you believed Sailors Uranus and Neptune were actually cousins. I definitely don’t look at my cousin the way those two look like each other. But indeed, Sailor Moon’s American distributor thought that a lesbian relationship would be too much for teeny boppers to handle, and changed Uranus and Neptune from star-crossed lovers to close cousins, removing many of their explicitly romantic scenes. A weird choice for a censor–is borderline incest really better than a healthy LGBT couple?
The Shadow Realm in Yu-Gi-Oh!
A character who died in the original Yu-Gi-Oh! would instead be banished to the Shadow Realm in the Yu-Gi-Oh! American adaption. Although the Shadow Realm was also concept in the manga and Japanese anime (alternatively known as the “Dark World”), it was more widely used as a euphemism for death and other disastrous events in the American dub.