Things that are fun are fun, and anime is a fun thing. That doesn’t deter the genre from being entangled in a controversy now and then. Anything involving humans has the possibility to trigger an altercation, a dispute, or a commotion that causes people to talk feverishly and passionately about what happened. If it’s literature, movies, video games, or anime, controversy is intrinsically tied to it because it’s art. Every year, a considerable number of anime is produced in Japan, and the industry has seen its fair share of drama during its long and illustrious existence. Let’s look at some of the most controversial incidents in anime and the people who work in the industry. These ten controversies have gained traction and created a stir among anime fans, for better or worse.
1. Kokoro Connect “Prank” Almost Killed The Series
Mitsuhiro Ichiki’s hopes of landing the part of a lifetime in Kokoro Connect as an unannounced character for the show were dashed when he went to a promotional event and learned the role was fake. What he hoped would be a reveal for his character turned into a joke at his expense as they showed the viewers his humiliating audition, complete with a sarcastic voice-over. Adding insult to injury, he was then appointed the Promotional Chief of the show, with responsibilities that included being electrocuted in front of a live audience if he didn’t meet his goals.
The cruel prank drew fans’ anger on the popular website 2ch, who saw it as a blatant case of bullying and went on to blast the staff and voice actors. After receiving a series of abusive tweets, voice actress Eri Kitamura was forced to delete her Twitter account. A radio show designed to promote the anime was canceled as a result of the backlash. Silver Link, the anime studio behind Kokoro Connect, has apologized publicly for the incident. Ichiki, to his credit, had no bad feelings against anyone who took part in the prank. However, because of the incident, the Kokoro Connect anime series has a negative connotation.
2. “Muv-Luv” Character Designer Fired Over Tracing Controversy
Copies of other people’s work without their consent are commonly frowned upon in the art and entertainment industries and can have disastrous consequences if caught. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse had promotional artwork released in 2012 that portrayed the anime’s female cast in bikinis. Several Japanese bloggers noted the artwork’s eerie resemblance to the art of other anime series when it was made public. In the case of the Muv-Luv character, not only is the body shape outline noticeable traces, but the shadows used are also identical, with only minor differences and color swaps.
The artist has apparently done the same thing with art that would be used for a dakimakura, in addition to tracing for promotional content. The artist has used the crimson-haired character Corticarte from Polyphonica as the trace subject in this case. The Muv-Luv dakimakura was created by tracing her adult form. Sou Miyata was fired from his job at animation production company Ixtl after news got out that Muv-Luv featured traced artwork from other series. Ixtl’s press release confirmed that the artist would no longer be associated with the company but did not provide an explanation for his dismissal.
3. Recovery of an MMO Junkie Director Causes Controversy With Anti-Semitic Tweets
Kazuyoshi Yaginuma is a freelance animator who has worked as an episode director on shows like Recovery of an MMO Junkie, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, From the New World, and Pokémon Generations, among others. Though his resume is outstanding, Yaginuma’s anti-semitic opinions are extremely controversial, making it difficult to distinguish art from the artist. Yaginuma had been retweeting and liking anti-semitic statements on Twitter for years. He had begun tweeting his bigoted views in English for foreign users since 2018. He also uses the word “Jew” in a derogatory manner and actively questions the Holocaust’s horrors.
Yaginuma also claimed to be skeptical of Nazi gas chambers, claiming that no images of how they functioned exist. Crunchyroll, a part of the production committee for Recovery of an MMO Junkie, distanced itself from Yaginuma after his anti-semitic beliefs were eventually exposed. Crunchyroll’s parent firm, Ellation, released a statement that it did not tolerate the anti-semitic behavior. Ellation’s remark prompted Yaginuma to refer to them as Jews. The animation studio behind Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Signal MD, released a statement condemning Yaginuma’s tweets and announcing that the director had been let go by the studio.
4. Voice Actor Vic Mignogna Accused Of Sexual Harassment
A well-known American voice actor, Vic Mignogna was best known for his work on anime dubs in English. Broly from Dragon Ball, Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, and Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club are among his most notable roles. Mignogna faced allegations of sexual harassment and homophobia in 2019. Fans accused him of sexual assault in the form of hugging and kissing without consent while he was attending an anime convention. Any of the attendees who said this occurred were under 18, and the claims date back to 2008.
Some voice actors have also openly criticized Mignogna. Marchi described her meeting with Mignogna, and Rial said Mignogna had sexually assaulted her as well. It created quite a stir among his followers and others who believed the accusations in the anime community. It eventually sparked two hashtag campaigns on Twitter, #kickvic and #istandwithvic, among those who did and didn’t believe the accusations. He was laid off from both Funimation and Rooster Teeth. He was effectively blacklisted from doing any further voice work in the industry as a result of the accusations. Vic Mignogna later attempted to sue his critics for defamation, but a court of law dismissed the lawsuit.
5. The Banned Pokémon Episode That Gave Children Seizures
During the 1990s, Pokémon was at the peak of its popularity. However, on December 16, 1997, the anime version of Pokémon dealt a significant blow to the monster-collecting franchise. About 600 Japanese children were hospitalized as a result of the episode in question, “Electric Soldier Porygon.” Ash and his Pokémon-training buddies ride inside a Poké Ball transmitter machine in this episode. In the end, Ash is about to be struck by a barrage of missiles, but Pikachu uses an electrical strike to destroy them.
The animators wanted to cover the blast with bright red and blue lights because they were in a computer world. Though visually spectacular, the strobe lights triggered seizure-like effects in Japanese children all over Japan. After viewing the show, several children experienced dizziness, nausea, and temporary blindness. In Japan, the incident was dubbed “Pokémon Shock,” and the show was taken off the air for almost four months. When the show returned, it made significant revisions to the animation to ensure that another “Pokémon Shock” never happened. Before the anime aired, a special announcement was broadcast to inform Japanese audiences that it was safe for children and families to watch Pokémon again. Porygon, the featured Pokémon in the show, was never given another significant role in the series.
6. ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ Got Canceled For Its Inappropriate Content
There is a plethora of ecchi anime with lewd and provocative material accessible. Take, for example, High School DxD or Monster Musume. However, many people deem Interspecies Reviewers to be borderline hentai. Many American distributors, including Funimation and Amazon Prime, soon scrapped the series after fans online pointed it out. Tokyo MX, a Japanese broadcasting station, canceled the series shortly after. You’d imagine that before deciding to air the series, these producers would thoroughly review it.
According to the Japanese fan blog otakujp, the anime was canceled due to the TV station’s program management. The message indicates that Interspecies Reviewers was canceled due to network mismanagement, not because of its content. Fans are now left to wonder whether the explainer tells the whole story behind the show’s cancellation. However, the series’ success skyrocketed as a result of the controversies surrounding it. Many fans flocked to MyAnimeList to award the anime a high rating, propelling it to the site’s ninth most popular anime. Others called for the show to be revived. No one could have expected that a show like Interspecies Reviewers would get such widespread attention.
7. ‘Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’ to suspend sales after Muslims say it insults Islam
When the anime team of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure took liberties with a specific scene from the manga, they learned a harsh lesson. Longtime antagonist Dio Brando is seen reading a book riddled with gibberish in the manga version, Stardust Crusaders. The 90-second scene in question shows Dio Brando picking up a Qur’an from a bookshelf and seemingly examining it as he asks the hero and his friends to be killed. The anime team wanted to fill Dio’s book with actual Arabic characters to represent the story’s Arabic background best.
Unfortunately, the Arabic work used as reference material by the staff came from the Qur’an, Islam’s central religious text. The Muslim community was outraged by the questionable anime scene, which reiterated the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists by letting the series’ villain read their holy book. Shueisha, the Japanese publishing company, and A.P.P.P., the animation production studio, apologized for the incident and suspended production of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure manga and anime series to ensure that no more offensive imagery was used. Dio no longer reads the Qur’an in new releases of the manga and anime series.
8. ‘Kemono Friends’ Abruptly Fired Its Director & Fans Aren’t Happy
Kemono Friends, a 2017 multi-media franchise, was an instant success in Japan. The first and second volumes each sold 120,000 Blu-ray discs. Unfortunately, the show’s main writer/director Tatsuki was fired by Kadokawa Shoten, the studio behind the project. Tatsuki tweeted on September 25, 2017, about how disappointed he was to be abruptly cut from the second season of Kemono Friends. Fans who saw Tatsuki as the show’s heart and soul were outraged by the dismissal and vented their frustrations on Kadokawa’s associated websites. The reaction was so strong that it affected Kadokawa’s stock price.
According to Kadokawa’s official statement on the dispute, Tatsuki infringed on the series’ rights by distributing art materials from the show without Kadokawa’s permission. Tatsuki’s return had been petitioned on Change.org. It had received more than 54,000 signatures. The show’s voice actresses appeared and apologized for the controversy, even though they had very little to do with it, according to Anime News Network. It’s possible they were forced to do so by Kadokawa. Kadokawa’s CEO, Shinichiro Inoue, apologized and attempted to find a way to get Tatsuki back for Season 2. Unfortunately, they were unable to find an understanding, and Kemono Friends’ future remains uncertain.
9. Ayano Hirano’s Sex Life Is Exposed
22 at the time, Ayano Hirano was attempting to break into the mainstream of celebrity while enraging her rabid fan base. Hirano is best known for voicing Haruhi Suzumiya, a schoolgirl character in the anime adaptation of Haruhi Suzumiya. In the Lucky Star anime, she also voiced the schoolgirl character Konata. Voice actors and actresses are extremely popular with anime fans and gamers in Japan. Hirano has also lent her voice to many video games, including the Haruhi and Lucky Star games. Hirano admitted to liking and dating older men, spoke about her ex-boyfriend who cheated on her, and dated with several partners simultaneously during an appearance on “Goût Temps Nouveau,” a Japanese show for women.
In Japan, otaku culture has transformed idol work into a comment on a person’s sexual character as well as a career. And only the most sacred of holy virgins are permitted to become idols. So they became irritated when she casually admitted to dating several men, was discovered in bed with one of her bandmates, and then was caught sleeping with all of the other bandmates except the bassist. Several people accused the idol of no longer being innocent and destroyed her pictures and CDs.
10. ‘Kill Me Baby’ Actress Ai Takabe Arrested for Alleged Drug Possession
In Japan, celebrity drug use is uncommon, but the resulting controversy may have much further repercussions when it does happen. Following her arrest for possession of cocaine use in October 2016 and a second arrest for alleged drug use in November 2016, Ai Takabe knows all about it. Takabe has worked as a swimsuit model, actress, idol singer, and media personality throughout her career, which mostly overlaps in Japan. She also dabbled in anime voice acting, with her most notable role as schoolgirl ninja Agiri in the 2012 comedy Kill Me Baby, becoming her most well-known role.
Even though Agiri is a fan favorite, after her detention, all references of Takabe’s name were deleted from the series’ official website, in a stark example of the often image-conscious Japanese entertainment industry’s propensity for distancing its ventures from some form of illegal behavior. After months of consideration, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office decided not to pursue charges against her. However, as per a statement from the organization, this was not due to a lack of evidence or remorse for Takabe’s actions. Owing to leniency with the limited amount of drugs in her possession and the social punishments she had previously received, the charges were dropped.