It's not an uncommon practice for a popular manga to be adapted into an anime series. Many of the larger Shueisha publications often get this treatment. Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and BLEACH to name a few. Each have had almost scene for scene adaptations of the manga brought to animated life. There are some times though that something has been drawn onto the page that's just too edgy or possibly offensive to be directly animated into the series.
It was last year that I wrote the satirical article about the Oppai Code on how anime scenes cover up breasts more than they did in the panels of the manga. That was more lighthearted and silly.
Recent events with the BLEACH anime has dragged up issues of imagery that is far more controversial. I'm talking about the use of the Swastika. It appeared recently in BLEACH as Ichigo was trying to regain his Soul Reaper powers by learning how to use Fullbring. The symbol that appeared to represent his awakening power was a swastika, but it's not what it actually appears at first glance. Most of the world recognizes this as the mark of the Nazi Party that took over much of Europe and committed mass genocide in 1939-1945. Despite the fact this mark far predates the Third Reich, any use of it is automatically met with swift backlash. It's a symbol now automatically associated with hate and racial tensions. Most are terrified to use it in any context. The Strike Witchesseries avoided using it despite the series taking place during the era that would be WWII. Even the more recent Captain America movie skipped around the issue by using Hydra as the main villains.
When it came time to animate this very chapter of Ichigo using Fullbring for BLEACH Episode 348. It's style was dramatically altered to a more symmetrical pinwheel shape. This isn't even the first time this sort of issue has popped up for the Shonen Jump line. When One Piece creator, Eiichiro Oda, first drew the Whitebeard Pirates symbol on Ace's back in Chapter 157 that was released in 2000. The design originally used the swastika. This was later changed to a cross for the anime, and even Oda retconned the mark in the manga to match. I guess Tite Kubo never got that memo.
What some may not realize is that this symbol plays another role in the Japanese language. It's actually the first kanji in the word Bankai (卍解). Anyone who's followed BLEACH knows that this is kind of a popular term that gets mentioned occasionally. Anytime someone has activated their Bankai in the manga, the pages show that symbol every single time. It's also a mark that's used in Buddhism. It can be found on the forehead of many Buddha statues or the walls of the temples. Not exactly a group one could link to anger and hatred.
I guess I just find this so much more jarring recently in BLEACH because Ichigo directly describes his Fullbring as looking similar to the guard (tsuba) of his Zangetsu. It's kind of funny that the anime has him saying something that's contradicting what you are seeing on the screen. If they were going to alter the imagery, why not just cut that small line from the dialog along with it? This kanji has been seen completely unaltered in both the manga and anime of BLEACH on his sword, and no one has ever said a single thing. Is that how they got away with this use? By making it rectangular instead of square.
It's strange that these very images can be shown in the manga, but what is it about having it animated that makes it so much more controversial? These are marketed to the very same age groups. Ultimately, the anime is just an adaptation of the manga. As long as the pages of the book are unchanged it's not a big deal. That's why things that happen in filler episodes are rarely ever mentioned in canon arcs. Animes are fun, but if you want the real story. You go to the book.
It should also be telling what VIZ Media will do when they come to printing these latest chapters for the US market. These are the same people who thought Shikamaru Nara with a cigarette in his mouth once was too controversial. Will BLEACH Ch. 436 and on be the next victim of VIZ's knee jerk style of localization and publishing? Fullmetal Alchemist readers may remember how VIZ altered the original artwork of the manga for the scene of the first Greed's death. The Japanese version had him tied to a cross, and the VIZ version had him on a nondescript tablet. To be fair, the Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood anime also altered this very scene.
It's not that can't understand the sensitivities behind the use of this symbol, but I feel people often overreact to it. It's more surprising that Kubo never learned from Oda's experience. What are your thoughts to this sort of imagery changes?