Anime Vice News

BLEACH: You Can't Do That on Anime!

Sometimes there are things that you can show on paper but on to TV. Let's talk about a big one.

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.

Yoruichi Shihouin manga to anime comparison
Yoruichi Shihouin manga to anime comparison

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.

Ichigo's Fullbring: Manga to Anime Comparison
Ichigo's Fullbring: Manga to Anime Comparison

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.

One Piece: Whitebeard Pirates Mark Changes
One Piece: Whitebeard Pirates Mark Changes
Ikkaku Madarame activates Bankai
Ikkaku Madarame activates Bankai

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.

Ichigo Kurosaki's Zangetsu in Bankai Form
Ichigo Kurosaki's Zangetsu in Bankai Form

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.

Fullmetal Alchemist - Greed scene Japan to US
Fullmetal Alchemist - Greed scene Japan to US

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?

-Kristoffer Remmell ( FoxxFireArt) is a freelance graphic artist, writer, and over all mystery geek.- Follow for news updates: @ animevice / @ FoxxFireArt

AgentJon Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.

It all really is unfortunate. Unfortunate that we let Hitler change the meaning of a symbol so severely that it's almost the antithesis of its original purpose, unfortunate that we are unable to experience the original vision of the creator. I'm glad that Kubo will at least stick to it in the manga though, so that there will be at least one unaltered version. I don't really watch the anime anyway.

(For another alteration similar to the one you mentioned for Yoruichi, Harribel's uniform and released form are clearly altered from the original manga. You could argue the same for Neliel as well).

sickVisionz moderator on Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.

Seems like a minor issue to me. His bankai is still and bankai and does everything it always did, does, and will ever do and they look reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally similar. I might have an issue with it If it had any impact whatsoever on the story or character, but it doesn't so I don't.

takashichea moderator is online on Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:24 a.m.

The censorship of the Swastika had a purpose to avoid racial issues and lawsuits. I didn't know that Buddhism had another meaning for the mark. Maybe, the creator should put a memo in the first pages of the manga or issue about the mark. People tend jumped to conclusions and scream racism and sue companies for it.

For global business, they got to be careful about marks, customs, and even colors because everyone has different cultural perceptions of it.

For the crucifix and clothes censorship, they're overdone. As long as the anime/manga is not converting me, I'm okay with the bible allusions or other religious allusions. For Bleach, I don't get the clothes censorship because some shows can get away it. Bleach has fan service like the other shonen shows. Why is it censored on Adult Swim?

I never watched or read One Piece, so I can't comment on that show.

These are the same people who thought Shikamaru Nara with a cigarette in his mouth once was too controversial.

They put Naruto Shippuden manga in the children's section (public library). I think this is the reason for it. They want to broaden their audiences. I'll get a picture for you FoxxFireArt of the book. (What volume is it?) Librarians skim through these manga to decide which is for teenagers and children. Sometimes, the rating system is not accurate on the back cover.

Children's manga books

Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Yugioh, Digimon (most of these are on Kids WB and mainstream channels that cater to young audiences)

Teenagers' manga books

D. Gray-Man, Fairy Tail, Bakuman, Spice and Wolf (list goes on but they don't have the above five)

zaldaron Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:31 a.m.

Ah I thought it must have been FoxFire who was writing this. Doesn't bother me and I would say that it is that you don't understand the sensitivites involved. Localization is not a bad thing and really should be part of translating. The overall theme and feel of a work is what is important not slavish direct association to the original.

Aetheldodon Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.

I think it is silly to censor them and I disagree that a product must be changed to catter to a new market (outside of translating the work ) ; also for the knowledge the swastica that Hittler used is counterclockwise and the Buddhist one is clockwise , so in a way they are different .... but I guess ignorance must prevail (this is a shot to the censors not you duders).

buhssuhton Dec. 7, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.

problem with that symbol is that it is widely known as mark of Nazis. In the first few minutes of Da Vinci's code, it's shows how people react to it the moment they see the symbol, even though it's not meant to be.

themangaliston Dec. 7, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.

The swastika is clockwise and the bankai is counter clockwise. Why are people so not culturally inclusive? Both symbols have been around for hundreds of years. How bout people not get easily ticked off and actually try to understand the context of everything? It's just sad Japanese designers have to change stuff just cuz' Western audiences can't accept their culture.

Little_Socrateson Dec. 7, 2011 at noon

I look forward to the day the world takes the swastika back from the Nazi party.

I don't believe it will happen in any of our lifetimes.

zaldaron Dec. 7, 2011 at 12:22 p.m.

@Aetheldod said:

I think it is silly to censor them and I disagree that a product must be changed to catter to a new market (outside of translating the work ) ; also for the knowledge the swastica that Hittler used is counterclockwise and the Buddhist one is clockwise , so in a way they are different .... but I guess ignorance must prevail (this is a shot to the censors not you duders).

If you want it to sell in a new culture (which remember you are trying to make money off of it) than you are going to change it. Why we have American versions of Japanese movies (the ring for example) rather than just importing the original movie..I happen to like the original better but like most of the people that visit this site I am not normal nor are my tastes normal. I love japanese culture though the parts that are at times shown on sangaku can get a little bit ridiculous..I mean

http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/12/04/behold-the-lolitube/

I mean really....

MisterXon Dec. 7, 2011 at 1:35 p.m.

That is interesting because that symbol was regarded as magical for thousands of years if I remember correctly and is also considered a good luck charm in some cultures. That's kind of neat that they would use something like that in a manga (if you ignore the symbol's most obvious and unfortunate current association).

chickdigger802on Dec. 7, 2011 at 2:59 p.m.

I still think that acceptance instead of just censoring is the key.

Stir up controversy. Bring the knowledge to the public what this symbol actually means.

Too bad the balls needed for this is above most people's pay grade.

Destinyheroknighton Dec. 7, 2011 at 3:19 p.m.
Will BLEACH Ch. 436 and on be the next victim of VIZ's knee jerk style of localization and publishing?

No, VIZ didn't change Ace's tattoo or WB's Flag.

But I could careless about this

Also I found it funny that VIZ will edit cigarette but not a pokemon being cut in half or a zombie Psyduck being decompose (You know for kids)

sotyfan16on Dec. 7, 2011 at 3:21 p.m.

I'm so against censoring that I don't even censor myself.

Though some changes are small, I see no reason to do so with manga. And if changes are going to be done with the anime then there should be an alternate unaltered version upon release.

As for the whole swastika deal, people need to quit being whiny, oversensitive crazy folks. Words are words and other stuff is other stuff.

Waleson Dec. 7, 2011 at 4:55 p.m.

@MisterX

@Agent J

I'm actually glad you two brought up the point that the meaning of the swastika has been bastardized over time. It's actually a fairly common symbol in Asia with links to Buddhism and Jainism in India as well as in China. Now I don't know the exact reason why Hitler chose this simple symbol to represent his party, but its impact is pretty ferocious nowadays. I equate the swastika going from a religious symbol to one of Fascism the same way I do about the upside down cross (yes, like the one in my avatar). Most people see it and associate it with Satanism when in fact the proper name for it is St. Peter's Cross since St. Peter chose to be crucified upside down since he felt that he couldn't die the same way Jesus did.

I digress to the original topic at hand. Do I take issue with a swastika in manga and anime? No. Do I take issue that they don't bother to censor the swastika and censor side shots of breasts and suggestive stuff? No. Will people take issue with both subjects? Yes. I won't bother to justify my answers though since there are probably a plethora of great arguments on both sides of the fence.

Lurkeroon Dec. 7, 2011 at 5:43 p.m.

This is a great informative piece. I knew that the swastika was an important symbol before the Nazis took it, but I did not know how it fit into Bleach and the manga industry.

Its a shame that society has not been able to take back that symbol from the negative it was given.

Kingfalconon Dec. 7, 2011 at 7:21 p.m.

@Destinyheroknight said:

Will BLEACH Ch. 436 and on be the next victim of VIZ's knee jerk style of localization and publishing?

No, VIZ didn't change Ace's tattoo or WB's Flag.

But I could careless about this

Also I found it funny that VIZ will edit cigarette but not a pokemon being cut in half or a zombie Psyduck being decompose (You know for kids)

Dude, what the hell? Have I been lied to all my life? I thought they just fainted.

Daniel_Newton moderator on Dec. 7, 2011 at 7:53 p.m.

If something is changed that alters the story in a significant way then I can understand why people get worked up about it, but honestly, I didn't even notice they'd changed the shape of Ichigo's fullbring in the anime until I read this article. It doesn't bother me at all that they did it, it makes sense. I've been watching the anime again instead of reading the manga for a while now and I'm enjoying the Bleach story far more in animated form. I really wish I hadn't switched to the manga in the first place.

Honestly, the core reason these changes are made are to stop people being potentially offended in some way. It's to keep the material accessible to a wider audience. I'm not saying localisation and censorship is perfect, in a perfect world we would have a "pure" translation available for those who want it alongside the regular, but we don't live in a perfect world.

There are more pros than cons, that's why it's done and why it works.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Dec. 7, 2011 at 8:15 p.m.

@themangalist:

I purposely left that detail out of the article to see if anyone would notice that difference in how they spin. Though few would even notice that detail.

@Destinyheroknight:

I think you may want to read the article again. I never said that VIZ changed Ace's mark.

I find it hypocritical that VIZ will show murder, but a cigarette is controversial.

@takashichea:

Part of the problem is that VIZ is marketing many series to an audience far younger than it was ever originally intended. Also, just because a library puts it in a kid's section is not a standard for publishing policy. It's just means the library isn't reading the recommended age rating.

@Newten:

As I said, it's not so bad that the anime changes the fullbring. It's because of this scene

If they were going to change it for the anime, by did they include this line? The anime has cut other lines out. Also, why is this same shape allowed to be seen on his sword, but not briefly in the anime as his fullbring?

It's not a huge deal since the manga is the real story, but that's why I'm concerned about VIZ altering the manga.

@Lurkero:

It's sort of twisted that this mark can exist for thousands of years, but one group comes along and defines it as something evil. People will see it, then react before they even try to think.

Destinyheroknighton Dec. 7, 2011 at 8:29 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt:

Oh sorry, I was saying that they probably won't change it (I should have said more then no LOL!)

Daniel_Newton moderator on Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:27 p.m.

@FoxxFireArt: The line is left in because it still fits well enough. It still looks like his sword guard, even if it's not an exact match. Like I said, I didn't even notice.

Dig Deeper into Bleach

Bleach follows the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenage boy who can see ghosts.

Edit/View the Wiki
Hit the Forums (22 Posts)
Add/View Images (2327 Images)
Watch Some Videos (3 Videos)
Pokemon Black and White Looks Delicious in Motion

First video of a Pokemon battle in Black and White.

Comment & Win: One Piece Vol. 52, 53

Time for a giveaway folks! Now, act civil, we don't want anyone to get hurt in the mad rush to win.

Beginner's Guide to FLCL

Gainax's madcap, surrealist anime, broken down for new viewers.

Ballz Deep

Steve gets intimately close to Dragon Ball Z, for science!

Top 3 Awful Anime Dubs

Grit your teeth and get your ear plugs ready cause this week we're taking on the three most amazingly bad dubs of all time!

Anime Caption Contest! -- 8/18/14

Let's party hard at the beach while it's still summer!

Does Anime Get Too 'Niche?'

THE VICE PIT. Sometimes, it feels like watching somebody else's home movies, doesn't it?

I'm Trying Really Hard to Like ALDNOAH ZERO #2

...but it's sooooo self-serious!

Listen to the JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Rap!

Richie Branson continues his weekly anime-inspired rap series with the hip-hop tribute "Stand-Up."

AKAME GA KILL! is... OK for a Harem Show?

Episode #2. W&L. I wish this were better.

NOBUNAGA CONCERTO #1&2 -- Special Review

A spectacle like this only comes once in a great while.

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE : STARDUST CRUSADERS #20 -- Special Review

Eat poo... and die?

Excellent Anime You Might've Missed -- BREAK UPS

It's a lot more than 'slice of life.'

Anime Caption Contest! -- 8/18/14

Let's party hard at the beach while it's still summer!

AKAME GA KILL! is... OK for a Harem Show?

Episode #2. W&L. I wish this were better.

I'm Trying Really Hard to Like ALDNOAH ZERO #2

...but it's sooooo self-serious!

Does Anime Get Too 'Niche?'

THE VICE PIT. Sometimes, it feels like watching somebody else's home movies, doesn't it?

Listen to the JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE Rap!

Richie Branson continues his weekly anime-inspired rap series with the hip-hop tribute "Stand-Up."

Excellent Anime You Might've Missed -- BREAK UPS

It's a lot more than 'slice of life.'

NOBUNAGA CONCERTO #1&2 -- Special Review

A spectacle like this only comes once in a great while.

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE : STARDUST CRUSADERS #20 -- Special Review

Eat poo... and die?

Mandatory Network

Submissions can take several hours to be approved.

Save ChangesCancel