Film critic proposes censoring latest Studio Ghibli anime for overseas release

By Casey Baseel

The newest theatrical anime from Studio Ghibli, "Kaguya Hime no Monogatari," opened just over a week ago. While we came away impressed, the movie-going public at large hasn’t been coming out in the numbers expected for a release by the legendary animation production house.

Now, one film critic is speculating that the movie may have trouble bolstering its lackluster box office numbers with overseas revenue, stating his opinion that "Kaguya Hime no Monogatari" may not be screenable in certain markets outside Japan without censoring multiple scenes.

Author and journalist Akihiko Reizei recently wrote a column for the Japanese-edition of Newsweek, offering his impressions on "Kaguya Hime no Monogatari." Reizei was gushing in his praise for the picture, calling it “a tour de force” and predicting that it will go on to become a timeless classic.

But despite his personal love for the film, Reizei expressed concerns about the ability to screen it, in its current form, overseas. The critic expressed his doubts about scenes showing visible breasts while nursing, half-naked babies and children, and a completely naked young girl diving into a pool of water.

While Japan’s relaxed attitude regarding on-screen nudity of the animated sort mean that none of these scenes are raising eyebrows in the film’s country of origin, Reizei believes they will cause problems with distribution in nations with different cultural barometers. In particular, the critic feels that severe viewing restrictions would be placed on "Kaguya Hime no Monogatari" in Islamic countries, and that showing it with a general-admission age rating in the U.S. would be “completely impossible.”

As a result, Reizei is proposing that the film be recut into an “international version” for overseas theater screenings. While some readers agreed with the critic’s logic, others were less than receptive.

“If Studio Ghibli does what he’s suggesting, it will kill any value it has as a film.”

“Is it really worth throwing away your artistic vision just to cater to overseas audiences?”

Any discussion of re-edited Ghibli films isn’t complete without a mention of "Warriors of the Wind," the 1985 reworking of director Hayao Miyazaki’s breakout hit "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind." Some 20 minutes shorter than the original, "Warriors of the Wind" was a critical and commercial failure. Studio Ghibli was so disappointed with this experiment in warping one of its finished films to fit overseas tastes that when it was preparing to release "The Princess Mononoke" in the U.S., producer Toshi Suzuki famously sent a katana to American distributor Miramax with a note instructing “No cuts.”

Several of Ghibli’s works have been released in America without a general-admission G-rating, such as "Spirited Away" and "Howl’s Moving Castle," both of which were released as PG films. "Princess Mononoke" and "Tales from Earthsea" both drew PG-13 ratings for their scenes of physical violence and psychological intensity.

It’s also worth noting that while the across-the-board appeal of Ghibli’s films in Japan means that a large number of young children are likely to be in the audience of any screening, the fan base for its movies tends to skew slightly older in foreign countries. Many overseas ticket buyers discovered Ghibli films after being drawn in during their teens to the counter-culture appeal of Japanese animation. As such, most are mature enough to not go to pieces over an animated breast, particularly one that’s not being shown for titillation.

That said, if Ghibli’s goal is to reach the largest audience possible, at some point producers are going to have to weigh the gains of sticking to their original edit over the losses of a potentially smaller audience. All in all, the dilemma of how much, if anything, to cut is a fitting one for "Kaguya Hime no Monogatari," seeing as how the film is based on a Japanese folktale often translated as "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter."

Source: Jin

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Why is Studio Ghibli’s latest movie struggling at the box office? -- Live-action Princess Mononoke fan film “Wolf Girl” goes live on Kickstarter -- The other side of Studio Ghibli

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I can not understand why it's OK to show thousands of people getting shot to pieces but it's not OK to show a breast feeding mother or a naked girl diving into a pool of water.

42 ( +43 / -1 )


I agree. The ideas about what's okay and what isn't are really weird.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I saw this movie over the weekend, it was filled with beauty and wonder. It will indeed be a classic. Cutting or censoring the film in any way would be an artistic tragedy. That being said, this journalist does have a bit of a point, in that many people in America would be surprised to see the naked breasts that appear in this movie. But still, given the completely innocent context in which they appear, a PG rating should be fine, I would be shocked if it got slapped with a PG-13 for that. Naked babies are irrelevant, and the young naked girl shouldn't be a problem either - you see her from a distance, with no real detail. I hope this movie gets the international recognition it deserves.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Ah i understand Reizei wants more tentacles in it :P

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Reizei should be dragged out onto a Tokyo street and beaten for suggesting censorship!!

All of Studio Ghibli's films are animation masterpieces!!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Political correctness and over-sensitivity will be the death of humanity. It's GHIBLI for crying out loud! To censor and chop it up would be a sacrilege.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Some countries really need to draw a clear line between nudity and sexual material. If audiences can't handle seeing a mother breastfeeding her baby, then I believe that political-correctness has gone too far. There is nothing at all sexual in such an image, except perhaps to a minority who fetishise such things.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Cover up the bare breasts with guns and the Americans should be OK with it.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Oh no, not nudity!

Thank you Puritan value system! Where it's ok to show intense violence but something as natural as a naked body is a big no no.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Why the y don't leave to those countries censoring committee to decide? Why some critic have to impose self censure before hand? Totally agree for the breast feeding. I was surprised actually my sister in law hesitate to do it even at home when I've seen westerners are much more relaxed on that matter even in public.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Its art, not pornography. There is a strong precedent for allowing borderline material in as art. If you can go to an art gallery and see pictures of naked ladies without an age restriction, then why not just slap a sticker on the movie saying "art film" and leave it as it is?

4 ( +4 / -0 )


0 ( +0 / -0 )

That is what is wrong with the Japanese Animation industry. They should not leave others to decide on censorship. This is the 20 anniversary of Sailor Moon and the English language dub was and is terrible. Canadians made it worst with Cardcaptor Sakura which was release as Cardcaptors. You should let the creators keep control and don't let go. I don't remember a US picture being edited for foreign release. I do have the title changes they do in Japan, it's a waste. Interesting that Jungle Emperor by Ozamu Tezuka was hardly censored in the 1960's by CBS. The song stayed in Japanese which may have confused the kids watching but they were brief. You also has Mighty Atom or Astro Boy on NBC in the 1960's. Don't think censorship works well and letting others change the story is even worst. Leave it as the creators made it. There is enough nonsense with translation.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

That being said, this journalist does have a bit of a point, in that many people in America would be surprised to see the naked breasts that appear in this movie.

I was surprised to see naked breasts out in the main aisle when walking though a kinokuniya with my daughter..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Muslims are the problem, as the article states. In a country like Iran, where it's illegal for women to show bare arms and legs, etc., nudity just doesn't fly.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Americans are pretty prudish as well. Redneck states wouldn't approve of this for general exhibition.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is just daft... the prudes strike again. As others have said, you can have explosions, crashes and deaths en masse, but show a woman breastfeeding in a family film and it's all finger-wagging and the blue rinse brigade getting their knickers in a twist. As for the girl jumping into a pool - I'm assuming it's a hot day when kids in that period would run about naked or semi-naked anyway. Only the most perverted mind would find that sexual in any way.

That reminds me of the Gerry Anderson puppet series "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" - it was never shown in America at the time of it's production because it was deemed too violent for a kids' show.

Who remembers "Battle of the Planets"? The robot Seven Zark Seven was never in "Gatchaman", the Japanese original version. The US distributors also had the enemy craft being robotic so that no people were killed in the battles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Muslims are the problem, as the article states. In a country like Iran, where it's illegal for women to show bare arms and legs, etc., nudity just doesn't fly.

Not just Muslims. I have read that in some places, those ignorance people actually wants to cover up statue of David. The picture shown is nothing comparing to some of the anime shows on TV.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I live in Brazil, and my opinion is that some people would feel unconfortable (a minority) seeing scenes of breasts even being from a feeding mother. My point of view is that it is unnecessary to show it.

Regarding to the girl naked my view is that it could incentivate child pornography, so it should be banned even for 18+ or 21+.

I think Studio Ghibli made a very elementar mistake.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

" The critic expressed his doubts about scenes showing visible breasts while nursing, half-naked babies and children, and a completely naked young girl diving into a pool of water."

The PC police running amok. But it's OK that Sponge Bob is light in the loafers?

This isn't animation for puritans, but for humans. Children watch Nat Geo specials with tribal nudity. Ridiculous.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I agree with what everyone has said, however there is one thing you need to keep in mind; if you want your product to be successful overseas you have to cater to overseas tastes. If the question is about sales, you can't saw it's suddenly a question about morals. Gibli could stick to it as is and try to sell it, but if it doesn't work whom are they going to blame? I'm all for keeping it as it is, but the truth is that simply may not work in other nations. So, if they want to sell elsewhere, alter it to the tastes of those places.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I can not understand why it's OK to show thousands of people getting shot to pieces but it's not OK to show a breast feeding mother or a naked girl diving into a pool of water.

I cannot understand why your comment would pertain to this article. When "thousands of people" are "getting shot to pieces" in a film, the film's rating will not be for general audiences (a.k.a. a "G" rating). It would be PG-13 at best, but in all likelihood couldn't rate any lower than an R rating due to the gore. So it's NOT "OK to show thousands of people getting shot to pieces" - at least not to a general audience - and hasn't been for as long as I can remember. This article is merely saying that this movie ALSO will probably not get a "G" rating because of the excessive skin and points out Studio Ghibli's prior experiences with editing for overseas region's social mores.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I have to agree that this would get, at a minimum, a PG13 rating in the US and possibly an R. And it's certainly not going to be shown in public in the Middle East.

I have noticed that the US film censors have been going rather easy on violence lately; a pic that might have gotten an R a decade ago is now PG13. But nudity is right out of the question, that will get you an R every time. Oh well. Every culture has its peculiarities...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No, Muslims are not the problem. Frankly, I don't give a damn if some Islamic country bans or censors a work of art. As an American, I care a lot.

This is not exactly a new issue concerning Studio Ghibli. A truly fine film I was fortunate enough to see a few years ago -- Omohide Poroporo (Only Yesterday, as its English title) -- has not been released in the United States because the suits at Disney were terrified by the scenes of a young girl having her first period -- and so declined to distribute it.

Shameful, and quite stupid trying to blame it all on Muslims.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Firstly this is a decent film but none of the Studio G movies are that great, just average and there is much better work being done in anime that is really anime and not Disney translated into Anime like form.

Second, it is totally bizarre how twisted American media values are, they allow totally horrible violence and deviance yet question and are afraid of innocent and natural things.

I dont doubt the film will be censored, much is and without any real reason but i will close with a final point.

this film and the rest of anime and anime like work in Japan is made IN Japan and NOT in the US, so people can take it as it is or leave it but there is no reason for them to change what has become one of the most succcessful and creative and huge areas of modern visual literature and media for one nation among many, many of whom are not bothered in the least by eros in film as it is part of life.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )


Pls, tell us what you consider good anime and I guess that much anime is now done in Korea.

They had similar censorship problems with NeoRanger, Card Captor Sakura, Only Yesterday and more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Muslim countries want to censor this, let them. Japan does not have to do it for them. In Europe this film will not be an issue in its current form and the scenes described will allow it to be shown to all ages.

I do not want someone in Japan making decisions about what I can see. However, this is just the witterings of a film critic, not Ghibli or the Japanese government, so I think overseas viewers can relax.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It will surely not be censored for the launch in Europe. The attitudes towards nudity are very similar with those in Japan, therefore it should have no problems there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why would they have to censor Ghibli's movies? You can sell violence in movies, but not a mother feeding her child??? USA and Islamists (not muslisms, islamists...)countries want to rule the world... But will we have to accept? I don't think so, when Ghibli Studios give us dreams, nothing else... Don't become like France, Go Japan Go...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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