The Anime Nasties Era: Titles that were Cut/Censored by the BBFC

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NormanicGrav

Guest
Since Halloween has arrived and Perfect Blue is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the cinema, I decided to make a post about an era that changed anime distribution here in the UK.


For those who aren’t familiar with the term ‘Video Nasties’, this was a common trend during the 1970s to early 2000s when the public, film board and the press were expressing their concerns over films that were deemed ‘too inappropriate’ or ‘too violent’ for UK distribution. A number of movies were either banned, heavily censored or given much higher ratings than what they would have received in present time. For anime however, this was an interesting time to start its exposure. I often described it as ‘Anime Nasties’ with the amount of titles getting high ratings for its content and also the English dubs adding foul language to increase them.

The regular public had always seen animation as something for children, but Japanese anime completely changed that with the introduction of more mature themes and a target audience varying from children to even older teens and adults. Some have managed to become very successful without any issues, like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, however a number of other titles received some criticism and concerns. The film board, British Board of Film Classification, decided that the distributors will need to accept that cuts or tweaks will be required for certain titles in order to see a UK release legally.

Here are a list of anime that were no doubt affected by the BBFC. You’ll notice a trend for some of these titles and it might even fit your horror mood. Some of the cuts are rather short, but for others it can be as long as a couple minutes or more.

Also please be advised that virtually every single title on this list is rated 18 and over by the BBFC and is not suitable for a younger audience. Some of the titles I’ll be mentioning are also considered Not Safe For Work so I recommend reading this in your own free-time and not in a public place like work.

Some titles did receive cuts but they were under the request of the distributor. Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is a perfect example of this, where they removed a scene to lower the rating from a 15 to a PG (and the film’s latest re-release from Anime Ltd does bring back the scene with a chapter option to skip it entirely).

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Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend


Released: 1987 (OVA), 1989 (Movie)

Well-known as one of the biggest and most successful hentai titles released to date, Urotsukidoji gained notorious reception thanks to the publicity it had received by the press and the ratings board. Based on the manga written by Toshio Maeda in 1986, Urotsukidoji became a cult classic among anime fans throughout the community. For the UK it was handled by distributor Manga Entertainment and they brought over the two compilation films of Legend of the Overfiend and Legend of the Demon Womb in one release. Both films were notoriously edited by the BBFC because of the amount of sex that’s featured throughout (it is an erotic hentai after all). It is kind of a shame in a sense, as Urotsukidoji is one of the few hentai titles to actually have ‘story’ and not just ‘plot’ in the same place.

At least 2 minutes 12 seconds were cut from the first film and 3 minutes 12 seconds were cut for the second film. And it doesn’t stop there. The release was so successful that distributor Revelation Films brought over the sequels which also got butchered to death. Urotsukidoji IV: Infernal Road even had two of the three episodes produced be given refused classifications, leaving the third and final episode on the disc. While the franchise will remain butchered over here there is some good news to share – Media Blasters’ adult label Kitty Media have released the Legend of the Overfiend OVAs uncut & uncensored in North America, while FAKKU teamed up with the original author to distribute an English translated version of the manga source material which is available on Rightstuf.

Legend of the Overfiend remains available on DVD from distributor Manga Entertainment and if you’re a PlayStation UMD collector it was also released on that format.

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La Blue Girl


Released: 1992

Another big hentai series also written by Toshio Maeda in 1989, La Blue Girl was the second major title that distributor Manga Entertainment tried to release for the UK. Despite the trailers appearing on various VHS titles distributed by Manga, the OVA series instead got refused classification by the BBFC. The reasons behind it is primarily because of the fact that it’s literally a hentai series and I’m amazed that Manga was even trying to get this one out. The BBFC explained that due to the numerous amount of sexual violence throughout a ton of cuts would leave the remaining work literally unwatchable.

Much like Urotsukidoji, the OVA series did see a release in North America uncut for those who dare to even try it out by distributor Central Park Media’s adult label Anime 18. A sequel called La Blue Girl Returns did see a release in the UK with a ton of cuts (8 minutes 33 seconds from the first two parts and 24 minutes 25 seconds for the second two parts) all to remove the amount of hentai scenes. La Blue Girl Returns was released by a distributor called Goldcrest on DVD and was also available on PlayStation Portable’s UMD Video surprisingly. After the success of the FAKKU Urotsukidoji kickstarter, there are supposedly plans to remaster La Blue Girl’s manga as well (the original was released by Central Park Media).

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Fist of the North Star


Released: 1984

The epic and classic shonen action series was brought out by Manga Entertainment without too much issue. However they only released the early parts of the long running series and some scenes had to be removed due to the show’s over-the-top violence causing some issues with the BBFC. That over-the-top violence involved children, so as a result 1 minute 3 seconds of footage were removed.

This didn’t stop the franchise from being brought over though, with New Fist of the North Star from distributor ADV was released completely uncut and the recent video games from Koei Tecmo were all uncut also. SEGA and the team behind Yakuza will also be releasing an upcoming PlayStation 4 title called Like a North Star (Hokuto ga Gotoku). North American distributor Discotek Media acquired the US rights to Fist of the North Star after its first release and have released all of the episodes including the movie without issue. They have also re-released the TV series on ‘SD on Blu-ray’ for a cheaper price.

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Ninja Scroll


Released: 1993

Ninja Scroll was among Akira and Ghost in the Shell to become one of Manga Entertainment’s most successful anime films during the 90s. And while it has done very well the film did receive some cuts by the BBFC due to a scene of sexual violence and the use of shuriken weapons (the UK was strongly against ninja-type weapons at the time) which resulted in only 53 seconds of removal.

There is a good news for this film however, as both the 10th and 20th anniversary releases from Manga Entertainment were released with no cuts, keeping the same age rating without issue. You can still pick up Ninja Scroll on Blu-ray from distributor Manga Animatsu right now for a good price, we recommend it!

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Violence Jack


Released: 1986

Violence Jack is a three episode OVA series based on the 1973 manga of the same name from the famous author Go Nagai of Devilman, Cutie Honey and Mazinger Z fame. The series itself says it in the title, it is violent. The anime was released here by distributor Manga Entertainment and prior to the BBFC’s involvement it was already censored with mosaics. The BBFC cuts were related to strong bloody gruesome violence that some would consider to be pretty over-the-top – Slumking is 25 seconds cut and Hell’s Wind is 6 minutes 43 seconds cut.

Manga Entertainment apparently edited the OVA’s second episode Evil Town prior to BBFC submission without further explanation. Upon further research, the episode contained a lot of controversial themes including scenes of rape, necrophilia and cannibalism. The remainder of the episode had 30 seconds cut.

Despite all this, the series remains a cult classic among the anime community. It was even rescued by North American distributor Discotek Media with an complete uncut release on DVD. The mosaics I mentioned are still in-tact with the US release as it was the same in the original Japanese release.

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Wicked City


Released: 1987

Wicked City received a fair few amount of adaptations. Based on the novel written by Hideyuki Kikuchi of Vampire Hunter D fame, the anime was also adapted by studio Madhouse and director Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The UK release was distributed by Manga Entertainment which even had a UK English dub. The cuts applied to this release has 1 minute 48 seconds removed for similar reasons to Ninja Scroll, which involved the main female lead caught up by some sexual violence.

Wicked City alongside Kawajiri’s other directorial works Demon City Shinjuku, Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust have been well-received by the anime community. Wicked City was also rescued by North American distributor Discotek Media with an complete uncut release on DVD plus both English dubs alongside the original Japanese audio.

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Crying Freeman


Released: 1988

Crying Freeman is also another franchise that has spawned multiple adaptations. The series focuses on a man who works as an assassin who sheds a tear after killing each of his targets. Based on the manga written by Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf & Cub fame in 1986, the anime adaptation is 6 OVA episodes long and was released by distributor Manga Entertainment for the UK. Most of the episodes got through fine but the latter half of the series received a couple cuts (episode 4 with 3 seconds, episode 5 with 17 seconds, and episode 6 with 58 seconds). The cuts were related to scenes of sexual violence for the most part. Because the last two episodes were edited a fair bit, the distributor decided to release them in a single VHS cape rather than separately like the previous were.

Crying Freeman was rescued and licensed by North American distributor Discotek Media for an uncut DVD release, however they recently lost the license so it will soon be going out of print. The manga was also distributed by Dark Horse for anyone interested.

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Adventure Kid


Released: 1992

Another hentai series hits the list and this one has some interesting parts to it. Also based on a manga written by Toshio Maeda in 1988, Adventure Kid was distributed by Revelation Films this time around (who also distributed Urotsukidoji III & IV). The BBFC not only requested cuts to be made but also required the anime’s title to be renamed to avoid parents thinking it was suitable for children. The show was renamed as ‘Adventure Duo’ (not to be confused with another series called Absolute Duo) and received cuts of around 18 minutes total. 1 minute 8 seconds for the first episode, 7 minutes 35 seconds for the second episode, and 9 minutes 28 seconds for the third & final episode. The cuts applied to the third episode were just enough to warrant a release. All of the reasons for the cuts are the same as Urotsukidoji and La Blue Girl.

Adventure Kid did get released uncut in North America by distributor Central Park Media’s adult label Anime 18. After the success of the FAKKU Urotsukidoji kickstarter, there are supposedly plans to remaster Adventure Kid’s manga as well (the original was released by Central Park Media).

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Mad Bull 34


Released: 1990

Inspired by the buddy cop films, Mad Bull 34 was released in the UK by distributor Manga Entertainment and based on the 1986 manga also written by Kazuo Koike. The 4 OVAs were put out on separate sets much like the other anime titles during the VHS era, but the first half of the series received nearly 2 minutes of cuts. The first part with 43 seconds cut over violence while the second part received 1 minute 19 seconds cut over an attack against a male character that seemed to be deemed inappropriate by the film board.

Mad Bull 34 was rescued by North American distributor Discotek Media with an uncut DVD release.

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Angel Cop


Released: 1989

The last (but not least) example is with the 6 episode OVA series of Angel Cop from studio D.A.S.T. (Battle Royal High School). This series for the most part has mostly gone through without any issues, but a couple seconds have been removed due to its strong bloody violence. References to the international jewish conspiracy was also removed from both the UK & US releases that distributor Manga Entertainment released on VHS.

At the time of this article, there’s no news of any license rescue whatsoever.

That’s all of the titles I wanted to showcase for this interesting topic. The question that many would be asking is whether the BBFC has relaxed a bit compared to what they were many years ago – the answer I would say for the most part is ‘Yes’.

Numerous titles released over the past couple of years have shown off tons of sexual content and bloody violence, and each one got through without any cuts. Most notable example is the recent 2017 Blu-ray release of Belladonna of Sadness which some have classified as a hentai (though it’s mainly an adult anime film for the most part). Other titles like Berserk, Daimidaler, Deadman Wonderland, Oreimo, Prison School, Rin, and most recently Monster Musume were all rated 18 uncut and uncensored (Deadman Wonderland still retains the censorship from the Japanese release).

There have been some silly cuts such as the infamous scene in Paranoia Agent during the episode Happy Family Planning (which you can watch uncut on Viewster), and a 1 second cut from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion for something that is probably out of context. But for the most part the rest of the anime being released have gone through without any issues. Fist of the North Star might get an uncut release this time around but it is such a long series to take into account (and the BBFC costs are expensive).

You may have noticed that I have mentioned Discotek a few times during this list, well it’s because their DVDs are UK compatible so feel free to acquire them if you’re interested in the title specified and didn’t want to own the cut UK releases.

Credit to the Manga Muncher blog and its AUKN user Ushio for offering a detailed list on the BBFC Anime Cuts. He also has a list of any other edited titles if you’re interested!

Continue reading...
 

Blaize

Hunter
I really need to sit and watch my copy of Crying Freeman, I have the Discotek release which has some really great packaging, though it must be said great packaging and Crying Freeman, perhaps undeservedly, have been a thing on DVD for awhile as the ADV singles were very nice looking. I used to have them and the Bronze, Silver and Gold themed volumes with their metallic finish were very eye catching.

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I've been on the edge of buying the Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend BD from Media Blasters? for awhile. The OVA/Film has such a history within the early western fandom of Anime and I feel as a fan of the darker OVAs from the period means that despite it's origins the censored version should be an interesting watch so after reading this I have decided to finally bite the bullet on that despite the cropped image...prey for me children.

Don't have any real desire at least anytime soon to watch LA Blue Girl and Adventure Kid.

The other titles here I've all seen. Anyone who watches my YouTube channel knows that Mad Bull 34 is a personal favourite despite how truly terrible it is. The Dub is atrocious but honestly it's also fantastic as a result, I genuinely like the performance of Alan Marriott as Diazaburo despite fully accepting it's terribleness. I love this crappy tasteless garbage OVA and I'm so grateful for Discotek for releasing it to DVD.

Angel Cop is alot of fun and has some insanely graphic violence on display especially in the opening moments. It's perhaps alittle long in the tooth at 6 episodes (which took 5 years to be released back in the day) but it has some fun over the top action, some insane 80's flair with large helpings of hair. I'll forever remember it for the gem of a line that is 'But if this is Justice then I'm a Banana!' lol. Would like to see Discotek rescue this OVA so it could be enjoyed by others as the Manga DVD is very expensive these days.

Wicked City is vintage Yoshiaki Kawajiri and was his first non co directorial film. It oozes what you expect from his work with it's dark highly sexual imagery and demonic story. Loosely based on Hideyuki Kikuchi novel of the same name it's fair to say Yoshiaki took more than his fair share of artistic license with this adaptation. Was a great setting stone to what would eventually lead him towards his masterpiece in directing Ninja Scroll. Kawajiri is a key animator at heart but I would love to see him come back with another film.

Violence Jack is a real mixed bag and is imo at least by far the most potentially offensive work on that list (outside of the Hentai I guess). While the first episode is a real slog of pretty uninspired action and suspense the second episode is a cacophony of the most extreme animation of it's era I suspect. Rape, torture, orgy's, high levels of violence and even cannibalism are on show here. Truly one of the most insane things I've ever watched. Episode 3 thankfully cools off alittle by comparison but still stands as a pretty violent and exploitative production. If anyone else reading this has taken deep dives on OVAs of this era and somehow has missed it I would put Violence Jack on the list of things that has to be experienced to be believed.

Fist of the North Star is a bizarre case when it comes to censorship. Because in all honesty considering other entries on this list and honestly by todays standards it is pretty tame by comparison. If you have watched any number of shows like Tokyo Ghoul, Another or Attack on Titan then it would be almost comical to you jumping into Fist of the North Star be the TV series or the Movie and discovering just how inoffensive and again tame it is. To think that no true copy of the original uncensored version of this film exists or at least in a good enough format anymore is a real shame. I would like to see Discotek re-issue the film (perhaps for Blu Ray if they can swing it) with the Italian VHS full colour uncensored clips included sort of like they did with the Violence Jack OVA and the Hong Kong VHS clips they got.

Anyway I've waffled on enough here but you could consider this somewhat an addendum to @NormanicGrav 's piece from someone who has spent his fair share with this sub genre of Anime (albeit far from as experienced as some I know).
 
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NormanicGrav

The Quintessential Pouts
AUKN Staff
Anyway I've waffled on enough here but you consider this somewhat an addendum to @NormanicGrav 's piece from someone who has spent his fair share with this sub genre of Anime (albeit far from as experienced as some I know).

Cheers for offering your thoughts on the titles. I knew you had a love/hate relationship with Mad Bull 34 after watching your videos.

I've only watched Ninja Scroll out of the list (it's also my first anime Blu-ray title), but I'm very interested in acquiring the rest that Discotek Media have rescued so far. Legend of the Overfiend's US release was an upscale I believe but considering it's Media Blasters it's better than DVD-R at this point.

Also, Professor Irony told me of an idea of exploring titles that were 'fifteening' due to Manga adding foul language to the dub as a potential topic to explore next. It'll be quite tough to find a list properly since I believe it only affected titles that virtually no one has heard of (Vampire Wars perhaps?), so if you know of any anime title that had this sort of treatment I'll be interested since you have a wide range of older anime in your collection.
 

Vashdaman

Za Warudo
Wasn't Ninja Resurrection also censored too? I seem to remember that one being fairly nasty. But then, I was a pretty innocent kid back then and easily shocked. Personally I would have censored Golgo 13 too, had I been working for the BBFC. I'm thankful I at least had the sense to steer clear of Violent Jack back in the day, it's always seemed like the absolute least appealing prospect in the world, to me.
 

Captaaainuniverse

Time-Traveller
Ah the overfiend series and la blue girl. Two titles famous here for having more cuts then an emo guillotine.

Being a kid in the 90s and in a near breadline family I didn't see much of the video nasties, only some of the could have beens after the BBFC became lenient.

I got blood c last week and although much of it isn't video nasty level, can anyone recommend my next purchase from this list? Any of them like blood c?
 

Denny Fisher

Pokémon Master
Here is some oldies released in the uk BBFC 15/18

Ad police
Adventure duo
Akira
Amon saga
Armageddon
Armitage
Berserk
Bio hunter
Dangaioh
Dark myth
Detonator orgun
Digital devil/ cockpit
Fist of the north star
Golgo 13
Gsc gunsmith cats
Kintaro
La blue girl
Lanlock
Ninja scroll
Orguss 02
Paranoia agent
Perfect blue
Plastic little/ black magic m-66
Requiem of darkness
So blianca
Spriggan
Vampire wars
Violence jack
Virus
 

serpantino

Thousand Master
I remember Adventure Duo and Urotsukidoji being on the scifi channel late night anime slots (in fact Urotsukidoji was the first anime film I ever saw o_O). I never could find an uncut copy of adventure duo, it was such a bad, cheesy, film but I always wanted to get it but I never did due to the UK release being so censored.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
From the La Blue Girl BBFC link:
there is some sense that the association of sex and violence can reinforce sexually violent behaviour. That idea is supported by some expert opinion and certainly seems to be supported by public opinion
In other words: "Experts disagree on whether this is true, but most people who are not experts think it's true so that's what we base the law on"

Gotta love it. I feel embarrassed knowing there are people from other countries using AUKN and finding out this country still has a film censorship board to "protect public morals" in the 21st Century.
 

Greboruri

Brigade Leader
I recall Jonathan Clements recounting the story that supposedly the BBFC went to Island Records (who owned Manga Entertainment at the time) to confirm that the sub masters they had for "La Blue Girl" they had were securely locked away lest they somehow escape and do untold damage to the British public.

Also this from the BBFC's website explains their thought processes on how they classify and censor material (emphasis added);

"Some of the most problematic anime works for the board have been those in which children are presented as sexually active. The characters in anime works are often presented as childlike, with their big eyes and high voices. They can change form according to their mood and a character that appears adult in one scene can look like a toddler in the next. Sometimes the only way to tell which character is which is through the consistent nature of their hair colour and style.

In addition to their childlike features, characters are often presented in school uniform, which usually takes the form of a sailor-style top and shorts or a mini-skirt. Until relatively recently, Japanese university students were required to wear uniform and it is sometimes the case that these uniformed characters are actually supposed to be at college.

However, there is a clear link between school uniforms and the notion of underage sex and the Board is always mindful of this when making classification decisions. Cuts have occasionally been written at the 18 rating for such content.

For example, in the series LA Blue Girl Returns, characters presented as children (dressed in uniforms, physically small) are explicitly involved in sexual activity. It was felt that the link could potentially encourage an interest in underage sex and these scenes were removed."


So much stupidity in only three paragraphs. It seems that the classifiers where confused between normal and super deformed versions of characters, the suggestion that school uniforms equals sexualisation of children (and the notion that teenagers are apparently sexless creatures) lastly the absurd notion that if something which shows teens in sexual manner means people will develop a an interest in paedophilia. Righto, ban Stanley Kubrick’s "Lolita" then.
 

ayase

State Alchemist
there is a clear link between school uniforms and the notion of underage sex
Funny how it's totally allowed and common for adult actresses to wear school uniforms in live action porn produced in the UK.

Anyway, in an attempt to divert this from becoming another BBFC hate session (because while they are fun let's face it, we all know the censorship side of the BBFC is an outdated relic based on the laughable notion adults need protecting from fiction) I would be interested to know more about the titles subject to "fifteening" since as someone who tends to prefer subs, a woefully inaccurate but hilarious English dub is like an added bonus for me.
 

Vashdaman

Za Warudo
I feel embarrassed knowing there are people from other countries using AUKN and finding out this country still has a film censorship board to "protect public morals" in the 21st Century.

To be fair though, Japan has some pretty idiosyncratic censorship laws itself, and in somewhere like China anything politically subversive will be censored. Every country has it's censoring quirks, I suppose. Though I do agree with you that it's ridiculous for the most part. Also agree with you bad English dubs being totally brill, love em.
 

Shadow Cat

Thousand Master
Guess this is On Topic but remove if not allowed

Has there been any R-18 releases in the UK?

Or doesn't anyone bother as they're difficult to get through BBFC and even when it does pass the lack of sales wouldn't make the release financially justifiable
 

MrLaserSharkKH

Stand User
R-18 Anime Releases have definitley happened, I don't know really if any have been released uncut because I really have zero knowledge of that area, the ones I have heard of have definitley had cuts. There's one series I'm aware of called Ringetsu: The Animation (not too long ago as well) which was an OVA series where I believe one of the volumes was 75 Minutes long originally but had something like 45 minutes worth of cuts.

When you have that much worth of cuts and you have a severally limited audience it just makes you think what's the point?

Found the bbfc listing for it: RINGETSU - THE ANIMATION - VOLUME 3 | British Board of Film Classification
 

Shadow Cat

Thousand Master
Ah it seems Black Chip have released a few, last was 2008 so seems unlikely they will still be in print.

Edit:

As expected, the few titles I queried about were OOP, and it doesn't seem Black Chip has put anything through BBFC in a few years now. Wonder if any other companies will bother, or simply too much hassle for the what its worth
 
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MurrayYvonne

Hikikomori
Some anime deserves special attention. In the present, the plot in the anime has more meaning and instructive moments than in some films. The main characters are depicted in such a way as to motivate a person to somehow change his life. Also, some genres are created in such a way that their plot defies human logic. Sometimes it's very interesting to see something like that. I don't understand why some anime is limited to censorship, because everyone decides for himself how to spend his time. If I want to watch cool hentai or something similar, no one will stop me. However, this was not a problem for me. The internet is full of quality uncensored hentai!
 
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