China Bans Anime and Manga from the Internet

In order to protect the welfare of their children and curb a potential rise in juvenile delinquency, the Chinese Ministry of Culture has issued a list of 38 Japanese manga and anime that will no longer be allowed into the country. From Attack on Titan to Death Note, the Chinese ministry issued warnings to popular Chinese websites that stream this content, ordering the sites to remove the materials or face fines.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the government believes these programs, “encourage juvenile delinquency, glorify violence and include sexual content.” Moreover, by banning the content, the Chinese government is taking steps to “protect the healthy development of youth,” said ministry official Liu Quiang.

This is not the first time the Chinese government has stepped in to slow the import of Japanese media. In April, the ministry issued a much larger list, which contained 62 banned manga including the international bestsellers Naruto and Sailor Moon. Although it appeared that at the time no action was taken against sites that didn’t comply with taking down the materials, the ministry has been a lot more vocal about their reasoning behind the censorship this time around.

Since President Xi Jinping took office, there has been a rise in media regulation and internet crackdowns. These new regulations and governmental vigilance have impacted not only Chinese consumers, but the creators who reside in the country as well. Chinese artists should reject “vulgarity” and “sensual entertainment,” President Jinping noted last October. “Fine artworks should be like sunshine in a blue sky and a breeze in spring that will inspire minds.”

The regulations the government has been fervently imposing upon the artist and media community has left many creators in fear. Just last week, Chinese cartoonist Wang Liming, known as Rebel Pepper, was all but forced into exile for his cartoons, which he posts through social media and openly critique President Jinping’s administration.

For all of this talk of cleaning up the media, though, it appears that the only international materials being censored off of the digital shelves are those coming from Japan. China and Japan do have a long history of animosity, but as some Chinese citizens have pointed out, these attempts to censor by the Ministry of Culture seem to be more “anti-Japanese” and more about the perceived “cultural invasion” of Japanese media undermining China’s own culture than about protecting children.

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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!