The announcement last Friday after the airing of the first streamed episode by FUNimation of Dance in the Vampire Bund has caused quite a stir. From Friday afternoon to Monday morning, there were six hundred posts about the topic that covered quite a lot of ground about the edits being done to this newly licensed series, both for the streaming version and the eventual home video DVD and Blu-ray releases of the show that is currently airing in Japan. As expected of anything involving censorship, reactions are pretty strong from fans, many of whom had started watching anime when even the most simple of things were edited because of what companies felt may be "inappropriate for audiences" of that time. FUNimation hasn't said anything new since their blog post last Friday but speculation runs around regarding the Handley case which may seem plausible when you look at some of the statements made by his lawyer. Still, when you start throwing in the Miller test with what could be counted as obscene, there's a whole lot of the anime world that's loved that could easily fall under that.
Stepping back from the legality side, which may have no bearing on this at all from FUNimation's point of view as they've likely had the show for a bit and were finalizing it and made the edits even before the case was finalized, FUNimation clearly knew what kind of show it was getting into if any amount of research was done on it. What fans may need to remember is that they don't always wait until a show is aired before they decide to go after it. Countless times at conventions you'll hear representatives over the last decade talk about going through videos of shows that are being worked on and shopped before they air. And when you have a show that has been based on a manga, you can get a good feel for what it's going to be like. Let's look at one of the US covers:
The manga itself certainly plays up the sensuality and sexuality of the character, which is definitely a part of the property. After all, look at this scan from the manga:
Guess what they want you to focus on? Naturally, that will cause diverse reactions as people will freak out about it, others won't care and some will be mildly bothered. But let's keep this in mind, both with the manga and the anime versions; it's about vampires. Vampires are highly sensual and sexual and have been since practically the beginning of the mythos. And the character here of Mina is an immortal vampire of quite a length of time. This comes back to the idea of the visual not measuring up to the perception. Anime 18 had an issue with this years ago with at title called Temptation:
With the original cover artwork - and in the show itself -she's actually flat as a board. In the live action adult entertainment world, there's continual flaps over such things with actresses who look young and act young being marketed as young but they simply aren't. There are young looking women (and men!) who could easily pass as very young in some instances and get accosted because of it even though it's perfectly legal.
But stepping back again from a somewhat related side issue: Dance in the Vampire Bund features no sex. Mina, sensual and sexual as she may be in scenes such as the lotion, is hundreds of years old in the show and does not get involved in anything involving actual sex. A viewer may not find it titilating, they may find it disturbing, but they may also turn it off and walk away. Having watched and reviewed a lot of hentai in the last fifteen years, there's certainly material I've turned away from because it disturbed me. Dance in the Vampire Bund, by all instances shown of what's being blurred, edited and bloomed out, is so low on the scale of "objectionable to US audiences" that it's laughable.
Unless we're all Twilight loving fans who believe that's as far as vampires go. But really, the draw of any show about vampires is that it involves sexuality (which is NOT sex) and an air of the forbidden.
In an effort to gauge our readership who are obviously passionate about legal releases, we put a poll to the thread to see what kind of response we'd get:
|I was planning to purchase the title but no longer will|| ||211||39.29%|
|I was planning to purchase the title and still will|| ||13||2.42%|
|I was on the fence about this title but will no longer purchase it|| ||144||26.82%|
|I was on the fence about this title but will still likely purchase it|| ||24||4.47%|
|I had no interest in this title at all.|| ||145||27.00%|
As we said, anime has a history of being looked at as objectionable and offensive to some. Dragon Ball was heavily edited during its initial run since it had so much wang visible in it. Pokemon has never been available in any uncut form and Sailor Moon got significant edits in each and every episode -and never even had its last season released. The Japanese are pretty touchy about a lot of things involving young people when it comes to Western sensibilities as the live action Battle Royale has never been made available for license because of various fears. If you put anime under more than a casual glance, you can find a whole lot that would be considered objectionable and offensive, even from FUNimation's own catalogue:
In the end, all that really needs to be said is to look at the main promotional image for the anime and realize exactly what it's going to be about (and again, it's not about sex!):
FUNimation knew what they were getting into with it. Fans know they're not getting the show as originally presented and they'll make their decisions off of that. Buying an edited release is the individuals choice and we have zero issue with that, though we do believe that censorship in any form must be spoken out against. What I do recommend is that if you do refuse to buy this show because of the edits, support the company that is releasing this title unedited in its original form by getting the manga. A spike in manga sales will show more than simply not buying the title in DVD/BD form.