5. Neon Genesis Evangelion
When anyone talks about controversial anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE) always comes up. However, the bulk of the content is never really the issue of the show; they're a little on the edgy side with their use of religious and historical symbolism, but for the most part it's your typical futuristic anime with giant fighting robots.
NGE saw a huge surge of popularity, which is the reason I put it on the list. This anime will go down as the series with the ultimate fan backlash toward its creator, a man known as Hideaki Anno. NGE's creative team cut production too close to deadline on multiple occasions, and as a result the final two episodes of the series deviated from the initial story heavily and were of incredibly poor quality. Fans of the series felt betrayed and sent multiple death threats to Anno.
Although budget cuts are the assumed reason for the series' less-than-spectacular ending, people closer to Anno have claimed that it was because of the plot changing from the initial script thirteen episodes in and because of the ending being constructed so close to the final deadline. Another rumored reason for the series' weak ending is Anno's mental state. To this day, people still debate the issue and the causes behind the series' downfall. Even if you're not interested in the show itself, I recommend checking out the debates on various forums.
Pokémon makes number four on my list, and that might come as a shocker to you. Sure, the content isn't really edgy, and its general audience hasn't really been offended by it. Yet I cannot think of a single anime that has had as wide a global impact as Pokémon. Because of this popularity, the series that saw a 10-year-old Ash Ketchum journey the Kanto region to become a Pokémon master has been shrouded in controversy. In my opinion Pokémon is the most popular anime title of all time, so it was only natural that some people would find issue with it, ranging from as minor as a parent finding the content too stupid and banning their child from it, to more controversial issues raised mainly by religious groups and
PETA and other animal rights groups have taken issue with Pokémon as well, saying that it positively promoted cock fighting—that the concept of catching Pokémon and forcing them to fight was disgusting. In recent years, PETA even has created a Flash game in which you take control of abused Pokémon to fight against some of the games' and animes' best known human characters.
The last bit controversy stems from banned episodes of Pokémon, and in this case the issue raised actually holds weight, as opposed to the two previous arguments. One episode that included the debut of Porygon caused seizures in multiple children in Japan after it showed a series of blue and red flashing lights. As a result, neither Porygon nor its evolutions have ever appeared in another episode of Pokémon (even though the lights were caused from the mascot, Pikachu).
There have, of course, been plenty of other minor incidents that have caused controversy or gotten episodes banned, but these are the main issues that stick out, giving me a reason to make Pokémon number four on my list.
3. Death Note
Death Note has a very special place in my heart. When I returned to bingeing on anime after a few years' hiatus, Death Note was one of the first that got me hooked again. The series follows a high school student (a trend in anime) named Light Yagami. Sick of the constant crime rate and general boredom in his life, Light was a prime candidate to take Japan by storm with the help of a book dropped from the Shinigami realm—the Death Note. This book allows the possessor to write in a person's name and kill them in whatever fashion he or she desires. The story allows us to follow the villain and watch his mind and personality transform as he becomes an insane serial killer, eventually taking on a persona known as Kira.
2. School Days
School Days is a fun one, simply because the ending is so damned unexpected. What suckers you in as a romance anime ultimately leaves you very surprised, confused, and (for some) horrified. The three main characters are Makoto, Katsura, and Sekai. Sekai learns of Makoto's crush on Katsura and brings them together. However, jealousy begins stirring, and Sekai develops feelings for Makoto as well. In the end, Mokoto, while dating Katsura, ends up sleeping with Sekai also. The final episode is where this love triangle takes a deadly and dramatic turn.
Makoto receives a text message from Sekai saying, "sorry…goodbye" before she launches a surprise attack in his apartment, stabbing him to death. Later that night, Sekai receives a text from the dead Mokoto's phone, asking her to meet him on the rooftop. It was from Katsura, who had earlier found Mokoto's body. In her backpack she carries is the head of the dead Makoto. She then proceeds to kill Sekai, cutting open her womb to see if Sekai is pregnant with Mokoto's child.
With that lovely image in our minds, we're left with a final scene of Katsura on a boat going out to sea with Makoto's head in her arms, saying they could now finally be together.
The final episode never got to air in Japan after news broke of a sixteen-year-old girl who had killed her own father, if that rapid turn in this love triangle wasn't controversial enough. Due to the poor timing, the episode was not seen until a later date at theaters. Based purely on content and some people's outrage or disgust over a show that had captured many people's hearts, I can't help but put it on my list.
1. Elfen Lied
Number one on my list goes to none other than Elfen Lied, a series I watched a few years ago that has always been one of my favorites. This is one of those shows that never became popular in the mainstream. However, based of the reception of first-time viewers and the pure content from start to finish, it's hard not to put it on this list. Never in a million years could I do this show justice in describing what it accomplishes throughout, but I'll do my best to break down the reasons why it tops my list:
Incest: I don't know if incest between cousins in Japan is accepted or not, but living in England and America, it seems fucking weird to me. Elfen Lied's main characters Kouta and Yuka seem to have a romantic relationship throughout the series; we see Yuka constantly getting jealous of Kouta and his affections toward others. Eventually we get an unexplainable kiss between the two at some weird shrine, which I still can't get my head around.
Abuse of Children: Although this may fall under the violence section, I felt it needed its own spot. People die in anime all the time, yet it's very rare that a video game or a show involves the abuse of children. In Elfen Lied, however, we see it on several occasions. Nana's and Kouta's younger sisters are the victims of a brutal assault via Lucy's wrath, which includes the one girl being ripped in half and the other having her limbs slowly pulled off as she tries to fight through the pain. We also have a pedophile in this series who forces one of the younger females in the cast to strip and perform for him. Although we never truly see any of the acts, we get glimpses of compromising positions.
THEY KILLED A DOG! Need I say more? I've never been so happy to watch children get decapitated after they kicked a small puppy to death.
|See? This is what happens when you kick puppies.|
That's it for me! I hope you enjoyed my top five most controversial anime. If you guys disagree with my placement or choices, tell me why in the comments below! If you've enjoyed my views on some of these titles, be sure to check out my podcast here on Fanboys Anonymous: "Addicted to Anime."