Monday, September 26, 2011

America vs Japan : Censorship

Growing up in the 90s I usually took my video games for what they were. We all knew that games were released in other regions, especially Japan, and we for the most part assumed they were all the same just with a different language.

Enter the internet. Suddenly thousands of semi isolated gamers are able to be in contact with each other and share their knowledge of games they played at home and abroad, and more. Pretty soon it becomes clear that there were more differences with the games they loved at home and abroad than we had originally imagined.  I remember going on a site called The Odyessey Of Hyrule and reading about all the Triforce rumors. One I remember specifically was that in the Japanese version of the game you could obtain the triforce and there was a whole new ending where Link really defeated Ganondorf for good and you went to the Temple of Light, or something like that.  With what I know now about the game region conversion process I know that doesn't make any sense. Why would they go through all the trouble of programming all that stuff and take it out of the American version (that's not to say stuff like that hasn't happened, but its growing more and more unlikely. ) ?  In reality the majority of missed content here in the west is due to censorship.  During the 90s we all know about Nintendo's very very strict censorship policies which blocked anything with the slightest hint of sexuality, as well as extreme violence.  Why is it then that the Japanese version of so many games has such content that is deleted by the people who port these games?  Why do Japanese companies allow it in Japan but not here?

Its all just cultural differences in my opinion, it seems to me that America's big no- no thing was sexuality, where as in Japan they feel similar (but not exactly the same) about violence. If you look at alot of old Japanese animes they have tons of violence ( Hokuto No Ken), that would rival even American gore classics (say MK2). Despite this the Japanese version of Mortal Kombat 2 has greyed out fatalities and green blood. Ok so no violence for Japan, and no sex for American gamers right? Well its not that simple. If you look at a game like Super Castlevania 4 it had naked statues that got censored in America, but not in Japan, and in the dungeon level the "acid" was actually blood that got turned green for American gamers. Having studied the Japanese culture and its language for almost 5 years now I'm willing to say it has to do with the tastefulness of the violence.  Games likes MK put video game violence in the spotlight for a while in the 90s, but all that has seemed to fade. Often times we are seeing western games getting censored for Japan! Anyway as I was saying its about tastefulness in violence. Contradictory huh? We see animes where people get cut in half and blood spews from them, but the violence in say Mortal Kombat or Resident Evil 4 gets censored? Perhaps Japan sees this as just needless. MK was always about violence for violence sake (even though it admittedly doesn't take itself THAT serious). Perhaps the Japanese see some violence as necessary and artistic etc the classic samurai cut in half slash, Hokuto No Ken's exploding but not blood color violence. Games like Mad World, and Mortal Kombat that glorify violence and head choppingoffisms might just seem off color to the Japanese.

Either way each culture has its interesting quirks. I didn't talk more about sexual censorship in America, because more than likely you already know the story.  Both sides are starting to even out now however, and I feel like developers are getting more artistic freedom than ever in their creations.

- Torentsu

The ending to this entry originally featured me being sawed in half, but it was censored for the American release to just show me closing the entry instead.

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