*Japanese Studies General Guide: Soft Censorship

Provides a starting point for Japan Studies, including resources to find books, articles, newspapers, and web resources.

About This Page

This page, created in conjunction with the "Banned Book Exhibit 2012," an IAS exhibit series held in 2012, features two works as the sample of soft censorship---not suppressed by violence or restricted by law but hidden from the public for the variety of reasons.

Who Created CANDY CANDY?

Candy Candy is a popular comic co-authored by novelist Mizuki Kyōko and comic artist Igarashi Yumiko. The story focuses on the life of an orphan girl called “Candy” who overcomes hardships and tragedies to find happiness. The comic was originally run in a monthly girls’ comic magazine Nakayoshi from 1975 to 1979. Toei Animation adapted this popular work into an anime series, broadcasting 115 episodes from 1976 to 1979. This anime series was soon exported to overseas and broadcast in Korea, France, and Italy in the 70s. The work enjoys extreme popularity, and novels, illustrated books, LP records, toys and other character items were produced.

Mizuki and Igarashi, the two mothers of Candy Candy, however, confronted each other in court in 1997 when Mizuki sued Igarashi for violating the contract between the two by merchandising Candy Candy without Mizuki’s approval. The point at issue soon shifted to the ownership of the copyright. While Igarashi insists she, as a comic artist, is the true creator and has an exclusive copyright over Kyandi Kyandi, Mizuki argued that she, who created the story, held equal rights. The battle eventually reached the Supreme Court, and in October 2001, the Court endorsed the equal ownership between story writer and comic artist, thus acknowledging the inseparableness between the plot and the image of a comic. Igarashi is prohibited from drawing illustrations of Candy Candy without Mizuki’s approval.

However, no reconciliation has been made between Mizuki and Igarashi, and no Candy Candy merchandise, including the project of producing new Candy Candy animation and reprinting the original comic, has been made.

The Forbidden Episode of Ultraseven: "From a Planet with Love (遊星より愛をこめて)"

Ultraman, a spaceman from the Land of Light in the Nebula M-78 who fights against monsters and saves people, is one of the most famous live-action TV hero icons in Japan. The program Ultraman aired in 1966, and because of its extreme popularity, its production company Tsuburaya continued to create new programs with Ultra heroes which eventually became known as Ultra Series. Ultraseven immediately succeeded the original Ultraman and broadcast 49 episodes from 1967 to 1968. In this program, “Agent 340” from the Land of Light joins the Terrastrial Defense Force to fight as “Ultraseven” against space aliens which threaten mankind. Ultraseven presents serious and mature stories and is regarded as the best work in the whole Ultra Series.  However, its 12th episode titled “From a Planet with Love (Yūsei yori ai o komete)” has not been broadcast since 1970, and all official publications (novels, memorial books, visual materials, etc.) disregard this episode, as if it didn’t exist from the beginning.

Episode 12 features space aliens who secretly suck blood from the human race. The aliens’ blood is polluted with radiation due to bomb experiments, and they need humans’ healthy blood for their survival. The plot is less impressive compared to other episodes in Ultraseven, and this had remained one of rather mediocre ones in Ultraseven until 1970, when a junior high school student showed her father a card of Ultraseven which featured the space alien nicknamed “hibaku seijin (atom-bomb alien).”

The word “hibaku” is associated with those atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than two decades had passed since the bombing, but the discrimination against them had remained strong in Japanese society at that time. The body of the alien was covered with keloids as those victims whose whole bodies were burned with massive heat. The father, a journalist and an active supporter of the victims, regarded the design and the nickname as one example of the continuing discrimination against them. The journalist shared this “discrimination” with other activists, and this became a huge social issue when Asahi Newspaper published a report on Oct. 10, 1970, referring to the daughter’s comment, “I feel sorry for the atomic bomb victims to liken them as monsters.” Groups of atomic bomb victims and anti-nuclear activists sent letters of protest to the publisher of the card, criticizing that such description would implant a negative and scary image of the atomic bomb victims among children, thereby further strengthening the existing discrimination. The protest targeted all companies which used the terms “hibaku seijin,” including publishers, music companies and Tsuburaya Production. Tsuburaya Production apologized for their thoughtlessness and decided to suppress the episode. The episode does not call the alien “hibaku seijin,” and the plot contains an anti-nuclear message, but the social protest which originated in one card buried the whole episode. Within six months, all materials which dealt with this episode disappeared from the market.

The KU Library has the DVD edition of Ultraseven, but the episode 12 is missing from the collection, as with other official products. In the descriptive note on the back of the DVD cover, it simply says, “The episode 12 ‘From a Planet with Love’ is currently unavailable.”