Google defines anime as "a style of Japanese film and television animation, typically aimed at adults as well as children", but even though anime follow a similar system of age & maturity rating as their western counterparts (when being dubbed), there are certain anime which have caused significant controversies worldwide which still follow these anime to date. In this list, we're bringing you the 5 most controversial anime of all time; the causes for their placement here may vary from mere cultural differences and censorship disputes to actually causing serious physical harm to their viewers, but there's one thing all entries here share in common- at some point in their run, they have sparked massive uproar and left the world in a state of turmoil, even though they were all made with the intent to entertain their audience.
3. Death Note
4. Globlin Slayer
5. Redo of Healer
Ah yes, everyone's favorite card-game anime finds its spot at the entry level of this list, and there's absolutely no shortage of reasons for its placement here! Everything from accusations that the show was demonic to massive censorships being applied to the anime's dubbed version make it a hotspot of controversy. We'll take it one reason at a time, starting with claims that the show promoted demonic worship and glorification. Keep in mind that when we talk about Yu-Gi-Oh in this point, we're mainly referring to the original show and not any of its spinoffs.
Several schools worldwide have banned their students from bringing Yu-Gi-Oh cards on campus, stating that the card game is "malicious and promotes meddling in the occult". While most of us with common sense find this an absurd claim, let us not forget that the very essence of the original show revolved around an ancient spirit possessing the body of a young boy and repeatedly playing games that lead to either death or other serious consequences. While most of us can logically chalk this up to good writing and well-executed suspense, there are lots of religious groups who claim that the anime has more sinister roots. A quick look at season 0 of the show will make it abundantly easy to understand how this misinterpretation may have come into play.
Of course, when we consider how mature the elements in the mangas are (and not just the original show here!) and how heavily they must be censored in order to earn the TV-Y7 rating in their dubbed counterparts, it's easy to understand where a lot of controversy about the anime comes from. Cards hinting at any religious connotations (think about Solemn Judgment) have to be altered and any scenes involving bloodshed or gore (literally any duel involving Marik or Rex Goodwin in the mangas) have to be either rewritten or heavily edited in order to make its way to international audiences.
In fact, these changes are so pronounced that any Yu-Gi-Oh anime seems completely different if you watch the subbed version instead of the dub!
Here's an entry we know you weren't expecting on this list! Pokemon is one of the most loved and followed anime franchises of all time and has seen massive continued success time and again, especially in its Nintendo games. That said, it is difficult to picture this show in a negative light. Unfortunately, there is one incident in Pokemon history which has become so atrociously famous that it is still referenced time and again in pop culture worldwide. What are we talking about?
Pokemon Shock. Ask yourself a question: when was the last time you saw the Pokemon Porygon in any episode of the show?
You can't, can you? That's because there's only been 1 episode that featured this pokemon and that episode isn't available on any licensed international release of the show. This is because a Pokemon episode (number 38) by the name of "Electric Soldier Porygon" caused one of the most unbelievable events in digital entertainment history; it was responsible for inducing seizures in over 680 Japanese kids due to a segment that featured high frequency monochromatic lights (i.e. the unlimate beam battle in all of anime history). While that may sound cool, it really isn't, as it triggered lots of negative effects in the show's viewers- most of which were unsuspecting children.
The backlash from the incident was so severe that Pokemon could have ended right there in its bud and none of us would be playing Sword & Shield today... The shares of Nintendo fell by almost 10% within a week and the anime was removed from air for over 4 months. A lot of problems and investigations later, the show was finally allowed to return on air, but the episode in question was never aired again. If you go looking for the episode online, rest assured that you will find it quite easily- but it's not worth the risk. The backlash from the event was so severe that permanent regulations were put into effect about how shows on air would portray rapidly flashing images...
And that's why Pokemon finds its place on the number 4 spot of this list.
#3: Death Note
Well, here's an entry you can pat yourself on the back for predicting correctly. Death Note is one of the most popular anime of all time and is revered worldwide as a modern classic in the anime universe. It is difficult to find anyone who hasn't either watched or heard of this anime. All the same, it is unsurprising to know that an anime which centers around demons, killing people with a notebook and on-screen blood and death, finds itself in the midst of heavy controversy.
Banned first in China (and recently- Russia of all places) for its explicit and dark themes, Death Note definitely is a no go zone in many countries, and understandably so. Like Yu-Gi-Oh, lots of schools also forbid mention of this anime on campus, although to be fair we can cut them some slack on this one. This anime literally has "demons" written all over it. Consider the fact that there have been several incidences of students making their own death notes at home and bringing them to school and writing the names of teachers and other students in it. On more than one occassion, this has prompted more than just a confiscation and lead to the involvement of the police. While we agree that homicidal weeaboos probably deserve more than a detention, we fail to see what a police officer can do against a real Death Note with names in it.
#2: Goblin Slayer
You saw this coming from a mile away, we know. There's no list made on controversial anime after 2018 that can't include this gruesome gorefest in it and we're here to pay our respects too!
Goblin slayer nosedived right into the heart of what it means to be controversial immediately from its first episode, and definitely continued to grip hard onto that title for a large portion of its run. We'll elaborate for those who don't know...
6 minutes into the very first episode, Goblin Slayer decided to give the middle finger to what seemed like a formulaic open world adventure theme and delved straight into the darkest portions of its storyline- featuring a gang of goblins overpowering a group of adventurers, brutally murdering them and raping one of the girls in the group. Even though nothing was actually shown on scene (unlike the manga), the horrified reactions from worldwide audiences racked up by the thousands, forcing the streaming service (Crunchyroll) to issue an apology and precede all future episodes of the anime with an explicit content warning.
While rape is not a new concept to anime, what likely set this entry apart was the rapid pace with which it escalated and the ease with which the scene could have repeated with another group had the infamous Goblin Slayer not stepped in to their defense himself. For those who have watched the rest of the anime, the significance of such acts by the goblins is also made known by the end of the first arc, implying that this is activity that the goblins regularly engage in. Goblin Slayer is a prime example of the fact that just because you don't show something horrible on screen doesn't make it any less worse.
#1: Redo of Healer
The new king of controversy is here and it's called Redo of Healer. We'll put it this way: Crunchyroll isn't the only type of website where you'll find this anime on. Make of that what you will, but the fact is that this anime has done what none others have dared to do so far- it has blurred the already thin line between what separates "anime" from its much darker and often ruthless sibling by the name of "hentai".
The anime essentially details the story of a male MC who finds himself sexually assaulted by a group of females and upon using magic to go back in time, exacts revenge on all the female party members... in ways that we simply cannot elaborate here. The manga for this anime is definitely a hentai, which is what spawned all the controversy to begin with: how can something so mature and brutal possibly be adapted into an anime?
Well, apparently it can and Redo of Healer is proving just that. Scenes involving repeatedly breaking a woman's fingers and healing them back to repeat the process, quickly followed by physical and sexual torture have all been animated and put on display for all those who watch the show.
The show has already been banned in Germany but the massive spike in purchases of Blurays of the anime in the country has gone to prove just how tenacious the anime community there is. Very few things can truly hold back a determined otaku and a national ban definitely isn't one of them! What makes the situation even more entertaining is the fact that the anime has just begun; the worst is yet to come and world waits with baited breaths in anticipation of what is yet to come!
That's it for this list! We'd love to get your feedback down in the comments! Let us know what you think of our placement choices and if you think we missed out any entries that you think were even worse than the ones listed here! We'll catch you with another top 5 next week!