Disney Might Edit Anime Series to Make Them More Politically Correct for Global Release on its Platform

Disney Might Edit Anime Series for Global Releases on its Platform
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We have already written about the fact that Disney is becoming a bigger player in the anime market. Initially, it was a fight between Crunchyroll and Funimation; the latter was bought by the former, and for a while, Crunchyroll had no serious competition aside from Netflix, who couldn’t really compete with Crunchyroll at the time. But now, more and more services are entering the market, and while Crunchyroll is still the most important source, other services have managed to acquire some major titles. The biggest scoop we had recently was Disney’s acquisition of Bleach, which came as a surprise to many.

Now, Disney is streaming the Bleach anime in the original, unedited and uncut version, but based on what Takuto Yahata, the head of Disney’s anime division, said, this could change in the future, as Disney might start editing anime for a global release on its platform.

Anime culture is often different from American culture and there are numerous segments in anime that might be interpreted as being offensive or politically incorrect in the States. Now, American anime fans are used to cuts and edits – this has been a practice among American distributors for decades – while European anime fans had the pleasure of experiencing anime series in their original versions.

With the evolution of anime, even American distributors started to show the original version, as the practice of editing anime series for American release began to fade away, but it seems that Disney might bring that dreaded practice back. When asked about the future of Disney’s policies towards anime distribution, Yahata said the following:

Just a few years ago, the focus was on the North American market, so we concentrated on storytelling that would appeal to North American audiences. We were also aware that different genres were popular in Asia, and as creators, we were catering to specific tastes across Japan, North America, and Asia. However, nowadays, the goal is to ensure that viewers worldwide can experience the same level of entertainment and excitement simultaneously, regardless of their region. This reflects the growing global popularity of Japanese anime. What was once considered solely for Japanese audiences is now embraced by viewers everywhere, demonstrating the current maturity of the market. I don’t think there has been any significant upheaval. Fundamental storytelling and the precision of action haven’t changed much, but there might be a tendency to adopt more widely accepted expressions. To reach a wider audience, it’s natural to adopt expressions that don’t hurt people or lead to misunderstandings. It’s not a negative thing; it might be considered evolution.

Source: Anime Hunch

This plan of Disney might worry fans of anime a bit, not because the changes are going to be politically correct, but because there are going to be changes per se. The editing practice became a part of history, but it seems that it is coming back, which will definitely anger many fans.

The anime market is a large and growing market and Japan has almost exclusive control of it, so fans don’t have to worry about anime in Japan being influenced by Western policies, but this won’t mean much if the only version they will be able to see is the edited version. Sure, it doesn’t seem like the story will be changed or cut, but there might be some dub differences and different dialogues, some omissions or additions to the dialogues, etc., based on what the distributors think is appropriate.

It remains to be seen how flexible the Japanese producers are going to be about this, but also how audiences will react to this if it actually does happen. Sure, no one can influence Disney’s decision in relation to the original content it is creating, but there might be some resistance when it comes to distributed content, especially if the fans don’t accept it and the income becomes smaller, which is not impossible to imagine.

The good news here is that other streaming services don’t seem to be heading in this direction, so anime fans will get to enjoy the original versions on other platforms.

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