On July 21, one of the biggest anime and manga series of the year, Ken Wakui’s Tokyo Revengers has once again become a hot topic of discussion pertaining to the removal of the “manji” symbol (卍) in the Crunchyroll streamed version of the series, reported Kotaku.
The Buddhist symbol resembling a swastika is the emblem of the youth toughs in the Tokyo Manji Gang or Toman for short, in the series Tokyo Revengers. The symbol is frequently used in the anime such as on the gang’s flag and jackets, and also during the show’s opening credits. It is removed from the anime’s English language release, apparently because it might cause confusion with the Nazi swastika.
It was the Crunchyroll forum members who pointed the issue of the censorship which is in discussion.
However, in a tweet from Crunchyroll’s French account, the company clarified that they were not the ones who removed the manji symbol. It was simply the show’s producers in Japan who sent this edited anime version of the series for international distribution. Crunchyroll further clarified that there is actually a prohibition policy against editing or changing the shows in any way as per the Japanese licensors.
In Japan and many other Asian countries, the symbol is distinct from the Nazi swastika, and has many different meanings, ranging from “good luck” to “mercy” and “strength”. In fact, teenagers and young adults routinely incorporates this into their daily slang and memes.
The manji is present on maps which denote the location of a Buddhist temple, though recently some companies within Japan have stopped using the symbol in order to avoid misunderstandings with Western tourists. Although Japanese Buddhists and scholars did not agreed upon this change completely, pagodas are now in use as replacement for most manji symbols for the foreigners to avoid the confusion.
Makoto Watanabe of Hokkaido Bunkyo University told The Telegraph, that the manji symbol is in usage for thousands of years before the Nazi flag incorporated it. So it was his request to the person in charge to keep it on the japanese maps and ask others to understand its true meaning.
Whilst the Tokyo Revengers ‘controversy’ may only be a misunderstanding of the historical and cultural context of the Manji, the community released a poll regarding the context.
The vast majority of user votes on the situation may have been both positive and educational, but a staggering 41.6% of people said that they still didn’t understand the context.