16 Explosive Anime Controversies That Shook Up The Otaku World

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Vote up the scandalous anime controversies that left you feeling shook.

Art is intrinsically tied to controversy, be it literature, movies, video games, or anime. An amazing amount of anime comes out of Japan every year, and the industry has endured a boatload of drama throughout its long, rich history. Some messes are well known, such as the infamous episode of Pokémon that gave children seizures. Others, like the antisemitic comments made by the director of Recovery of an MMO Junkie, aren't as publicized. In the anime industry, the drama goes much deeper than the plots creators are working on, and the biggest controversies shook otaku across the globe. 

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  • 1
    1,625 VOTES

    P.A. Works Was Accused Of Charging Animators A "Desk Fee"

    Life as a Japanese animator is not as glamorous as anime fans might like to believe. Building a career as an animator in Japan can be brutal, as up-and-coming artists face long work hours, insufficient pay, and are often forced to leave their social lives behind in the hopes of moving up the ladder. Shirobako, an anime series about animators, highlights the ugly truth when it shows how little money animators make. 

    Ironically, P.A. Works, the anime studio behind Shirobako, found itself involved in animated controversy when an inbetweener tweeted about the office's poor working conditions. She brought up her minimal paycheck that mostly went to her basic living expenses, and also the "desk fee" of 6,000 yen (roughly $51) she had to pay every month.

    The inbetweener deleted her social media account, but her tweets were archived online, which resulted in a nasty look for P.A. Works. The company released an official statement, claiming they spoke with the inbetweener, apologized, and cleared up the matter. They also claimed they do not charge a desk fee, and the inbetweener is still allegedly employed by the company.

    1,625 votes
  • For the Kokoro Connect staff, a Candid Camera-inspired prank directed at a Japanese voice actor went way overboard, and may have damaged the longevity of the series. During the 2012 production of Kokoro Connect, voice actor Mitsuhiro Ichiki auditioned for a mysterious new role that wasn't present in the original source material. After the audition, Ichiki was told he got the job, and he needed to attend a public promotional event for the TV series.

    When the day finally arrived, select members of the staff and voice cast informed Ichiki that it was all a prank. There was no new anime-only character in Kokoro Connect. Worse, footage of Ichiki auditioning for the nonexistent role was played in front of a live audience to further humiliate him.

    While the anime staff did offer him a public relations job, the public saw Ichiki's live humiliation as a sick abuse of power. Voice actress Eri Kitamura was forced to delete her Twitter after she received a rash of threatening messages, and a radio show made to promote the anime was canceled as a result of the backlash. 

    Silver Link, the anime studio behind Kokoro Connectissued a public apology over the whole ordeal. To his credit, Ichiki bears no ill will towards those involved in the prank. However, the Kokoro Connect anime series has a negative aura surrounding it because of the incident.

    1,520 votes
  • Back in 2012, promotional artwork for Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse was released that depicted the anime's females cast in bikinis. When the artwork became public, several Japanese blogs pointed out the uncanny similarities to the art of other anime series. When word got out about Muv-Luv featuring traced artwork from other series, Sou Miyata — the character designer — was booted off the show.

    1,488 votes
  • 4
    1,682 VOTES

    'Recovery Of An MMO Junkie's' Director Tweeted Antisemitic Messages

    Kazuyoshi Yaginuma is a freelancer who provided key animation for many anime series, and who worked as episode director for series such as Recovery of an MMO JunkiePokémon Generations, From the New World, and BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad. While his resume is impressive, the antisemitic views Yaginuma are insanely problematic and make it difficult to separate the art from the artist. 

    For years, Yaginuma used Twitter to retweet and like antiemetic statements. However, since 2018, Yaginuma has been tweeting his bigoted opinions in English for international users. He commonly uses "Jew" as a derogatory term, and openly doubts the horrors of the Holocaust. When Yaginuma's hateful views finally received attention, Crunchyroll — which acts as a member of the production committee for Recovery of an MMO Junkie — distanced itself from the anime director. 

    Ellation, the parent company behind Crunchyroll, issued a statement saying:

    We do not support the antisemitic behavior that has been recently reported in relation to Dir. Kazuyoshi Yaginuma. The comments made do not reflect any opinions of Crunchyroll, as we pride ourselves on our diverse, global community that connects through the content they love.

    Yaginuma responded to Ellation's statement by calling them Jews. Needless to say, Yaginuma will never be employed by Ellation ever again.

    1,682 votes
  • 5
    1,110 VOTES

    The Mean-Spirited 'Kuma Miko' Finale Enraged Fans

    As it turns out, the adorable Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear has a bittersweet aftertaste. Throughout the series, the young Machi Amayadori battles her social anxiety to leave her rural home and attend high school in the big city, much to the dismay of her bear guardian Natsu Kumai. 

    While the series has a lot of cutesy charm, much of its humor derives from Machi being the butt of its jokes. At first, it seemed like harmless fun, but as the show progressed, the mean-spirited comedy directed at Machi ramped up until it felt like bullying. In the final episode, Machi successfully puts on an idol performance she was pressured into doing to save a village, but hallucinates the cheering audience throwing rocks at her. The false recollection of the incident convinces Machi to give up her dream of living in the city, and the episode ends with Machi's mentality regressing back to a four-year-old child. 

    The bleak, anime-only ending was a complete tonal reversal from the upbeat manga. On top of that, the ending's malicious treatment of Machi portrayed social anxiety victims as a punchline. This didn't sit well with viewers who believed the anime ending betrayed the source material. Home media sales dropped following the backlash, and Pierre Sugiura, a writer for the series, deleted his Twitter account and removed Kuma Miko from his Facebook resume. 

    Masume Yoshimoto, the author of the manga, even commented on the anime's cruel ending, and apologized for not supervising the script writers. The final episode of Kuma Miko was altered for its home media release, softening Miko's traumatization and making the story less about her anxiety towards the city. 

    1,110 votes
  • 6
    402 VOTES

    Voice Actor Vic Mignogna Was Accused Of Sexual Harassment

    Vic Mignogna was a popular American voice actor known for his work on English dubs of popular anime series. His most notable roles include Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, Broly from Dragon Ball, and Tamaki from Ouran High School Host Club. In 2019, multiple accusations of sexual harassment committed by Mignogna surfaced on Twitter. Many accounts alleged that he kissed, groped, and made non-consensual advances towards fans (many of them minors) at conventions. Industry professionals also voiced their support for those speaking out. Voice actresses Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi alleged that they were sexually harassed by Mignogna as well. 

    As a result, Mignogna was fired by Funimation and Rooster Teeth, and removed from future projects. Mignogna filed a lawsuit against Funimation claiming defamation and other charges. 

    402 votes