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.
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.
The 2017 multi-media franchise Kemono Friends quickly became a smash hit in Japan. Blu-ray sales for the first and second volumes totaled 120,000 copies. Unfortunately, Kadokawa Shoten (the studio behind the series) thanked the show's main writer/director Tatsuki by firing him.
On September 25, 2017, Tatsuki tweeted about how dissapointed he was to suddenly be removed from the second season of Kemono Friends. Fans who saw Tatsuki as the heart and soul of the show were appalled by the firing, and made their voices loud and clear on Kadokawa's affiliated websites. The backlash was so severe, it actually impacted Kadokawa's stocks.
Kadokawa eventually released an official statement on the controversy, stating Tatsuki infringed on the series's copyright by sharing art assets from the show without Kadokawa's knowledge. Shinichiro Inoue — the CEO of Kadokawa — apologized, and tried to find a resolution that would bring back Tatsuki back for Season 2. Unfortunately, they couldn't reach an agreement, and as of April 2018, the future of Kemono Friends remains in limbo.
During the '90s, Pokémon was on top of the world. However, on December 16, 1997, Pokémon the anime inflicted a serious wound on the monster-collecting franchise. The episode in question, "Electric Soldier Porygon,” resulted in the hospitalization of over 600 Japanese children.
In the episode, Ash and his Pokémon-training buddies travel inside a Poké Ball transmitter machine. Close to the end, Ash is about to get hit by a barrage of missiles, but Pikachu destroys them with an electrical attack. Since they are in a computer world, the animators decided to coat the explosion with flashing red and blue lights. While visually impressive, the strobe lighting caused Japanese kids everywhere to experience seizure-like symptoms. Some kids felt dizziness, nausea, and temporarily blindness from watching the episode.
The incident became known as the "Pokémon Shock" in Japan, and caused the series to go off the air for almost four months. When it returned, the show made drastic changes to its animation to make sure another "Pokémon Shock" would never occur again. There was even a special message before the airing of the anime to reassure Japanese viewers it was okay for kids and families to watch Pokémon again. Porygon, the Pokémon featured in the episode, unfortunately never had another major role in the series.
The surreal storytelling featured in the last two episodes disappointed many fans, who were hoping for a clear-cut happy ending. Fans who were displeased sent hate mail and death threats to the show's creators. The offices of Gainax, the anime studio behind the series, were even vandalized because of the controversial ending. This clearly didn't deter the creators, as the theatrical finale, The End of Evangelion, pumped up the surrealism even more. The movie also included a segment featuring some of the hate mail the team received.