A Russian court in Saint Petersburg banned a number of popular Japanese anime last week, including the films Attack on Titan and Akira, arguing that the titles are harmful to childrens’ mental and moral development.
The films and series were reportedly banned at the request of state prosecutors, and were uploaded to sites such as YouTube, Rutube, and Watch.Cartoons, The Moscow Times reported on Thursday. According to the government-run RIA Novosti news group, authorities also banned Legends of Mortal Kombat: Revenge of the Scorpion, as well as the gory American animated web series Happy Tree Friends.
RIA Novosti reported that during the case a number of “experts” testified that the films can cause “violent” behavior in children and potentially lead to “self-harming behavior.”
“Watching the animated series undoubtedly harms young children’s spiritual and moral education and development and contradicts the humanistic nature of upbringing inherent in Russia,” The Moscow Times wrote, quoting the St. Petersburg Oktyabrsky District Court press service. It is not clear who the court experts were, nor what type of expertise actually qualified them as experts in the first place.
The move comes amidst what some Russian anime fans have described as a crusade against anime in the country. In January, another Saint Petersburg court prohibited several websites from distributing a number of hit anime series, including the television series Elfen Lied, Death Note, Tokyo Ghoul, and Inuyashiki. The Russian gaming site Igromania quoted experts as saying that “Inuyashiki” contains “hints of unconventional sexual relations,” while Japan Today previously reported that Russian parents have lobbied for years to have “Death Note” banned after a young girl allegedly died of suicide.
Russia isn’t the only country that has taken a hard stance against anime. Two years after banning a number of “terror-themed” anime and manga titles including Terror in Resonance and Death Note, in 2017 China prohibited “Tokyo Ghoul” following reports of young people stitching threads into their skin.
The Oktyabrsky District Court in St. Petersburg did not immediately reply to a request for comment.