Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives. He also has a martial arts background.
If you’re first exposure to the Gundam world was the 90s Gundams, then the SEED series will shock you. Story-wise, most seasoned Gundam fans considered the 90s Gundam as inferior to the original U.C. Era series. But then, it will depend on who you ask. But even some hardcore U.C. Era fan agreed that the 90s Gundams are the reasons why the world love the franchise so much. The oddities and the actions resonated to the western audiences so much. And sure enough, those Gundam shows were known for their raw mecha battles and fights, and certainly not gore, sadisms, sex scenes, edges and drama.
And those became the hallmark of SEED.
Supposedly, SEED was a nod to the U.C. Era, and If that was the case then it adopted some elements of Victory Gundam. The last time we checked, the makers of SEED was not suffering from work related angst, or maybe mature contents was the trend of anime series back in that period. We got a lot of unforgettable moments in SEED, with most provided by Flay. I mean that manipulative b***h played with fire with Kira in the dark. With so many inappropriate moments, we understand the censorships for the sake of the younger audiences. But the results could be hilarious at some point. And one gained notoriety among fans, when the attempt to digitally alter the firearms turned goofy.
Funny Censorships in Anime
People saying that anime are for kids are lying. There are lots of anime, even those rated for young adults that never shied away from violence and nudity. Hence, censorships weren't exclusive in the Gundam world.
Violent anime has been around since the 80s, but here are good examples. In some English dubs of the Dragon Ball series in the 90s, the intensity of the battle was toned down, and references to death was removed. But fans are laughing their heads off when Hell was converted into HFIL, or the "Home for Infinite Losers". Firearms were removed in the Yu-Gi-Oh series, and we are left with hilarious villains making fists, fingers or holding invisible weapons. In Pokemon series, shurikens were turned into pink thingy with suction cups. Sanji of One Piece became a meme material, when his cigarette was turned into lollipop.
Going back to the Gundam world, some censorships actually weren’t comical. In Gundam Wing, references to death made by Duo Maxwell required some alteration, and it actually worked well. The term Great Destroyer was a good substitute to God of Death. And understandably, some nudity required blurring and airbrushing in Gundam SEED. And now that we talk of SEED, some edits actually left some fans laughing, though it did provide the later generations with meme materials. Let’s just say that it ended like the Yu-Gi-Oh firearm edit, with weapons straight from a Looney Tunes show.
The Disco Gun
The Gundam world wants to bring to the audience the violence of war, and showing flashing firearms is a great way. Sure, the Gundam SEED suits were sporting their big guns, but firearms seem to be missing among the humans in some episodes. Instead, we are introduced to an odd-looking sidearm that emits what looked like LED lights.
Fans gave them a nickname, known as Disco Gun, and these weapons look as silly as they sound. Kudos for Bandai though, for making efforts to give the characters the proper shooting stances. I even saw Mu La Flaga with proper trigger finger discipline! Everything is perfect, except for the pistols. Instead of mean-business gunmetal, the pistols were neon colored, with toyish lights and shoots laser. The laughable weapon was actually an attempt of censorship, just to make the guns look more family friendly. We all know how guns weren’t welcome in shows with kids as audiences. Hence, they edited the firearms to be more family friendly.
To begin with, even the rifles and guns carried by mobile suits are realistic. The profile of the beam rifle of Grampa Gundam resembled an M-16 assault rifle. But since they were carried by giant robots and not by humans (not to mention they shoot lasers), concerned people found no problems about them.
It was the guns that human characters wielded that triggered the alarm.
Guns are part of some western culture, but together with other cherished traditions like smoking and drinking, it’s simply a big no for animated shows. In fact, even American cartoons will go as far as making the weapons toyish and unrealistic, for the sake of the younger audience. I still remembered when Robocop was turned into an animated cartoon, and the automatic weapons now spew lasers. But G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is the best example of shows with kid friendly weapons. Batman, The Animated Series did get away with a fully functional Tommy Gun, but probably due to its gangster era flair, or simply it’s an antiquated weapon.
And they are doing all of these for a reason.
Compared to most country, the U.S. has a larger rate of gun ownership. With that said, the chance of children having access to firearms is higher. And the less children see guns, the less they will desire to use one, though the subject is debatable.
Anime being distributed to the American audience are not exempted to the censorship, but people just can’t take these hilarious censorships seriously, with the Disco Gun as an example.
The intentions are nice, but the Disco Guns just became anime history for the wrong reason. It joined the long list of hilarious anime censorship fails. There are several problems here, starting with the gun itself. It just looks silly. Gundam SEED were meant to be taken seriously. The show is relatively less humorous than other anime in that period, with its focus on drama and violence. But it is hard to take the characters seriously, if they are fighting with what look likes NERF guns with glowsticks. Kira is unbearable enough, and it’s hard not to snigger when they tried to kill each other with that battery operated neon colored something, with LED lights. I mean imagine them with angry scowling faces while holding those silly looking pistols. As a friend said, did ACME supplied them their side-arms? The way it shoots lasers made it sillier, like we are watching a children’s cartoons. Overall, the Disco Guns spoiled the drama and suspense in the shooting scenes.
And not only that it looked silly, the censorships were sloppy.
Observers noted that there were few missed shots and the editing became inconsistent in the last episodes. Nevertheless, it generated a fan theory stating that it was done on purpose. Bandai and Cartoon Network realized that eventually fans would see through the edits. But since they need to comply with the requirements for family friendly arms, they intentionally made the whole censorships sloppy, so fans would have something to laugh at.