BEIJING – China has blacklisted 38 Japanese cartoons, including the megahit “Attack on Titan,” from appearing online, according to state media.
Amid a broadening crackdown on the country’s Internet content, 29 Chinese websites have received warnings or fines for carrying shows that “encourage juvenile delinquency, glorify violence and include sexual content,” the Xinhua News Agency said Monday.
Another eight websites have been shuttered, it said.
The actions are intended to “protect the healthy development of youth,” Ministry of Culture official Liu Qiang told Xinhua.
Rumors of a blacklist of Japanese anime began earlier this year, with speculation that candidates included popular cartoons “One Piece” and “Naruto.”
In March, the Ministry of Culture announced it would ban several lesser-known shows, including “Blood C,” due to adult content, and that a more comprehensive list was forthcoming.
The comic book version of “Attack on Titan” has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, and the anime adaptation is enormously popular in China. A discussion group about the series, hosted on Baidu, had over 21 million posts as of Monday afternoon.
The blacklist includes the popular cartoon “Death Note.”
At least one of the 38 shows, “The Testament of Sister New Devil,” was still available online Monday afternoon.
The cartoons are the latest productions from Japan to fall victim to a push by Beijing to “purify” the Internet.
Although Chinese authorities have attempted to purge “offensive” online content for years, the project has picked up steam under President Xi Jinping.
In a speech late last year, Xi called on Chinese media and the arts to reject “vulgarity” and promote “fine artworks in line with socialist core values.”
In the last several months, officials have fined several major websites, including Baidu and Youku, for distributing shows the government deems inappropriate.
The release of the blacklist provoked passionate opposition from Chinese netizens, who criticized the Ministry of Culture for “censorship” and anti-Japanese bias.
“They should list anti-Japanese dramas,” wrote one person on Chinese micro-blog Weibo, referring to the proliferation of violent dramas about China’s resistance to Japanese invaders during World War II. “They’re gruesome!”
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