When people first get into anime, they’re often unaware that they’re stepping into a completely different world. Not just in terms of visual media and storytelling, but also in terms of a community of people who adore anime. No matter the reason or style of expression, anime means so much to so many that it manages to subvert time zones, countries, and language barriers. But one country where that sense of community is being snuffed out is Russia.
Since mid-December, state prosecutors filed forty-nine lawsuits against five separate sites for streaming specific anime. These anime included Tokyo Ghoul, Inuyashiki, and Death Note, which specifically has been under pressure to be banned since 2013, after the manga was suspected to have played a part in a teen’s suicide. Parents pushing to ban the series even appealed to Vladimir Putin.
Now, this January, those whose interests lie in banning anime were finally successful in court. A St. Petersburg district court ruled in favor of the state and has successfully banned two streaming websites from distributing Death Note and Inuyashiki. Another site has also been banned from streaming Tokyo Ghoul. There are also suits in place to decide on whether or not sites will also be banned from streaming Elfen Lied and Naruto, though no decisions have been made currently.
While arguments for the banning of these anime claimed that “every episode contained cruelty, murder, violence”, with at least one expert claiming that Death Note specifically was “dangerous for a modern child”. It is of interest to note that the majority of these anime also contain ideas about justice, fighting against the status quo, and resistance against a larger, government-like powers. And while the state-run news outlets may say that the ban extends only to the specific websites listed in the suit, it is noted that Russia’s censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, has the final power of interpretation over the ban.