2013/6/5 (Wed) at 5:15 am

On EIRIN's Terrible Censorship of Franck Khalfoun's "Maniac"

They really did not do this great film the justice it deserves.

Here's a Japanese Poster of "Maniac"
Maniac Japanese EIRIN

Franck Khalfoun's "Maniac" (2013) was released in Japan on June 1st. I went to the theater on opening day with much expectation. Yeah, the film was awesome but this is not what I want to talk about.

In the opening scene, a girl is chased by the killer (Elijah Wood) and killed by him at her apartment. What I saw on screen was... all of a sudden, the girl's head was blurred. I couldn't see what was happening. She must have been scalped brutally. That's what I imagined. Yes, I imagined - I had to imagine it. There was no other way of seeing what actually happened.

I thought, "OMG! Blurred!? Is this really what Franck Khalfoun and Alexandre Aja originally created/intended? No way!"

And then I suddenly realized what they did to this film. I was totally disappointed. The movie was great. I loved every single moment of this film except for these censored scenes. I felt sad, just sad. Even though I saw a great movie, where did all of this sadness come from?

Censorship. It came from censorship.

Actually this is what I saw. :-(
Maniac Japanese EIRIN

EIRIN (Japan's film rating and censorship organization - much like America's MPAA) and Comstock Group, Japanese distributor of "Maniac", censored several gore scenes to make it 15+ rating - so that high school students could see it. It would be like making an R-rated or NC-17-rated film in the US a PG-13 film. Some scenes were blurred out, some were darkened. I can't provide you the evidence of these details because it's still playing in theatres - and to give you proof, I would have to record it at the theatre. Which is illegal. But please believe me when I say it is true.

The topic of censoring horror films is very common and contentious around the world. But in this case, there are worse things I would like to point out. Japan has its own special case with EIRIN that is different from, say, the BBFC or the MPAA.

After leaving the theatre, I went back home and started researching what was going on. I finally found out that EIRIN does not provide any information about what they did. Did they cut something? Did they intentionally blur or darken certain scenes? Why did they do it in the first place? There were no answers to be found.

They just said that it contains "disturbing gory material" and it is R-15. That's all we can get out of them in terms of an explanation. This is big problem.

I hate the notorious BBFC (The British Board of Certification - like EIRIN and the MPAA), but at least they provide censorship information in detail at their website. Srdan Spasojevic's "Serbian Film" was banned at 2010 London FrightFest. A cut version DVD was released in UK in 2011. Koji Shiraishi's "Grotesque" was banned in UK. Tom Six's "Human Centipede II" was initially banned in UK, but later the BBFC demanded two minutes and thirty-seven seconds of cuts and finally granted cut version. These cases called a lot of arguments among people. I believe you remember them.

I don't agree with BBFC's decisions. But, you know, they have been transparent about their process in how they rate or censor things, including the reason why they need to be banned (or cut) and what should be done to release them. Thanks to this, English people can avoid to spend their money for what they don't want to see. I myself buy a lot of DVDs from amazon UK in regular basis and I can avoid what I don't want to see. This is what at least I want for EIRIN. If I could know theatrical version is different from original, I wouldn't go to the theater - I would wait for the DVD release. It's not the best option, but it's one I can live with. I can wait until US unrated version is available at amazon.com.

In Japan, there's no way to know what we're seeing in theatres is what the director wanted us to see. EIRIN and the video distribution companies don't reveal such information in all cases because they're not required to. I don't want to jump into boring arguments regarding whether censorship is good or bad. If people in higher places want to cut them, yeah, go ahead. Do as you like. But please tell us what you did and why you did it.

I want a transparent process from EIRIN. That's all I demand.

And believe me when I tell you that there's worse things in Japanese theatrical version of "Maniac." In this case, the blurred out and darkening effects are used to hide gore scenes, which means a lot of audience don't even notice that it is done by EIRIN. They are forced to believe it is what director intended. What a shame! It is blasphemy, isn't it?

I posted about this in my blog 3 days ago. This is Japanese page.

Nearly 4,000 Japanese people viewed it so far and still increasing (Thanks for all Retweets!). However, the official Japanese Maniac twitter account have been ignoring us and our complaints. They're retweeting only positive reviews every day.

So, I would like to ask to filmmaker, Franck Khalfoun, Alexandre Aja and everyone else. Here's my question: are you aware of this? Are you okay with what they did to your film? I am a horror fan. I love you guys. I spent my money at the theater and I'm gonna buy unrated version US Blu-Ray. So let me indulge to tell you this. If you would let me give you some advice, here it is: could you warn Japanese buyers about this problem with your film, and tell them not to buy it? Because if Japanese fans don't buy it, the company won't get money, and they will get the message that we are not happy with all of this censorship.

Thank you for reading this.


PS: While I was preparing this article, there has been some progress with talking to the distributor about their decisions on editing the film. One of my friends asked them about this matter and they finally answered. That's what I heard. They stopped tweeting in last 3 days. This topic has really gotten everyone's attention. Some Japanese journalists are starting action toward this matter of censorship and film. I'm not sure but I think they will announce their statement at their website or on twitter soon.



My name is tinker and I run the website HORROR SHOX. Big horror fan. If you have further question, I'm happy to answer you. You can reach me via email to tinker[atmark]assassin.jp or twitter/horrorshox.

Thanks to my best friend, Usagi (twitter/usagiko) who corrected my English and gave me insightful advice to write this article.


Updates. June 5, 2013

Japanese distributor, Comstock, finally revealed they altered 6 scenes answering blogger's inquiry. Detailed information is available at namaniku.net (Japanese blogger's website).

The reason why they censored:

"Assuming that this movie cannot be categorized as just a horror genre and it has the aspect of bizzare kind of love story, we wanted to sell this movie toward more people, not only horror fans, those who love Elijah Wood and The Lord of the Rings. Therefore we thought R15 is the most appropriate decision."

To the distributor. I tried to be fair to translate Namaniku's article into English but if you feel something wrong with my translation, please annouce your statement by yourself in English at your official site. That's the best I guess.

Some questions were answered but there're still a lot of unknowns. It might be a little but can be the beginning of the big process toward our future. Thanks to Namaniku.

Updates. June 7, 2013

3 awesome sites picked up this article. Thank you!

Followings are people's comments.

"lol what the hell? This is coming from the same country as ichi the killer??"

"I have seen some fucked up Japanese movies. I don't know why they would censor this one in particular. There is no way a bunch of 15 year old’s need to be seeing this."

"that's fucked up and really irritating. this movie is not made for young teenagers (for the most part. there ARE young teens who love horror movies like many of us did at that age). this movie was VERY good. a must see for any horror fan."

Guys, thank you for your concern. It means a lot to us.

Updates. June 9, 2013

Megan Duffy who is casted in "Maniac" made her comment on twitter.

EIRIN didn't have nerve to blur your beatiful boobs. That's big releaf for us. And thanks so much for your interest on this matter. It means a lot to us.

Swedish filmmaker, Pidde Andersson, shouted!

Thank you for your support!

Argentine horror director, Germán Magariños, gave me his comment via email.

"I can't believe they censored the movie there! It's the country of the Guinnea Pig movies and a lot of violent movies! This is insane! I hate censorship! Thanks for sharing this news I will spread the word!"

Thank you for your support!

German writer/director, Huan Vu, mentioned Japanese "Maniac" censorship in his facebook post.

"Well, why don't you blur and mute out all of the film except Elijah Wood, track some hobbit feet to him and green fields into the frame to target an even larger audience?"

Well said! Very funny! I love his humor.

American journalist/writer/blogger, Jake Adelstein, known as the author of "Tokyo Vice" gave me such an energy. Much appreciated.

Japanese filmmaker, Hiro Masuda, made his comments. Thank you!

An indie film lover, Faye Toulson, made her comment. Thank you for your support!

Updates. June 10, 2013

Japan Daily Press picked up this topic.

A film student from Island, Sonja Lind, gave me such an energy.

Thank you for your support! She is sweet. Follow her.

Horror Queen, Killer Seductress, RTed my post and gave me her comments on this matter.

Her tweets are always funny and enjoyable. Even comfortable. Should you follow her if you love horrors.

Lloyd Kaufman called me "sir" and RTed my post.

Happiest thing ever happened in my life. Seriously.

Updates. June 11, 2013

Truly Disturbing picked up this topic.

Thank you!

My friend Josh shouted in his facebook.

"Okay, so not VHS, but still pretty interesting: Looks like Japan has heavily censored the new MANIAC reboot to attract teen audiences? It's real weird... and my buddy Tinker from Japan wants you to read all about it! GROOVE."

If you love old horrors especially in VHS format, you got to visit his site, Lunchmeat VHS. Thanks for your support, Josh! Groove on!

HorrorTalk.com shouted. Thank you!

Updates. June 12, 2013

Someone posted this topic on UK FrightFest's Forums. Let's join and talk.

Here's what people say in the forum.

DJBenz wrote:

"Those familiar with Japanese movies will be aware of how gore just doesn't seem to get censored, yet a hard line is taken on genital nudity to the point of it being pixelated or blurred out. Quite a surprise then that Franck Khalfoun's Maniac remake has been visually censored for its gore scenes by the Japanese film ratings board (EIRIN) so that it's more suitable for the teen audiences that became fans of Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings.

The whole thing from the point of a Japanese horror fan (in English):

Axe wrote:

"Incredibly unusual for this to happen in Japan (of all places). Mind you they'll probably still get the uncut version on DVD."

DJBenz wrote:

"Absolutely, even worse that it's been done purely to make it more suitable for teens and not for any objection to the material."

tinker (me) wrote:

"I am the one who wrote the original article. Thank you guys for your interest on this matter. It means a lot to us. Since I wrote it, I have been receiving a lot of emails which tell almost same thing. "Japan is the place of Battle Royale, Ichi The Killer and even Ginea Pig. Why does this happen? I thought there is no censorship for gore, just genital nudity in Japan." That's what people say. Actually, it is not really what's happening here. Japanese horror directors have been creating a lot of gore films. True. On the other hand, there have been a lot of censored films because of gore. It is really hard to explain why. In my opinion, the problem is deeply rooted inside Japanese society. I am just a horror fan. I don't know much details how things work inside the film industry. It's quite hard to tell. But I will try to answer as possible as I can. In case you guys pick up this topic in your blog, twitter, facebook, whatever, please let me know. I will add them to the article as people's voice. I update it everyday. You'll find my email and twitter in the article.

ps. Is unrated version DVD/Blu-Ray of "Maniac" gonna be released in Japan? Not answered. It's everybody's concern. Nobody knows about that yet. I myself will buy US version Blu-Ray when it is available.


streetrw wrote:

"There's no question, Maniac is an 18 film for adults. It's not just that it would be incredibly awkward to produce a 15-rated version of the film, it's that they really shouldn't. It's the subject matter and treatment that makes it an 18, and removing or blurring the easily offending imagery isn't going to change that. Horror fans are going to be shortchanged by the cuts, and Hobbit fans are still going to be thrown by it. Nobody wins.

Really, this is the same as the BBFC advising on what to cut out of Die Hard 5 in order to get a 12A certificate. This happens quite a few times in the quest for a bit more cash at the box-office, and it's silly - but it's usually at the 12A/15 mark. If they didn't want a high certificate, they shouldn't have made a film full of high certificate material. If they've made a hard, violent movie, they don't get to whine and cry when it gets a restrictive rating."

Updates. June 13, 2013

Lloyd Kaufman spoke to me again, this time in Japanese!

He rocks!





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