School Days was a boring anime that occasionally surprised with outbursts of violence and melodrama, but which was otherwise destined to be forgotten. Just another drab highschool anime from the mid-2000s to add to the massive pile. Yet, by sheer luck and through brilliant marketing, School Days is remembered to this very day. All thanks to censorship and a certain “pleasant ship”.
For those not in the know, School Days first aired on Japanese TV from July of 2007 until September of that same year. Its final episode would be a long-awaited, violent climax to a story about teenage romance gone horribly wrong. However, the day before episode 12 would air, the nation was shocked by a brutal murder committed by a teenager. The networks responded by cancelling their scheduled airing of School Days‘ finale; a decision that was made memorable by TV Kanagawa replacing the episode with soothing stock footage. A bemused fan took a picture of this footage, which promptly went viral. The “Nice Boat” was born.
While an understandable decision in this particular case, the resulting boom of School Days‘ popularity is a fun example of how censorship can come around to helping a show. Instead of being forgotten, “Nice Boat” has allowed School Days to have a staying power in the anime fandom that most shows can only dream of. It’s the 218th most popular show on MAL and AniList has it as the 7th most popular show of 2007. That puts it just behind Lucky Star, but above the likes of Lovely Complex, Gundam 00, and Afro Samurai. It only barely clings to a 5/10 on both websites, but who cares if everybody still watched the darn thing anyway.
People acknowledge that it’s a bad show, but are still tempted to check it out because they want to know what the fuss was about. They want to see the anime that was so violent that the censorship overlords wouldn’t even air it. I know… because I was one of them.
Censored media has a mystique to it that makes viewers want to investigate and clever studios have capitalized on that for a while. Long before School Days was even an eroge game, Excel Saga made its final episode so crass it would never be able to air; just to name an example. Even on a smaller scale, it’s always fun to see anime producers “comply” with TV regulations by turning censorship into jokes.
Broadcasting stations remain needlessly prudish and censorship, overall, is still a fairly large problem that anime has to deal with. However, it also gives us interesting stories to talk about and stories keep anime alive long past their final episodes. School Days, Excel Saga, and the many misdeeds of 4Kids are clear examples of such.
The Reason Anime Fans Should Care About Banned Shows – by Karandi (100 Word Anime)