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Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo controversy

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An image of Homer attacking Akihito, the then-Emperor of Japan.

Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo is the twenty-third episode and season finale of the tenth season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, written by Donick Cary and Dan Greaney and directed by Jim Reardon. In the episode, the Simpson family travels to Japan and enjoys the country's amenities, until they end up losing all their money due to an accident and have to participate in Happy Smile Super Challenge Family Wish Show, a dangerous game show, to get back home to Springfield.

While the episode generally had mixed-to-positive reception around the world, it received controversy and negative reception in Japan due to containing several scenes that might offend Japanese audiences. Such scenes include the implication that the Hello Kitty factories burn live cats to produce their products, the Battling Seizure Robots cartoon, which showrunner Mike Scully claimed the show's staff got multiple complaints for,[1] when Homer throws Akihito, who was the Emperor of Japan at the time of the episode's airing, into a dumpster full of dirty sumo clothing, and the entire game show at the end.[2] Not only were said scenes offensive in Japan (especially in the case of Battling Seizure Robots, as the episode aired nearly a year and a half after the Electric Soldier Porygon incident), but the one with the Emperor of Japan was considered very disrespectful, as the depiction of the Emperor outside of news or children's stories is a taboo subject in Japan.[1]

Due to the controversy caused by the episode, it was never dubbed in Japanese, completely banned from airing in Japan, and excluded from the Japanese versions of The Complete Tenth Season DVD box set and Disney+. Initially, it was also banned in South Korea due to the country restricting televised Japanese culture because of their past colonization of Korea, but the prohibition had been repealed by 2007 and the episode became available on South Korean DVD sets, albeit in English with Korean subtitles.[3]

Unlike with Season 13's "Blame It on Lisa" being temporarily banned from airing in Brazil before eventually airing in 2014, the Japanese ban for "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" is still in effect. As of 2022, "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo" is still unavailable in Japan, along with "Little Big Mom" from Season 11.[4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season DVD Commentary for "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"
  2. Cantor, Paul A. (2001). Gilligan Unbound: Pop Culture in the Age of Globalization. Rowman & Littlefield.
  3. http://www.dvd.co.kr/shop/shopdetail.html?branduid=4546
  4. Ross Altarac, Shari (2007). The Adaptation of U.S. Television in Foreign Markets: How France and Japan Put Their Distinctive Spin on The Simpsons. University of California, Santa Barbara. p. 87.

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