5. Mr. Popo turns blue

mr popo

There's no denying it: Mr. Popo has always been a problem. It doesn't matter that Japan is an entirely different country with a their own history, or that they see these kinds of things in different context -- Mr. Popo is a horrific racial stereotype, and it's unacceptable in any age. You don't get to make a jet-black character with gigantic red lips and a single dangling tooth without getting called out for being racist, no matter the cultural context.

So you can imagine the prickly predicament that Western media companies found themselves in when it came to shipping this character overseas for American syndication. Mr. Popo is a little too important a character to cut completely, but not central enough that he would be cause to scrap plans to localize one of the most popular cartoons ever. So how do you tackle a monstrosity like this? Well, you just tweak the contrast a bit.

mr popo blue

In the 4Kids version Dragon Ball Z Kai, Mr. Popo was transformed from a magical minstrel to uh, a magical minstrel that happens to look like an ill-advised mascot for Internet Explorer. You can kind of see what they were going for, at least; some suit somewhere said "Well, what about the Genie from Aladdin? Mr. Popo's like a genie, right? With the turban. Phil, get on that." 

mr popo blue

But a turd that you turn blue with the MS Paint fill bucket is still a turd. No matter how much you might be attached to Popo (or more likely, his Abridged alter-ego), altering the color of his genie-flesh doesn't fix everything about this awful character design.

You can't blame 4Kids for wanting to prevent children from being exposed to this kind of stereotype, and on a certain level it's important that Popo stays the way he is. Warner Bros. best explained it when they released the Looney Tunes Golden Collection on DVD, which contained several cartoons with, to put it lightly, problematic racial imagery. The preface before these shorts read:

The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in the U.S society. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today. While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.

A cartoon with that kind of warning might be hard sell to advertisers, but it's better than pretending that Blue Popo is any kind of solution. Barring that, maybe parents could actually sit down and talk to their kids about the background of the show about space humans with monkey tails. 


4. Strange ways of dealing with sex and nudity

bulma butt

Though it was toned down considerably in DBZ, the original Dragon Ball series was rife with innuendo. Much of it involved a young Goku, who was naive but curious about the the human body. Though  the show's sexuality was often played for laughs, some of the "fun" was downright creepy (looking at you, Roshi). Many of these scenes, including the one above, were cut out entirely when it came to the US release. It's not hard to see why someone might want to delete a scene of a woman flashing her vagina to get a Dragon Ball. 

But sometimes these risque scenes were kept in the show, with the slightest of changes

dragon ball bulma

At this point in the series, Goku hasn't had a lot of contact with humanity -- he's not prepping Bulma for a creepshot, only checking to see if she has a tail like he does. Of course, this supposedly innocent premise also doubles as a way to give the audience a good look at the female protagonist's ass. Though some edits excise this scene entirely, the Ocean Group version of Dragon Ball just colored in the underwear; instead of white with polka-dots, it's pure pink. It's such a bizarre decision. The only explanation is that a purely pink pair of panties might be construed as TV-appropriate swimwear. Then again, they didn't bother to edit out Bulma's clearly-visible buttcrack. 

In other cases, some censors wanted to pretend that sexuality doesn't exist. 

roshi dbz 

In the original cartoon, horndog sensei Master Roshi is chilling out with a girlie mag, or at the very least Kmart's swimsuit catalog. But when the same episode aired on Nicktoons, Roshi is reading what appears to be an engrossing issue of Blank Magenta Square Quarterly. 

It's almost kind of fun to see what crazy schemes censors will come up with next. In the episode depicted below, Bulma was using underwear as bait to catch the panty-crazed Oolong. In an effort to make this situation slightly less weird, the underwear was replaced with what looks like the first picture under "money wad" on Google Image Search. 

dragon ball censorship

Another difference you might have noticed there: In the unedited version, Goku isn't wearing any pants. Dude was essentially born in the wild, so he didn't know that rockin' out with his Kakarot out was a taboo.

Of course, that kind of thing doesn't always fly for Western audiences, so censors were forced to go to dramatic lengths to cover up Goku's private parts. Some versions gave his bathing suit area something resembling a real bathing suit, but others actually inserted random objects into the world to cover up that doodled diddle. 

goku censored

Any scene that features a naked Goku comes off like something out of an Austin Powers movie. Sometimes, censorship can be so insulting and unnecessary it's hilarious.