Violence is an inescapable part of anime, and sometimes censors have no choice but to acknowledge that fact. Dragon Ball Z is about buff dudes yelling and punching each other a lot, and that will invariably lead to injuries. Sometimes, those injuries cause a rupture in the skin that results in plasma and red blood cells escaping the body -- otherwise known as "bleeding." And that's a problem.
Censors are more than willing to show brutal beatings, bones breaking and organs being eviscerated, but only as long as it stays inside the body. Internal bleeding is fine, even preferred, as long as it doesn't result in coughing up blood. The censors in charge of Detective Conan had no problem with showing a corpse, but the bodily fluids were apparently a little problematic. The censored scrubbing makes it look less of a grisly crime scene and more like a guy who just got caught taking a nap on the floor.
Along with curse words and nudity, blood has to be one of the easiest things a censor can target. It doesn't matter that erasing blood makes action toothless and lowers the stakes from "Battle to the Death" to somewhere around "Toddler/Pug Snuggle Fight" -- removing blood is a simple way to lure in advertisers that are presumably prone to bouts of the vapors at the sight of the substance that runs through every human being on the planet.
Over the years, anime has seen a number of creative ways of blood removal. In the case of One Piece, 4Kids put a literal band-aid on the issue.
This is bordering on parody. 4Kids has clearly shown that they have editors capable of altering scenes -- so why even bother with the band-aid? Why not just wipe his arm clean and be done with it? It almost reads as an insult to whiny fans, or a tacit admission of 4Kids' awful adaptation of One Piece. Maybe both.
Among the most common methods of blood censoring is one of the most bizarre: Painting the blood black.
In this scene from [anime so messed up that to say its name would be a spoiler], this girl has just stabbed a boy to death. It's more or less what you'd expect a boy-stabbing to look like. But in the censored version, the boy-blood changes color from crimson to jet black. It's a bizarre and discomforting change to an already shocking scene, almost as if we're finding out just now that this kid was a robot with crude oil coursing through his veins. Also of note are the little details, like how the censors blacked out the injury on the right arm, or that the girl is no longer holding the stabbing knife she just used.
The hemophobia has continued through to the present day, where fan favorite animes like Tokyo Ghoul find new ways to show blood without showing blood.
This could be the simplest, most effective blood censorship yet. Inverting the colors of a gory scene could potentially make a moment of ultraviolence that much more intense, and all it takes is a few clicks in Photoshop.
It's a power that should not be abused.
When it comes down to it, some things are acceptable in Japan that just won't fly in Western countries, and vice versa. Japanese tourists are admonished for not tipping their waiter in the US, and Americans visiting Japan are considered rude when they complain loudly in public about the lack of panty vending machines. Similarly, it seems perfectly understandable as to why smoking is a big no-no on kids' TV in the US, but on the other side of the Pacific, it's not such a big deal.
That was the situation 4Kids found themselves in when adapting One Piece for the Western market; in the original anime, the character Sanji is nothing short of a chainsmoker. Their solution, as with pretty much every creative decision that 4Kids made localizing One Piece, was both hilarious and shitbrain stupid. And so, for every scene in which he appeared, Sanji's cigarette became a lollipop.
This seems like... a lot of effort. It was probably some poor intern's job to scrub through every episode, frame-by-frame, in order to add a candy topper in order to slightly alter Sanji's oral fixation. In many cases, like the one seen above, 4Kids completely redrew the "lollipop," stem included.
If the localization team was putting so much work into doctoring each episode, they probably would have been better off removing the cigarette altogether instead of replacing it with an Everlasting Gobstopper. That's actually the direction later, non-ass dubs took, and it's probably the most reasonable compromise you could make here. Other than, you know, not marketing a violent cartoon to third graders.
If it wasn't obvious by now, 4Kids has something of a reputation for their uh, lackluster anime localizations.
In this episode of Yu-Gi-Oh, two men bust through a door and point their guns at Kaiba, who promptly jumps through a plate glass window because it's in the Top 5 Most Stylish Ways to Exit a Room. Again, it's not hard to see why loaded pistols might not have a place in a cartoon specifically designed to sell trading cards to children -- but there had to be a better way than replacing lethal guns with middle-management-tier fingerguns. In the original version, you could at grasp the anime logic of why someone would leap out a window when confronted with firearms. But in the 4Kids adaptation, Kaiba looks like he'd rather commit suicide than get a stern lecture from his two dads.
It's not just about removing danger, though -- as Sailor Moon showed us, it's also about enforcing safety.
Not content to merely shield innocent virgin eyes from The Gays, our good friends at DiC also wanted to make sure everyone knew about their dedication to vehicular security. The scene you see here just lasts a couple seconds, but that was apparently enough for DiC to paste a seatbelt over Ami's lap. Look closely and you can even see her Star Power Stick has just been lazily drawn over; it's almost as ridiculous as calling something a Star Power Stick.
As egregious as some of these examples may be, they're nothing compared to what Germany did to Naruto.
Germany has a pretty strict policy when it comes to violence in media, mostly because they're a touch embarrassed about the whole "spending the first half of the 20th Century trying to murder everyone" thing. But even that doesn't excuse what the German channel RTL2 did to Naruto. To better target kids for the youth-focused Pokito block, massive edits were made, including rubbing out Zabuza's sword entirely. Leave it to Germany to make 4Kids look good.