Like with many popular Japanese imports, The Drillimation Series has been subject to censorship when it was being localized in North America and other countries. Many of these changes include alteration of scenes, dialogue, and character appearances. Religious content has often been a big target for censorship in the games and anime, most commonly references to Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam. These were likely done to help protect those communities outside of Japan.
In the anime
- Before the English dub of Star Trigon began, Drillimation Studios California president Marc Summers had a bit of a fight with Hiroshi Takajima. Miyuki Takara was widely recognizable by her bushy hairstyle and breast size. Summers wanted Miyuki Takara removed from the anime, as he said her appearance was deemed to be inappropriate for their target audience of children. Animators from Lucasfilm had reacted poorly to her design. Takajima did not want Miyuki Takara removed from the anime, and instead told the team to change her physical appearance entirely. Her redesign had smaller breasts and less suggestive clothing. Her redesign would later appear on all Drillimation media produced in Japan starting with Lucky Star.
- Many episodes had their pop culture references Americanized, as Summers felt that an American audience, especially their target audience of children, would not fully understand most of its references to Japanese culture or media. Mostly, the references to Shintoism were kept, although the Shinto shamanic actions were Christianized.
- In many episodes of Magical Girl Team Lucky Star, Konata's cousin, Yui, would often drink large amounts of beer at times. Some episodes even depict her drinking alcohol. Marc Summers, who formerly headed Drillimation Studios California from its founding in 1975 until 2003, felt this would have a bad influence on their target audience of children, so he made her drink coffee instead. In the scenes where Yui would show up drunk, she would be depicted fatigued.
- The Arabic dub had the references to Shintoism changed to ones for Islam, and the Shinto shamanic actions were Islamified.
- The Arabic dub of Mr. Driller X changed references to alcohol to ones for Zamzam, a Iranian soft drink popular among people in the Middle East. This is because Zamzam sponsored the Spacetoon broadcast of the show.
Removal of sensitive themes
- Angry German Kid faced a lot of censorship when it was being translated and dubbed by Hanna-Barbera. Set in an alternate universe where Nazi Germany won WWII, it was actually H-B's decision to remove all Nazi and Hitler-related imagery, as it is prohibited to use these symbols in Jewish communities, where they view it as racist. All swastikas were changed to a German Eagle symbol, Hitler's mustache was removed, and Hitler was renamed "Dolfy" and The Staatmeister. While these symbols aren't offensive in Japan, these changes had to be made in order to comply with Germany's laws regarding unconstitutional organizations.
- The idea for this came naturally as series creator Hiroshi Takajima actually lived part of his childhood through WWII.
- In the Arabic dub of The Angry German Kid, all Jews became members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, a Christian church in the Middle East, due to conflicts between Muslims and Jewish people in the Middle East, especially in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Also, footage from the English dub was spliced in at times to cover up Nazi imagery.
In the games
- Up until the Driller Engine 3 Era, Nintendo had strict policies regarding the use of religious symbols in North America. All references to Christianity are removed from the North American and European localizations of the games. The following instances of religious content were removed:
- One of Yukari Yakumo's spell cards, being Bewitching Butterfly Living in the Zen Temple, depicted a left-facing swastika. The shape is actually a Manji, the Buddhist symbol for "good fortune". The spell card did not cause controversy in Japan but did from a few complaints in North America and Europe. Drillimation cleared the confusion by telling Drillimation players in GamePro about the Manji. The spell card was changed entirely in the Super Nintendo version due to similar controversies in The Legend of Zelda.
- An instance of Reimu getting crucified by Marisa in one of the endings of Touhou 2: The Story of Eastern Wonderland was changed when Nintendo was localizing the game for North America and PAL regions. The localizers made Marisa electrocute Reimu with electricity instead.
- In the Arabic translation, Reimu getting crucified by Marisa was removed.
- The French translations also censored religious references and symbols due to strong religious feuds in Francophone parts of the Island of Sally.
- Rumia from Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil was the first Touhou Project character to have her identity altered in the international version of the game. In Reimu's scenario, all cannibalistic references were removed, with her dialogue reworded almost entirely. In the original Japanese version, Rumia asks Reimu if she's edible. The international version discards these references with Rumia instead asking Reimu if she would like to come and eat dinner with her. Rumia's arms were also lowered in the international version, due to it resembling a crucifix. The dialogue in Marisa's scenario was also reworded too, removing all religious references.
- While one player was searching through the data of the international version of Touhou 8: Imperishable Night, particularly the Windows/Macintosh/TS-UGOS version, he stated in a 4chan post that he found unused voice clips. Bizarrely, some of the unused voice clips had multiple characters swearing. This is not the first Drillimation game to have a curse word, as Angry Video Game Nerd: The Arcade, which was released the same year as Imperishable Night, is the first Drillimation game to have cursing, mainly from the titular character, James Rolfe.
- Sekibanki's animations in Touhou 14: Double Dealing Character faced a fair deal of censorship in the international version. All instances of Sekibanki detaching her head were removed in order to comply with those countries' standards on violent content. Instead, localizers altered the animations so her neck would extend instead. Susumu Takajima was inspired by the Kaminoan species from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which had long necks. Takajima took that concept and used it for Sekibanki's international appearances.
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Arcade was the first Drillimation game to have cursing, which was released uncut from its original Japanese version. Its arcade counterpart was rated "Language - Strong" by the AAMA, while its console and PC versions were rated Teen for Animated Blood and Language.
Super Smash Keyboards series
- The series had been linked to numerous controversies over the years from the release of the first game in 1992. It was one of the first fighting games to use "fatality" moves to finish off opponents, many of these depicted a gruesome execution of the defenseless enemy character. In the North American versions of the games, many of the fatalities were depicted in a cartoony manner.
- Super Smash Keyboards 8 gained outrage when a fanmade mod for the game allowed players to play as a nude version of Tsukasa Hiiragi, which Drillimation decided to leave out of the final game. However, a partially nude version of her covered in thick cloth strips was depicted in a Story Mode cutscene when she asked Mike Matei to trace an image of her that way, before Matei becomes busted by Tsukasa's mother, Miki. This caused a lot of anger to parents that they sent a request to the ESRB to change the game's rating from Teen to Mature, which restricted the sale to minors without adult accompaniment. To refute this claim, Drillimation released a patch update which excluded the offending mod and an alteration of Tsukasa's "half-nude" appearance. The game was still rated Teen for violence, blood, language, use of alcohol, tobacco reference, crude humor, and partial nudity.
Killer Minecraft series
- One of Akira's fatalities in Killer Minecraft: Immaterial and Missing Power was censored for the North American and PAL versions of the game. When performing one of her fatalities, she flashes her breasts at her opponent, although her back is only depicted. In the western version, she instead hums the first six measures of Princess Konata's Cage ~ Kagome-Kagome, which is actually the melody of the traditional Japanese children's song Kagome-Kagome with their opponent screaming in vain and collapsing. Many western players found this fatality humorous and have even appeared in memes and as a form of trolling.
- Marisa's "get up" animation was also censored in the west as well. Her "get up" animation depicts her entire undergarment below her skirt for a split-second (for only a fourth of a second, all character animations run at 12 frames per second). In the west, she gets up in a western animation fashion.
Driller Engine Grand Prix series
- In the second game, Driller Engine Grand Prix 2, Drillimation partnered with real-world companies to cover many of the in-game signs with their logos. In the Japanese version of the game, Drillimation partnered with Agip, Mobil 1, Goodyear, and Marlboro to place their logos on the in-game signs. The Marlboro logo was removed in the international version of the game, presumably to avoid controversy with tobacco references in a family-friendly game and was replaced with the Nascar logo.
- In the eighth and current installment, Driller Engine Grand Prix 8, Honoka Kousaka, which is a DLC character from the Love Live! series, had one of her victory animations modified in version 1.6.0 in the Normal Edition and 1.1.0 in the Ultimate Edition. The original animation had Honoka placing her arms to resemble a Bras d'honneur, which translates to "Up your (insert word here)!" BBC found this pose to be inappropriate for a kid-friendly game, as the Driller Engine Grand Prix series is considered family-friendly. As a result, she was taken off of rotation on May 5, 2017, and was added back into the game on May 17, 2017.
- Bandai Namco and Drillimation formally apologized for this, and Susumu Takajima stated this on their website:
- Hi, this is Driller or Susumu Takajima from Drillimation Studios here.
- As you may or may not be aware, some players from Europe and South America complained to Drillimation about one of Honoka Kousaka's animations. We apologize to those who found this offensive. We were completely unaware this gesture was offensive and disrespectful in those territories. Bandai Namco and Drillimation have no intent to offend players in any way. We are currently working on an update to remove the offensive pose in all versions of the game and any similar images in our games.
- While the update is affecting Driller Engine Grand Prix 8, we are also putting this update in the Ultimate Edition of the game. Until the update is ready, we have temporarily banned her from being used in online play.
- Bandai Namco and Drillimation Studios always try their best to respect everyone's cultures, religions, and freedom. We would like to thank BBC as well as all of our grateful fans on YouTube and Twitch who brought our attention to this.