'Attack on Titan' abruptly pulled from Shanghai film festival

The Shanghai International Film Festival has abruptly canceled a screening of Attack on Titan, which was blacklisted earlier this week by the Chinese government. The move comes just days before the start of the June 13-21 event.

Based on Hajime Isayama's bestselling post-apocalyptic fantasy series, Attack on Titan is among 38 manga and anime titles banned Monday by the Chinese Ministry of Culture from print or digital distribution for containing “severely improper content." Other works include Death Note, Black Butler and Claymore.

The ministry's announcement was accompanied by news that eight websites had been shut down and another 29 sanctioned for carrying unapproved manga and anime.

Citing The Mainichi Shimbun, Anime News Network reports Japanese sources contend Attack on Titan had been inspected and approved, but festival organizers were then notified on Tuesday that they weren't permitted to screen the movie.

China enacted new regulations in April that require websites to receive official approval before hosting foreign-made content. At the same time, the government announced it would blacklist materials that “include scenes of violence, pornography, terrorism and crimes against public morality” and “punish” websites that carried those materials. Later than month, the Ministry of Culture banned 62 manga series, including including Naruto, Sailor Moon and Case Closed (Detective Conan).

While Attack on Titan isn't "pornographic," it is violent. However, Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History, told the Los Angeles Times the government's problem may lie with its political content.

"Attack on Titan features a military division that decides to overthrow its own government, and a Wall of Fear that keeps out the real world," he said. "There's no intentional relationship to China -- in fact, much of these elements were inspired by dissenting views of Japan by the Japanese -- but you can see how such allegories might be unpopular with the Chinese censor."

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