Paranoia Agent – Happy Family Planning censored in the UK

For those who aren’t aware, I’m based in the UK. Being an anime fan in England isn’t so bad, though like every country, we have to put up with the occasional scandal; and this week one such scandal has been making waves in our anime community. Basically, the BBFC have decided to censor a section of episode 8 (“Happy Family Planning”) of Paranoia Agent- and it’s not a TV broadcast that’s been cut, it’s a DVD release.
As I have the uncut DVD version of this episode to hand, I figured I would blog it and try to analyze why BBFC feel it’s dangerous for the British public to see.
Now Happy Family Planning is probably the most unsettling episode of Paranoia Agent I’ve seen so far- because not only does it depict a young girl attempting to commit suicide, it also touches on a number of other issues that we Britains are trained to fear. For one- the little girl meets her suicidal compatriots in an internet chatroom (both grown men; one is gay and the other a depressed old fogey). The British media is usually full of stories about how young children are being exposed by old perverts over the ‘net and since this episode alludes to the internet as a means of planning a young girl’s suicide (let alone the other characters involved), it immediately treds on edgy territory- a cartoon making fun of such dangerous things is a parent’s nightmare.
The episode continues and by the time we reach the now infamous attempted hanging scene (this is the section cut by the BBFC), it’s clear that Happy Family Planning is a disturbing black comedy- yes, it features responsible adults who want to die, but still, it’s a satire; an albeit close to bone comedy that really pushes the boundaries concerning the worries of a middle-class modern society.
Happy Family Planning has all of the trademarks of a Satoshi Kon anime; it’s subversive, experimental and downright brilliant, all the way through to it’s sad conclusion. The way the character’s act- all smilie faces and skipping down streets is not in tone with what you would expect of people wanting to die; it’s actually an episode full of life and humour, chillingly so. And this is probably why the BBFC decided to cut out the attempted hanging; the animation genre in the West is still one that is synomonous with young people and a sickly sweet innocence. Seeing three cartoon characters, including one child, trying to hang themselves, and laughing and joking about dying, is just too much for Britain right now. And ironically, unless in the future the BBFC let their guards down concerning these kinds of issues, we’ll never be ready either.

5 replies on “Paranoia Agent – Happy Family Planning censored in the UK”

I thought it was being blocked because it had two kids havn’t sex or something like that? I’ve heard that from a friend of mine who does research, but it’s possible he might’ve been mistaken.

I live in Britain and I have already seen the hanging scene over the internet. I love Paranoia Agent and I first found this anime when I bought a little anime box set of some random anime I bought this after seeing it included a anime I watched many years ago called Tenchi Muyo which I think was canceled but they showed it on foxkids (now Jetix) or it might have been cartoon network or Toonarmi I’m not sure but I saw it came with others so I tryed them out and I really like paranoia agent but it had a limit of 5 episodes on the disk so I looked on the internet and watched the dubbed ones they say this is for 18 and over but at the time I watched these I was 2 or 3 years under age I’m now 17 and I still watch paranoia agent my point is why bother cutting it when people can easily look on the internet for the episodes and also why cut it if its only for ages 18 and over anyway?

What amused me about the deleted scene in Paranoia Agent is that (in addition to accessibility via less mainstream channels) it’s been on youtube, where it is not even tagged for mature viewers, for bloody ages. It could not be more accessible. British censorship today remains essentially about violence against children, as anyone who put themselves through the recent film Antichrist will know, anything else goes.

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14 years later I got this version of the DVD unbeknownst of this censoring and it’s simply infuriating, the set already has the 18 years sticker so why the cut (a bad job anyway because the cut scene is in the postcredits of the 7th episode so you can watch it anyways).
I hope that the funimation bluray coming this year doesn’t abide to this nonesense and has better image.

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